Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Managing Meeting Entropy

I end up having a lot of meetings--more than I used to. And I'm beginning to drown in meeting notes, which usually consist of an agenda with doodles, circles, arrows, and almost indecipherable half-sentences. Then there's some yellow pad page that is associated with more asterisks (circled), boxes, and more scribbled instructions to myself. Frankly, it can become a mess very quickly, and these things start to form a depressing pile of "meeting goo" after a while. It reminds me of a line from Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49: a "salad of despair."

I googled around for suggestions about how to manage such a mess, but didn't come across anything particularly useful. So yesterday I created a meeting note template, shown below.
Eight of so of these will fit on a single hole-punched sheet. The L M H is priority, and my code for the little boxes is action item (*), information (i), question (?), and idea (light bulb). Under that is "ticket," meaning it needs to be formally tracked in the ticket system. Underneath is the destination--the areas of my responsibility. There's just enough room for a few sentences of description on the right. I explained this all to my project coordinator yesterday, and we're trying it out, but in the meetings I had yesterday I can already feel a calm descending from this minimal bit of organization.

The next step is to create a simple database to keep track of these, so I can retrieve them from my phone or other browser.

From the archives, see also: The Secret Life of Committees.

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