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Productivity with Tablets: Paradox or Reality?

Productivity with Tablets: Paradox or Reality?

No one can deny it. In 2010 we saw that the idea of a tablet computer take hold with the iPad. Consumers love the idea of using a tablet to watch video, browse the web, read e-books, and of course just use Facebook. But, even with all of those consumption actions there is a hint of making yourself more productive with an always-on, always available device.

The iPad is a phenom really, and it has been chosen by consumers as the tablet to get right now. Mostly because they don’t really have a compelling choice of anything else. Because of this adoption of the iPad, this article will concentrate on the idea of being productive with the iPad rather than another tablet, but really it could be applied to any tablet-based form-factored device.

The question: is the iPad just a consumption device or can we actually use this thing to make ourselves more productive?

The Window into Your World

One of the best things about the tablet form factor is that it provides the user with a bunch of screen real estate that their smartphones can’t and the portability that their laptops lack. This allows for viewing information and media to become something enjoyable and easy as opposed to something annoying on a small form-factored device.

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      The extra screen space gives the user an expansive view into their data. With the extra screen size, developers can take advantage of newer ways to interact with the apps they create. For instance in the stock Mail app for the iPad, users have the ability so view their inbox or selected folder on the left while they read their email on the right. This essentially doubles your perspective giving you an easier interface to use.

      The idea of a larger screen only works if the productivity apps you use take advantage of it. Some of the best iPad productivity apps that exploit screen real estate are the stock Mail, Calendar, Contact apps, as well as apps like Toodledo, Omnifocus, Goodreader, Dropbox, Pages, Keynote, Numbers, and Evernote.

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      The Input Dilemma

      I remember watching the live blog on Engadget when the iPad was initially released and seeing Mr. Jobs’ hands tip-tapping away on the landscape on-screen keyboard. I also remember thinking to myself, “there is no way I could ever be productive that way!” Well, I have to say I was partially right.

      Input on the iPad, to put it bluntly, is a drag. For short replies and quick edits to documents it works fine, but if you need to pound out an essay for school, proposal for work, or even just a nice email to your mother, the onscreen keyboard just doesn’t do it.

      There are two arguments to this:

      1. The iPad isn’t made more input. It’s a consumption device.

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      I can’t stand this remark. If the iPad was a “consumption” device as so many tech pundits suggest, then why would Apple release a keyboard stand to go with their device? Which brings us to the second argument…

      2. You can always get the iPad keyboard or a Bluetooth keyboard.

      This argument makes more sense, but in practice destroys the portability of the iPad. That is if you have to carry the keyboard around with you. I opted for this solution but found after months of experimenting, the bluetooth keyboard just sits at home.

      So, the input dilemma is very real on the iPad and any other tablet sized device. What I have found that is after getting acclimated to the iPad, that input isn’t as irritating as it used to be. I wouldn’t go out and right the next great American novel on the thing, but for simple task, calendar, email, and notes entry, the iPad works OK.

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      At Long Last

        There is no way you can be productive with a device if it’s battery dies half way through the day. Luckily, with a device like the iPad you don’t have to worry about this at all. It feels weird to say that a device gets unbelievable battery life, but it’s true; the iPad, if used intermittently can get you anywhere from one full day to almost a week on battery.

        This is something to definitely take into consideration when purchasing an iPad or any tablet device for that matter. Just how long does that battery last? I believe that the iPad has set the gold bar for battery life on a device this size that performs this well. I couldn’t now imagine using another tablet that gets less battery life than it, as I use my iPad for reviewing projects and email constantly throughout the day.

        Conclusion

        So, how does the iPad stack up as a productivity tool?

        With its awesome battery life, screen real estate giving you a large window into your data while being portable, and being better than OK at inputting data, the iPad shows us that it isn’t only for consuming content, it can be used to organize and make available your data to you at any time.

        Although the iPad is great for reviewing and organizing your data, it still lacks in the area of actually creating things. As more and more tablet devices start shipping this year, it will be interesting to see what manufacturers come up with to correct this problem with content creation on the tablet form factor. But, for standard review of documents, quick edits, list organization, email, and information review, the tablet form factor is extremely promising and may just end up making your more productive over time.

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        CM Smith

        A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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        Last Updated on October 22, 2020

        2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

        2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

        Good things come in twos: Peanut butter and jelly, Day and night, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The same is true for what sparks our creative energy: our thoughts and actions.

        Creativity is an inside job as much as it is about a conducive schedule, physical environment, and supportive behaviors. By establishing the right internal and external landscape, creativity can blossom from the abstract to the concrete and we can have fun along the way.

        Sparking creativity is all about setting up the right conditions so a spark is ignited and sustained. The sparks don’t fizzle out. They are allowed to grow and ripen.

        Think of a garden. Intention alone will not produce the delicious red tomato nor will the readiest seed. That seed needs attention at its nascent stage and as it grows a stalk and produces fruit. If we want to enjoy more than one fruit, we keep at it, cultivating the plant and reaping multiple harvests.

        Creativity lives in each of us like seeds in the earth or encapsulated in a nut. Seeds of ideas, concepts, designs, stories, images, and even ways of communicating that surprise and delight await activation.

        By sparking our creative energy, we activate these unique seeds. Like snowflakes, they are of a moment and always without a match. The smallest sparks encourage even the smallest, most dormant seeds to sprout.

        The good news is that our creative energy wishes to be sparked—to be invited to play. It wants to be our regular playmate.

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        1. Be Childlike in Your Thoughts, Attitudes, and Approach

        Being childlike in our thoughts, attitudes, and approach is an easy way to internally have our thoughts be gracious prolific gardeners to our creative energy. If we want it to come out and play and hang around as our regular companion, then let’s return to our 5-year-old selves.

        Our childhood selves are naturally curious. We still have that curiosity! All we have to do is remind ourselves to get curious. We can do that by simply observing and being with what is in front of us instead of making up a story about what won’t work or why something can’t be done. So, it’s about cultivating curiosity instead of jumping into judgment.

        Move Your Inner Judge to the Sidelines

        When we get curious, creativity percolates and, ultimately, takes its place in the world. To give a hand in choosing curiosity over judgment, we can move the judge that also lives inside us to the sidelines. The judge squashes our creative urges, even when they are as small as sharing a point of view. It’s that pesky voice that causes us to doubt ourselves or worry about what others will think.

        The judge is also risk-averse. The judge likes things to stay the same. Change makes the judge nervous.

        Creativity is all about risk and changing things up. It needs risk, even failure, to be its naturally innovative, dynamic, impactful self. The judge likes to convince us failure is something to be avoided at all costs.

        To move the judge to the sidelines and let curiosity reign, we can pay attention to who we are in conversation with and who is calling the shots.

        Is it the voice of fear, doubt, or anxiety (the inner-critic—the judge’s boss)? Or is it the voice of wisdom, courage, strength, and non-attachment, and of course curiosity (the inner-leader)?

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        We can easily tell the difference by how each makes us feel. The inner-critic depletes and slows us down, putting roadblocks in the way. The inner-leader energizes and a natural rhythm develops.

        It’s all about who we spend time with. If we wish to exercise, we will seek out our friends who go to the gym or hike. If we want to lose some weight, we will opt to eat dinner with someone who prefers a healthy spot over fast food.

        After getting curious, we can honor what our curiosity prompts us to do. The spark can do its job and a fire starts to glow when commitment enters. Our childhood selves were fully committed to being creative. That level of commitment is still something we are very capable of exercising!!

        Again, we need to let go of the judge. We can ask ourselves, what do we want to commit to—negativity that depletes our creative energy, depth, and output, or the understanding that our thoughts and attitudes matter and that right thoughts and attitudes are the sparks that really let our creativity come alive?

        Learn to Recall Your Childhood Self

        To get in touch with that unabashedly committed childhood self, recall your childhood self. If you have a picture, pull one out. Keep it around so you can remember to activate that innate creative nature that was prominent then and wants to be prominent now and always.

        Soak in the essence of that being. Commit to their commitment to brave and dogged trial and error because it is yours as well. You are that person.

        Remember how tenacious you were when you wanted to build that sandcastle. You kept at it as the waves came in. You built with fury or reconfigured the walls. Also, remember that there was a willingness to fail since you were as invested in the process as well as the outcome—but less with the outcome. You were willing to experiment and start again. There was vitality—the main lifeline of your creative energy—instead of a rigid attachment.

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        When you notice you are in conversation with your inner-critic or being held back by it, simply acknowledge, name it, and then switch to your inner-leader by taking a few good deep belly breaths, rubbing two fingertips together, or listening to ambient sounds in the background.

        Physical movements shift our negative thoughts over to the positive domain of the inner-leader. As our judge continues to sit on the sidelines, our ability to quiet the inner-critic becomes stronger. We taste freedom. A simple taste emboldens us to say no again to the judge and yes to what makes our hearts and spirits sing—our creativity.

        We begin to spark creativity to the point it no longer needs to be invited to play. It becomes our regular playmate—the younger sibling or the kid next door ready to have some fun, maybe even make some mischief by shaking things up.

        When we align with our inner-leader and think and act from its promptings, creativity flows up and out with ease, as it needs to!

        Letting those initial sparks generate a creativity fire that keeps burning is something we can all do! That’s the inside job.

        2. Listen to Your Inner Leaders of Creative Energy

        If we listen, our inner-leaders will let us know just what we need to set-up and do in our physical world to maximize that gorgeous, hungry creativity we now have flowing freely in us.

        The seed has been unlocked! So, now what?

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        To enable our creative energy to take its form and place outside of us, there needs to be spaciousness! Spaciousness in our physical worlds impacts our internal one. It lets the voice of the inner-leader be heard. It lets creativity have room to be sparked and acted upon.

        With a little discipline, we can easily create spaciousness in our daily lives—spaciousness that will spark our creativity and let it take shape.

        So, no matter who you are and what conditions help your creativity thrive, check-out these easy-to-implement basic suggestions:

        • Reduce or eliminate multi-tasking.
        • Say yes to what matters and what aligns with your big values and goals.
        • Say no to all else.
        • Say no again.
        • Schedule time in your calendar as you do with other things in your life to just be, to ponder, to let ideas percolate, and to create.
        • Spend time doing the things that bring out your creative energy. It could be walking, singing, or simply looking out the window.
        • Meditate.
        • Breathe—long breaths in and long breaths out through the nose.
        • Invite your body and heart into your experiences so your mind is a part of you and not all of you.
        • Try a new thing to spark your creativity. If you spend time running, try a different route. If running feels stale, cruise around a museum, or go for a bike ride.
        • Play a game. Indoors out or outside. Think of what makes you happy that you haven’t done in a while. Is it a physical game like badminton or cards? Maybe it’s storytelling? Play is creative, and it sparks the creative energy, too.
        • Spend time in the places that bring out your creativity. What spot in your home could be your spot for entering into that mode? Do you need to get out? Maybe a park bench is the right spot, with a book of poetry, or even nothing at all.
        • Spend time in nature. Nature brings us to a place of calm and awe and through that our creativity is easily sparked.

        Final Thoughts

        These are all habits—habits of mind and habits of doing. Experiment with what works for you. Have fun. If you give even 50% to altering your thoughts and actions, then you will begin to spark your creativity. It takes a lot of curiosity and commitment, but it can definitely be done.

        Our innate creative energy is a deep source of all that we seek—joy, connection, renewal. It deserves and looks forward to the changes you will make that will let sparks fly and ignite!

        More Tips to Spark Your Creative Energy

        Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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