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Notes from meetings - my approach

Posted on:March 18, 2016 at 01:00 AM

TL;DR; Write down everything from the meeting :) Day after meeting we remember 20% from it

That’s a statement from some research. If you don’t practice, don’t train your muscles or brain to perform particular actions, it will forget how to remember. Recently I was involved in several different projects. They were not related to each other. I had huge problems with remembering everything I should remember…

Paper notes to the rescue!

On some point, I decided to take notes of key things I thought I would need later. I used A4/A5 paper sheets and pen/pencil. While discussing I’ve spent little time to write down short sentences, keywords, web addresses etc. If you don’t know what to write down - write everything you can.

Every note has a header with title and date. Some of the notes have also page numbers. Usually, I don’t try to compress as much text as possible on a single piece of paper. I like rather have some extra space free just in case later I would have to add more to that particular context.

Depending on the meeting some notes have one page and some ten :)

Writing without looking

One thing that would help me a lot is the ability to write down the thoughts. For the moment I have to take a quick break to write down something. Sometimes I need extra time to jump back to the meeting :) It is quite inconvenient and annoying. I guess I’ll master writing without looking with more and more practice.

Sections in paper notes

I have mentioned that already above, but I’ll elaborate it a bit more.

What I mean by section is usually a rectangular area with some text and some free space. The section is something like context.

Taking notes has to be fast. Fast mean with bigger probability to introduce errors. That’s why I like to leave some empty space in section. To rewrite something or to add. Additionally sometimes during the conversation we are coming back to the topic we’ve already discussed. Then I just jump back to a particular section. If the section is becoming bigger I like to add a header to it.

After meeting

So the meeting is done. Things are discussed, maybe agreed :) It’s time to take actions with paper notes!

I usually take every section one by one. Handle it (read below), cross it out and when all sections are handled throw away the paper note.

When it comes to notes/sections handling It deserves a separate blog post. In short, I do one of the following:

One more thing worth mentioning here is tagging. When I have to handle a multi-pages note I tag similar sections with colour markers. This helps me to do batch work after. I focus on one tag :)

Good pen

Advice: always have a handy pen. One that you like to write with. That fits your fingers. Of course take second as a backup.


In short summary, I think that taking notes and handling them improved my daily work. I don’t have to remember tons of information and worry if I forgot something. I think it’s a habit right now :)