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Using my iPad at Work To Get Things Done

Using my iPad at Work To Get Things Done

    Editors note: This article speaks about two apps, Notesy and OmniFocus for iPad. Although the author uses these to get work done, these are by no means the only apps that can be used to be productive at work with an iPad.

    When the iPad was initially released the tech media touted it as a “consumption only device”. This was mostly do to its lack of fast input that you would normally experience on a notebook computer with a hardware keyboard. The touchscreen input on the iPad is a tad bit awkward, at least at first, but after a few days and weeks the input isn’t really that bad. Not to mention you can hook up an external keyboard with all fo the new keyboard docks and cases to get entry as fast as any laptop or desktop.

    I program in a Windows shop but use a Mac, iPad, and iPhone personally. Because of this I tend to have all of my “systems” set up on my Apple devices and consider my Windows work environment a “context”. At first, I was trying to use my Mac so I had access to full-strength OmniFocus, but with a small desk added complexity I decided to try and use Microsoft’s suite of productivity tools; OneNote and Outlook.

    That didn’t last long. So, it was time to employ an iPad-only type of work plan.

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    Can this once deemed “consumption only device” be used at work to get things done?

    Portability

    The best part about using the iPad at work is its size and shape. It fits perfectly next to my main keyboard at work with its Incase Convertible Magazine Jacket propping it up so I can input into OmniFocus or Notesy. I can also easily tear it down and put it off to the side if I need to jot down some mind maps or a possible software design in a paper notebook.

    Because of the size and shape I can easily take it to meetings where I may need access to project notes or agenda items that I need to bring up. It works well in our daily team meetings as well; I load up issues that have come up since the last meeting and can easily go over them when the time is right.

    I don’t feel locked down with using the iPad at work. I don’t have to worry about writing something down or printing it out from Outlook when I need to leave my desk. I just take the iPad and a notebook with me.

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    Battery life

    The 10+ hour battery life on the iPad allows it to be heavily used throughout the day with little worry about it dieing on you. In fact, if I am just using OmniFocus to guide my day I can easily get two or three days out of one charge. Try that with any laptop.

    The battery life of the iPad alone makes it the ultimate productivity tool as you can keep it by your side all day. The only other device that is comparable to this type of battery performance is the iPhone.

    Ubiquity

    This takes the portability and the battery life of the iPad and smashes them together. If you have something you can take anywhere with you that is on all day you can truly use it as a device to carry your ubiquitous, trusted system. And even if you can’t hit a hotspot all day, you can sync your data when you do.

    Using my iPad at work with Notesy and OmniFocus I have a system that is rock solid and can be fully trusted. It helps me get more done throughout my day as well as allows me to sleep like a baby at night.

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    Still awkward input

    The only thing that still is an annoyance with the iPad is the weirdness of input. I will never go as far to say that the iPad, because of its lack of solid input, is a “consumption only device”, but I can say that input can be a true pain. I tend to only use the iPad to enter quick actions, waiting fors, etc. If I want to get into project planning and organizing mode I do that on my Mac. Also, tools like myPhoneDesktop are nice if you have a constant WiFi connection and lenient IT policies at your work place.

    myPhoneDesktop allows you to send text from you desktop (either Mac or PC) straight to you iDevice. It works surprisingly well.

    Yes, you can use a bluetooth keyboard and case stand, thingy, but being the Mac fanboy I am I want to keep my iPad experience “clean” (you may flame me in the comments). iOS 5 should clear some of this up as the OS allows the landscape and portrait keyboards to be split in two seperate sections on either side of the screen. This allows the use of thumb typing like you would do on your cell phone which can be much faster and natural feeling then the touch-typing you have to do in landscape mode.

    Solid work and life device

    So, does the iPad stand up to be worked with? For this nerd, absolutely. Even with its input shortcomings, the benefits of a portable, always-on, ubiquitous device is just the thing that many knowledge workers need to augment their productivity.

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    I can’t express how much using an iPad at work has helped me keep track of important things as well as get things done.

    Do you use an iPad or other tablet device for work? If so, how is it working out for you.

    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 May 14, 2019

    8 Replacements for Google Notebook

    8 Replacements for Google Notebook

    Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

    1. Zoho Notebook
      If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
    2. Evernote
      The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
    3. Net Notes
      If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
    4. i-Lighter
      You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
    5. Clipmarks
      For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
    6. UberNote
      If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
    7. iLeonardo
      iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
    8. Zotero
      Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

    I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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    In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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