If you go into meetings (for work, volunteer organizations, family decisions, etc.) feeling super excited (or not!) and then either have no idea what to DO when you leave—or have a hard time following through, today’s video will help you take and process meeting notes in a simple, powerful way.
Ask yourself this question: What do you currently do when you come out of a meeting? Do you do whatever was mentioned at the END of the meeting? Do you do whatever comes to mind? Do you get pulled away by emails and other needs that are coming in? Have you ever gotten to the next meeting (with the same people/on the same topic) and realized that you didn’t do all the things you had planned to do? Or, if you’re the one leading the meeting, do you ever feel stressed—not knowing what will happen when everyone breaks off at the end?
There are some simple processing principles that can help you achieve effective and fun meetings—where you know all the moving parts are being handled as needed. (Click to watch the video below, or keep scrolling for the video summary!)
Before the meeting:
Identify the purpose.
If there isn’t a specific reason for a meeting, it’s probably better not to have a meeting. So before you take up any time on your (or someone else’s) calendar, it’s helpful to ask, “What is my purpose and outcome vision?”
We want to make sure that when we take the time to gather (whether in person or remotely), we know exactly what we want the result to be. Why are we all here? What do we need to discuss? What needs to happen as a result of us coming together?
Keep things simple.
We don’t want people to dread coming to meetings with us. 🙂 Participants should know the purpose and focus (either because they helped create it—or because you, as the leader, shared it with them), and then, optimally, by the time they leave, they feel great! Having long-winded conversations, adding in too many extra topics, deviating from the agenda, etc. can make meetings pretty frustrating, so we’ll all try not to do those things, right?
During the meeting:
Take immediate action on date-specific tasks.
For example, don’t plan to “calendar things” later. If you need time to work on a project, discuss something further, or schedule the next meeting, pull your calendars out right then and get those things decided. Or if there is something that needs to be done on a specific date, immediately add it into your calendar so it won’t slip your mind. That way, when the meeting is finished, there’s nothing date-specific that’s unaccounted for.
These “little things” are what often cause our minds to feel unsettled when we’re waking up or going to bed. We’re wondering if there was something due that day, but we accidentally missed it—or we know there’s a big project that needs our attention, but we’re not sure if the next steps are in place. When things are on your calendar in a simple way, as an appointment or task that’s date-specific and locked in place, it allows your brain to relax.
Take notes with purpose.
Part of your notes will be “information.” You may be recording what was covered, ideas that were shared, updates on projects, or other interesting things you’d like to remember.
The other part of your notes will be tasks. These are typically things that you need to do—or things others are doing that require your follow-up.
I personally prefer to take paper notes, so I designate a small section of my page for my personal action items. That way, I have all my notes from the meeting, but in one corner I know what I need to DO after that meeting. It might be a phone call to make, an errand to run, research to do, a new project I need to get done, or a check-in with someone in the meeting at a specific time.
After the meeting:
Process everything immediately! (Or as soon as you possibly can.) I find that if I wait until the following day or later that week to process my meeting notes, I forget the details of the conversations. If, before you jump into “life” after the meeting, you can just take a moment to process, you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches….
“Processing” means that you take the list of information and tasks assigned to you and put them (ideally) into your STEP Command Central. This means if you have context-based tasks, they go on your Next Actions List. If there’s a project that needs to be done now/in the future, you put it into your project management system. (We organize these as “Current,” “Next in Line” or “Someday.”) If there’s information you need to be reminded about in a few weeks, create a calendar trigger to do so. If you’re not sure what we’re talking about here, we teach you more on how to process information into your Command Central in other videos and inside our STEP program (linked below!).
File your notes!
If you take digital notes, you’ll want to organize them into a digital notes system. I personally use Evernote, and I have a notebook for “LearnDoBecome Admin.” If I were typing out my notes, I would simply create that note inside that notebook in the first place, so it would be automatically “filed.”
If you take paper notes (like me), take a picture or scan your notes and add those images to your digital notes system with key words like which meeting it was, the date of the meeting, and anything else you might want to search in the future.
Here’s why this is exciting:
When you take on a new project from a meeting and process your notes accordingly, you know exactly where and how to find that information later on, and you always know what you need to do.
And once you fully process your meeting notes into your STEP Command Central, you’ll gain more confidence in yourself. You’ll know exactly what you signed up to do, and you’ll feel a renewed energy going into future meetings because you can provide appropriate updates and succinctly discuss what needs to happen next. Then you know that projects are moving forward in relaxed, timely ways. Others will begin to trust you, and you will see results in your work, your life, and even your own business or profession.
And while I think we all want to be the kind of people who can be trusted, we mostly want to be able to trust ourselves. It’s that feeling that helps us to avoid the overwhelm that is so common today.
Are you feeling excited about meetings? We hope so! We can’t wait to hear how it goes for you, and if you want to learn more about setting up a full STEP Command Central, you can check out our full program or the free resources below!
Sarah L says
Maybe this answers the question I had – what do you do with extra one-off tasks that you think of during the week, that are not part of a project? Do you add them to the Context Based Next Actions List for that week?
How do you stop this list from then growing and becoming undoable? I’m still getting stuck with having some items on my Context Based List that I’m still not getting done after a couple of weeks…
Taryn Wood says
This is a great question. One that we receive quite often. 🙂 One-off tasks can still be added to your Context-Based Next Action List if they need to be done this week. You do want to be careful not to overload your list to the point that you feel overwhelmed.
The other thing to be mindful of is that what seems like a one-off task, might actually be a small project. Any task that has more than one step is actually a project rather than a one-off task. This is often the reason something will sit on your Context-Based Next Action List, the next action isn’t small enough!
In our STEP program, we encourage our community to have what we call a “capture tool.” This could be a digital list, a notebook, or a sticky note. Basically, one place where you can record those thoughts, tasks, and ideas that come to your head. Then you can move them to your Context-Based Next Action List for the week as you have time and energy to complete them.
I hope that helps to answer your question!
Sarah L says
PS: I still don’t get an email notification of replies here. But I checked back anyway 🙂