I use a paper notebook for meeting notes because I can’t focus on meetings if I use an electronic device. I’m afraid if I don’t focus, I’ll be volunteered for something and mindlessly mumble, “uh-huh, sure…”
What I’m writing here, however, is tool-agnostic.
Record your own notes for meetings and appointments. Don’t just rely on meeting minutes or medical records; record your own thoughts.
Most of the time you won’t need to look them up later, but once in awhile that information is pure gold.
Any time I go to a meeting I record these things:
I also write down:
As soon as the meeting is over, I take ten or fifteen minutes to enter that stuff into my productivity system, whether it’s tasks, upcoming meetings or events, or knowing who I need to follow up with.
Even if you have someone recording official meeting minutes, your own notes help you filter what impacts you directly.
(If you want to turbo-charge this, start your note for the meeting ahead of time and write in any questions or comments you have, so you don’t forget to bring them up.)
I also have a notebook I use for personal appointments, such as with a doctor or an accountant. The information I put in there is pretty similar to what’s above — name, date, who’s there, what was discussed, what I have to do, what others promised to do, what I might want to know later.
If you want to use a paper notebook to record meeting or appointment notes, here is the quadrant system I use to to organize mine to quickly find specific information later.
* I can’t tell the Internet the story of how this saved my bacon, but once, it DID save my bacon that I had my own notes about who attended a meeting that later stirred up some controversy. It’s good to know who was in the room sometimes.