It finally hit me today that the notes I take after a meeting are usually better than the notes I take during a meeting. And they’re way better than taking no notes at all.
The latter case first: Sometimes taking notes during a meeting is infeasible or inappropriate. Examples include job interviews, situations where seating (or lack of) makes note-taking impractical, and impromptu meetings where you’re sucked in before you can grab a note-taking device.
Some people have phenomenal memories. I don’t. I know that if I don’t make an effort to record the important points from a meeting, the meeting might as well not have happened at all.
The ten minutes or so following a meeting is like a grace period in which my mind still retains the most memorable parts of a meeting.
But it’s even better than that. For me, post-meeting note-taking is useful even after meetings where I did take good notes. After a meeting, the meeting itself is done (agree?). In other words, I know the beginning and the end of the story. And so simple, linear outlining possible.
Writing things down after a meeting also facilitates what I call “note analysis”, which goes beyond simply turning thoughts into text. Note analysis brings key next steps to the surface, triggers important follow-up questions, and, perhaps best of all, lets me throw out all the noise from my in-meeting notes.
I don’t love meetings. I bet you don’t either. But guess what? Meetings are going to keep happening.
I think it’s better to spend the ten minutes or so after a meeting pocketing a few flecks of gold than surrendering it all to the current of time.