In a previous post, I gave tips for taking meeting notes on paper. I promised to discuss electronic note-taking later.
Welcome to later.
Yes, there are cognitive and social advantages to taking meeting notes on paper. Research shows that we remember content better when we’ve written it by hand. Additionally, it’s more socially-acceptable to write notes on paper rather than tap keys on a keyboard during a meeting. When you are interfacing with electronic objects in a meeting room, people assume you’re checking your email.
There are several advantages to electronic note-taking:
- The notes are more readily shared with others
- You are typically more thorough with your note-taking
- There is no need to scan or store paper notes in file drawers
As I said in the post about paper note-taking, it is my goal to make things simple for my clients. For that reason, it’s good to understand the electronic note-taking tools you already have.
The Pre-Installed Notes App on Your Phone or Tablet
When you buy a mobile device, it comes with several built-in apps, one of those is a creatively-named Notes app.
The advantages of this app are its accessibility and the ease of dictating text to it. I cannot easily type on a phone or tablet. I use my ring finger to peck out one letter at a time. My daughter shakes her head every time she sees me do that. So, dictation is an important feature to me.
The disadvantage to this tool is that your notes likely stay exactly where they are…on your device. They are not typically organized or even sorted into a usable format. You may be able to search your device for them, but I find that this system is not scalable. Most professionals have too many meeting notes to maintain them this way.
So, I don’t often recommend the pre-installed Notes apps, or any other apps that limit your access to your notes to your mobile devices.
A straightforward way to take electronic notes during meetings is to bring your laptop with you and launch Word. Take your notes, save them to a shared drive or a cloud-based file management system, and then both you and others have access to them. Your notes can be organized into folders and stored contextually with other information on a project or process.
If your notes contain sensitive business information, this is typically the most secure way to store them. The notes stay on your company servers rather than living on the servers of a 3rd party outside of your firewall.
Pro tip: Make sure you pay close attention to file naming conventions if you use this method.
The primary disadvantage to Word docs for your notes is that you must haul around your laptop. However, if that doesn’t bother you, this may be the way to go.
OneNote (or Evernote)
If you find the above tips boring and want a little more oomph in your note-taking, consider note-taking software. Microsoft OneNote is typically installed with the Office suite. You may have seen the purple “N” icon on your computer and spent 1.5 seconds wondering what that was before moving on.
If you are not a Microsoft user, I understand that Evernote is excellent. My “maximize what you have” philosophy led me to OneNote, and it works well for me and many of my clients.
The advantage of OneNote is that it centralizes your notes in one place and is both searchable and organizable. If you want to share notes with others, you’ll need to copy and paste them into an email or Word doc. Additionally, several clients have been successful with synchronizing OneNote with their mobile devices.
Go to https://support.office.com and click on “OneNote” for some quick online training.
Pro tip: Don’t use OneNote for your centralized task list. They (Microsoft) will tell you that you can, but it doesn’t work well for that purpose. There are better task management tools.
As long as there are meetings, there will be meeting notes. Do what works for you – whether paper or electronic. And, if you need help being more productive both in and out of your meetings, that’s what I’m here for.
Email me and we can schedule a no-cost-to-you initial assessment to discuss productivity coaching. I’ll be taking notes…
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Melissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.
OneNote was a game changer for me. I used to carry numerous spiral notebooks (one for each project, group, etc.) If I picked up the wrong one, I ended up taking notes in the wrong book. With OneNote, I always have all my “notebooks” with me. I use my Ipad and Apple Pencil to handwrite my notes in meetings. If I no longer need a page, I delete it . . . or I can move it to another notebook if needed. It will let me insert pictures, voice messages, etc. I love the dictation feature too. I even created a shared notebook with my husband where we keep our grocery list and various other “need to know” items. For example, if we are at the hardware store and I can’t remember what size air filter we use, I have it in that notebook with a picture (just in case). It is my most used productivity tool!
I love OneNote also! You sound like a real power user. Very cool.
Melissa: Another great tool for note taking is MindJet’s MindManager. I am a user of this tool in software format; however, mind mapping can be done with a pencil and paper. If anyone is interested inmindmapping,I would be happy to share.
I like mindmapping for brainstorming-type meetings. I use mindmeister for my annual goal setting. Here are some resources: https://melissagratias.com/mindmaps/ Feel free to include other resources, Charles, and thanks for commenting.
A tool that I found about from one of my clients is Rocketbook at getrocketbook.com . Some people like to write notes by hand. The
Rocketbook is a reusable notebook that you can upload to Dropbox, Google Drive, OneNote, Evernote or other formats and it is searchable.
I tried using OneNote for meeting notes years ago, but it didn’t go well. Now that I think about it, that was a Windows tablet that turned out to be a dud, and I traded it in after a few months.
Maybe it’s time to try it again!
I was once taking notes in a seminar (about repairing a road bike flat and other bike maintenance issues). I was very interested in this topic as I had recently suffered a flat and a 5 mile walk back to my car (in bike cleats, no less). I missed a crucial step in the order of things and asked the speaker to please clarify what he said. Instead of answering he said “ if you weren’t texting on your phone you would know what I said”. I was so embarrassed about this that I have changed my behavior from that time forward. If I need notes, I record the speaker or meeting and then write out my notes later. I do not believe this is the best method as it is way too time consuming. I will try one of the above mentioned methods in the future, and maybe learn to speak up for myself as well.
Like you, I would have been shocked for an instructor to speak to an adult like that. I have had participants come up to me before seminars to let me know that they are taking notes electronically. Not that I think that disclaimer is even necessary. It’s not my business what someone is doing on their devices as long as they aren’t disrupting others…
Great stuff. As you know, I’m an Evernote person, and one of the niftiest of the newer features is that you can connect your account to your Google or Outlook calendars and when you have a meeting, you can set Evernote to automatically create and open a meeting note, pre-populated with a template with the meeting information (attendees, conferencing link, etc.) at the top, and sections for capturing action items and information, and then you can assign tasks to others and insert reminder alerts, all from inside the meeting notes.
That said, I’m still more inclined to take handwritten notes. 😉
OneNote interacts with Outlook Calendar seamlessly as well. Google calendar? Not so much.