Improved 1-1 Note Taking

13 September 2023 — about a 3 minute read

I spent the better part of 18 months getting really good at using Obsidian. Enough that I wrote a whole blog series about it! Daily Journaling, general knowledge dumping, and longer-form writing became very natural.

The job I started after those months of Markdown-ing-more-than-ever-before was remote-first. I was ready to use my new-ish note taking superpowers in another context.

I set up my home office with two screens. I had a 27” monitor full of browser tabs where I did a bunch of Zooming, Looming, and a little coding. And I had my employer’s laptop with Obsidian maximized so I could take notes as I did all the work. Things started well.

But a few months into the job, Obsidian and I started having problems. Smooth writing became clunky. What happened?

It turns out that in a job on a team of other people, collaborative writing is a thing. Duh.

I started any document in Obsidian as always, but when I was ready to get comments or work with others on a shared doc, I moved text over to Google Docs, or later when our team started using it more, to Notion. I needed comments and co-writing, so this made sense.

I learned to delete an Obsidian draft and move it to Notion sooner. I even got better at starting a doc in Notion, preferring to work, write, and think more in the open. But there was still a case where my Obsidian patterns weren’t working: 1-1’s.

1-1 Notes as a Collaborative Document

As part of my Obsidian series, I wrote about how I tracked 1-1’s. I was pretty happy with how this worked. I kept action items. I linked individual notes into the Daily Journal. It really worked for me most of the time.

However, it turns out that 1-1’s are an opportunity for collaboration. Duh, again. The whole point of 1-1 meetings, especially between a manager and a report, is to work through issues, career plans, and meta concerns together.

An Obsidian vault is not easily a place for “together.”

A Notion of a Solution

I spent a few weeks iterating using Notion for 1-1’s with the other people involved (one at a time). Notion turned out to be fantastic place to experiment with meeting these needs:

  • Keeping all of my 1-1’s well organized, making it easy to find the next meeting with a person
  • Allow for different meeting templates per person
  • Easy to create a new regular 1-1; my staff changed occasionally, so adding/removing meetings was useful
  • Keeping track of action items the two people were creating and managing in each meeting
  • Keeping the 1-1 notes and action items just for the two people to collaborate

I got to a pretty robust solution. Enough that I’ve productized it!

So if you are someone who:

  • Uses Notion as your knowledge base
  • Has several regular 1-1 meetings with others in the same Notion instance
  • Have had challenges keeping the notes and action items from these meetings organized
  • Like, or are intrigued by, the idea of 1-1 content being the result of collaborative editing

Then please have a look at my 1-1 Tracker (purchase link at Gumroad). And if you like what you see, you can buy it. And if it works well for you, you can rate it.

I hope this helps you. Five Stars. Will take notes again.

This article is tagged with obsidian, notion, management, productivity, and 1-1's.