How to Take Better Notes in Meetings When You Have ADHD

Whether you have ADHD or not, better note taking techniques are always a benefit to both personal and professional productivity.  I’m a user of OneNote and paper depending on my mood.  If I’m using digital, it’s OneNote and I’ve sent information about the meeting from Outlook to OneNote.  The list of attendees, meeting agenda items, and location are all included and ready to be searched.  Just add notes, tag with To Do tags and I’m done quickly and efficiently.

On days where I’m not feeling the digital vibe I duplicate the structure on paper and take my notes by hand.  The important thing is for items where I feel I may have to search for a word, I make sure my printing is clear and readable. After writing the notes I take a photo into OneNote and then use the OCR search to locate what I need.

One of the keys I’ve found to help me focus on my note taking is to separate structure from content.  It’s easy to get distracted from what is being said if I’m trying to format it perfectly or wonder why something is out of alignment on the page.  By compartmentalizing the parts of the note taking process, I can leverage my rapidly changing attention rather than fighting it.

Another trick I recommend, especially if you’re taking notes by hand, is to section off a small part of your page for “random thoughts”. We all have them and it’s important to not let them take up the mental cycles we need to focus. When one creeps into your mental field of view, jot it down in the random thoughts area. Just the act of capturing it is often enough to get it out of your head and out of the way.

There’s no magic trick to 100% focus when taking notes (we all know how boring things can be at times) but if we do a little introspection and work with ourselves rather than trying to “fix” ourselves we have a much greater chance of success.

How do you manage your notes? Come tell me about it.