will I look like I’m goofing off if I take notes on a tablet at meetings?

I’m traveling this week, so here’s another question for readers to weigh in on. A reader writes:

I just bought a new tablet that has a stylus and a note-taking app that translates handwriting to text. My company has a “meeting culture,” so I take copious notes with pen and paper and type the information for reports.

I believe using my tablet to take notes would save time and help me organize information, but I’m hesitant to bring it to work. I’ve seen very few iPads in meetings (and they typically aren’t being used as a meeting tool), and laptop users are sometimes viewed as inattentive.

I think the stylus will make it clear that I’m taking notes and not goofing off, but I’m concerned about causing distraction. Beyond checking with IT and my supervisor, what should I consider before trying to go paperless with my notes at a workplace where everyone carries padfolios?

So, what say you?

{ 280 comments… read them below }

  1. Cat

    I wouldn’t think the person was goofing off, but I do find the scratchy sound of the stylus to be a lot louder and more distracting than a pen and paper. But that might just be me.

      1. Cat

        I’ve never used one but my coworker had one that I could hear being scratchy when she used it to take notes on meetings. But it does seem likely that it just happens to be a totally mild and unobjectionable sound that hits me the wrong way based on the rest of the comments here!

    1. Bea W

      I have a tablet and stylus, and it’s not scratchy at all. It makes no noise. I’m not even sure how that would work, since it’s plastic or rubber on glass. Maybe someone has an annoying “writing” sound effect turned on? I’ve never heard any noise from a stylus used this way.

      1. Cat

        Interesting – I wonder if this was a writing sound effect. I’ve never used one and it did kind of sound like an exaggerated scratching sound to me. I’m also open to the possibility that I’m just insane though.

        1. Anonymous

          A lot of people put plastic protective sheets over their tablet screens, and many styli are spring loaded to reduce the amount of pressure the user puts on the screen. The combination of those two things can sometimes be as loud as a ballpoint pen on paper, or louder.

          It can also give the user a tactile feedback closer to pen on paper than a standard stylus directly on the glass.

          1. Bea W

            Interesting. I use a screen protector and maybe it has to do with the stylus (Galaxy Note 10.1), but other than a super quiet tap on occasion, it’s pretty noiseless. I do turn off all of the sound effects and haptic feedback though, because I just find that distracting and annoying, like when people who don’t turn off the clicking sound effects when using an onscreen keyboard.

            When I’m in a meeting, I turn off all sound on any device I have with me, even vibrate mode can be very distracting if it goes off in the middle of a meeting.

          2. Tiffany

            “can sometimes be as loud as a ballpoint pen on paper, or louder.” Really? Now even writing on paper would be too loud?

            So no one should ever take notes at a meeting, in any way?

          3. Vicki

            A ballpoint pen on paper is loud?

            I have Really Good Hearing and I’ve never considered a pen on paper to be “loud”. Tipppy-tapping clicky keys on a laptop, however, is another matter. :-)

    2. Persephone Mulberry

      I’m not aware of a scratchy sound with my Note 10.1, but I think the tap of stylus on screen (dotting i’s, periods, etc.) is more audible than pen on paper. Still less distracting than someone at the table typing 0n a laptop, IMO.

  2. Retail divisional manager

    I use my tablet for notes at meetings all the time. I love it! I take notes, then send it to my work email and save in a folder. Several people where I work do this as well, and our boss was the first one to do this when tablets first came out, a couple of years ago. No one here thinks it strange but check with your higher ups.

  3. Sunflower

    Keep the tablet in plain view on the table. If you put it in your lap or keep it close to your body, that would make me think maybe you were goofing off. I don’t think it would be a huge problem though. Just treat it the same way you would treat a notepad. Focus on it when taking notes and then turn your attention to the meeting.

    1. AdAgencyChick

      Exactly this.

      If I glance down once and see you’re taking notes — then I’ll never think about it again.

      If I glance down and can’t see it, I’m totally going to wonder whether you’re playing Candy Crush.

    2. A Non

      Yup, I was going to say this. If you can comfortably write with it flat on the table, do so. And if you’re the first to use a tablet in your office, be prepared to answer questions about it! It sounds pretty neat to me.

      1. JMegan

        A lot of tablet cases allow you to position it on a slight angle like a keyboard – even better than laying it flat!

    3. ac

      Great advice. Position it as if it was a notepad, not your iPhone you were using to check Facebook ;)

    4. Canadamber

      When I’m writing on paper, I usually need to use a clipboard and lean back slightly because that’s more comfortable for me – so the clipboard is not actually on the table or flat. Does this apply in all cases? ;o

      (***I have some fine motor issues so I get hand cramps fairly easily – but I often switch between in clipboard position or flat on the table.)

      1. Canadamber

        And I meant for whether it applies to all cases in which a tablet is used… lol failure

    5. Cath in Canada

      agreed – this way it’ll be better than a laptop, because everyone can see your screen

      (Just make sure to turn off notifications from Twitter, Words With Friends, etc – I’ve had stuff like that flash up on my screen during a meeting before and it’s not exactly ideal. Flight mode is a life-saver!)

    6. Productive Tablet User

      I’m the OP. And yes, the only way I can take notes with my tablet is to lay it flat like a regular notepad. It somehow didn’t occur to me that it would be obvious that I would be taking notes and not goofing off!

  4. BCW

    This again depends on your company. Where I am now, quite a few people have their iPads out during meetings. We are also a pretty young company. You have to kind of look at what your managers are like. I could see many more “formal” companies not trusting that you aren’t goofing off, and prefer that you use a pen and paper, no matter how much less efficient it is for you

    1. Elysian

      I agree with the “it depends.” My company is very afraid of technology (we are still issued paper appointment books, we only recently got voicemail, we don’t have an Exchange server for our email…) and electronic note-taking would be frowned on in our meetings. I can see it being an obvious choice in other places, though. I think, in part, you have to gauge how comfortable with technology your workplace is generally.

      1. Vicki

        Has your company looked at the calendar recently? Even the paper ones agree that it’s been the 21st century for 13 years now.

        (I feel so sorry for you. I can’t imagine working where you do. I’d go mad.)

    2. Anonathon

      I worked for a more formal/old-fashioned organization, and my predecessor had recorded meetings on a mini tape recorder and then taken supplementary notes by hand. (It sounds antiquated, but this wasn’t that long ago.) The process was a beast, so I convinced my boss to let me take notes on a laptop. She was skeptical at first … but said skepticism was gone once the turn-around time on the notes drastically decreased. In a nutshell, people will probably be fine with the process if it’s noticeably better than the old one.

    3. Chinook

      I am part of a volunteer group and, for our executive meetings, half of us use a tablet and the other half paper and no one thinks twice (atleast not after the inital conversation from one of the retired ladies asking about the tech, if it works well and what she should look for). I think the hardest part is being the early adopter and just treating like a pen and paper. You may find others doing the same next time.

      As for goofing off, ican do that with a pen a paper – the only time I doodle is in a meeting.

  5. Christine

    Maybe the first few times you bring it to a meeting, you can make it a point to speak up more than usual, ask any relevant questions, or summarize any tasks you were assigned (whatever is applicable.) I think that would make it pretty clear that you’re paying attention and taking notes instead of playing games.

      1. the gold digger

        Yes. I was at a town hall meeting with my congressman and two state-level representatives. The congressman and SL rep #1 were talking to us. SL rep #2 kept typing away on her phone and didn’t make eye contact with anyone. When a citizen finally commented that perhaps SL rep #2 could maybe stop texting and be part of the meeting, she snapped that she was taking notes and using technology.

        That may have been the case, but the perception was that she was not engaged. Just be engaged and maybe even mention that you are taking notes electronically because that works better for you.

        1. LBK

          Unless you’re transcribing the entire meeting, there’s no reason you would need to be constantly typing/writing, even if you’re “taking notes”. Taking notes in a meeting should be jotting down questions you want to ask and follow up/action items for later, it’s not like a college lecture where you’re writing down all the info the professor is giving. Sounds like BS to me.

          1. limenotapple

            That’s kind of harsh to call it BS, because someone might take notes differently than you. At my weekly staff meetings, I take a lot more notes than just questions and followup, because I know that in a few months, I might refer back to something we talked about. It’s not wrong to take more notes than just questions/follow up just because it’s not what you find to be useful.

            1. LBK

              I just can’t imagine what would be discussed in a meeting where you would actually need to write down every single thing everyone said and therefore would be writing the whole time. I get if there are a lot of topics discussed you might be writing a lot, but start to finish? For the whole meeting?

              1. Diane

                That seems true until you’ve worked in a culture where you need to refer to notes to defend yourself months later, then you document the hell out of everything.

                1. A Bug!

                  If that sort of concern is valid, it seems like it would be worthwhile to either record those meetings or have a dedicated note-taker, or even both. It’s a poor use of resources to have a state-level representative unable to actually participate in a meeting because she’s busy taking notes and using technology.

              2. Sanonymous

                I usually write most of the time, and the notes are just for me. I don’t use shorthand though.

              3. Productive Tablet User

                OP here. I work in communications, so it’s really important that I record information accurately — especially since I work in an industry dominated by engineers and I don’t share their technical expertise.

            2. Kelly L.

              Yeah, and it can depend on what the person’s job is. I’m the admin assistant and official note taker for our department meetings. I take copious notes and don’t talk much; I’m focused on getting the important points down to distribute later. The higher-ups who attend the meetings are more focused on discussion and usually only write down a few notes–i.e. particular things they need to act on, or important dates.

              1. LBK

                Well, presumably if you’re the one designated to take minutes or do a transcription, no one will think twice about your note-taking method regardless. It doesn’t sound like that’s the case for the OP.

            1. Cassie

              This was me. Until I had to take notes for a board meeting, and did some research about taking such notes and found out that you’re NOT supposed to write down everything that happened or every comment that was made.

              I still do tend to write down a lot – comes in handy when offhand remarks someone becomes relevant months/years later – but not having to write down everything verbatim lets me actually pay attention to the meeting instead of scrambling to keep up wuth the speaker.

              1. Vicki

                “…you’re NOT supposed to write down everything that happened or every comment that was made.”

                Why the heck not? If only because, as you say, ” comes in handy when offhand remarks someone becomes relevant months/years later”.

                If you practice for a while, transcript notes become automatic (at least, they have for me). I have no problem keeping up with what the speaker is saying.

                The only time my hand stops writing is when I’m talking. I can;t talk/think/write at the same time.

          2. Anonymous Analyst

            Unless you are the person’s manager, I don’t really see why it should matter to you.

            1. Kelly O

              This. Who cares how many notes you’re taking in the meeting?

              Besides, what happens for me, when I’m not the admin taking official minutes, is I take down what I need and jot any additional notes I might want to make – I’m listening to the conversation, but am also capturing things that affect me directly and tangentially so I can be as prepared as possible when it’s time to follow-up.

          3. Vicki

            Actually, when I take notes in a meeting (handwritten, gel pen, composition book, 1/4 ruling) they’re as close to a verbatim transcription as I can manage.

            I learned years ago that trying to decide what was “worthy” of “jotting a note” was too much trouble and I was more likely to get it wrong. So I decided to just record everything, ear to hand to paper.

            (FYI, I learned this trick at work, long after college. In college, I took “notes”. I never tried to write down everything the professor said; after all, that was in the book.)

        2. Cat

          They should have known better. I’ve seen a high level administrative official do this, and it’s just classless; when you’re in that kind of position, you should be at least pretending to be engaged with your constituents or the people you regulate. (And looking bored while doodling on a piece of notepaper would also have been inappropriate.)

    1. Productive Tablet User

      Yes! My company is focused on streamlining processes and cutting costs right now, so I think using a tablet would align with this initiative.

  6. Celeste

    I’ve got nothing against it. I think if you look up and are engaged, and participate as appropriate, there’s nothing to suggest you’re goofing off.

  7. lachevious

    If other people at the meetings are taking notes, I think it should be fine.

    The only thing I’d worry about if if you are the only one on an tablet and everyone else is using pen and paper.

    If it’s an old-school environment, put away the tablet and use paper – or maybe ask everyone if hey are okay with you using your tablet.

    1. Observer

      Why?

      I’m serious about that. There is no reason why being the first to do something is necessarily a bad thing. Yes, the LW needs to stay – and be seen to be- engaged. And, letting people know what she is doing, and why, is probably a good thing. But, ultimately, this would be moving things in the right direction.

      1. lachevious

        Well – my career has generally always been in the legal field where (in my experience) you do not want to stick out like a sore thumb by doing something no one else is doing.

        But if this person works in a culture that is accepting of change and technology, it should be fine and totally acceptable to use whatever you find to be most efficient for your note-taking.

        If that is not the culture, I seriously doubt it will work out well for whoever decides to die on that (not worth it) hill.

        1. Observer

          Sure, it’s not the hill I would want to die on, either. But, there is a lot a space in between. Even in a lot of old school places, this might come as a surprise, but not be frowned on.

          1. Bea W

            I really can’t see the harm in trying. If it doesn’t go over well, it’s not like you’re beholden to keep doing things your new way. Somebody has to be first at everything.

        1. WorkingFromCafeInCA

          +1
          And then people might come to expect you to take notes and send them out. And you have to worry more about other people being able to understand your notes (unless you write cryptic shorthand so they don’t ask you again…). I agree with everyone above, that it all depends on the culture.

  8. pgh_adventurer

    You could always make a casual comment about how you’re going “high-tech” with your new note taking method. I’m sure no one will think twice. It’s pretty obvious when someone is using a laptop or iPad to take notes rather than kill time.

    1. EngineerGirl

      Better – At the beginning of the meeting announce that you’re going to be taking notes on your tablet. Then say something like “I don’t want to be a distraction to anyone, so I would appreciate your feedback if it is a problem”.
      That shows courtesy to others (don’t want to be a distraction) but also lets them know what you’re doing with the tablet.

        1. Bea W

          This is not even normal spam. Someone went digging into public records and had to manually post that. WTF?

          1. jen

            Also seems suspicious that it would be posted on an entry where Alison specifically mentions that she’s traveling (i.e., it’s more likely she won’t be able to get to a computer quickly to take it down). Pretty sketchy and icky. :(

            1. Bea W

              I didn’t even know about the traveling bit. That is super creepy! I’m not thinking in terms of it being taken down quickly, but traveling = not being home = opportunity for thieves.

              1. Laura

                Didn’t think about that either – this is disturbing as I just thought of it in teh same way as Bea W

    1. Fee

      I just DM’d Alison to let her know about this but more regular commenters may have a quicker contact route for her. I would suggest not tweeting/Facebooking about it publicly.

        1. A

          Please don’t do that. No one here actually knows her (excepting any friends/family who read her blog, of course), so I think that would be overstepping.

      1. Bea W

        Some states and cities you can just go to the local government website and and search on a name or property address and get all of that information very easily and without having to pay. (Learned from my creepy stalker ex).

          1. Joey

            Whys it a big deal? It the modern white pages mixed with property tax records, that’s all. Lots of real estate apps show property tax records and previous sale prices also. It’s really not a big deal unless you’re trying to hide from someone.

                1. Bryan

                  Are they older records? Full date of births’ are generally not disclosed publicly as they are a key part of identity theft.

            1. jen

              As noted above, it is her full address posted on a entry where she mentions that she’s traveling all week. Yes, anyone who may want to burglar her could have looked up the info themselves, but this makes it much, much simpler.

              Also, it’s just creepy and weird that someone decided to post it. I would feel a little violated if I had a popular blog that someone decided to post something like this on. Public record or not, I doubt many of her readers are searching for this level of information on her and now a lot of us know it without having searched.

            2. VintageLydia USA

              Potential stalkers can use this info to intimidate her. She’s a fairly unflappable person if her persona on here is true to life, but the harassment can get pretty bad and everyone has a limit. I know this is all pretty public info but IMO posting it like this is an implied threat.

              1. Arbynka

                I thin the goal here is to intimidate Alison. Like I said, I could dig out this info – any of us could, but I don’t have the need. And if I was interested and looked, I would certainly not posted here.

                1. Meg Murry

                  Or the poster could be trying to point out in a jerk-ish way that Alison might not want to say “I’m traveling this week” on the internet, the same way its recommended that you not post about being on vacation all over Facebook when you are gone. Totally a jerk way to make a point though.

              2. Bea W

                Yes. My ex did much the same thing to a friend of mine by sending her an email with her address and asking if her apt # was x or y. He knew I’m sure but the whole point was to intimidate her and creep her out since they’d never met or spoke face to face or even in email, and she didn’t go by her given/legal name. Her info is in the white pages and anyone can find it (and thus she was not very impressed by his detective skills), but that didn’t make it less messed up.

            3. Bea W

              But you have to make the effort and know where to look and already have minimal key information. You also won’t have this info just pop up on Google, but thanks to whoever posted it here it will now if it’s nit deleted before being crawled and cached. In some cases the info is not in plain text either where it is easily picked up by search engines and crawlers used for nepharious purposes.

              For those of us who have chosen to not have phone/address info easily available through white pages, it’s more problematic, especially on a public blog. My phone is not public record. I’d be pretty pissed if someone posted it here because they had access to data not freely available from public records.

              Whether all of this public info or not (full birthdates of living people are often not) it’s not generally accepted that it’s okay to just post it in this manner. Would any person saying it’s not a big deal be totally okay with their information posted here randomly without permission? Or would it feel intrusive and like an invasion of privacy? It’s like those cracks in bathroom stalls. The fact that they exist isn’t justification for using them to peak at your co-worker’s business.

              1. Joey

                It’s certainly creepy/mean spirited in the some anonymous person wants people to steal your identity or has an uncomfortable amount of interest in you kind of way.

              2. Joey

                At least me, I do to have a problem with the info being out there I just have a problem with people doing bad things with it. Sort of like if some anonymous person followed me around. It’s the person’s behavior, not the information they got about me that Id have a problem with.

        1. lachevious

          Yup – learned that from a prior job where we were always doing background research on experts/attorneys, etc. It’s scary what is out there, free and easy to get.

          1. De Minimis

            My state unfortunately has a lot of that info public too….I miss where I used to live, where it was considered confidential.

      1. Arbynka

        Right. I mean if she figured out Alison’s secret super hero identity, I might be impressed. But this ? I can dig out public record info, but then again, I do not care where Alison lives or how much she paid for her house.

    2. AJ-in-Memphis

      DaF….
      If you’re disgruntled or angry at Alison, how about you be an adult and address the issue with her directly? Otherwise – stop this. We don’t care and it’s not helping you out at all!

    3. Case of the Mondays

      I’m not a techie but if someone here can figure out who hosts her webpage and contact them they might be able to hide the post for her until she is back online.

    4. Ask a Manager Post author

      Thanks, everyone who flagged this. It might simply be a side effect of having a wider audience, who knows. I appreciate you all having my back.

      On the concern about me traveling, I have a husband who is often at home when I’m traveling and a house-sitter for the rest of the time (and I’m actually careful never to post about being away when those things aren’t the case), but either way, it’s weird and jerky.

    5. Vicki

      Of course, now that the spam has been REDACTED (but all of the other worried comments are still here), my imagination is trying to fill in What Did I Miss?

  9. Holls

    If it’s not the norm for your company culture, it might seem suspicious at first, especially given your comment that others who bring tablets and laptops into meetings are seen as inattentive. However, if you continue to use your notes in reports the way you’ve been doing when taking notes with a pad and pen, after a few meetings everyone will likely just take it for granted that you’re taking notes as you always have.

  10. Jake

    In my experience, folks with tablets in meetings use them to screw around far more than actually using them productively. Not to say that was the case for everybody, but 35% of the people in our meetings had iPads and 80% of them did not use them productively in our meetings.

    I wouldn’t hold it against anybody, but I would certainly keep an eye out for an other indicators if I saw somebody with a tablet.

    However, if I had seen you diligently taking notes in every meeting and you started bringing a tablet, my first thought would be that you were using it to take notes.

    1. LBK

      To be fair, though, just because someone is writing on a notepad them doesn’t mean they’re paying attention either. They could easily be doodling pictures of goats.

      1. the gold digger

        I used to write letters to my grandmothers during boring meetings. It looked like I was paying attention, but I wasn’t, because there was nothing to pay attention to. At least I got letters done, so it wasn’t a total waste of time.

        1. Lily in NYC

          LOL, I have a spiral notebook that hides my Kindle really well for boring meetings (I just sit in the back and read).

      2. Xay

        I used to write song lyrics to stay awake during a previous job’s 3 hour long staff meetings. My current supervisor does more doodling than note taking in any meeting.

      3. TychaBrahe

        I used to write letters to my cousins while I was in meetings. I still sometimes find a notepad with a partially completed letter that always starts, “Here I am in another meeting, trying to look busy.”

        Conference calls are the best. When my last job was in the process of going away, three departments and the vendor who was going to replace our department had daily meetings of two hours or more, at least 75% of which was the other two departments arguing about data protocols. I got a lot of crocheting done.

  11. Annie O

    Use it! Even if you’re in an old school environment, I say go for it. Don’t let the technophobes keep you in the dark ages, and don’t ask for permission like you’re doing something wrong. Since you have concerns about appearances, just try to be extra attentive and engaged in the meetings when you first start using the tablet.

    1. lachevious

      But if the “technophobe” is the manager, I think it would behoove the employee to follow by example – not turn this into a old-school vs. new-school issue.

      I think it would be a sign of respect to ask (everyone, not just the boss) if it is okay if the tablet is used if no one else is using anything similar.

      1. Annie O

        I just can’t agree that someone should automatically forego technology tools just because their boss doesn’t yet use them yet. Especially when these tools are so widely accepted for their usefulness.

        I’m sure my view is colored by my own experience. I have used laptops then tablets for notes for the last 15 years. I can’t even imagine going back to pen and paper at this point.

        1. lachevious

          And my view is colored by my experiences – no worries! I am sure it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he busts out a tablet, it’s just not something I’d be willing to do if I was the only one (I’m a coward). :)

        2. Tina

          I think it’s a bit harsh to assume that everyone using pen/paper (or just not a tablet/laptop) is a “technophobe” or trying to keep people “in the dark ages.” One example that comes to mind is that not all offices can afford to buy that technology for all staff members, so unless you want to purchase and bring your own, not everyone is going to use it at work.

          And for me, I can still write faster than I can swipe on a tablet, plus I like the actual act of writing (I know, it’s a bit strange, but I’ve always had a thing for stationery products).

          That’s not to say I don’t think people should/can use them, they can be very handy. I would just follow the advice mentioned up thread and make sure you still engage in the actual conversation. *That* is the part that was most noticeable in meetings at my old office – the lack of contribution and participation.

          1. EngineerGirl

            This. People learn different ways. A tactile learner will want to physically hold the paper in their hand. It actually helps them retain information better.

            1. TL

              Yup. I don’t remember typed notes but I remember handwritten notes so well I rarely have to check them once they’re written down.

              1. Arbynka

                I am exactly the opposite. I can actually see and read typed notes in my head. With hand written notes, I can see the paper and notes in my head but can’t read them.

          2. Jubilance

            This is very true. I am the technology guru on my team, and I bring my personal tablet to work (we have a separate wifi network for employees to use with their personal devices, love!) but I still take notes in a old school notebook with a pencil. For me, it’s something about the act of writing down things that I need to remember. And having the notebook, i can flip back to old notes if I need to refer to them. But in my personal life, I use Evernote for everything which I also love.

          3. Annie O

            You’re right, my language was unnecessarily harsh. But I wanted to push back against the idea that an employee can’t adopt new tools because their boss / co-workers don’t use them.

      2. KerryOwl

        But you wouldn’t ask “permission” to take notes if you were using paper, right? So why does a change in medium require that one obtain approval? I think as long as it’s clear that it’s note-taking, and not farting around, that’s going on, permission is not required. I can see giving someone a “heads up,” but permission? Nah. We’re all adults here.

        1. lachevious

          Being in support-roles, it was assumed I’d be taking notes :)
          If no one else was writing anything down, and I had no need to – I wouldn’t. If I needed to but wasn’t explicitly asked to, and we were discussing confidential information, I would ask permission to take notes on paper.

          My point is to look around and gauge the situation with what you know about the culture and the topic and the people you are with, then proceed.

  12. Jill

    Personally, I would just mention casually before the meeting starts, “By the way, I’m taking notes on my tablet now, so if you see me using it, don’t think I’m not paying attention.” Just nip it in the bud.

  13. Vera

    I just starting using Evernote so that my notes sync across my iPad, iPhone, and work laptop. It’s great! I don’t have to lug my laptop into meetings; the iPad is small and right-sized for a conference table. My iPhone is great for taking picture of whiteboards. Laptop is good for transferring notes to e-mails, etc.

    One thing I would recomend is turning your tablet into “airplane mode” so that you aren’t getting notifications of other things (e-mail, Facebook) during your meeting. Ultimately that is what is most distracting for anyone using a computer during a meeting; when an e-mail that seems more urgent than the topic at hand pops up. Airplane mode will allow you to focus and be more engaged.

  14. martha

    Just flagging something to be aware of if you’re the first to be publicly using a tablet/stylus for notes – the privilege you have of being able to afford said tablet/stylus and the way that your use of high end/not cheap technology may affect others around you.

    Yes, I work at a social justice organization. Yes, at my company there was a wave of higher ups bringing iPads/iPhones to meetings first. Yes, there were issues we had to deal with here. And yes, this may not apply everywhere but can’t hurt to think about.

      1. martha

        It was seen as a flaunting of privilege by those who were higher paid within the organization. I’m not sure it was ever totally addressed but the issue seems to have died down as technology became cheaper/more people started to have the tech. We addressed by first saying that people should not be on smart phones during meetings and then, as everyone got smart phones by working to figure out how to integrate organizationally provided technology better.

        1. Observer

          Yes, that raises huge red flags about the organizational culture. And the fact that it was “addressed” by keeping people from actually using their tools, indicates that a large part of the problem is leadership.

          That this is happened in a social justice organization is kind of head spinning, in one way, and sadly familiar in another.

    1. Observer

      Oh, please!

      I work for a social services organization, and we have to think twice about what we spend.

      The idea that people should not be as effective as they could be because someone else can’t whatever does nothing for your cause. If it turns out that tablets are actually useful, and people can’t afford their own, then the organization should find a way to make them available.

      If people resent the folks who actually have resources and use them to be more productive, that says something about your organizational culture. And if the issue is that the people who had them were looking down at the ones who didn’t that also says something about your organizational culture – and makes me wonder why they are at the top of a social justice organization.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        I don’t think Martha was suggesting that you should simply avoid technology, but rather than you should be mindful of the affect it has on others. That seems like an obviously good thing to do. And yeah, it might mean that you don’t whip out your $800 tablet in a meeting with a parent organizer with whom you’re trying to build a new relationship.

        It’s like the old example I heard about casual privilege: A bunch of people are sitting around before a meeting, jawing about what’s going on in their lives. One of them asks “Hey, where did you spend your last vacation?” People start answering: “Oh, we love Hawaii!” “The Hamptons, all summer, of course.” “A Mediterranean cruise!” Pretty hard for someone whose answer is “Yeah, I don’t get vacation days. My last day off was two Thursdays ago and I spent it at the laundromat.” to connect to that conversation. Maybe that person doesn’t matter (to you, the project, etc.), but if they do? Be mindful. That’s all.

        1. TheSnarkyB

          Yeah, this was always hard for me when my only honest answer was “umm… I don’t know. I’ve never been on a vacation.”
          The worst part was when people responded “EVARR?!?!?” like I had 7 heads or something.

        2. Judy

          Wasn’t there also some discussion about someone in sales, where some of the co-workers had tablets, so they were able to get more information, and therefore make more sales than the others?

        3. Observer

          Being mindful (and polite) is always a good thing. And I would always be more cautious when dealing with outside people who I don’t know too well.

          But, when the use of resources to do the job is seen as flaunting privilege by others *within the organization*, that’s a huge problem.

          By the way, having been on the “umm…” end of other conversations (not vacations) early in my life, I’m well aware of the issue. (And it’s not just about privilege or money. I comes up with other kinds of issues, as well.) But, there is a HUGE difference between this kind of thing and someone using resources (of their own provision or not) in an appropriate fashion to get the job done.

    2. Arjay

      Martha, I understand what you’re saying. Where I work we have a layer of managers who are also a type of licensed professional. They supervise large teams of para-professionals who earn about 25% of what the professionals do. We had a continuing education program that was open to both groups to which all were encouraged to bring their smartphones to “participate”. It turned out the participation was just a polling mechanism that really didn’t serve any actual purpose except to try to be interactive. All it actually accomplished was emphasizing the salary gap and alienating the paras who didn’t have that technology available to them.

  15. Brett

    Make sure to check with IT first. I know it sounds odd, but for our organization an employee would not be allowed to take meeting notes on a personal tablet. They would have to use an organization tablet (which goes through a bunch of security requirements and obviously is property of the organization).
    Even if allowed, it might create requirements you do not want to deal with, like giving the company access to your tablet on demand.

      1. Joey

        I could see if you’re wanting to set up work email on a personal device or access work Systems with your device, but if you’re not connected to work how’s it different from a paper tablet?

        1. TheSnarkyB

          It’s not, but they technically own those as well. Maybe someone with a better memory than I can link to it, but there was a convo here in the last couple of months (I think) about someone not being able to take their notebooks home after they got fired.

        2. The IT Manager

          Depends on the topic of the meeting. For me it wouldn’t be a problem, but some meetin notes might contain sensitive or proprietary information that should not be on a personal device.

    1. TheSnarkyB

      Also, even if they do allow it, they might consider it their property once it has work information on it. I know of people who have had their personal cell phones wiped by the company because the company knew they had work information on there and therefore (by contract or policy or whatever), they were considered company property.

      1. Judy

        Remember the discussion about agreeing to allow them blank your device if you attached to their network?

      2. Joey

        Trade secrets, yes. But even then, I don’t see companies going around policing notepads or looking for them when you leave.

        1. Anonymous Analyst

          I have. It’s common in scientific fields – your entire lab notebook is the property of the company.

  16. Lily in NYC

    Honestly, why even risk it? It’s just as easy to write with a pen and paper. You just want to play with your new tablet (who wouldn’t), but I don’t find them remotely helpful in a work situation. To me, they are for wasting time.

    1. Lily in NYC

      I forgot to say it’s fine depending on company culture. But where I work, I would have to get permission and then I would be worried that they could wipe my tablet whenever they felt like it.

    2. LBK

      Transcription software like Evernote saves a ton of time typing up hand-written notes if OP is planning to digitize them. Lots of businesses have integrated tablets into their workflow, there are plenty of legitimate uses for them in the workplace. You can play games and screw around on a regular computer, doesn’t mean they have no place in the office.

      1. Kelly L.

        Less paper wastage, too, which could be a good thing both from an environmental standpoint and a financial one.

      2. Meg Murry

        My last company would have had a cow about you using Evernote though for meeting minutes. They did NOT want company info that is considered trade secret out on any servers that weren’t company owned. Especially with info like the heartbleed security flaw that just came out today – you really need to read your IT and info security policies before you use a service like Evernote. I personally would have loved to use it at my last job, but like I said – expressly forbidden.

    3. Observer

      Just because you haven’t figured out how to use something doesn’t mean it’s not useful. By and large, the only times I take notes on paper is when it’s for show. If I want to actually use the notes, it goes on the phone. Evernote means I don’t have to go back and retype everything I wrote in the meeting, and I don’t have to keep paper files with notes that I can’t search easily.

      If you find it easier to either keep your paper notes and remember what was said in each meeting, or to retype everything afterwards, then do what works for you, of course. But don’t dismiss people who actually do have a use for the technology.

      1. Lily in NYC

        observer, that was condescending. I was wrote that TO ME they are for wasting time – as in – it’s my own opinion regarding myself. I am not stupid and know how to use handwriting apps – I simply don’t find them useful enough that I would risk my IT dept. having access to my tablet.

        1. LBK

          I actually found your original comment way more condescending – you flat out said that the OP doesn’t actually want to take notes and just wants to play on her tablet. How is that a fair statement at all?

          1. TheSnarkyB

            Agreed.

            And Lily in NYC, I think maybe your comment has been taken a little out of context? If you go back and read it without knowing what “the risk” is, you might notice what other people are responding to. The thread right before yours referred to the risk, but once they both expanded that became unclear – maybe that’s what you were referencing?
            But yeah, you do sound like you’re saying they’re not useful or a good tool for anyone, not just you.

        2. TL

          I agree with LBK. Just because the risk isn’t acceptable for you or if paper and pen work better for you, doesn’t mean that it’s the obviously better decision for the OP.

          I take notes by paper and pen because I remember them better, but anytime I have numbers to play with, I go straight to Excel because I’m much more able to organize and problem-solve efficiently. Different strokes for different folks.

      1. Lily in NYC

        Mike C: The risk is that my company would then have the right to wipe my tablet completely if they were so inclined. I would not be allowed to use my personal tablet for notes without their permission.

        1. LBK

          Based on your company’s policy, or are you just assuming? A lot of companies (mine included) have pretty robust and specific policies surrounding personal devices being used for work. They don’t necessarily include the right to wipe everything off them at will.

        2. lachevious

          I’ve seen that too – BYOD has been nothing but trouble in both of the companies I’ve seen implement it – boundaries between personal/business get blurred very easily.

          Also the comments to Lily about being condescending are way off-base. Her comment clearly stated she was giving her own opinion, not directed at the OP.

          Chill, guys.

          1. Arbynka

            She said “you just want to play with your new tablet”, sorry but that sounds like it was clearly directed at OP.

              1. Arbynka

                OK, noted. Honestly, playing remark did not sounded playful to me but that’s the problem with internet. You can’t hear the tone of the remark so it is easier to misjudge intention.

                1. lachevious

                  Agree about misunderstanding tone – I am just surprised how people are jumping on Lily. I think it’s uncalled for – but yeah, bowing out.

                2. TL

                  Lachevious: Lily in NYC’s got a good track record, I think, so we’re probably jumping on her a little much! Thanks for pointing it out.

            1. Judy

              Except when there’s a (usually patent) lawsuit. Then you have to fill out forms about where information about X project is, and they have to image your hard drive. And copy your notebooks. And sit there with the lawyers going through your calendar. “OK meeting on X project this day, do you have any notes about it?”

              1. Observer

                If I were running the show in a company that was likely to have that kind of thing happen, I would MUCH prefer to issue tablets or the like, that ALWAYS connect to our system or a cloud account that belongs to the company.

                As difficult as discovery type stuff is on line, it MUCH easier than dealing with tons of paper.

              2. LBK

                I don’t know that most people encounter a lawsuit all that often where this would be required or be something worth worrying about? I guess it depends on your industry.

                1. Judy

                  I’ve worked at 3 F100 companies. Although it varied by company, as a development engineer, my documents and notes have been “discovered” at each company. Any time work is done that could be covered by patents, it’s a risk. Or work is done that could affect safety, there’s also a risk that the CPSC or NTSB or UL or whomever would be investigating. Or if you buy parts that you designed, and there’s an ownership of design issue when you want to move to another supplier.

                2. Joey

                  Most people aren’t development engineers or whose whole body of work is a trade secret.

          1. Mike C.

            It’s work for hire, and if you’re in the sciences/engineering, lab notebooks are serious business.

            1. TL

              Yup. Some labs don’t allow you to bring your lab notebook home and even just taking them out of the lab can be a Big Deal.

              1. lachevious

                TL – couldn’t reply to your comment above about Lily, thank you! The comment section here is wonderful, hope it stays that was as the site keeps growing!

          2. Xay

            In my case (government contracting), my work related notes are considered property of the government and subject to their records guidelines. When I left a previous project, I had to leave my work notebook with all my notes related to the project.

        3. Joey

          Why would they have or need the right to wipe info from your personal devices? Does this apply to personal phones also?

          1. Judy

            Many companies have in their agreement when you attach to their network, you are authorizing them to wipe your device if they feel it needs it.

            Both my company and my husband’s university has that in their agreements. Whether they would do it or not, that’s unsure, but they have that in the agreement.

            My husband is willing to take the risk to have his work email/blackboard app on his phone to be somewhat more responsive to his students. I ask co-workers to send me a heads up email if they need my attention after hours or on weekends.

            1. Arbynka

              My friend’s company wiped her phone when she left. She went home and restored it right away from backup, got everything back on it.

                1. lachevious

                  I think most people here understand about backing up devices – I was looking at this more from a legal aspect. If your device is backed up, and that backup has company information on it, you will lose that, too. How? Because you will be made to produce anything and everything that potentially has anything on it work-related.

          2. lachevious

            Joey, in the legal field at least, part of the due diligence process is gathering anything and everything that may be tied to a case. That includes devices, even personal ones used for work.

            Read your employee handbook. Generally there is verbiage that states any company property must be returned at the end of your employment – that also includes devices. Companies wipe, they don’t go through and save your pictures of little Johnny or whatever. It’s gone.

            Moral of the story, if you have personal stuff on your work device, it belongs to your company, not you. That includes paper. The only thing that I am aware of that never belongs to a company is a notary book and stamp.

            1. TL

              I think here it’s a personal device used for company purposes, not a company device used for personal purposes.

              1. lachevious

                That is the same thing – either way it’s putting proprietary information on a personal device – and you run the risk of losing your personal information should the device be wiped/used in litigation/etc.

                1. Arbynka

                  I don’t really have to deal with this issue now but I will definatelly keep it in mind for the future.

                2. Tinker

                  It depends. I certainly haven’t agreed to turn in my personal devices when I leave the company, nor have I enabled or agreed to remote wiping. So at the very least — in order to make duck soup, you must first catch the duck.

                  Granted that many people do make agreements like that, but it isn’t universal.

            2. Joey

              Presumably IT or her manager would raise this if it was an issue. She asked beyond that should she do it?

            3. Cadi

              It is security policy at the institution I work that if you want your personal devices synched to the company mail server, you have to agree that the company will be able to wipe your device at any time for security reasons e.g. loss or theft of the device. Policy also requires a password or pin lock for your phone or device.

              Employees can wipe their devices themselves from the webmail interface.

              It makes perfect sense to me, but I personally don’t want to take the risk and haven’t synched my phone to work mail :)

          3. TL

            We have talked about personal phones being completely wiped because they’re synced to work email before.

          4. JT

            A lot of companies have really intense policies surrounding bring your own device. You could be storing any number of sensitive docs on your device, and they may need to delete that in case you go rogue. Way more common with company issued devices, but I’ve seen it also within the BYOD movement.

            1. Editor

              Yes, one of the labor reforms I’d like to see is a provision that an employer that requires people to supply their own devices, such as cell phones, cameras or laptops, can’t wipe information from them or confiscate the devices because they don’t own them.

              I don’t know if limits to discovery could also be enacted that would automatically exclude personal information — that sounds much more complicated to me, especially if the dispute is between the employee and employer.

    4. Rayner

      I do. Being dyslexic, notes that I take on paper are functionally useless. Notes taken on an iPad aren’t perfect but they’re fine for my own recollection if I need to go back and look at stuff. Likewise, if I have to send my notes to someone else, I can just attach it in an email and let them at it, rather than making them wait to decipher my handwriting, and then get around to mailing it.

      I also find that losing paperwork is a common issue for many people, and if the OP had the capability, she can also sync her files via g-drive or similar across her computer, phone, and tablet which can be exceptionally useful if you’re having to drag stuff around all day in meetings or in and out of offices.

      Pen and paper have their place but it’s definitely not the only, or often the smartest, solution to taking notes.

      1. Office Mercenary

        Good point. Some people with dyslexia or dyscalculia (did I spell that right?) also use special fonts and symbols that make reading easier, which wouldn’t be possible with pen and paper.

    5. Arbynka

      I use tablet all the time. I don’t think they are for wasting time. In fact, tablet saves me time – as Gilby said below, the converint to type feature is helpfull. I don’t have to re- type meeting minutes, lecture notes..just format it. Once you learn how to use the tablet and it’s features, it becomes a valuable help.

      1. Gilby

        I have used a lot of technology to help with my writing issue.

        I have converted forms from handwritten to computer formatted forms. I just took the form, played on Excel or word and designed in the same way it was already done. I then used the cut and paste method to enter in the info needed on the form. ( Customer name, address…… ) off the system.

        I did my job using that form for a couple of accounts, showed it to my manager and she loved it. I said was it increases productivity because cut and pastes tends to take less time then writting it all. It is easier to read as it is all ” type” and no handwritting. And the error ratio goes down because again, it is cutting and pasting what is there. Not relying on my brain to see a 9 when it was a 6.

        I didn’t have to say, I can’t write well because I have a slight learning disability or sometimes numbers and letters get confusing. I just helped myself and created a more efficient system for all.

        I am still a lot of old school for things. But this stuff rocks for people like me.

  17. Gilby

    OK, I just wrote on my Note. It makes little noises like tapping more than sctatches. Barely auidable.

    I have horrible handwritting and writing on that thing and it converting it to typed writing is the best thing for me.

    I hope I am able to use it when I start a new job when I am taking notes.

  18. Jubilance

    I think this is one where your company culture matters. In my company, they really push using technology and various tools in your work, so you see a lot of tablets and laptops in meetings. My company is doing technology trials with iPads & Surface tablets with keyboards to see if employees like those better than laptops.

    Based on what you’ve written, it sounds like your company is the type where technology is viewed not as a work tool but as a tool to not pay attention. I’d probably err on the side of caution and not use it, except maybe in smaller meetings or team meetings where the stakes aren’t so high, and people can get used to seeing you take notes using your tablet.

  19. Henry

    I’ve been in meetings where people were using tablets and appearing engaged, and in meetings where people were obviously thinking of something completely different. The worst of these was when I was helping out one of our sales people with a technical demo, and as soon as I started presenting he was reading and writing emails to other prospective clients. We didn’t get the sale.

    It’s all about how you interact with the rest of the meeting.

  20. DM

    I use an ipad mini with a keyboard for taking notes – it really comes in handy to stay organized with notes from the last meeting easily accessible, backup to icloud and google drive, and the notes are really easy to share via email. That said, you have to stay focused with it and if you’re always in the back of the room, it may be viewed suspiciously. But I say check with your supervisor, and if there are no objections, go for it – it’s catching on in my office.

    1. Windchime

      There is one manager at my workplace who takes notes on an iPad with keyboard. If you ever saw this person’s handwriting, you’d understand–it’s difficult to read. This manager has a strong reputation as being an engaged leader, so nobody looks twice at the iPad. If he was a time-waster or someone who never got anything done, then the tablet use would be viewed through a different lens, I’m sure.

      I’m in IT. But we still rock the steno pad here, for the most part. The act of hand-writing the note is what puts the information in my brain, so I do it by hand. But if it’s important, I then type up a summary into OneNote.

  21. Red Stapler

    I would say go for it.I really doubt that you’d look much different taking handwritten notes on a tablet than you do taking the same notes with pen & paper.

    The only time I would think that it’s a bad idea is if you currently have to file the pen & paper notes to keep as a backup if your files are damaged. In that case I’d say you should go to your boss and tell them your plan, and back up your files to an external drive.

  22. Mike C.

    The thing I keep coming back to is that employees should be encouraged to use whatever tools that make them effective so long as it doesn’t interfere with the normal operations of the business or the ability for your coworkers to do the same.

    The idea (fear maybe?) that someone might think you’re goofing off strikes me as ridiculous. Not you, the OP for thinking about it, but the idea that you should have to worry about that while you’re actually doing your job. You can goof off with pen and paper, and I can stare off into space like it’s my job, so the technology aspect seems to be a complete non-issue in rational situations.

    So I guess that leaves me to this point – if someone reading this naturally assumes that anyone with a phone, a tablet or anything “technological” out at a meeting is simply goofing off – you need a reality check. If your employee already doesn’t perform well in meetings then deal with that. Otherwise get over your irrational fear of the unknown and let employees use the tools that make them effective.

    As an aside, I can’t tell you how many meetings I attend where I’m only there in case of the odd question or where 10 minutes out of the hour (or two) apply to me. Yeah, you bet I’m going to sit in the back, get work done on my blackberry or do some quiet reading. So long as I give the folks there what they need when they need it and I’m able to keep up, where is the problem?

    1. Mike C.

      And for the record, I take my notes with a fountain pen. They’re lucky I don’t sit there and clean them out or refill them during the longer phone meetings. :)

      1. Trillian

        “The pen is mightier than the sword, but the sword is easier to clean.” Rita Mae Brown.

    2. Kelly L.

      Ha, yeah, I used to goof off like a champ in school with pen/pencil and paper. Drawing, writing stories and poems and notes…

      1. LBK

        For companies that have always had them it’s hard to swallow dumping potentially hundreds of devices at once and buying new ones/forcing everyone to use their personal device when people are accustomed to having them separate.

        1. Joey

          Its actually not that bad. I hated carrying around two phones and my IT hated having to service them. The only thing I missed was turning on my out of office. Then I found an app to do it. We did a monthly stipend and its so much better. The only real problem was some people were reluctant to give out their personal cell numbers. What the actual fear of a business associate having your personal cell is beyond me?

          1. LBK

            Probably being too accessible outside of work hours? If you have a work phone, you can just shut it off and no one can contact you. Obviously if your stuff is getting routed to your personal phone you can always just ignore it outside of work hours, but one of the things I value most about having a 9-5 job over my previous retail positions is that when I’m not in the office, I’m off the clock completely, no way to contact me and no expectation that I’ll reply if you do.

            1. Joey

              That can happen. But people stop doing that when you set some boundaries. Just because they call or email doesn’t mean you have to respond at all hours of the night. I get emails at 2 and 3 in the morning sometimes and I’ve just trained people to know when to expect me to respond. And I’ve trained people to know what to do after hours.
              Its inevitable that we’ll be expected to be connected all the time. Might as well start adapting to it now.

              1. KellyK

                You’re still being interrupted if it’s a call, though. It doesn’t sound like email is the issue, but the desire to not give out their personal phone number to everyone in the organization.

                1. Bea W

                  I like a nice clean separation between my non-work life and my work life. It keeps me sane. There is something freeing about being able to turn off your work device and have it be totally out of mine all weekend. I don’t even like to take my laptop home. It’s nice to not have it physically in the house. It’s like extra peace of mind to know you couldn’t do work on your non-work time even if you wanted to because your laptop is back at the office.

                2. KellyK

                  Definitely, Bea. I don’t have a work phone, but I only bring my laptop home if I actually intend to do work that evening or weekend (or if a snowstorm is predicted and I might need it to work from home).

            2. KellyK

              That would be one of my concerns—calls at odd hours or on days off for things that aren’t an emergency, or people expecting to get a hold of me and frustrated that they can’t.

              Having confidential work data on my personal machine would be another issue. Even if the company doesn’t have a draconian “We will wipe your phone if you leave,” policy, anything from lending your phone to a family member to letting your kid play Angry Birds on it is a potential problem.

        2. Windchime

          My company dumped dozens of BB’s last year. It’s all BYOD now. I thought about getting work email on my phone but honestly, I’m just not that important and it’s not necessary for me to be connected to the office 24/7. If people need me, they know to call or text me.

      2. Mike C.

        You’d be surprised, they’re the standard for management/management support where I work. I prefer an iPhone myself, but I have no idea if the full Outlook integration or proper encryption is there for a wide deployment.

    3. lachevious

      “The thing I keep coming back to is that employees should be encouraged to use whatever tools that make them effective so long as it doesn’t interfere with the normal operations of the business or the ability for your coworkers to do the same. ”

      Mike C. I would love to see this happen, especially in the legal field – we’re dying here!

  23. anon in tejas

    just a note to say that you should think about your office’s confidentiality/security policies if your personal tablet is being used, notes taken, sent/saved on a personal cloud, and whether or not that is accessible to you after you leave, and if that would be okay.

    I personally don’t think that there would be a reason against taking notes on a tablet, and using a tablet in that way obviously in a meeting.

    But, I do think that you want to ask your manager for security/confidentiality concerns. And it would be best to phrase your request that way. For example, “Hi Boss, I was hoping to start taking notes for X meeting on my personal tablet, and I realized that there might be some confidentiality/security issues with how the notes are uploaded and stored. Do you think that’s a big deal and should I go ahead with using my personal tablet at X meeting?”

  24. Harriet

    People who use a stylus to handwrite rather than type notes on a tablet, what machine do you have and what app do you use? This would be useless on my iPad (old and sort of out of date) because you can’t get the writing small like handwriting – it’s sort of pixellated looking, even with a stylus. I’d love something that would let me replicate writing on paper with a normal pen.

    1. Judy

      I have had a Samsung Note 10.1 for a month or so. I’ve not used it heavily for this, but I’ve trialed a few things at volunteer meetings, and it does a pretty good job of translating the handwritten notes to text. Just press on the pen button and circle the handwriting, and there’s the text. Although, it seems to have a problem with how I write the word “badge” which factors heavily in my girl scout notes.

    2. Arbynka

      I have Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1) and hand writte app. It does not quite duplicate the paper and pen experience but I am used to it and like it. I think person who can come up with stylus that replicates ball point pen will make a lots of money.

    3. Bea W

      Samsung Note 10.1. It’s pretty sweet. The stylus has its own storage and the tip is closer to being pen-width than others I have used. The button on the side of the stylus that Judy talks about is very handy. You can also easily erase when you goof.

    4. Persephone Mulberry

      Ditto on the Note 10.1. Also, getting a matte-finish screen protector made a significant difference in capturing that pen-on-paper sensation.

      My Note has not *quite* killed my desire for a Livescribe pen, though. Or a Wacom tablet (for totally different purposes).

  25. Wren

    I think so long as you look much the same taking notes on paper as you do on a tablet, people will not misconstrue. I assume you look up and down from the speaker to the page regularly while writing, so it will be clear what you are doing regardless of technology.

    1. Cassie

      This. If it looks like you are paying attention in between looking down at the tablet (and writing), people will probably assume you are taking notes (even if you are not). If you’re furiously scribbling on your tablet and it looks like you’re lost in your own world – I’d probably assume you are doing other work.

      In our faculty meetings, it is rare to see anyone take notes. Very few things discussed in these meetings need to be written down (unless someone gets an action item). One prof brings his iPad (I remember him being one of the first in the dept to get one) and he appears to take (occasional) notes with it but otherwise the iPad just sits there on the table as he looks at the speaker. A few profs have their laptops out – I’m pretty sure they are replying to emails, not taking notes. And a bunch of profs will be looking at their phones – again, pretty sure they are just checking email.

      The profs with the laptops are probably the most distracting – since the keyboards make the most noise.

  26. Kera

    I use my tablet all the time to take notes – particularly at external meetings/conferences where I want good notes rather than a scrappy reminder. Not heard a word of complaint or seen a ruffled feather – might help that I’m frequently the meeting chair.

    For me, it’s a disability access thing – I’m dyspraxic and dyslexic , so my handwritten notes are an illegible scrawl. My typing speed, however, is meteoric. Typing my notes is the difference between being able to skim-read, correct and have action points in an email before they have got back to their desk, and two days of “what did I mean by &£/9?”

    Basic practice for me would be to mention it to your manager, just in case, have it in full view, sound off, and be engaged. L

  27. Pickles

    I’m skimming, but didn’t see anyone suggesting to check with your manager for their input/concerns prior to showing up at a meeting with a tablet. You could focus on how it will save duplication of effort.

  28. Anon 1

    To state the obvious: if you do use your tablet, don’t goof around! I think, at least for now, using a tablet may raise an eyebrow that you aren’t paying attention. Over the years, this will likely change and become more the norm. But, because there may be an extra degree of suspicion means the OP should really focus and take great notes. In grad school I used my lap top to take notes (as with 99% of other students) and to avoid temptation I simply turned off my wifi in class. The OP may want to try a similar tactic. Becoming distracted even for a brief moment by email, FB, or websites is incredibly obvious so just make sure you don’t fall into one of these traps.

  29. Gene

    If you do get the stink eye for using your tablet, get a Livescribe pen and pad. You will then be going along with the norm in your organization while still getting the digital notes you need.

  30. The Wall of Creativity

    Taking work-related notes on a personal device is asking for trouble. I use a time tracker on my iPad to help with my weekly timesheets but that’s all. There’s nothing confidential in the timecodes, before anyone says anything.

    And if I use a stylus on my iPad, it squeaks like Adam Richman in leather trousers.

  31. Mena

    It would help to know what industry you are in – some are slower than others in adopting technology.

    I work for a company that provides Internet-based tools to small businesses. iPads and tablets are quite prevalent here. This wouldn’t turn a head at all.

  32. The Pompous Zoologist

    I thought using a tablet had become the “norm.” I seem to be the only person left on earth with a preference for pen and paper. From informal to televised, all of the meetings I sit in on are full of tablet users.
    As long as you AREN’T checking e-mails, scanning articles or playing solitaire, I think you’d be seen as professional. That even means resisting the urge to click on that little e-mail pop-up!

  33. Becky

    I haven’t read all the comments yet, so maybe someone has suggested this already. If you do sense awkwardness, a middle route could be a paper notebook specially designed for digitizing. You write in a regular-looking notebook, and your writing is captured digitally later. There are a few out now:

    http://modnotebooks.com/
    http://evernote.com/partner/moleskine/

    This could sidestep the issue entirely… although you wouldn’t get to play with your shiny new toy in meetings!

    1. Jamie

      I am late to this but I came here to suggest the same thing.

      My boss bought me a lightscribe pen and it’s the same deal – take notes in a notebook as it transcribes to the tablet or phone to turn into type, edit, etc.

      The thing is you need better handwriting than mine for it to work. I don’t get much use out of it because in the time it takes me to write something down neatly I could have typed several pages. But for people who can write properly it’s a very cool gadget.

  34. Gussie Fink-Nottle

    I second the advice to run it by your manager first, but here are some thoughts while using a tablet in a meeting (from perspective of an iPad user):

    Put the tablet in silent mode! You’d be amazed at how we filter out our device sounds so even if you think your tablet makes no noise, this is better safe than sorry.

    While you and your coworkers are getting used to the tablet presence, perhaps put it in “airplane mode” – shutting off network access during the meeting. Incoming emails and other notifications won’t interrupt, and you can quickly turn it on afterwards.

    If company culture will not allow the tablet in the meeting, perhaps you can scan handwritten notes to your Evernote account, and get many of the tablet benefit without the potential for people misconstruing its presence in the meeting? I’ve never tried this, but might be worth exploring.

    1. Observer

      Scanning to evernote is a great idea, if it comes to that. I’ll keep that in mind for myself…

  35. Observer

    You’ve gotten some good advice here. I’ll just add one thing. Make sure that you don’t inadvertently come off as condescending to those who aren’t using the technology, or interested in doing so. Don’t let the terms “technophobe” or “stone age” even hit your mind when dealing with this. People will react much better, in my experience.

  36. LCL

    I think it’s a great idea. As long as people can see what you are doing. If I went to more meetings I would do this. I would also use a device dedicated for work, as my tablet is my home web surfing machine and my browser history is beyond not safe for work. If I left it open and somebody started looking through it there would be unintended consequences…

  37. A.

    I think it’s obvious to tell if someone’s playing vs taking notes. I wouldn’t worry about it.

  38. CTO

    I sit on a board where people use various notetaking tools at meetings: paper, laptops, tablets, and phones. It’s really easy to tell who’s engaged and who’s not, regardless of what technology they’re using. (And yes, the Facebook-checkers-email-readers-game-players drive me nuts.) Even the hand motions someone’s making on their device are a partial giveaway: if they’re just clicking around or swiping, they’re a lot less likely to be actually taking notes than if they’re writing or typing. And timing makes a difference, too: are they typing/writing when there’s actually something to be typed or written? Or are they overly focused on their device when they really need to be making eye contact and contributing to a discussion point (for instance, during casual brainstorming that doesn’t need to be documented in great detail)?

    In most offices I think you’d be just fine to use your tablet. Keep your eyes off of your device when you’re not actively taking notes, be engaged and speak when appropriate, and don’t look up and go, “huh?” when we ask you a question. That’s all it should take.

    1. Vera

      “It’s really easy to tell who’s engaged and who’s not, regardless of what technology they’re using.”

      This!

  39. Jill

    I wouldn’t worry about it either. But if you’re still nervous, and if there’s s an appropriate place in the conversation/presentation you could always toss out a “Would you mind repeating that last part?” or something like that which will subliminally make it clear that you are, indeed, taking notes.

  40. louise

    Someone may have said this already, but I think mentioning off hand that “I’m so excited to try out my new tablet–I always type my notes up after meetings, but this is supposed to transcribe for me. Here’s hoping it works and I’m not back to pen and paper next week!” would be a good way to deflect any potential problems. And then if someone wants to mention to you that it’s not a good idea for any reason, then you can deal with it as it happens.

  41. AMT

    For what it’s worth, when I taught as an adjunct, I wouldn’t allow anyone to use a cell phone, tablet, or laptop in class. This is because, as an undergrad and grad student, I almost never saw anyone actually taking notes on any of these devices. It was always, always Facebook. I’m sure this isn’t everyone’s view of electronic devices in meetings, but if it’s your manager’s (or that of the person who’s running the meeting) you might ruffle some feathers. Sure, it’s unfair, because they’re great note-taking devices, but there’ll always be a Bejeweled-playing jerk there to ruin it for the rest of us.

    1. Mike C.

      Here’s the thing: so long as someone isn’t distracting other people, so what if they’re looking at Facebook or playing a game? Not everyone learns best when they are face forward transcribing every word spoken. Sometimes a lecture goes on a long tangent or that student asks yet another long winded, dumb question to make themselves look smart.

      At the same time, you have the ability to look things up on the fly, keep notes in a really organized manner and allow many students with learning disabilities a way to independently adapt to their situation.

      Rather than “punishing everyone” for the minor sins of a few, why don’t you just let your adult students be adults? You’re stopping the good students from using tools that will enhance their own learning.

      1. Cat

        I think in theory you’re right; but in practice, I remember law school classes where computers were banned had much better discussions. Part of it, I think, was because it was clear you weren’t supposed to transcribe every word (which is actually possible with a laptop) and part of it was a collective action problem – if the discussion is lively and engaging, students pay attention, but if the majority of class is staring at their laptops, individuals don’t really see much benefit to breaking with the norm and engaging (since one person isn’t going to create a lively and engaging atmosphere). So I think there’s some benefits to banning, although some downsides too.

      2. littlemoose

        I agree with this. When I was in law school, I initially started with paper notebooks, but quickly found that I couldn’t keep up with note-taking in classes. I switched to a laptop, as most of my peers used them, and found that the quality of my notes drastically improved because I could type quickly and get a lot more down. Okay, okay, maybe there was a little slacking off – a lot of times, it was when *that person* was asking tangential or ridiculous questions. But the benefit far outweighed that, in my opinion.

  42. Illegible Handwriting

    How senior are you?

    I started with swyping on my phone, and then brought in my tablet with a bluetooth keyboard. Nobody has ever accused me of goofing off. Could I be mistaken for playing with my phone in a meeting? Yes. Do I care? No. Just as importantly, does my boss care? No. Am I more efficient? Yes. Does my boss care about this? Absolutely. :)

  43. Murrie

    I have been using a tablet at meetings for a number of years now. They are more and more prevalent. I’ve never noticed a scratchiness of a stylus either. If you decide to type, turn of the clicks on the keyboard and you should be good to go.

  44. snuck

    I would suggest making sure you are very competent with the software first – a lot of these handwriting recognition programs take a certain amount of training – and that’s before you even get in to the various idiosyncracies of the software itself. Otherwise you’ll just look like someone who got a new toy and can’t wait to try it out – which isn’t exactly professional.

    I wouldn’t bat an eyelid at a very competent quiet user but a newbie who was flourishing it, fidgetting, having to open/shut/play etc just to take basic notes would be distracting and annoying.

    Personally if the culture is pen and paper I’d stick with that and only use the tablet in the less important meetings (this sounds pretty big deal yes?) until you are really competent with it and until that it is established in the lower level meetings as a tool you use – why not give them all a few weeks for you to get them used to it? Otherwise it probably smacks of grandstanding/flaunting.

  45. SubwayFan

    I take notes at every meeting on my laptop. Generally, if it’s someone I’m in a meeting with for the first time I say “I really hate that this screen sort of hides me, but I can type so much faster than I can write.” Most people nod and say, “Yeah, typing’s much faster” and no one says anything about it. It also means I can take more notes and copy paste summaries in emails later.

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