How to Develop a Focused Note Taking Process

Learn why a focused note-taking process is key to working effectively and how to build a process that works for you.

We all know taking notes is helpful for remembering the most important parts of a meeting. But there’s much more to it than simply writing down everything you hear. That’s why it’s important to approach note taking with some goals in mind. A focused note taking process can keep you both engaged during a meeting and organized later. Read on for some tips on how to refine your note taking process – and set yourself up for success. 

6 tips for an effective focused note taking process

Coming up with a focused note taking process can be easy with a bit of practice. It just takes figuring out what information to prioritize and what tools work best for you. Once you’ve fine-tuned your method, you can use it in all your meetings. Here are a few ways to create a streamlined note-taking process. 

1Stay engaged throughout the meeting

The first step to taking quality notes is to be fully present and attentive in your meeting. Once you get a good grasp on how to practice active listening at work, it can be way easier to remember key information. You’ll also be better prepared to see which updates are most relevant and track action items after the meeting. 

Taking notes is in and of itself a great way to stay focused throughout a meeting. The more you train yourself to listen for important details, the better you’ll be at staying in the zone. 

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2Edit and consolidate

When you look at your notes after a meeting, you should be able to quickly scan them for what’s important. You should prioritize notes that summarize and reflect the most valuable points. You should also edit and consolidate your notes so you can easily get a high-level meeting overview. 

You can also keep your notes concise with note-taking strategies such as abbreviations, headings, and subheadings. Writing short phrases instead of full sentences is another great shortcut to save time both during and after the meeting. 

3Write down only certain things

There’s more to workplace success than simply showing up. As Tracy Paye, Professional Organizer CPO, explains, “Deep work is best achieved when the brain gets into a state of flow. The more clear and calm your workspace, the fewer distractions, and the faster you can achieve flow.” 

This concept applies to your mental workspace as well. The clearer your head, the faster you can get into a great note-taking flow. When you only include certain things in your notes, you can listen for the right information and not get weeded in unnecessary details. Here are a few types of information for your note-taking process. 

  • Important points. When you go over your notes, you should be able to quickly spot key takeaways. Think about what you would share with a team member who wasn’t able to make it to a meeting and asks for an overview. This can help narrow down what’s most essential . 
  • Follow-up items and new tasks. Highlighting action items that fall in your wheelhouse will help you prioritize tasks later. Make note of any deadlines that come up in a meeting and whether you’ll need to collaborate with any team members. You should also note any tasks assigned to your fellow team members so that you know what’s coming down the pike. 
  • Instructions and guidelines. As you create your master to-do list from your meeting notes, you’ll also want to write down any directions from the meeting. You should also include specifics about any tasks that are newly on your plate. 
  • Resolutions and next steps. Call out any decisions or outcomes from the meeting – a record of concrete results is always valuable. Even if your current tasks don’t directly relate to any of this, you might work on something later that does.
  • Additional information. While your focused note taking process should focus on high-level information, there may be unrelated points that resonate with you. Separating this information as extra items can keep you organized without losing the details.
  • Conversation. Sometimes, it can be helpful to know exactly what everyone said in a meeting that led to a decision. Noting discussion points that struck a chord with you can help if you’re looking back later and trying to understand what happened.
  • Notable ideas. Choosing which notes are opinion vs. fact can be useful when you tackle action items after the meeting. When you separate thoughts and ideas in your notes, you can immediately tell which parts of your notes are concrete facts and which are opinions. 
  • Suggestions and solutions. As brainstorming happens, it can be useful to note the ideas everyone discussed, especially for when they come up in future project planning. Make note of suggestions that might affect you so that you can easily figure out where they came from. 

4Make your notes accessible to everyone at the meeting 

As you perfect your note-taking process, be sure you can share your notes with the whole team. Write your notes in a way that’s easily digestible for just about anyone. This way, your whole team can learn from what you’ve learned too. 

Additionally, you should keep your notes in a format that’s easy to share. Taking notes digitally will give you a special advantage when you share your notes. Rather than spending extra time and energy typing up notes after the meeting, you can share them with just a few clicks. 

5Put a voice to your notes

As you refine your process on how to take meeting notes, adding your own unique voice is a great way to keep your notes memorable. Get creative within your usual note-taking structure so that the meeting truly sticks with you. Building a one-of-a-kind note-taking voice can also come in handy if you need to share your viewpoint down the line. Your notes might be a lot more exciting for your team to read if the words you’re using truly sound like you.

6Choose a tool and stick to it 

Consistency is key to great notes, so it’s important to find a note-taking tool you’ll want to keep using. When choosing a note-taking tool, consider how you learn best. Whatever your learning style, you can always find options. Note-taking tools like Fellow make it simple to both organize your ideas and share peer feedback with your team.

Find a focused note taking strategy that works for you

Perfecting your focused note-taking process can take time, but the return is well worth the investment. Once you’ve decided on an organizational method and picked a note-taking tool, you’ll quickly start saving time, especially in the long run. When you don’t have to sift through long, messy notes after a meeting, you can get back to work sooner. 

You can make this shift today with Fellow, a note-taking tool with templates and features that streamline your notes however works best for you. It’s an effective and user-friendly way to keep yourself organized and on track, so you can focus on doing your best work. 

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Fellow is the meeting productivity and team management software where teams gather to build collaborative agendas, record decisions, and keep each other accountable.

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