How to handle capturing and processing of meetings?


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?


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.


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.


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.