Four Steps to Making the Most Out of Your Meeting Notes

This is a guest post by Steven Ovadia, a writer and librarian. He curates The Linux Setup and is the author of “Learn Linux in a Month of Lunches.”

Everyone knows that feeling of getting out of a long meeting. You just want to get away from it as quickly as possible.

Often this escape means sticking meeting your notes somewhere. Hopefully someplace you’ll find them again (unless you’ve learned to keep them in one place…), but not necessarily depending upon the type of meeting and your state of mind by the end of it.

The Problem with Note-Taking

The problem with this type of workflow is that you inevitably have to return to your notes to figure out what you need to do. That means finding them, reviewing them, and remembering what everything you wrote down means. Ideally, you want this to happen before the next meeting of your group or committee. And that’s a best-case scenario. Worst case is forgetting about the notes until that next meeting starts.

So how can you solve this problem?  Here are 4 Steps to Making the Most Out of Your Meeting Notes:

  1. Read Through Your Notes As Soon As Your Meeting Ends. Take 10 minutes to go through your notes. It’ll hurt. You won’t want to think about that meeting you just escaped. But you need to review everything while it’s fresh in your mind.
  2. Take Care of the Easy Items. There should be some easy stuff in your notes. Put important project dates on your calendar. Send out the information that was requested of you. Take care of the things that’ll take five minutes or less.
  3. Schedule the Complex Items. Put everything else you need to do on your to-do list. Don’t deal with anything now while you’re tired. Just create a plan to take care of everything later in the day, or the week, when you have the mental bandwidth to return to these items. The goal is to have everything mapped out so that you ever have to think about the meeting again. You’re breaking your meeting notes down into action items.
  4. File Your Notes. Get rid of your notes. You don’t have to think about these notes anymore, but it’s good to have them someplace findable just in case. But you don’t want to have them someplace too visible. You’ve taken care of everything you need to, so the notes are nothing but archive material now.

Work Your Notes for Increased Productivity

It takes a lot of willpower to extend a meeting like this. But with this process, when you’re done writing up your notes, you’re completely done with the meeting. You know what items you need to take care of. And that gives you time to complete everything before the next meeting, which will make that next meeting that much more productive.

Take time after a meeting to work through your notes. Extract all of your next steps and then you’re free to forget about the meeting, because you’ve worked your notes, and completed all your tasks.

Question: Do you actually work your meeting notes? How would your productivity increase if you did? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

2 thoughts on “Four Steps to Making the Most Out of Your Meeting Notes

  1. I do “work” my notes shortly after meetings. It helps me to mark actionable items with a “!” for clarity when taking notes.
    And use Evernote to store them in a searchable system for later reference.

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