Home > ipad, Productivity > How the iPad will really change your life, Part 1

How the iPad will really change your life, Part 1


Get rid of paper now! Get rid of the legal tablets, the spiral binders, the scraps of paper, the napkins and your sweaty palms! You will never truly leverage your tablet while still using your paper and pen as a crutch! Kind of like riding a bike, you can never truly ride on two wheels with the training wheels on!

Why get rid of the paper? Well, what is the point of having an iPad at work to simply read email, surf the net in meetings and play Angry Birds? You can do all of these things on an iPhone or a Droid. Use your iPad to surf the internet and your co-workers will think you are wasting their time in meetings! However, if you use your iPad to save you time later and provide value for your co-workers by taking and sharing notes immediately; you will truly justify owning such a convenient device. So, how is possible to take notes fast enough with an iPad?

Step 1, get a good stylus. In all honesty, the best way to truly leverage the value of the iPad is to start writing on the screen. Everyone who has tried to type on an iPad knows that the keyboard is not ideal for extensive typing. For me, I did not really understand how the iPad would improve my productivity until I was able to take advantage of the electronic notes I took using a stylus and note taking app. Taking notes by typing on the screen just did not seem realistic.

As I have written here, one of the biggest problems I used to have with productivity and data capture was the process of processing all of the notes I generated on a too regular basis at meetings. This information would wallow in my notebooks which was fine as long as I had the notebook with me, but not so fine if I slacked from processing the action items on each page. I would love to say that I am the GTD poster child, but I am far from it; I just was not consistent at processing my daily notes. And, even when I was consistent; I was never great at taking all of this knowledge from my notes and placing them into an index-able filing system. Trust me, I tried everything from legal pages which I would file into neatly labeled file folders to loose leaf pages that I would place in project binders; both of these methods worked, but the processing work to maintain these systems was just too much of a pain for me to be consistent.

Step 2, get a good note taking app. The first app that relatively worked for me was Penultimate. Finally with this app I was able to take notes in a meeting and then send these notes to Evernote for archiving. This all worked great until Penultimate changed the interface a bit almost forcing the user to take notes in Portrait Mode.  This drove me nuts as I like to take notes with the iPad sitting in landscape sitting on the conference table in front of me. Here is a picture of what the screen looks like when taking notes with the iPad sitting horizontally.

Notice the layout of the title, time and other buttons along the top and the three main control buttons on the left; they are sideways.  You are basically writing along the page as if you turned the paper sideways. This is logical I guess until you send the file to email or Evenote. When you do this the file appears like this; sideways! Maybe there is some setting in Penultimate to fix this, or maybe I am just anal; but when apps cost less than 5 bucks, a small annoyance is enough to push me to try something new.

So, after a recommendation from my brother-in-law I tried NoteTakerHD (a detailed review can be found here). This app really worked for me for almost 6 months. NotetakerHD truly allowed me to keep up with notes at a meeting and it allowed me to easily archive all of my notes to Evernote for easy organizing.

NotetakerHD is definitely not the only notes app out there, but it is one that worked for me. Another one that I am looking forward to trying is WritePad. I understand that WritePad actually “learns” your writing style and then instantly translates your writing into text. Sounds cool to me.

In a future post I will review my process for organizing and archiving my notes in Evernote because quite honestly it is just as easy to loose track of notes in Notetaker as it is with a notepad or notebook; you still have to stay on top of organizing and filing. But, the true advantage is that these notes go where ever your iPad goes and if you are like me your iPad generally follows you around.

So, if you want to truly start leveraging the iPad and you are not confident in your typing abilities on the iPad, buy a stylus (Stylus Reviews here) and try out one of the numerous note taking apps out there.

P.S.  The picture of the pen above comes courtesy of Elite Choice. The pen is the “1010” fountain pen valued at over $174,000!

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  1. Michael Russo
    July 17, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Chris, I agree about the stylus and note taking being the key to changing to an iPad based system. A suggestion for note taking (and there are many) is UYH (Use Your Handwriting) – what I like about it is the “list” approach to notes (as many as you want) which can then easily be separated into actions during the processing phase.

    Michae;

    • July 17, 2011 at 3:17 pm

      Michael, thanks for the suggestion. I had never heard about that app and will give it a try this week or next as a comparison to WritePad.

      Appreciate the comment!

      – Chris

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