#iPadOnly book » Section 1 - Why #iPadOnly? » Chapter 2 - The ‘because you can’ problem

Chapter 2 - The ‘because you can’ problem

The iPad is different and it requires a different approach than a laptop

The iPad is not a laptop

Working on the iPad can be very tricky. It does many things better than a smartphone or a laptop, but it is not a replacement for either of them. It is not that the machine isn’t capable or powerful enough, it is just because it’s different.

The biggest obstacle when people want to go #iPadOnly is usually themselves. We forget that this is a device of that third category: between a PC and a smartphone. We have our habits ingrained so deeply that we try to bring them to use on this device in the same way we use them in our ‘computer life’. We want the iPad to function in ‘the same way the PC does, just better’. It doesn’t work like that.

The iPad was never designed to substitute the computer in a literal sense. It was designed to help us realize we didn’t need a full-blown computer for most of our computing tasks. In order to accomplish that, you, the user, need to be willing to change some of those old ‘PC’ habits. Many things will come naturally to you and will make sense. Other things are not going to work for your specific circumstances and will have to be re-evaluated.

Because you can

In terms of horsepower, the iPad is not as powerful as a modern laptop computer. But then again, it doesn’t have to be. The computers we work on these days are too powerful for our needs and because they are so powerful, we mismanage and try to do too many things on them. Things we’d otherwise delegate to some apps or services. The traditional computer is very powerful and the apps you have are very powerful, too. Too many options, lots of bells and whistles (just open Microsoft Word and see for yourself). All this creates an abundance of possibilities that gives us a perfect argument not to do our work but start ‘playing with our work’ and ‘tweaking our work’ and doing ‘lots of administrative tasks’. Why? Because we feel the need to use and maximize this powerful computer with its powerful applications. In simple terms, ‘just because we can’.

Things are different on the iPad. Over here you’ve got a not-so-powerful computer but powerful enough to run its operating system and apps. The apps seem less powerful, but they are more focused. Open Apple Pages on the iPad and on the Mac. It’s more-or-less the same app. Thanks to the iCloud you can work on the same documents on both devices. But on the iPad, it’s more focused. It’s simpler to use and that’s what helps you get your work done more effectively.

Working with more focus is a different experience to what most people using powerful machines are used to doing. You discover that the old ways of doing things are not working on your iPad and you suddenly have to ‘design new workflows’. You have to redefine how to process emails, write blog posts, review spreadsheets, send feedback to your team and much more. It gives you an opportunity to take a fresh look at all of this, evaluate many processes and move forward with improved efficiency. Here are some of our examples.

Michael and the ‘Downloads’ folder problem:

“When I received an email with an invoice attached on the Mac, I’d download the attachment to my Downloads folder. Later that week, I’d go though of all of my ‘Downloads’ and move some of them to my Dropbox or Evernote. Not that big of a deal, but if you’ve got hundreds of attachments to go through every week, it’s no fun at all. Not only that, it may be really time consuming, but because it works you may have not looked into the process in detail to find a better way.

When I started working on the iPad I realized that the Evernote app gives me a unique email address for forwarding my emails. The forwarded emails are added to Evernote automatically. This option was available before the iPad came about. I knew that, but never gave it much thought because I didn’t have to. Because I could save the attachment and process it later, I did just that. On the iPad a ‘Downloads’ folder doesn’t exist. There isn’t a place to store these documents for processing again at the end of the week. I said again, because at the end of the week I needed to revisit this folder and make a series of another decisions. After I added my unique Evernote email address to my contacts and changed my own workflow for how I process invoices, it has been streamlined to this: receive invoice and forward to Evernote. One click, one action, done. I soon realized many other apps offer the same ‘email gateways’. I now send files to Dropbox, tasks to Nozbe, and much more. It is a different workflow - no more saving, processing, or organizing later - fewer steps, more time saved. Working on the iPad made me catch my inefficiency and re-think the process. Thanks to these little changes and by modifying and adjusting workflows, I can get to ‘inbox zero’ on my iPad much faster.”

Augusto and his tax receipts:

“Before my 2011 tax declarations, I used to stack hardcopy folders on top of the file cabinet with all my receipts and any relevant information. I would drive to my accountant’s office with a huge pile of papers and folders for her to process. In 2012, I began sending anything that I believed to be relevant for taxes to Evernote. I scan (using the iPad camera) any receipt that wasn’t already in digital format. When tax time came, I simply opened Evernote and forwarded everything in the folder to my accountant. She was thrilled. I used to spend a lot of time reorganizing the hardcopy file. Regardless of how organized the folders were, I needed to be sure I sent everything to her. Now, I don’t need to think or remember anything. I simply forward the content of the Evernote folder to the accountant, and it’s done! The previous system worked, but this idea appeared when I began looking for a way to be #iPadOnly. If I need to find the original receipts, I can. That part of the process is just as painful as it has always been!”

Mail attachments and the iPad paradigm shift.

How many times have you received an email from someone telling you to look at an attached document, only to find they forgot to attach anything to the message? You’d have to reply to remind them. And only then they’d send you yet another email with the attachment. That’s because on a traditional computer you write the email message first and then attach your document.

The iPad works differently. First, you open an app like Photos, Evernote, Dropbox or any other app that contains content you want to send. Next, you tap the ‘Share’ button and compose the email message with the attachment already in place. You begin with the ‘attachment’ and later write your email. Sounds trivial, but it’s an entire paradigm shift.

Going #iPadOnly changes everything.

It is examples like these that give us the opportunity to see, evaluate, re-test and acquire new assumptions on why and how this idea of #iPadOnly is both fun and more efficient. The irony is that it’s the constraints of the iOS that make our processes highly effective and efficient. Developers of the iPad apps are learning more and more about this ‘magical’ device. Their focus is on reducing steps and finding innovative solutions that aren’t possible in a traditional computing environment.

There are more tricks like that and we’ll discuss them in this book. The thing is, with the powerful computer we’re lazy and we do stuff we shouldn’t do just because we can! On the iPad, you have to carefully think about these things, but when you do, you discover that many workflows, processes and things we do in our daily life can be simplified and improved. As a result you enjoy working on the iPad a lot more. We know we do and after you read this book and work on your own workflows, you will, too.

In the future chapters of this book we’ll show you how we:

  • write and publish blog posts
  • write and publish books
  • manage our businesses
  • manage photos and share them with family
  • edit and share videos
  • write code and code revision
  • process consistent feedback loops with our co-workers
  • deal with email
  • read
  • listen
  • and everything else… in an #iPadOnly fashion.

Next Chapter: Chapter 3 - Our lives before the iPad...

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