General Conference: My Note-Taking Method

So, I've finished working my way through my new note-taking system for general conference. I've been working out the kinks with various devotionals and conference talks from last session. I'm really happy with the results, so I thought I'd share them here!

As I mentioned before, one of the problems I'm trying to address is prioritizing better what I write down. I spend way too much time writing what the speakers are saying, instead of my own thoughts, feelings, and impressions. Why bother recording what the speakers are saying when the Church already does that online, in the Ensign, and the Gospel Library app? 

My other problem is that my notes, even when they're on point and full of spiritual promptings, they don't translate into real action for me. They sit in a notebook, where I'll usually refer back to them for a lesson I'm teaching... and that's about it. That's almost as pointless as not taking notes at all.

So I thought about the kinds of things I wanted to write down: Invitations to act, verses or talks to look up or that come to mind as I'm listening, topics to study, blessings the speaker promised, feelings, questions, goals. All of these things are manifestations of the Holy Ghost, which is exactly what I want to be writing down. And most of them are action-based, and require follow up on my part.

But I also don't want to have to go through with a fine tooth comb to find all of this stuff in my notes. I want to be able to instantly recognize each note for what it is, and why I wrote it down. The more at-a-glance it can be, the more useful it will be to me.

So I decided to use emojis! You know, the simple ones that I can actually draw.

✉️ Invitations
🔎 Lookup/Scripture Verses
💞 Feelings
💬 Direct Quotes, Talks
 Question for Prayers, Scripture Study
💭 Thoughts, Ideas
📌 Goals, To-Do, Reminders
🌠 Blessings

In thinking about how to make sure I do a quality follow up with the notes I take, I realized I could also incorporate my color coding system from my scripture study. So for each of the things I write down from general conference, I can ask myself how they relate to what I study in the scriptures. Since my topics are pretty straightforward, it's not hard to do with my finished notes:

Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (their words, attributes, etc.)
The Plan of Salvation
Covenants (conditions, requirements, promised blessings, rewards)
The Temple
My Patriarchal Blessing
Happiness, Joy, Gratitude
Satan, Sin, Temptation, Warnings

As I go back over my notes, or sometimes even as I'm taking them, I'll write or mark something in one of the colors because it corresponds to one of my study topics. Then at the end of the talk, I'll put a colored star next to the speaker's name for each of the topics they mentioned. I can see at a glance the topics they covered, in a way that is most relevant to me and what I'm learning right now. And because what I'm studying and marking in my scriptures may change over time, I can change it up without having to go back to the drawing board.

Because I'm still keeping my bullet journal, I'm already envisioning a collection/index to my conference notes, where I write down each speaker's name, then put the colored stars next to their name. I'll be able to compare the talks to each other, see which of my study topics got those most mentions, and focus my future scripture study around those topics. Here's what my Women's Meeting index would look like, so you can see what I mean:

Women's Meeting
Jean B. Bingham 
Carole M. Stephens 
Bonnie Oscarson 
Dieter F. Uchtdorf 

Each talk is unique, even when it echoes what other speakers have said before. Analyzing talks in this way has helped me to see how true that is. And this is just through the lens of what I'm studying, and what I'm looking to get out of general conference. No two people are alike, and perhaps that's the greatest miracle of all: that so many of us come searching for answers, and no two people will walk away hearing the same message.

I'm glad to say I've found a note-taking method that helps to capture this aspect of general conference. I can't wait to hear what our leaders have to say, so I can dig into my notes and get to work!

Happy Conference Weekend!

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