How do you improve productivity using an iPad or other tablet? One often overlooked or at least vastly underutilized method is typing. Let me explain.
As the workforce becomes increasingly more mobile, productivity outside the office has become a huge issue. Laptops have been carried by salespeople and other professionals for decades, but the tablet's portability has broadened the scope of who can be a mobile proessional to, well, practically anyone.
I noticed this is even the theme of TabTimes' upcoming Tablet Strategy conference, the "Tablets 2.0" idea that tablets are ready to be true productivity (not just consumption) devices. I heartily agree.
There are many apps and services that can help you be more productive on your tablet, but to me it starts at a basic level - typing.
It sounds obvious, but so many people get an iPad and never use it for work. Why not take a risk and start leaving the notebook at your desk and type on the iPad? Once you get over the awkwardness of being electronic rather than old school you may find yourself saving a whole bunch of time later as well as becoming a more valuable team member.
Sure, I know many people can't type with any speed on the iPad's virtual keyboard. Personally, after some practice I've found I can use it to type at a pretty rapid clip, almost as fast as with a physical keyboard, which has been great. But if you can't commit to learning to use the virtual keyboard, most any of the third party physical keyboards for the iPad will do the trick and I think are a worthwhile investment.
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So without any further setup, let's start the drumroll for my top ten reasons that typing on your iPad will make you a whole lot more productive. (Have some more? Don't agree with mine? I welcome your commments.
- Typing will save you time later. It takes more focus to type than write so you will be more succinct in the notes you take. More succinct notes means less information to review later.
It is much faster to file a typed note than a hand-written note. With a typed noted you can type directly in Evernote, Onenote, or Notesuite and waste no time filing. Or, you could use Drafts and have your notes automatically filed to Evernote at the press of a button using Draft's built-in one click workflows.
- If you use Drafts, or one of the other strong note-takers like Byword, Editorial, BBEdit, etc.; you can use a cool writing syntax called Markdown. Just by learning a few key syntax rules you can very quickly type a fully formatted note faster than you could sitting at full computer. Here a few excellent Markdown resources here, here and here.
- Typing on your iPad makes it way easier to share your notes later. How much knowledge is wasting away in hand-written notebooks? If you typed your notes and immediately shared them with your team you would be doing your part to harvest some of this information.
- Typing on your iPad makes it a lot easier to find information later. Ever have trouble finding a note you wrote in your notebook or a piece of paper in a filing cabinet? Just by typing on your iPad and immediately saving those notes to Evernote will give you the ability to find that note via a key-word search later on your iPad, iPhone, Droid and even your computer; even during a meeting or pulling off the road to call it up on your mobile device because you suddently realized you need the info before a call comes in.
- You can capture and share action items immediately if you use Drafts to take notes and Omnifocus to track tasks. Implement the workflow I documented in this post and highlight a line flagged as an action and click the button in Drafts.
- Typing on a iPad is way less annoying to others than typing on a laptop. It seems to me that those on laptops are clearly not paying attention given the larger footprint of laptops, louder keyboards and obtrusiveness of a laptop monitor. Whereas your iPad's screen it is barely noticeable to those around you and hardly audible while typing. Even if you use an iPad keyboard the footprint is still smaller than most laptops.
- You save paper. How many used and half-used notebooks do you an have laying around? I bet you could fill a small filing cabinet with all of the scraps of paper you have accumulated over a year.
- Typing on an iPad is faster than writing on your iPad with a stylus and even writing on paper if you count the time it takes to file a hand-written note or even scan the note. Writing directly on your iPad, directly in your filing system or in an app like Drafts drastically simplifies the post-processing step once a note is complete.
- You train those around you that you do real work on your iPad rather than just surfing the Internet or checking email. This creates the ancillary benefit of being able to do these things in a boring meeting without people wondering if you are paying attention!
I bet there are many more reasons that typing on an iPad is better than writing notes. However, I think the ones documented above should be enough to convince you to take a leap by trying to type on your iPad rather than leaving it home or in your briefcase.
(Tablet productivity is the main theme of the upcoming Tablet Strategy conference in New York on May 6, 2014. If you are involved in a tablet project, you may be eligible for a free pass. Check conditions that apply on our registration page.)
Heck, I think it may be time to start a whole iPad Typing Movement to convince other iPad users of the wondrous productivity gains afforded those willing to take a risk with their fingers! What other reasons can you think of for switching to typing on an iPad?