How to handle capturing and processing of meetings?

comet2

Registered
I recently began using GTD in my work life. Previously, I attempted to organize my personal life with GTD for about 2 months, now I decided to start over with a more complete system that covers all areas of life.

I find myself 1-3 times per day in a meeting kind of situation at work during which I use two pieces of my GTD system:
  • a NA context with questions I need to ask and/or tasks I have to delegate (for recurring meetings I have fixed agenda context lists, for one-off meetings I create a temporary list that I discard after the meeting)
  • my waiting for list(s) of everyone else who's in the meeting (for people who have many items on my waiting for list I created separate lists)
This approach works well for me so far, and I started to notice a pattern. Usually one or more of the following happen:
  • I receive some new task during the meeting (and it's usually obvious in which context it belongs)
  • a NA like "discuss X" becomes a task for me (again the context is obvious)
  • a NA like "discuss X" becomes a task for somebody else (i.e. I need to put it on my waiting for list)
  • I can delegate a task as planned (and have to put it on my waiting for)
I see two ways how I could handle such situations:
  1. Immediately during the meeting, put new tasks as NA's in the appropriate context, and put tasks that others agreed to do on my waiting for. The upside here is that everything in my system is always up-to-date. (I don't need extra time to review meeting notes afterwards.) But I noticed that this is quite stressful. It seems to me that it slows down meetings, I always need an extra moment to assign the proper list label to my note and make sure it's properly phrased (e.g. contains a NA verb). And sometimes it turns out that I made a mistake, a NA wasn't really a clear NA, I needed to convert it into a project afterwards etc.
  2. Take typical meeting notes during the meeting, without thinking in GTD terms. Put those in my inbox and take care of them some time later. This would give me time to process the items properly when I have a calm state of mind. But it makes the process more complicated. Do notes really have to take this "inbox detour" even though in 95% of cases it's obvious on which list they'll end up anyway? I'm also worried that I might forget some important detail if I don't get around to processing the notes before the next morning.
Most of the time I found myself using (1), but this doesn't seem to be a very GTD-ish approach. Before switching to (2) I would like to know if there is a standard GTD approach for meetings, maybe I missed something.

From your experience, what is the best way to handle such meeting situations? To which part of the five step workflow does a meeting belong? Should I strictly separate capturing and processing here, even though it takes some extra time?
 

GTDengineer

Registered
In a digital task list manager, make the default task list the inbox for your system. Add any new tasks to the task inbox, and process into contexts later.
 

mcogilvie

Registered
You have a good third action: take typical meeting notes while thinking in GTD terms. Put in your notes “NA grind bones of marketing dweebs up for bread” with an optional @work context if you like. Also, “WF poison apple for Snow White to arrive” (it‘s a children’s book villainess day, sorry). Box or star the stuff you need to process. If you‘re not sure in the moment what you need to do, mark that too. Some people like to take Cornell-style notes, which can be helpful. After the meeting sometime soonish, process. It will go fast. File or pitch the meeting notes, your choice.
 

Bertie..

Registered
I can spend all day in meetings, both online and in person. I capture using the Bullet Journal approach in a paper noteboo (with addition of a W/F annotation where i capture stuff I'm waiting for), then sweep actions into my digital tasks app at end of day, using my weekly review as a backstop to review notebooks, actions etc.
 

Gtdad

Registered
I use a paper journal for capturing. I assign context, due dates etc on the fly as I can. But usually just capture the concept. I try to book 1/2 hour blocks immediately after my meetings to get the notes into my system.
 

PeterByrom

Registered
I take meeting notes by typing, and before the meeting begins I write everybody’s initials, plus an “everyone” and a “Waiting For“ on a separate document or at the bottom of the same document. Eg:

PB:

SR:

AM:

JH:

SH:

Everyone:

WF:


In the first document, I type ordinary notes.

In the second document / this section (with those initials as above), I capture next actions and waiting fors.

Those can then not only be easily processed when I come to the notes from the inbox, but it means I can easily circulate a copy to everybody.
 

TesTeq

Registered
I take meeting notes by typing, and before the meeting begins I write everybody’s initials, plus an “everyone” and a “Waiting For“ on a separate document or at the bottom of the same document. Eg:

PB:

SR:

AM:

JH:

SH:

Everyone:

WF:


In the first document, I type ordinary notes.

In the second document / this section (with those initials as above), I capture next actions and waiting fors.

Those can then not only be easily processed when I come to the notes from the inbox, but it means I can easily circulate a copy to everybody.
@PeterByrom How do you decide if you create one or two documents? What are the criteria? Do you use a special naming convention for these two documents if you decide to create more than one?
 

Jared Caron

Healthcare Quality & Safety pro; GTD enthusiast
Great questions.

I think everyone will have their own spin on this, as note taking is such a personal comfort thing.

Seems to me your question may have to do with separating the capture, clarify, and organize steps - it sounds like maybe you are trying to do all three during the meeting?

I try to focus on the capture phase while in a meeting. I will still clarify the expectations around actions and decisions made, I don't commit to the clarify step of the GTD process, however. I accomplish clarifying and organizing the information into my system later on.

I use a notebook that has a narrow column on the left which is unlined; this becomes a "mind sweep" column for random unrelated thoughts or thoughts that are triggered in the meeting but not directly related. Very useful - I think I picked up that idea from coach Kelly in a webinar or something.

As for the meeting notes themselves, I am typically only writing two types of things down:
1. Info to remember as a reference or as contextual info for decisions made
2. open loops I have to do something about or track as waiting for.

I've come up with a simple system for identifying items in #2 category, by simply drawing a > symbol as a bullet point. All my meeting notes drop into my in-tray which is then processed to zero every ~24 hours.

When I review them while processing my inbox, I use a highlighter to keep track of everything that's been organized, focusing mostly on the left "mind sweep" column and any ">" bullets. Often times I find that after I clarify and organize my notes in this way, I can discard them.

In my mind, this is the beauty of GTD. I can be in several back-to-back meetings and maintain presence in all of them without lingering anxiety that I've forgotten something. As long as I take sufficient notes and have the clarifying time, later on, the right info gets into the right places.
 

comet2

Registered
Thank you all for your responses. You convinced me to go with approach (2), focus on just capturing during the meeting. So far this turned out positive, in the sense that I can be more present during the meeting. I'm not sure yet about using a template with initials like Peter suggested, because I noticed that some meetings take unexpected turns and NA's/WF's may not be finalized until the very end of the meeting.
 

Oogiem

Registered
From your experience, what is the best way to handle such meeting situations? To which part of the five step workflow does a meeting belong? Should I strictly separate capturing and processing here, even though it takes some extra time?
I take notes using my iPad and GoodNotes. I can write by hand and I use a modified Cornell system and different colors to note things that might be fiture actions. Then I consider those notes to be inbox items. At my next procesign time but no sooner than a day later (to give my mond time to absorb the meeting info) I will further process those notes into projects, project support material and next actions. I can use the OCR capability to get the text I wrote into typed text for use in other pgograms or to send. My handwriting is terrible but I still get better than 90% accuracy in OCR using GoodNotes.
Prior to using the ipad for notes I would use paper but do the same thing, I always processed it later.

You have a good third action: take typical meeting notes while thinking in GTD terms.
This is a really key important feature. If as you are taking notes you see things that might be projects or actions flag them somehow so that when you process you can fill out the details into your task manager system.

I use the left margin in Cornell paper and red pen color to mark things that I know need more work and I circle things that migh or just write them in red in my notes.
 

PeterByrom

Registered
@PeterByrom How do you decide if you create one or two documents? What are the criteria? Do you use a special naming convention for these two documents if you decide to create more than one?

I create two documents only if it seems like it would be awkward to scroll back and forth between the “ordinary notes” and the “next actions” section. If I have the “next actions” section instantly to hand then it usually means that I can quickly read a summary of all our next actions as the meeting is wrapping up.

I’d name the two docs after the meeting and date, and have the next actions section be something like NA as a suffix. But they both get processed anyway.
 
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