Anyone that knows me well will tell you I’m a gadget freak! Anything shiny (and preferably electronic) and I’m drawn to it like a magpie. But do any of these gadgets actually help you to get more done? Can they make you more productive? I’ll be the first to admit, I’m prone to a little ‘post rationalisation’ when it comes to Gadgets. After taking delivery of my new iPad, people asked me “how’s your new toy?”. ”It’s not a toy”, I’d reply, “It’s a serious tool for work”. I didn’t mention Angry Birds HD, or all the other games I’d installed that day!
Nevertheless, I’ve come across some great gadgets and apps that genuinely DO make me more productive and I wanted to share them. So, in this series I’ll cover some of my favourites…
Productivity tool 1: Livescribe pulse pen
If your work involves taking lots of notes, you should seriously think about one of these…
Those of you who have held a meeting with me will be very familiar with my Livescribe pen – it’s a fat, rather cumbersome looking pen that comes with a special notepad. The beauty of it, is that it records what’s being said and synchronises the words with the notes – so if, for example, I can’t remember what Kate said about how the document library should integrate with SharePoint – I simply place my pen over that section of my notes and it plays back what was said, at that point in the meeting – it’s brilliant.
Capture everything from a meeting
Have you ever sat in a planning meeting where ideas are bouncing from one person to the next? It can be difficult to keep up and to take in everything that’s being said. And when you review your notes a week later, you find there are gaps. Sound familiar?
Often, I’ll meet clients who want to discuss new projects, ideas or upgrades to their web apps – there are frequently several members of the team who have an input, and it’s quite easy to miss some of the contributions. We’re all busy, and getting everyone round the table for a meeting can be a rare, precious occasion. In those situations it’s vital to capture as much of the information as possible. The Livescribe pen helps to capture it for me. When it comes to briefing my team, I have all the information to hand, and can even share the audio with them if need be. It’s a big help.
The pen connects to your computer and paper notes are transferred in a digital format automatically. I can then share my notes with my cloud services like Dropbox or Evernote (I’ll cover these in another post in this series) and other mobile devices – so the notes are copied and made accessible from anywhere. If I drown my notebook in one of Shaun’s superb freshly ground coffees (and I frequently do!) it’s no problem, the notes are already saved.
Remember, you’re not a spy – so don’t secretly record without permission!
Of course there are a few things to consider…
- It’s polite to tell people that the session is being recorded and ask them if it’s OK. Some things are confidential or private and shouldn’t be recorded!
- The notepads cost extra but you can print the paper yourself if you want (I buy the pads, they’re not expensive).
- You have to keep the pen charged, and remember to remove old notes from time-to-time to stop the pen from filling up.
- Whilst it works fine for quiet meeting rooms, the audio is not so effective in busy, crowded areas. It’s still a very useful way to take written notes and automatically digitise them.
There are different versions of the pen at different price points – and you can buy extra apps to further extend it’s functionality (e.g. translate hand written notes into typed text).
Could you be more productive with the pen?
So, could this make you more productive? If you regularly take long meetings, have to take lots of notes and want the reassurance that you’re recording information accurately, you may well find this useful. If, like us, you work on long, complex projects that involve input from several contributors, where decisions are often made during meetings and need to be recorded, it’s well worth considering.
Coming next week; Working on-the-move…
P.S. You can find out more about Livescribe at: http://www.livescribe.com/