Digital by Default

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc
photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

I’ve written previously about my Android tablet and the different applications I use in learning.  I’ve been frustrated by the size of it recently so got a new, larger tablet a couple of months ago.

I get ribbed regularly about being a geek so thought I’d see if I could survive in the workplace using just my tablet, and it is possible to work digitally with everything. To that end, for the last month I’ve put my pens away and concentrated on using just my tablet and desktop PC to see if it’s possible to work completely paper free.


Some things have been raving successes; taking notes in meetings has been a doddle. I’ve used Evernote robustly for the last year; using my tablet for everything means I create even more Evernote content.  What I’ve found most useful is to set a Journal notebook into my file structure and, once I’ve taken any actions I can move the note into the journal – it’s an instant diary.

I read Donald Clark’s piece on tablets recently and agree typing is different. The muscle memory is very different. To that end I got a little foldable Bluetooth keyboard and can type as swiftly as on a laptop. Most of the time I use the onscreen keyboard and bought the SwiftKey Tablet keyboard as I found it worked better than any other on screen keyboard I’d used before.

Document storage is a cinch too.  I like Dropbox but have found that Google Drive works just as well; I need to make a decision about whether I migrate all my functions to Google.  The internal storage and removable memory cards mean I can carry libraries of information if I ever need it.

There are a number of other apps I’ve got into the habit of using, most notably the Mindjet Maps mindmapping app. The free version allows you to export your map as a text or image file and, combined with Evernote, makes brainstorming a simple task.  I’m a fan of a whiteboard app, simply having a way to draw simple diagrams without carting around a dozen pens is helpful.

I’ve written about my use of the kindle app before; I’m currently carrying 20+books around including works on Success Case Method, Appreciative Inquiry, Social Media Marketing, Change, Learning Design, Influence and Leadership to name a few.

The app is brilliant too – I can get online copies of every council meeting I need to see in an instant.


Firstly, if I’m tapping on the screen in a meeting I’m almost certainly taking notes or looking up something – I’m not playing games, answering emails, or disengaging. Some people find the use of the tablet as a threat – it’s not, it’s how I’m taking notes.

I don’t keep any paper now. Aside from having a stack of pens that I’m now never likely to use (my love of stationery is for another blog post another time), I still get given handouts and paper copies of notes. People are changing and realise that most information can be sent electronically; ironically it’s at training events where the trainer doesn’t want to hand out materials beforehand that it is most noticeable.

I have to use a pen to sign greetings cards and in the last month, I’ve written more in those than anywhere else!

Am I at a disadvantage for not writing on paper? I do miss the feel of pen on paper but I have appalling handwriting and rather than mis-read what I’ve written I can at least read what I’ve written now.

Similarly, the look of sympathy that people have given me seems to be receding. When asked about a meeting, event, etc and I am able to call the details up almost instantaneously they come around. Especially if I have context in the form of web pages, etc that I’ve clipped into Evernote.

A complete success then? Not yet. Ask me in 6 months time and I’ll have a better idea.

What do you think? Am I doing the right thing or trying to create a pipe dream? Let me know in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “Digital by Default

  1. I first used a laptop in meetings 22 or more years ago. It speeded up the decision making process on the future planning of projects. I’d use a tablet in meetings – it would be even better, being able to see the other people in the meeting, as well as having access to additional information if needed.


  2. I need to do the same. I carry my laptop around everywhere and hook it up to the LAN (as we don’t have wi-fi in our current building) but I’m not entirely ‘online’ yet. I do have a tablet but it’s not linked to any internet service provider so using it is useless at work. It may change when we move into our new building next month as they tell us we have wi-fi but once again, I don’t know if we could use our own devices to access this.


  3. I’m trying a day without the tablet today and it’s already clear that I’m going to struggle. I need to get into evernote on my PC to check my todo lists, I need to get onto my PC to check my work calendar (not on my phone), and I have to find a pen and notebook as I cleared most of them out!


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