I knew right away, when you walked in here with a paper notebook — a paper notebook! — I realized that this meeting was not going to be a good use of our time.
You’d make better use of your time if you took your notes in digital form, ideally in an access-anywhere digital notebook like Evernote that makes retrieval a snap. If you had that, I could shoot you the link of the book I want you to read, or the contact card of the person you want to meet. And if you planned to act any of the ideas or outcomes from this meeting, you would want to pop the follow-up tasks into your task management program….
The fact that you are carrying any kind of notebook tells me that this isn’t one of those conversations. We’re here to get things done. So bring the tools that will help us do that… Because this isn’t just about wasting the next hour of my time. It’s about not wasting the next hour, month or year of yours.
Of course at the end of her article, she inserts a disclaimer that she’s “an Evernote Ambassador, which means I’m endorsed by Evernote as an expert on their tool. Evernote has also included my book in its Evernote Trunk program.” This explains her constant allusion to how much more efficient she can be using Evernote!
She received considerable flak on the HBR site and rightfully so.
But for me as a project manager who has had to facilitate more meetings than I could every remember (boy, if I could get a dollar for every meeting I’ve facilitated or been involved with, I’d be rich…), I’d have to say that the electronic devices people use to “take notes” is far more distracting. And I put “take notes” in quotes here since we all know very well that people are multitasking reading and replying to other work emails or being distracted by Facebook updates or shopping online (not that I’ve every been guilty of this ).
Furthermore, I think it goes without saying that it’s pretty stupid to be prejudiced against someone simply by virtue of what medium they use to take notes at your meeting. In fact I’d go so far as to say that anyone who is diligent enough to take your meetings seriously by hand writing notes should be admired!
So do you find paper notebooks distracting and wasteful?