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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?

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        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.

        More by this author

        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 June 1, 2021

        7 Signs That You’re Way Too Busy (And Need to Change That)

        7 Signs That You’re Way Too Busy (And Need to Change That)

        “Busy” used to be a fair description of the typical schedule. More and more, though, “busy” simply doesn’t cut it.

        “Busy” has been replaced with “too busy”, “far too busy”, or “absolutely buried.” It’s true that being productive often means being busy…but it’s only true up to a point.

        As you likely know from personal experience, you can become so busy that you reach a tipping point…a point where your life tips over and falls apart because you can no longer withstand the weight of your commitments.

        Once you’ve reached that point, it becomes fairly obvious that you’ve over-committed yourself.

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        The trick, though, is to recognize the signs of “too busy” before you reach that tipping point. A little self-assessment and some proactive schedule-thinning can prevent you from having that meltdown.

        To help you in that self-assessment, here are 7 signs that you’re way too busy:

        1. You Can’t Remember the Last Time You Took a Day Off

        Occasional periods of rest are not unproductive, they are essential to productivity. Extended periods of non-stop activity result in fatigue, and fatigue results in lower-quality output. As Sydney J. Harris once said,

        “The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”

        2. Those Closest to You Have Stopped Asking for Your Time

        Why? They simply know that you have no time to give them. Your loved ones will be persistent for a long time, but once you reach the point where they’ve stopped asking, you’ve reached a dangerous level of busy.

        3. Activities like Eating Are Always Done in Tandem with Other Tasks

        If you constantly find yourself using meal times, car rides, etc. as times to catch up on emails, phone calls, or calendar readjustments, it’s time to lighten the load.

        It’s one thing to use your time efficiently. It’s a whole different ballgame, though, when you have so little time that you can’t even focus on feeding yourself.

        4. You’re Consistently More Tired When You Get up in the Morning Than You Are When You Go to Bed

        One of the surest signs of an overloaded schedule is morning fatigue. This is a good indication that you’ve not rested well during the night, which is a good sign that you’ve got way too much on your mind.

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        If you’ve got so much to do that you can’t even shut your mind down when you’re laying in bed, you’re too busy.

        5. The Most Exercise You Get Is Sprinting from One Commitment to the Next

        It’s proven that exercise promotes healthy lives. If you don’t care about that, that’s one thing. If you’d like to exercise, though, but you just don’t have time for it, you’re too busy.

        If the closest thing you get to exercise is running from your office to your car because you’re late for your ninth appointment of the day, it’s time to slow down.

        Try these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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        6. You Dread Getting up in the Morning

        If your days are so crammed full that you literally dread even starting them, you’re too busy. A new day should hold at least a small level of refreshment and excitement. Scale back until you find that place again.

        7. “Survival Mode” Is Your Only Mode

        If you can’t remember what it feels like to be ahead of schedule, or at least “caught up”, you’re too busy.

        So, How To Get out of Busyness?

        Take a look at this video:

        And these articles to help you get unstuck:

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        Featured photo credit: Khara Woods via unsplash.com

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