Let me just get this out there before we start: I have lousy handwriting. So lousy, I can barely read my OWN handwriting. It’s chicken-scratch. It’s horrible. It’s unreadable.
What’s more, my hands hurt when I write with pen or pencil. I blame my elementary school teachers. After all, this must be someone’s fault, right?
Whatever the case, I can’t write with a pen to save my life and it hurts like hell when I do.
So, a number of years ago, I turned to the laptop.
I would take my laptop to every meeting. It was my primary note-taking device. I could type much faster than I could write. I was more efficient. And notes were actually readable. Oh happy, happy day.
This was probably, oh, about six years ago when I had my first real Mac laptop.
But over the years, things have changed. I’ve changed.
And recently, I’ve been re-thinking my use of a laptop in meetings. In fact, I’m making a proclamation today to you: I’m done using my laptop in meetings (for the most part–only when needed). Here’s why:
In a recent board meeting, this came up. Almost everyone in this board meeting had a laptop open and was either checking it or typing every few minutes. And I’m guessing most of us were NOT taking notes. We were checking email. Looking at client work. Checking in. In effect, we were NOT paying attention to the meeting right in front of us (allegedly). So, we shut out laptops. Instant discussion. It’s really quite surprising what can happen when you actually give the people right in front of you your full attention. Plus, I suck at multi-tasking anyway 🙂
A big part of consulting is listening
One thing I learned from my time on the agency side: Listen more than you speak. It wasn’t a verbalized rule or command from my superiors–I simply learned by watching what people I admired were doing. A lot of LISTENING. It’s pretty hard to listen when you’re constantly taking notes and typing, right? I mean, there is a certain logic around note-taking and listening. If you write something down, you’re more apt to remember it, right? But, in the consulting world, I would argue its more important to listen to what the client is saying, process that information and then consider what approaches you might recommend. You take the note-taking piece out, and your brain has more time to process and think.
Everyone needs a break from screen time
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen? For me, it’s honestly probably 8 hours a day–at least on the days when I have a lot of desk time. If I bring my laptop to client meetings, which tend to break up my days, that number goes even higher. Instead, why not cherish those meeting times and use them as breaks from your screen. Your eyes–and brain–will thank you. And, I also tend to think that screen time break can make you more creative, too.
Now, I’m not saying I won’t ever use a laptop in a meeting. Sometimes, it’s just going to be a necessary evil. But, I am telling you that I’m making a concerted effort to use that pen and paper a whole lot more.
And I expect you all to hold me to that.