Me and My Bamboo Slate

Self-professed techno-geek Jeana Tahnk aka Top Tech Mom has integrated the Bamboo Slate into her work, home life, and play with her family. She shares her insights below. Keep up with Jeana on Twitter and Pinterest and check out more of her recommendations on Top Tech Mom

I have always loved watching people. At airports, on the streets, in restaurants…wherever people are, I like to be watching them (not in a creepy way). My active imagination creates stories about where people are going, where they are coming from and who they are meeting. Over the past five years of people watching, however, I have found it harder to create tales in my head, mainly because everyone I look at is doing the same thing – looking down at a screen.

We have become a society of looker-downers and it is reaching epidemic proportions. The next time you’re in a public place, take a gander and I’ll bet that a vast majority of those around you are looking at a screen. It doesn’t matter if it’s standing in line somewhere, waiting for a train, at a restaurant or (gasp!) in cars.

And I’m certainly guilty of it, too. Our phones and super portable PCs have made it too easy for us to be distracted and fall victim to what I call the “Quasimodo effect” – heads bowed, backs hunched. It takes much more effort to lookaway, to turn off, to unplug, to put the laptops down, than it does to get sucked in. Which is why I was excited when Wacom reached out to me to participate in #MindfulMeetings with help of the Bamboo Slate.

In an effort to connect more with people and with myself – without the constant distraction of a meme, Twitter feud or James Corden’s latest Carpool Karaoke – I welcomed the challenge of putting laptops and phones down and going back to the ancient art of writing. Yes, with real pen and paper!

As someone who used to journal regularly (emphasis on used to), I really do love the familiar feeling of a pen in my fingers. Typing so much and writing so little made the experience of writing on the Bamboo Slate so familiar and comfortable. Despite minor hand cramping at first, I quickly grew accustomed to writing everything, and since then, the Bamboo Slate has become a trusty companion – For Work, For Play and For Home. Here’s my three-part series.

For Work

As a tech writer and brand/PR consultant, I am frequently on calls with clients or in meetings where note-taking is required. Previously, I’d jot quick bullets down in a small notebook or type on my laptop, but then would often find myself working on a different device or in a different location from where the original notes were. Not ideal.

With the Bamboo Slate, it’s so easy to take notes, sync the content to all my devices via the Inkspace app and then have access to it on my phone, iPad or PC. I did marvel the first few times at the technology behind the Bamboo Slate. Being able to write something down on a piece of paper and, within seconds, have it digitized exactly as I wrote it…how does it do that?

My typical workflow switched from having lots of little notebooks scattered around my desk, to streamlining everything into the Bamboo Slate and then organizing by category/client into folders on my computer.

 

There were a few hints I learned along the way to maximize efficiency when using the Bamboo Slate:

  • I had to get used to syncing after each page of notes (or after each holistic concept) that I wanted to capture in full. Having it sync by page makes it easier to organize in the app.
  • If you want to add something to an existing page of notes, keep in mind that it only saves the new notes you’re adding. It doesn’t capture the older notes that are already there, so I found it easier to make additions once they were digitized on my computer.
  • Keep track of the pen! There is a handy slot where the pen rests when not in use. Without the pen, there’s no syncing. You have to use the one provided.

After getting used to a new way of working and note-taking, I have fallen into a nice rhythm with the Bamboo Slate. I love being able to write again and the hand cramping has lessened significantly, making it feel very natural, just like those old journaling days.

For Home

Between two busy work schedules and even busier schedules for our three kids, it’s safe to say that my husband and I don’t get that much time to talk. By the time we crawl into bed, all desire to communicate about “important stuff” falls victim to catching up on episodes of Veep (we’re behind) or nodding off within minutes of hitting the pillow.

But since we’re adults, the “important stuff” can’t be totally ignored, which means we have to actually remember what that stuff is to talk about. Filing for taxes, family calendar things, our plan for April vacation, are just a few of the pressing things that fall under that umbrella. To keep track of everything, I write things down on sticky notes. The only problem with sticky notes is that they’re easily misplaced, stuck onto something else or drawn on with crayon – with a very busy three-year-old typically to blame.

Using the Bamboo Slate, I’ve been able to consolidate all the sticky note contents in one place and keep a running log of household/family stuff we need to chat about, and also add weekend to dos to the list. What’s super handy is that I can email these notes to my husband as reminders of what needs to be done – I’m sure he’s so appreciative of the gesture.

It’s also nice that when I have those flashes of need to add that to the list, that I can easily pull up the existing note on my computer and add to it, without having to dig through old texts or not-sticky-anymore sticky notes.

With the sporadic and oftentimes scattered time we have alone, the Bamboo Slate has helped me stay more organized, check things off the list (yay!) and more importantly, have more time for Selina Meyer and her Vice Presidential antics.

For Play

Practically every parent in this day and age can relate to kids being increasingly obsessed with screens. Between our modeling behavior (I think we have established that adults are obsessed, too) and the sheer ubiquity of mobile devices among kids, it’s hard to escape. With tech infiltrating every area of our lives, I’m a big proponent of screen time guidelines around the house, setting boundaries, having screen-free zones, etc.

As I’ve demonstrated with the first two parts of this series, the Bamboo Slate can easily be integrated into any capacity where written notes are involved. But another majorly exciting use is its ability to be used for creativity play, which is where the Slate really became a family device and not just one for taking notes.

My daughter loves to draw and will take any opportunity she can to doodle, draw, sketch and paint. I presented her with the Bamboo Slate to create anything she liked. The real thrill was when I synced the image to my computer onto Microsoft Paint, giving her the ability to add color and context. She, too, was enchanted with the idea of her drawings on paper immediately showing up on my phone. Art and screens? Party time!

It was adorable to see how excited she got to ‘paint’ on the computer, enhance her masterpieces and bring them to life. It was even nicer that I didn’t have to look under the couch for the aqua colored pencil or dig through the desk drawer to find a single sheet of white paper.

It’s almost impossible to limit screen time these days with our kids, but a creative endeavor like this makes me much more inclined to encourage it. The challenge now is prying both the Bamboo Slate and my laptop away from her.

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