Notetaking Symbology

Notetaking Symbology

Note Taking Symbology

Patrick Rhone today posted about his Dash/Plus System for taking notes. It is an elegant approach to capturing ideas, discussions and other items that might come up, and then working out whether they are an action (open or closed), a “waiting for” item, a delegated item, etc. I suggest you take a look at his post.


Patrick’s system is not unlike an approach I use when in meetings, or otherwise taking notes. Particularly “back in the day” when I managed a diverse group of people, it was important for me to quickly move from meeting to meeting, capture items that I needed to action, or that my people needed to action (because I was ultimately accountable for their action completion), and swiftly ensure those were “in a trusted system” and move on.

It’s important in these situations to ensure that your notetaking system is leakproof (as much as possible), and that you can quickly reference back to check on the status of an item.

In my case, I use(d) the following:

  • Square – a next action
  • Triangle – a project (in the GTD sense)
  • Inverted triange – a someday/maybe type of future project
  • Circle – a waiting for item (i.e. something that someone else might be responsible for delivering)

Any of the above with a cross through it simply means that it is “done”. Of course, it is important to capture who is responsible for a waiting for (delegated) item, and when they might need to deliver it.

I post this as a bit of a quick response to Patrick’s Dash/Plus System, but you may have noticed that I stated that “I use(d) the following” above. I think Dash/Plus is a little more elegant, and I think I’ll give that a go. There are two things I like about it

  1. First and foremost, separate items can be “captured” without “processing” on the fly. This means you can come back to the items at the end of a meeting, or at the end of the day, and process them into your organisation system.
  2. The separation of “waiting for” and “delegated” items. My first response was why, but I quickly realised the power of this. Waiting for means others are wholely responsible to deliver. Delegated means your team is responsible, which means that you continue to hold ultimate responsibility.

I’d be interested to know if anyone else has a system for note taking symbology, like what I used, or the Dash/Plus System.

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