It has been 110 days to be exact since I switched to the Mac from the old Tablet PC. During this period, I have attended quite a number of meetings where I contented myself with just a pen and my pigpogPDA. In all of those meetings, the Mac book either stayed inside the gadget bag or was altogether left in the car.
Yesterday, I had to refer back to Michael Linenberger's book, "Seize the Work Day Using the Tablet PC," to validate what I have really been missing. Here is a list of the productive meeting related things I used to be able to do discreetly, on my Tablet PC, using the 'dry' periods present during most meetings:
- Create prioritize, and assign tasks from action items identified during the meeting right in my tablet PC based task management system (using MS Outlook)
- Set date driven reminders to follow up on deadlines discussed were set in the meeting
- Update the status of tasks in my task list indicating progress made in the meetings.
- Find notes, documents, files, and e-mails relevant to the meeting at hand, as needed to accomplish follow-up tasks right in the meeting
- Create or update key documents in my electronic binder (MS one note) to refer to the next time these meeting topics come up.
- If needed, convert portions of handwritten meeting notes to text for subsequent distribution
- Create, and if wireless is available, even send e-mails to staff to follow up on important action items from the meeting
- Create a brainstorm document of possible solutions for problems raised in the meeting, incorporating the best ideas from the meeting. This is done using MindManager 7.
- With the optional wireless access, pull up the webpage for a product or company being discussed in the meeting, and communicate the research information to the meeting at the moment it's needed
- And if the meeting is really dead, the Tablet PC also allows you to spend time on non-meeting related e-mails and other work documents, and even research the web, while waiting for the meeting to come back to what topic is relevant to you.
- At the end of the meeting, ensure that all meeting related action items have all been processed (calendared, emailed, and accomplished) except for those that have been delegated and are now sitting in my Waiting For folder.
If you attend a lot of meetings like I do, the above will show how much productivity I am giving away by not having a Tablet PC. With the Tablet PC, I could practically process all of the meeting requirements right there and then. This means that as I exit the meeting doors, I am done with all of the action items and I can already move on to whatever is next on my plate.
Can't I get away with doing all of the above using my current laptop, the Macbook? The answer is a resounding NO because of the following:
Discretion. Nothing is more distracting than, during a management style meeting, having a meeting participant typing away on the laptop. In contrast, working with a Tablet PC in your lap appears no different from what you would be doing with a pen and notepad in your lap.
Communication Barriers. Placing a laptop with a screen flipped up in front of you on a conference table creates a physical barrier between you and others in the room. While the tablet PC is just like a writing pad.
Personal Effectiveness. Research shows that if you use both hands to accomplish a task, a much larger percentage of your brain becomes engaged in that operation. Typing with both hands tends to totally engage your brain into typing activity and makes you visibly less tuned in to the meeting. In contrast, writing with one hand during a meeting is second nature to most of us. The brain stays mostly engage in the meeting activities. We all can take notes and participate in a meeting at the same time. This is exactly what the tablet PC can do.
Eye Contact. It is much easier to maintain periodic and consistent eye contact with others in a meeting when using a tablet PC versus using a laptop. This has a dramatic affect on the perception of others that you are personable and focused. Lack of eye contact also limits your ability to read body language of others, something that I have always paid attention to.
Be that as it may, I am not about to disregard the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a Mac versus a tablet PC. Besides, I am still enjoying the positive experiences with my Macbook. However today, that digital ink enabled Modbook is becoming more and more irresistible.