Our Thinking

The iPad as Productivity Tool - Fact or Fiction?

Posted by Martin Bajt on Jul 9, 2012 3:00:19 AM

Last month I plunged into an experiment: could an iPad be a useful tool in my consultant utility belt?

The iPad has become a fairly common sight among not only the general consumer population, but the on-the-go professional as well (I’ll refrain from using the term “road warrior” as that’s one of those terms that’s been overused, and quite frankly, doesn’t apply to me). Given that we’re now into the 3rd generation of the iPad and there are a bazillion apps (ok, maybe bazillion is an exaggeration, but definitely a lot), I thought it was time to see if it made sense for me to use one, both while delivering consulting services at a client site, as well as for fulfilling some internal organizational roles.

I’m tired of starting a new notebook every time I go to a meeting and can’t find the notebook I started last time…

It’s confession time: I’m not always as organized as I appear to be (or like to be). I’ve probably started a dozen notebooks in the past couple of years, vowing that this time will be different. At least until the next time I need to start a new one. (By the way, I mean those old-fashioned notebooks, the ones you write in, lest you think I’ve lost thousands of dollars of electronic equipment.) Sometimes I start a new one because my other one isn’t at hand. Sometimes I start a new one because I think I should logically separate my notebooks based on my role – a notebook for my current client project, a notebook for my career mentor work, and so on. Truth be told, this hasn’t worked for me very well; I know some people are good at doing this, and I admire you, ok?

So this was part of the motivation for me wanting to try using the iPad – it had the size and light weight of a notebook, but also the ability to help me logically organize the information I need to keep and access.

There are these things called laptops that some people use…

I’ve got one of those – several in fact. I’ve got a personal one at home, Online provides me with one, as does my current client. And let me be clear – this experiment isn’t about iPad versus laptop. This is about using the right tool for the right job. We’ve all heard that expression – “If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail” – but like all of you, I’m dealing with more than just nails. And quite honestly, I don’t carry my hammer all day long.

As portable as they are, it’s not always convenient or necessary to bring my laptop to every meeting I go to, or every other time I leave my desk. There’s not always a place to plug it in (my battery has run low way too many times during a crucial moment to risk not bringing a charger); and by the time I plug in the charger, a network cable and a mouse (I’m not all that good with the track pads, which is interesting given that the iPad is in some a ways a large track pad), I’ve taken up a fair bit of real estate at the table (not to mention people getting hung up in all the cords that invariably lay in their way). And then there’s the time it takes to boot up (or wake up from sleep mode), and so on and so forth – my meeting or conversation can be half done before I’m ready to do anything with my laptop.

Experiments are great -- until they prove you wrong. Or you manipulate the results – but that wouldn’t be scientifically ethical...

I’m not a scientist (although I like to think I’m ethical). I’ll do my best to present a fair set of results – what worked and what didn’t. I’ll admit that there might be some bias as I almost exclusively use Apple products at home, but I’ll try hard not to let that influence me. Do I want to show that the iPad is a good tool? Absolutely. But I’m not the type of person who will continue to use something if it doesn’t work. If in six months’ time you see me carrying my old fashioned notebook again, you’ll know that, at least for me, the iPad as a productivity tool was fiction.

Over the next few months I’ll be reporting back to you on a regular basis to let you know how things are going. I’ll be looking at the iPad and app use in three broad categories: accessing information, capturing information, and presenting information.

If you have any questions, comments, or personal experiences using an iPad, I’d love to hear from you.


Read all the posts in this series:

Part 1 - http://ig.obsglobal.com/2012/07/the-ipad-as-productivity-tool-fact-or-fiction/

Part 2 - http://ig.obsglobal.com/2012/08/the-ipad-as-productivity-tool-fact-or-fiction-part-2/

Part 3 - http://ig.obsglobal.com/2012/09/the-ipad-as-productivity-tool-fact-or-fiction-part-3/

Part 4 - http://ig.obsglobal.com/2012/10/the-ipad-as-productivity-tool-fact-or-fiction-part-4/

Part 5 - http://ig.obsglobal.com/2012/11/the-ipad-as-productivity-tool-fact-or-fiction-part-5/

Conclusion - http://ig.obsglobal.com/2013/03/the-end-is-near/



Topics: Professional Effectiveness

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