Three ways to take notes at meetings that ensure you do what you decided you would

November 2, 2017

Notes are helpful reminders of what was agreed during a meeting, only if you use them after the fact.


If you are responsible for a group of some kind, I am sure you will have experienced that all the things you decide to do during one of your recurring meetings did not get done when you intended it to.

Someone is asked to do something during a meeting, but when you reconvene something else has been prioritized instead or the task has been completely forgotten about.


More time for what matters most

It becomes obvious that we need to find a way to keep track of who is to do what and when, as well as be able to at any given moment see what tasks that have been completed and which ones that are left to do. The less effort you have to put into compiling this, the better since you probably want to spend your time doing other things than trying to keep an eye on everyone’s activities between meetings. And if there is not much time before you need to hurry off to the next meeting, there might not be very much time for you to sit down and summarize the progress or take stock of what tasks that are done or not done. This is a common problem that many need to find a solution to. But what might the solution be?

Here are three solutions to this dilemma. There are of course many more, but here are three suggestions you can experiment with to begin with.


1. Take notes in OneNote

As soon as you agree that someone will do something (for instance yourself), you make note of what is to be done, highlight the text and add a red reminder-flag. When you do, a new task is created in Outlook that is linked to the note in OneNote. When you later tick the task off as done in Outlook, it will register as being done in OneNote as well. So all the things that you agreed to do during the meeting ends up as tasks in Outlook’s Tasks-function, which is very practical if this is where you keep your one and only to-do-list. If you are not the only one who was asked to do certain things during the meeting, you can use Outlook to assign the right tasks to the right participant so that they all get their respective tasks sent to their emails.


2. RunYourMeeting for processing your meetings easier

Free for up to five users, you open the service and make notes throughout the meeting on what you discuss, who is to do what, and what decisions you have made. After the meeting every participant will receive an email with the notes from the meeting. If you have been asked to do something, it will be highlighted in the email you receive (but only the tasks that you have been made responsible for completing will be highlighted in the email you receive), including a link to the precise spot in the RunYourMeeting-notes where the task was noted so that you can make note of your progress or check tasks off as done. This way it is harder to miss or forget the tasks that you were made responsible for. If you want to check on yours and other participants’ progress you simply have a look in the service and can clearly see what tasks that have been completed and which remain to be done. Very clever, if you ask me.


3. Purposeful use of paper

If you prefer making notes on regular paper, perhaps because you perceive the computer as being some form of barrier between yourself and other participants, or because you tend to get distracted by things that are irrelevant to the subject of the meeting when you do, simply decide where on the paper you will write down the actual tasks you agree on doing. Perhaps you will write who is to do what and when at the bottom of the page – even if you make continuous notes as the meeting proceeds. This way you will identify the next steps you decided to take (meaning the next to-do-tasks) and easily transfer them onto your to-do-list and your waiting-for-list if you want to keep track of tasks someone else promised to get done. Even if you have another meeting right after this one, it will only take you a minute to get the results of the meeting onto your to-do-list. If you want to take it a step further, create a template that you sketch out by hand before the meeting and then use to automatically create some structure in your notes.


Do you think any of these three ideas would suit you? If so, have a look in your calendar to see when the next appropriate meeting for testing your new method is.

Create a template, an account in RunYourMeeting or create a test-task in OneNote – either immediately or later, which you in that case denote by making what you need to do in preparation for the meeting into a to-do-task.


Easy to follow up, not so easy to forget

If you refine how you make note of who is to do what during meetings, and you then follow up what gets done, you will not need to spend all that time compiling and getting a fresh overview of what is done and what isn’t before the next meeting.

Both before and during the meeting it will be easy to see what tasks you agreed to get done last time, and depending on what method or tool you choose, the update of the actual progress will be managed more or less automatically. And thus, the chances of some decision or task falling getting neglected, decreases dramatically.


What is your way?

Do you have some other great way of taking notes than these three? Write to me and share. I want to gather as many tips on how you, me and everybody else can simplify our lives – even if this concerns improving and simplifying small details. You will reach me by emailing and I am very curious of hearing what you have thought of.


Source: David Stiernholm, author or Super Structured

David StiernholmDavid Stiernholm is a trainer who teaches thousands of people every year in companies, government authorities, organizations and universities how to become more structured and attain a higher degree of personal efficiency.

Super Structured

“Information overload”, “too much going on”, “full email inbox”, “too SUPER STRUCTUREDmuch on your plate”, “heavy workload”, “ASAP”, “piles that keep growing”, it has to get better soon… Yes, there are many ways to describe the chaotic life many of us lead at work. But, if we create a better structure at work, we will have more time for what matters most to us and to our business. Super Structured is based on a highly successful training program and is for anyone who wants to create a workday that runs smoother and with greater ease. In short chapters with useful advice and tips



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