#iPadOnly book » Section 2 - The New Office Paradigm » Chapter 10 - Productivity on the iPad

Chapter 10 - Productivity on the iPad

“You can be very productive on the iPad… in many surprising ways!“

With the iPad and our #iPadOnly work we’re constantly questioning the traditional assumptions related to the computers. In the last chapter we talked about the keyboard and why it’s actually not a bad idea to question the fact that we might not need it so much to get our job done. Next, let’s deal with other great benefits of the iPad and what really makes it a great productivity-boosting machine.

If we look into the dictionary, productivity is defined as ‘the quality of being productive or having the power to produce’. This is where the iPad shines - it gives you the ability to accomplish much in a compact shape and form. It doesn’t matter if you use an older iPad, an iPad Air or an iPad Mini, the device has the power to bring you more than its size indicates.

Instantaneous - the barrier of entry is low.

Traditional computers are fast and powerful but very often getting to the point of performing a task requires a long process. You have to start the computer, log in, wait until your desktop shows up, find an appropriate application, or better yet, find an appropriate file first, start it, dive in… this all takes time.

With the iPad you have fewer steps… and all of them are very fast. You pick up the iPad, swipe to unlock, go to the app and dive into work. There is virtually no time gap between each of these steps. Everything is near instantaneous even though the iPad, in theory, has a slower processor than your desktop computer. It just feels a lot faster… thus helping you get things done easier. You will find that the perceived speed of accessing tasks creates a lower ‘barrier of entry’ and will help you achieve your goals.

Focus - your ultimate ally

Thanks to the iPad’s one-app-at-a-time paradigm, once you’ve fired up your desired app and started to perform your task there is nothing to distract you from doing it. There is no ‘other window’ tempting you to switch to it. Your current window is the only place you work. We found it very liberating on the iPad. No distractions.

Even more so in writing apps like Editorial, Byword, Nebulous or AI Writer where all you see is your text on your screen. Nothing more. No bells, whistles, or buttons. Everything just goes away. As Augusto would say - your only options are to write or not to write. To perform your task, or not.

Here’s how Augusto puts it:

“I work at home. My 4 year old goes to school from 8:30 to 12:30. Our new baby (he was born in February 2013) requires my constant attention. On top of that I have a business to take care of, books that I am writing, books that I am selling, and a household that my wife and I take care of. My daughter also participates in gymnastics, ballet and takes Spanish lessons. All of this requires that we move in synchronicity in order to accomplish all the important stuff as quickly as possible.

The iPad provided me with a productivity boost that a laptop never could. On the PC I constantly had too many options on my screen and was easily distracted. Being #iPadOnly gives me the ability to focus when I need to, to shift focus when I need to, to produce when I need to and so on and so forth.”

Switching away is also fast.

As with anything - what works to your advantage can work to your disadvantage. Because everything happens so quickly on the iPad, switching to a social media app or movie-watching app on the iPad is equally quick so the temptation to just ‘click for a second to check something else’ can rule over you and tempt you to go somewhere and spend the next hour browsing, reading and enjoying yourself, totally forgetting about your task at hand. The single app on the screen paradigm helps you stay in the zone, to forget about your task and dive in without clicking and browsing. Ultimately it’s all about discipline and focus… but what we found on the iPad over the last year is that both are easier to find. The design of the iPad helps you get to your tasks quickly and find the focus you need to perform them efficiently.

Another factor that helps the iPad become the ultimate productivity machine is its flexibility of the device itself. The key lies in the hardware design of the iPad.

The keyboard

As mentioned in the last chapter, the keyboard on the iPad is totally optional. It’s only there when it plays a crucial role in accomplishing a certain task. Otherwise, when you’re reading, for instance, it disappears off the screen.

The optional keyboard boosts productivity as it doesn’t get in the way of what you’re doing. It assists you when you need it and is tucked away when you don’t. Throughout our last two years of working on the iPad we have both managed to design our workflows in such a way that we’re using the keyboard less and less each day. Less typing. More action. More tapping. More things done.

Horizontal? Vertical? Depends on the task…

With the traditional computers you’re forced to use the screen in a horizontal view. Previously, laptops had a 4:3 screen ratio, the same as the current iPad. But now, because of movies, the screens are more like a 16:9 ratio… which leaves you with a screen that is very wide, but not very high. Apart from having the 4:3 ratio, the iPad is again, very flexible - you can rotate it anyway you want.

We wrote this book with the iPad in a vertical view – which feels very natural for writing. When watching a movie you can easily switch the iPad to horizontal view. To read the news you can go vertical again, to check email go horizontal… well, you get the idea. Depending on the task at hand and the app you’re currently using you can hold the iPad in either direction.

In fact, there really is no ‘right’ way to hold it. You can hold it upside down (with the ‘home’ button at the top) and the screen will rotate 180 degrees. Just pick up the iPad and the screen rotates to the best orientation depending on gravity. This makes the iPad the most flexible computer ever - you don’t have to think about ‘how to’ pick it up - just take it and use it.

Form factor and the size - even more productive

When talking about which way to hold your iPad - the sheer fact that you can hold it is great. It’s not a bulky laptop or an enormous desktop machine. And it fits into a purse so you can virtually take it anywhere you want.

Most laptops weigh between 3-7 lbs (1.5-3kg) Well, whichever iPad you choose, it’d weigh below 1lb (0,5kg). It’s light. You can take it anywhere. Even if you don’t travel with it, working or reading on it within your house is very easy. Its flexibility increases productivity because, again - the barrier of entry is very low. Want to catch up on reading in the kitchen while waiting for the potatoes to boil? Take the iPad with you. Hold it. Read. Enjoy :-)

Touching is magic, more natural and fun

Michael: “One of my favorite songs of all time is the one by Phil Collins: ‘Jesus, He Knows Me’. At the end of the song Phil is shouting: ‘Touch the screen, heal!’ - Well, this is how I feel working on the iPad.”

We are humans. We have senses and one of these is the sense of touch. We love touching things and people. When you touch someone it means you care about them, that’s why you see couples walking holding each other’s hands. We also appreciate touching quality materials and fabrics. We enjoy touching wooden desks, silk shirts, and the iPad or iPhone’s aluminum and glass finish. That’s why Apple is so crazy about the materials they use for building their products.

Michael still repeats his story of enchantment with the first Macbook Air he bought. He says it was an amazing experience to touch the aluminum enclosure of his new computer after having spent years working with plastic laptops like the IBM ThinkPad or Toshiba Portage. He says he simply fell in love with the new laptop because of the quality of the materials it was made with.

Gestures are really fun.

After decades of touching the keyboard we’re finally touching a lot more when working on the iPad. We can actually touch email! We can also use gestures in many apps. We can swipe tasks to complete them! We can pinch and zoom on a map to view it in more detail!

In the iPad’s Settings you can enable four-finger gestures like ‘pinch to go to home screen’ (which is a lot cooler than searching for the ‘home’ button), ‘swipe up to see the multi-tasking pane’ (again, no need to double-tap the ‘home button’) or ‘swipe left or right to switch between apps’.

It’s all kind of magical and it doesn’t get tiring. We should know, we’ve been working on the iPad for more than two years now and we still love every minute of it. The sense of touch is back again.

Touching content on the iPad’s screen feels natural and is just more fun. We both believe that when work is more fun, you’re more productive. You enjoy it and suddenly work becomes a part of a game. You play while working on the iPad.

The battery lasts forever.

Our first laptops had close to 2 hours of battery life. Even then, because of the speed of the machine it was more like 35-45 working minutes. Later it improved to 3 hours; with an extended battery, 4 hours. Later still, the MacBook Air came with 6-7 hours of battery life. Augusto remembers that his HP tablet also had a forever battery that gave him 6 extra hours of battery, extending the total battery life to almost 10 hours. The weight of that battery was another 3-4 kilos - a high price to pay for a full day of battery life. Now with the iPad we get 10 hours of battery life easily. It’s more than you need for a full day’s work. For much less weight.

Michael still remembers his laptop battery problems:

“I remember traveling with my laptop and making sure to leave home with the battery fully charged. When entering a cafeteria or at the airport I’d constantly seek a place to plug in my laptop to re-charge it. I remember being crazy mad at people occupying spots near the power outlets without using them! How outrageous!

With my iPad as my main machine, I laugh at these situations. I rarely take my power charger with me. I leave it home unless I’m traveling overnight. Then, all I have to remember is to charge my iPad during the night. In the morning, my iPad is fully charged, backed up through iCloud in the process, and ready for the new day.

The iPad’s power indicator shows 100% at the beginning but what the iPad is actually saying to me is this: - ‘10 hours of usage, Michael’. It sounds trivial, but when at the end of the day I have 20% of juice left, I don’t freak out. On the laptop, I’d start searching for a power source. On the iPad it means I have 2 full hours of productivity ahead of me. Two full hours! This usually happens around 5 or 6 pm when I’m finishing my work - it’s still enough power to read for half an hour and watch an hour of my favorite show before going to sleep and recharging my iPad.”

There is no doubt the great battery life makes the iPad a very productive device. You don’t have to worry about searching for power outlets or about schlepping your charger with you. You can just work and get things done… and laugh silently at the guys sitting on the floor in the airport terminal connected to some distant power outlet with their long cables.

We are not an exception.

We can understand that some people will claim that we can go #iPadOnly because we don’t work in offices or we don’t have bosses or this or that. Nope. We’re not that special.

Michael is running his successful business with an iPad. His team of 15 co-workers is scattered across the globe and time zones. Augusto wrote four books and translated six from English to Spanish, all on his iPad. These numbers don’t include this book, which of course has also been written by both of us on our iPads.

Yet people still wonder how we can be working #iPadOnly. They don’t notice that they are doing a lot of work on their iPhones or other smartphones. They don’t notice that a lot of those tasks could be done on an iPad, but instead they convince themselves that they really need a powerful computer to get their tasks done.

The reality is that most people can be #iPadOnly if they are willing to re-evaluate their needs and workflows, as well as work on their assumptions. If you think that’s not the case, think about all of the things about your current setup that are not as productive as you wish they could be. Then think on what the perfect productivity image would be (‘the end in mind’)… then think for a moment how the iPad can provide you with a better (and much simpler) solution.

Next Chapter: Section 3 - There's an app for that!

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