Nothing is more frustrating — or embarrassing — than walking into a meeting believing that you’re prepared, and then realizing you’re completely unorganized. Without some form of order, the meeting becomes nothing but a small hum in the midst of your mental chaos while you struggle to find a pen or a napkin to write down important information. Being unorganized doesn’t mean you’re unprofessional. But by the same token, the more work that piles up, the easier life gets when you know certain bases are covered. Here are 5 ways to stay organized during your next meeting.
1. The Daily Planner
As a working adult, the daily planner is essentially your lifeline to any form of order. Some people work better plugging dates and times into their phones, but others need to write things down. Bring your planner with you to the meeting (if you use one), and anywhere else you may go, for a quick jot-down.
2. Take Your Own Notes
Most meetings have a designated notetaker — or transcriber, if you will — but it’s a proven fact that writing things down helps our brains more easily recall what we’ve heard. You also understand your own shorthand better than anyone else’s, and you don’t have to wait to ask the transcriber to give you a copy. Moreover, taking notes keeps your mind focused, which helps you avoid drifting off into your own thoughts about what you might have for lunch instead of listening to the conversation taking place in the meeting.
3. Highlight the Issue
A small treasure to the world, highlighters are designed to exclaim “important.” Use them to draw your attention to the important facts on handouts or your own notes. Even if you aren’t an avid notetaker, highlighting can do the job for you by associating colors with important dates or memos. For sure, it’s an easy way to stay on top of things.
4. I Have a Question…
Keep sticky page markers and Post-It Notes on hand to mark a page that you have a specific question about. Write your question on the sticky note. That will make it easier for you to cite the material in question.
5. Together is Better
Keep your pens, highlighters, scrap paper/Post-It Notes/memo book all together with your planner. That way, even if you’re bombarded with a surprise meeting, you’ll be prepared for the best — or the worst.
PRO TIP: Most planners have extra goodies attached to them, like pen holders or little bags to keep writing utensils. Use these!