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Meeting Notes & Project Management

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  • Meeting Notes & Project Management

    I have a fail safe system using NirvanaHQ to manage next actions but am looking for better ways to keep project and meeting notes.

    I used to walk into meetings with paper and pen and took lots of notes (former training as a journalist) which would then be filed according to the project and next actions would go into Nirvana. But sometimes I'd be away from my office and wished I would have brought a different folder when something came up that we had previously dealt with on another project.

    I then moved from paper to OneNote which required my to bring my laptop everywhere. That system worked great except our work culture is not all that embracing of laptops at meetings. There were previous abuses.

    So about 3 months ago I started to experiment with EverNote. I moved all my notes there and bring my iPad to meetings so I have all of my background and notes accessible to me. No one seems to mind that. But I have problems with typing on the keypad and typing on an iPad raises the same eyebrows as a laptop. Lately, I've been taking new notes on paper and later transferring them to Evernote. That's time consuming and I fall behind during busy times.

    I have to make some choices but would love to hear what others are doing. Thanks.


  • #2
    I haven't actually tried this technology myself, so take this with a grain of salt, but it seems like there are "digital pens" out there which automagically scan and OCR your notes as you take them, ready for immediate upload. To pick a technology at random, it looks like "Livescribe" does this.

    Maybe someone here has tried it out and can comment.



    • #3
      Scan your paper notes

      I use Evernote. A quick solution would be to scan the paper notes as soon as you are able and store in Evernote. I know Evernote also has the ability to record, but I have not used that feature.


      • #4
        Scan and OCR?

        Originally posted by DShick View Post
        Lately, I've been taking new notes on paper and later transferring them to Evernote. That's time consuming and I fall behind during busy times.
        SOunds like a perfect application for scanning with OCR and then just editing the results to ensure accuracy and store those notes in Evernote.


        • #5
          Just ideas: ignore them if you want.

          You can ignore the raised eyebrows. (Or if you can't, I hope you can ignore this message from me.) Or raise your eyebrows back at them, even higher.

          You can volunteer to take the minutes of the meeting, and then you have an excuse to have the laptop. You can email out the minutes just as the meeting is ending.

          When you want to type something, you can say something like "That's a good point! Let me get that down!" and then type frantically for a minute and then stop. I would hope that would lower some eyebrows a bit. After you do this a bunch of times you may be able to get the same message across without speaking up and interrupting the meeting: just saying "Oh!" while raising one index finger, or (once they've gotten used to you doing that) just raising one index finger. Or if you want to consult your notes, you can say "Oh, I think I have something about that in my notes ..." and then quickly search in your computer, then say "There it is!". Sometimes read out information from your notes that may be relevant to the meeting. Also spend a large part of the meeting ignoring your computer and paying full attention to whoever is speaking.

          There may be a way to use a computer such that everybody at the meeting can see the screen. At our meeting room, I can log into a computer that's projected onto a big screen on the wall that everybody can see. I can have my own email and stuff projected onto the big screen. You have to be careful not to display private stuff, but if you do something like that and use it to take notes, at least people can see that you're focussed on the meeting. Maybe they would even suggest corrections if you misunderstand something and type it in wrong. You might be able to get a similar effect with a laptop if, from time to time during the meeting, you say "Look at this!" and show a couple of people sitting near you what's on your screen. For example, asking the person next to you whether you'd spelled a name right in your notes, or something. Or display something in large font and turn the laptop around to show everyone. Or mutter as you type in, just loudly enough that people know roughly what you're typing, until the ones telling you to be quiet overcome the eyebrow-raisers.


          • #6
            Wait! I know! I know!

            Learn to type without looking at the laptop.


            • #7
              Originally posted by DShick View Post
              I used to walk into meetings with paper and pen and took lots of notes (former training as a journalist) which would then be filed according to the project and next actions would go into Nirvana.
              If you are the journaling type, read on. If not, ignore.

              I recall a recommendation that I heard from David Allen himself (on video) that you do not keep one journal per project. He recommends keeping a single running journal for all of the projects in your life. That way the notes are all in one place.

              If I remember correctly he keeps two journals: one for his work (everything unfinished in his life) and a separate one for his own reflective journaling.


              • #8
                How Do You Keep Your Notes??

                Thanks to everyone for your interesting and helpful posts. I'm still interested in how others handle this


                • #9
                  OK. I bring a pad of paper to a meeting. I write notes. I put an arrow next to anything like an action (or stuff). After the meeting, I tear off the page(s) I used and put them in my inbox. When I process them, I copy the actions onto individual sheets of paper in my system, one page per action, unless I do them immediately. Useful information I usually type into the computer somewhere so I can find it by searching for keywords or looking in a relevant file. I might then put a diagonal pencil stroke across the original page(s) of meeting notes, and put them in my "culling" system (more-or-less per Martin Ternouth) where I'll see them again in a week or so, which can jog my memory and remind me of the meeting as a whole, and I might possibly decide to extract additional information or actions from it at that time. After I've seen it enough times in the "culling" system, I make sure it's crossed out, then use the back of the paper for other purposes (such as those one-action-per-page things).

                  Sometimes I type in minutes to the meeting, after the meeting, and send them out on the computer typically within a couple of hours after the meeting.

                  I've tried typing minutes during the meeting, but stopped because it slowed things down too much. Apparently I can write much faster than I can type, maybe because I wasn't using a normal keyboard and mouse, and on paper I can use all sorts of abbreviations. (I have a shorthand writing system which I invented, for example.) Transitioning from talking to writing and back seems to work better with pencil and paper than with the computer. Although I think if I'm just typing straight text I can probably do that faster than writing out the full words. It takes time after the meeting to type in the minutes, but only one person's time, not slowing down the whole meeting. (I was kindof chairing the meetings too.)


                  • #10
                    Notes from meetings ideas using Outlook and Follow Up Flags. No longer use Tasks

                    To add to your excellent comments,

                    1. When the meeting is completed, I immediately go to my office and send to my CPA tax, accounting or CFP client an email summary of the meeting using Outlook. I like your idea of showing arrows for those items who need follow up actions.

                    2. If at all possible, before the client leaves, I prepare a summary email incuding all or some of the 5 journalism questions: Who, what, why, when and where. I number the key points in my email. OR,

                    3. I send myself an email using Outlook:

                    A. I sort many emails by subject so I make sure that the subject will be easy to find. I priortize with the last name, first initial of the client and if there is a business name, I abbreviate the business name.

                    For demonstration purposes, let us use the name of John Doe, President of Doe Dental Clinic. I would type into the Subject row, Doe, J DDC reduce taxes depreciation.

                    B. I list the objective as briefly as I can. In the above example, I am using depreciation as a key word because I have ideas on how to reduce the taxes by taking advantage of the flexible depreciation rules.

                    C. I color coded what my next action is or who is responsible for getting me information so I can then take the next action. Outlook uses the word "category" to allow people to sort by what David Allen in GTD calls Context.

                    For example, I have Outlook shortcut keys and colors for context (telephone call F4, computer F5 , desk F6, Waiting For F7, meeting F8, key person's name F1, F2, F3). For example if Mark C is responsbile for getting a tax plan to me by September 1 (I promised client a deadline of September 2nd or 3rd), I might show a due date of August 31st because Outlook will show this follow up as over due on September 1. I use F2 (Mark C)to indentify that I need Mark's help. The color to indicate that I need Mark's help is a dark blue color. If my next action is a call, then I would also include color code for a call.

                    D. I use the due date feature sort in Outlook for followups. It is easy to sort by due date.

                    If a follow up is needed beyond 90 days, I copy the relevant email directly to the calendar without showing a specific time. Jeffrey Brooks, CPA, CFP, MBA


                    • #11
                      Would you be able to bring a tablet with a key board? The nice thing is you could do your typing when you needed to, but most times, turn it side ways in front of you to make clear that you are doing anything with it other than taking notes when you are not typing. It would have much lower screen and profile.

                      For note tips I like Michael Hyatt's system of marking, this article for a tablet:

                      This for hand notes:

                      For the hand version, you could consider using the Cornell system of notetaking:


                      • #12
                        I'm suffering the same problems, I tend to write copious notes and this can detract from actually listening into the conversation. A few times I've tried using the laptop in the meeting room but putting it on my lap, so it's not as visible - if you can touch type then you don't need to always look at what your typing so you can maintain a fair bit of eye contact. Another trick that helped was putting the screen all the way back while the laptop was on the table, again to reduce the physical barrier. I think maintaining eye contact is the key issue, which is also a problem with writing notes - I have found people telling me 'don't write that down' even when using paper. Another problem with the computer is the noise of the keyboard is a bit distracting, and would be worse if a lot of people in the meeting did it. However my husband recently bought a new HP laptopf for home that has the quietest keys ever! i would love that.
                        I find hand writing meeting notes is not so great for long meetings, and typing is a bit better.
                        Fundamentally writing lots of meeting notes prevents you from being engaged in the meeting discussion itself, so I'm wondering if this approach is fundamentally flawed, and we should be using less words, eg mind mapping the meeting.


                        • #13
                          Where should the meeting notes get stored?

                          If the meeting is about one project then you can store the notes in the project support file, but if the meeting discusses several projects, which often it does, then where do you store the notes?


                          • #14
                            Scan and tag.

                            Originally posted by Suelin23 View Post
                            Where should the meeting notes get stored?

                            If the meeting is about one project then you can store the notes in the project support file, but if the meeting discusses several projects, which often it does, then where do you store the notes?
                            Scan and tag with project names. In my opinion the general chronological archive of tagged scans is the best solution to find anything.


                            • #15
                              Do you have them as permanent tags, or only whilst actionable? ie do you add a tag for items requiring follow up, and then remove after the action is complete, or do you leave the tag on there?