Effective meetings & effective note-taking

This is the last post in my series on organization. Meetings may not be something that you immediately tie to being organized, but I’m including it because meetings can be either a huge time suck or a useful tool in creating organization among a group of people. And I can’t talk about meetings without talking about taking effective notes.

Stop wasting time; only do effective meetings

I hate going to useless meetings. When working as a project manager for a tech company I spent a large portion of my life in meetings.meetings

I have led meetings with CEOs, CFOs and Executive Vice Presidents. I have led training sessions with dozens of peers and team members. Here’s what I’ve learned: If you absolutely have to lead or go to a meeting, make sure it’s a useful investment of time for everyone.

  • If you’re leading: Know why you’re meeting and what you want to accomplish by the end of the meeting. Then tell participants what it is so they can be prepared.
  • If you’re attending: Ask what the goal is so you can be prepared to participate (and to help prompt the meeting organizer to think about why they want a group of people together!)
  • Bring everything you may need with you (notes and documents)
  • Take effective notes (see below).
  • Wrap up a meeting with a list of who is going to do what by when and send that out to attendees.

This last point is really important. I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve wrapped up with where people have completely different ideas of where we landed/where we were headed. #disasteraverted

Learn how to take effective notes

Why you should take notes

Taking notes serve a few purposes:

stack of steno pads

4 years of meeting notes

  1. They can help you focus on what’s actually happening in a meeting.
  2. It makes it look like you are engaged and participating.
  3. It’s a good place to jot potential action items.
  4. It’s a good place to jot ideas you want to come back to.
  5. You have something to refer back to later if you need to.

My primary reason for note-taking used to be #1 and #3. Since starting nursing school I actually look back at my notes.

How to take notes

When I started actually looking back at my notes I realized that I often had no idea what they meant. So I started exploring note-taking techniques.

  • A combination of Mind mapping and something that resembles the “bullet” portion of the Bullet Journal seems to work for me.
  • I’m intrigued by the Smart Wisdom method and plan to explore this in the future
  • The Cornel method didn’t really stick with me, but it may be useful to check out.

Where to take notes

While I like to use technology for most things, I prefer handwriting notes in meetings or lectures. When I type, I have a harder time differentiating what’s important and don’t necessarily remember what I typed. There is also a bunch of research about how handwriting helps you remember.

I’m a fan of Gregg-ruled steno pads.

But if you like to go digital with your note-taking, you can check out [my favorite note apps here].

Check out the rest of this series

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