My Org-Fu System

I’ve updated the notations I use for note taking during meetings and conversation. Others have named these systems Org-Fu, or Meeting Ninja systems, and they can get elaborate — I assume to overcome the static nature of physical notebooks. Mine is simple and vestigial, the remainder of my days when I used paper notebooks, a lot, and went to meetings, a lot.

All the Org-FU systems rely on a set of codes prepending an information item, or formatting it in a standard way to convey additional meaning to the item noted. The best systems make categories of information stand out, the worst of them need ever present reference cards to make sense of all the glyphs. My system  is mostly a mix of Markdown (MMD) and TaskPaper standards. The list varies in paper format because different graphics stand out.

For text based files:

sub heading:
– Todo {or Agenda item}
@done {done}
>>@name {Delegated or FU}
?? {Question}
!! {Important point}

For paper based notes:

– Agenda item
+ Cleared agenda item
[  ] Todo
[X] Done
FU: Delegate (name)
* Important point
Q: Question
O Moved {a circle around the code}

Having a set of codes allows easy scanning for actionable items and items to be processed (since my FSIM is exclusively electronic now, everything on paper is “an item to be processed”)

It’s rather simple and intuitive, but after years of meetings the system saved me hundreds (thousands?) of hours managing my notes. I don’t use it much now, the occasional box on a sheet of lecture notes for a todo, but in text files, especially ones using TaskPaper, the conventions are nicely embedded.

There are excellent discussions of paper and electronic Org-Fu systems here…

Org-Fu as a term can be used to discuss all aspects of organizational processing, kind of like a David Allen GTD rabbit hole, or Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits stuff, the Hipster PDA, or for those of us old enough, Day Timer usage tricks, and the ever trendy Brit Filofax binders.

My favorite system of them all was from a Danish company founded in 1975 by Claus Møller called TMI. One of the people on my team in B-School introduced me to TMI and it changed my life. And they have to have the best graphics in their print based tools of all the dead tree org systems.

Alas all those tools have, for me, fallen by the wayside. What’s left is the coding above, and the primitive lust I feel when I walk past the calendar section of a stationary store.

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