Use Case: Meeting Notes

Posted on Posted in HowTo

If you are in meetings a lot and take notes (or want to take them), NotePlan is the perfect tool for you. Here is how you can get the most out of it.

Here’s the problem: Taking notes in meetings using note apps or the pen & paper approach leaves you first with raw and unstructured data you need to process later on – because you want to make notes fast and not fiddle around with the formatting options. This means formatting the text (so it’s sharable), creating todos, reminders, and events.

Then in order to find your meeting notes you have to file it somewhere, either with tags or in a folder system (which you have organized beforehand). If you are operating with a physical notebook you also have to make it digital first.

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Meeting Notes in NotePlan

On the Mac, you can fire up NotePlan, switch to the current day (which is opened by default) and start typing away there and then. Thanks to markdown you can type the text-format, todos, headings, comments and more. You don’t need to open menus, mark text, etc. to make the text look nice and have items marked as todos.

Headings – Name the meeting

Once you start the meeting, give it a heading by typing: # Sprint Review - July

Meeting name as heading
Meeting name as heading

Tags – Make it searchable

While you type the notes, tag things so they are easier to find later through the calendar search in NotePlan.

Here’s how: Append for example a tag like #sprintreview to a comment below the heading. Or if you have added todos, tag them with the person’s name they are assigned to, like @Tim.

Tag notes and comments to find them easier
Tag notes and comments to find them easier

Events & Reminders – Make plans right away

Thanks to the split layout of NotePlan which shows you the calendar side-by-side with your note, you can plan appointments or reminders resulting from the meeting right away. And you can look up any upcoming events.

Here’s how: Click on the “+” button top right of the window, then decide if it should be an event or reminder, define the details and add it.

If you need to check for any conflicts with other events, just check the correct day in the monthly calendar or switch it to a week view to get a better overview (click on the icon top right beside the search bar of the calendar).

Create events & reminders
Create events & reminders

Comments – Remember what was discussed

Wait a couple of days and most of the participants of the meeting would forget or remember details differently. To avoid any conflicts and doubts about the discussion points, keep a note on what was said.

Here’s how: Just below the todo start typing the greater than sign: > Comment and indent it with a tab to create a simple structure. Here you can also attach tags, if necessary.

Add comments to tasks
Add comments to tasks

End of the meeting – Share your notes

At the end of the meeting, you can share the written records so everyone is on the same page.

Here’s how: There are multiple options at your disposal. Since NotePlan creates plain markdown text, you can either copy it directly and optionally run it through a markdown formatter like “Marked” or send the text file directly as an email attachment to others.

Share a note
Share a note

Finding Things

It’s days later after the meeting and you want to look up something. There are multiple ways you can do this now:

  1. If you still remember the date, select it in the calendar to see your notes.
  2. If you have tagged your notes well, you can check the sidebar and click on the appropriate tag, #sprintreview in our example. NotePlan starts searching and shows you the result. Click on the right result to open the day of the meeting.
  3. If you don’t remember the day, nor the tags, you can also search for anything related to this meeting. Here “sprint review” would give us good results.
Search for the meeting note
Search for the meeting note

One last thing – Scheduling

You have probably noted some action points in your meeting. If you don’t do them all on the same day you probably want to move them somewhere else. There are multiple ways you can manage this inside NotePlan.

Move tasks to other days

If you already know when you want to execute a task, you can schedule it from the day of the meeting directly to another day to remind yourself.

Here’s how: Hover with your mouse above the task and a menu icon appears on the left. Click on it and a dialog pops up. Here you can choose the date. A simpler option is to click the menu icon and drag it directly into a day in the calendar (keep it clicked, then release above the day).

The nice part is that NotePlan will also recognize if you added an indented comment below a task and copy this along.

Schedule todos from the meeting note
Schedule todos from the meeting note

Moving a task this way will copy it to the target date and mark it in the originating date as “scheduled”. If you want to keep a reference to the target date, you can enable “Append links when scheduling” in the Todo Preferences.

Preferences to add links to the target date
Preferences to add links to the target date

This will append a link to the task in the originating date which you can click on to jump to the date of the scheduled task.

Moving the meeting into its own note

If you don’t want to keep the meeting in the calendar note, because the details are too important for example and you need to reference them throughout other notes, you can create cut & paste the meeting into its own note file.

From there you can schedule relevant tasks into calendar days. Probably not all tasks you have noted are relevant to you, but to different persons and you don’t want those tasks to appear in your calendar.

Here’s how: If you have already written the meeting notes into a calendar note, select everything and cut it. Then go to the notes section of NotePlan by clicking on “Notes” in the sidebar. From there create a new note and then just paste everything. The note will be named after the heading you have given the meeting in the beginning (correct it if necessary, NotePlan adds a ‘#’ automatically).

Once the meeting is stored as a non-calendar note you can schedule tasks from here in the same way – by clicking on the menu icon which appears when hovering over a task. But now if you select a target date, a link is added instead of the task being copied. It just created a reference for you. The calendar will scan your notes for these links and show tasks on the calendar date. You can click on it to check it out yourself.

Dated todos
Dated todos

If you check off the task in the calendar note, it will be updated in the meeting note as well. And you can jump into the meeting note by clicking on the title.

Check out NotePlan today with the 14-day trial on macOS and iOS: Click here.