How a CPA gets the most out of his meetings in Scottsdale, Phoenix, and Paradise Valley

How to get the most out of your meeting Notes using GTD ™ forum, Outlook ™ follow up flags and my best ideas from Scottsdale, Phoenix, and Paradise Valley!

By Jeffrey Brooks, CPA, CFP, MBA for JBrooks Wealth Advisors, PC. a CPA and CFP Professional Firm 602-292-2009

I am always looking for better ways to improve my skills and give more value to my clients. I have been using GTD™=Getting Things Done developed David Allen for many years as well as Outlook ™ advanced organization methods.

Originally, I had not planned on preparing a “Blog” article but to just give my ideas to another GTD™ forum member on how to better capture, process and organize meeting notes. In my opinion, having a meeting without fully using the information to achieve a worthwhile objective is a waste of time.

Here are my comments in response to another forum members ideas posted to the GTD™ forum.

To add to your excellent comments from your previous post, I am written this post in the hope that it will be helpful to you.

1. When the meeting is completed, I immediately go to my office and send to my CPA tax, accounting or CFP client an email summary of the meeting using Outlook. I like your idea of showing arrows for those items needing follow up actions.

2. If at all possible, before the client leaves, I prepare a summary email including all or some of the 5 journalism questions: Who, what, why, when and where. I number the key points in my email so they are easier to read. OR,

3. I send myself an email using Outlook ™ :
A. I sort many emails by “subject” so I make sure that the subject will be easy to find. With this goal in mind, I priortize with the last name, first initial of the client and if there is a business name, I abbreviate the business name.

For demonstration purposes, let us use the name of John Doe, President of Doe Dental Clinic. I would type into the Subject row, Doe, J DDC reduce taxes depreciation.

B. I list the objective as briefly as I can. In the above example, I am using depreciation as a key word because I have ideas on how to reduce the taxes by taking advantage of the flexible depreciation rules.

C. I color coded what my next action is or who is responsible for getting me information so I can then take the next action. Outlook uses the word “category” to allow people to sort by what David Allen in GTD calls “Context”.

For example, I have and use Outlook shortcut keys and colors for Context (telephone call F4, computer F5 , desk F6, Waiting For F7, meeting F8, key person’s name F1, F2, F3). For example if Mark C is responsible for getting a tax plan to me by September 1 (I promised client a deadline of September 2nd or 3rd), I might show a due date of August 31st because Outlook will show this follow up as over due on September 1.
I use F2 (Mark C)to indentify that I need Mark’s help. The color to indicate that I need Mark’s help is a dark blue color. If my next action is a call, then I would also include the color code for a call.

D. I use the due date feature sort in Outlook ™ for “follow ups”. I frequently sort by using this simple tool for finding the due dates. It is easy to sort by a due date.

If a follow up is needed beyond 90 days, I copy the relevant email directly to the calendar without showing a specific time.

Jeffrey Brooks, CPA, CFP, MBA


OK. I bring a pad of paper to a meeting. I write notes. I put an arrow next to anything like an action (or stuff). After the meeting, I tear off the page(s) I used and put them in my inbox. When I process them, I copy the actions onto individual sheets of paper in my system, one page per action, unless I do them immediately. Useful information I usually type into the computer somewhere so I can find it by searching for keywords or looking in a relevant file. I might then put a diagonal pencil stroke across the original page(s) of meeting notes, and put them in my “culling” system where I’ll see them again in a week or so, which can jog my memory and remind me of the meeting as a whole, and I might possibly decide to extract additional information or actions from it at that time. After I’ve seen it enough times in the “culling” system, I make sure it’s crossed out, then use the back of the paper for other purposes (such as those one-action-per-page things).

Sometimes I type in minutes to the meeting, after the meeting, and send them out on the computer typically within a couple of hours after the meeting.

I’ve tried typing minutes during the meeting, but stopped because it slowed things down too much. Apparently I can write much faster than I can type, maybe because I wasn’t using a normal keyboard and mouse, and on paper I can use all sorts of abbreviations. (I have a shorthand writing system which I invented, for example.) Transitioning from talking to writing and back seems to work better with pencil and paper than with the computer. Although I think if I’m just typing straight text I can probably do that faster than writing out the full words. It takes time after the meeting to type in the minutes, but only one person’s time, not slowing down the whole meeting. (I was kindof chairing the meetings too.)

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About Jeffrey Brooks

Jeffrey Brooks, CPA, CFP, MBA since 1976 has specialized in helping clients save significant taxes, help businesses increase their cash flow, revenues and profits while increasing their control and satisfaction. Jeff and his accounting firm sincerely cares about the happiness of his clients.

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JBrooks Wealth Advisors, PC.

Certified Public Accountant
Address: 4647 N 32nd Street, Suite B245
Phoenix, Arizona 85018
Phone: 602-292-2009