Home Forums Welcome Hello! Less Cluttered Notes!

This topic contains 15 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of pkilmain pkilmain 2 years, 9 months ago.

  • Author
  • #159751
    Profile photo of Vaslo

    Hi everyone,

    I have a challenge for you. I work in a corporate finance role and run around to a lot of meetings. I seem to sloppily take notes that I frequently lose. I try and take them on a PC but can’t seem to find a good system for that either, it usually turns out to be a dash and then lines of words that are very linear. In addition, I forget about action items in these notes, and frequently forget minor requests. I am an dummy :(.

    I’d love any advice you have on this, that works for a very ADDish person. Overly organized systems won’t work for me, as much as I want them to. I appreciate any advice!!

  • #205758

    Less Cluttered Notes!

    Hi Vaslo, welcome to the forum.

    Speaking as someone who goes to a lot of meetings as well, I know what you mean.

    Probably the simpler the better I’m expecting?

    If you’re taking notes on a PC, try naming the document with a ‘meaningful to you’ name. Mine tend to be ‘IT-Build-FEB-15′ (I’m in IT) or similiar. Putting the date last and backwards will make it in chronological order, and group it by type of meeting.

    Inside the document – try doing it in 2 columns. The first column is for marking the stand-out stuff like actions and the second column is the notes. Um… let me give you a for example…

    A – Write up an example for Vaslo
    – This is just another point
    R – And this is a minor request.

    If you do it in excel, you can filter your notes by the first column and then you get a list of all your actions.

    I think the important thing though, is if you have actions, immediately after the meeting, sit down with your notes, go through them and pull out your actions, make deadlines for them and put them into your calendar. (I’m assuming you have a calendar? Most offices use microsoft)

    Then your calendar will remind you.

  • #205766
    Profile photo of Katha

    Less Cluttered Notes!

    Ha! A topic dear to my heart – and I am by no means perfect in it, but here goes:

    To easily identify my actions afterwards in the jumble of my notes – I just draw a star next to that line.
    And I try to do the two-column thing on paper, more or less. My note paper already has a small column to the side. I take my run-on notes in the larger space, and if something actionable comes out of them, I will jot down, very shorthand-style, “Check X” “Ask A.” “Call C. about –> (arrow pointing to longer notes) to find out Z” in the side column and draw a star. You might try a box instead of a star, so that you can check it afterwards – either when you do the action or when you transfer it to some kind of master to-do-list.

    How about taking notes in the body of an e-mail and mailing it to yourself right after the meeting? I do this sometimes with just the action items (because I am not a very fast typer and take notes better by hand). Added advantage: My “follow-up” marked e-mails make up a large part of my to-do list, and that way, the action items integrate easily into that.

  • #205769
    Profile photo of Jude2004

    Less Cluttered Notes!

    I’m always taking notes. I even take notes during movies. When I get home, I scan them using my Fujitsu Scansnap, then upload the PDFs to Google Docs. I don’t have to be organized because I can use keyword searching to find things in Docs. But if I had an outside job, the email idea seems like a good one.

  • #205770
    Profile photo of chacha1

    Less Cluttered Notes!

    I’ve become a big fan of using Outlook, email folders and calendar, to keep my many juggled work items from going splat.

    To be honest I am kind of the opposite of ADD, though, and I don’t have meetings to contend with. So YMMV.

  • #205783
    Profile photo of djk

    Less Cluttered Notes!

    I am much faster at taking notes by hand even though I type quickly. Do you have a smartphone? If losing your handwritten notes is a problem, you can snap a photo of your notes right after the meeting then email them to yourself with a keyword such as the client’s name and date of meeting in the subject line. Searchable text is wonderful if you remember keywords:) so having the date and name in the subject line is useful. When I used outlook I used its task list a lot. I use gmail exclusively now and have every email assigned a folder, normally with colours.

    I agree with Kiri and Katha–I also star important items, or use a highlighter on the action points, And reviewing the notes immediately after reminds me right away what I must put on a task list/calendar/Teuxdeux.

    If you do have a smartphone the app “jotnot” is a scanner using your camera, and you can send it to Evernote, dropbox, email etc

  • #205786
    Profile photo of Conny

    Less Cluttered Notes!

    had to look up YMMV which is =Your Mileage May Vary, anything for those of us using Kilometers? (smiles)

    Unfortunately i only learned to use mind maps the last year of grad school, but if you know how to use that for meetings, it may be of help, because it is fast, you only write one main word for each concept. Use a highliner or any colour pen to highlight the task portion so that part stands out.

  • #205804
    Profile photo of lottielot

    Less Cluttered Notes!

    Yeah, I was going to suggest mind maps too, they suit us ADD types. You could have a certain standout colour for actions :) I do mindmaps on a big A3 sheet so there’s lots of room to add things. I take notes in seminars this way too. You could just keep these notes all together on the pad of paper. Then the emailing yourself tasks would be easier because you can see them more easily, and if you need to record anything formally from the notes you can do bullet points and stick them in a file labelled with the date as suggested. Also: think about the purpose of these notes. Are they to keep a record of the meeting or just to flag up action points? Do you refer back to anything later?

  • #205805
    Profile photo of lottielot

    Less Cluttered Notes!

    Another idea: 2 types of coloured paper, say yellow for lists of action items and white for general notes? You sound like quite a visual person, I can identify with your dislike of linearity :)

  • #205806
    Profile photo of lottielot

    Less Cluttered Notes!

    Final thing: you are not a dummy, your brain just works in a different way and you need to experiment with how to fit your organisation to your brain!

  • #205809
    Profile photo of Mimi

    Less Cluttered Notes!

    for business things, i have a big RED noteboock. and big means DIN A4, this is like US standard letter size. i make notes in this book, i use checkboxes to check if i have done what needs to be done, i draw in the book, make mindmaps, whatever i feel like. and i force myself not to use different systems, no mails, no outlook, nothing else, just this one and only book. it works quite well. i have had one problem once- someone had stolen my car and my notebook was in the car! my second brain was gone :) now i scan the pages every other week, just in case… ;)

  • #205815
    Profile photo of

    Less Cluttered Notes!

    In my office, we all have notebooks that we carry to all our meetings. Some people have different notebooks for different purposes or types of meetings; others have binders with ruled pages and planners and calendars. I just have the one notebook for everything.

    Same as Katha, I put a star next to anything that’s an action item. When the item is done, I cross out the star with a different colour pen.

    I also have daily to do lists in my notebook, and I refer to the list several times a day; whenever something’s done, I cross it out. If there’s stuff left on it at the end of the day, I start a list for the next day and put those things at the top.

  • #205833
    Profile photo of loripax

    Less Cluttered Notes!

    I’ve always had a terrible time trying to take notes on a computer, although I’m very comfortable with computers and doing all kinds of other stuff on them. I use lots of arrows and stars circles and other things among all my lists and bullet points when I’m taking notes, and I just can’t do that on screen. Also, making little doodles out in the margins while listening to what someone else is saying helps me focus on and process what they’re saying.

    The key, as @celebkiriedhel said, is to sit down *immediately* after the meeting to pull out your to-dos and things that need to be scheduled. I would add to that filling in any blank spots and clarifying anything that might make you go “huh what?” in a few days when you try to figure out what that cryptic word with no context means.

    ETA: I really like taking notes on graph paper rather than lined paper. Somehow that seems to free me up from thinking everything must be linear.

  • #205847
    Profile photo of Netleigh

    Less Cluttered Notes!

    Have you considered the technical solutions like Livescribe pens? I know someone at work who is a gadget freak and loves his recording pen!

    I too use a star in the margin of my meeting notes for actions that I have to do. Then I either work from the notes or transcribe into outlook tasks depending on how quickly I can deal with them.

  • #206063

    Less Cluttered Notes!

    In the past week or so, I’ve decided to try the “one notebook for everything” method, similar to what Anita described. The reason being that I was ending up with scraps of paper everywhere, or multiple notebooks with info in each one, or some things on the computer and some in hard copy, and it was confusing. So now I just have one notebook, where I keep task lists as well as meeting notes. I have a big rubber stamp that says “complete” and I am considering stamping a page “complete” once there is no longer any information of importance on the page – i.e., all tasks done, all meeting followup complete.

    Anyway, so far I think having one notebook is easier than trying to have a “system” – yes, sometimes it takes me a while to locate something in the notebook, but at least I know that it is somewhere in the notebook and not anywhere else!

    I also agree with Lori that lined paper is an annoyance. Graph paper or unlined are both nice.

  • #206071
    Profile photo of pkilmain

    Less Cluttered Notes!

    Sleepkitten – would it help to put sticky note dividers for various projects, or even to just note a page you keep referring to? I am in the lined paper camp. :) I just cannot seem to write straight if I don’t have lines. graph paper would be okay too, but not unlined.

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.