You create a document that is basically a list of items you want to discuss with someone.  Each time a new topic pops up in your head that you know you want to talk about, you add another line item to that list. Then, when you are ready to have a serious conversation with that person, you can simply open the document and see everything you want to talk about.

Cloud-based note-taking apps like Google Docs or others are very useful for these sorts of documents, especially when you want to share them with the person you are communicating with, so that you can both add items and edit the agenda. You can also keep these in a dedicated Whatsapp Group, where everyone is notified when an item is added. The important thing is to come to an agreement on which tool fits everyone, or if not, then each person can use their own favorite tool. In addition, you can have private agenda docs that only you see, that keep track of the more sensitive items you want to talk about.

There are two types of Agenda Documents:

  1. Live agenda doc. This kind of document is where you add items, then remove them as they’re discussed. The documents tend to be empty as more items are cleared from it.
  2. Rolling agenda doc. Here you have one rolling document where you always have a “next meeting” slot at the top of the document, where you add relevant items. For every meeting, note down the current date, process these agenda items, and start a new “Next Meeting” section at the top, to provide quick access for adding new items. This kind is often good with team meetings. The document is shared among the team and everybody can add their topics for the next meeting and even note their names, so everyone knows who wants to talk about what.

Realize that agendas for personal relationships can be awkward to suggest and maintain. Some people will immediately “get” the idea and use it with you as a way to keep synchronized, others will resist the very mention of this tool, which would make them feel more distant. Depending on the context, it might be best to have an honest conversation on why you want to try this tool, and then agree on how to do it in a way that’s comfortable for the other person. For example, you might try keeping the agenda document “your thing,, and have a peek at it before meeting the other person, but not letting that intrude into your time together.