On iPads, screen sizes and productivity

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Jason Snell, writing for MacWorld:

The changes in writing environment go beyond the act of typing. The iPad also offers a remarkable lack of distractions. When I write on my Mac I find I am endlessly checking Twitter and email and my weather station’s current conditions page and anything else I can find to distract myself from the difficult task of putting one word in front of another. On the iPad, I am more focused–and when I do finally take a break to check my email, it feels like an actual break, not a distraction.

I agree with this. My iPad is my single favourite device for any extended piece of writing. Anything more than about 600 words, and I’ll use an external keyboard with it, but it allows me to focus on writing in a way no other device I’ve owned in years does. I’ve blogged about this before.

The interesting thing about being self-employed and no longer having anyone dictating my technology to me is that I’ve been able to customise my working environment to make it really conducive to getting what I need to get done, well, done. In essence, I now have three different working environments for work-tasks, which I switch between based on what I’m doing:

  1. iPad – for long-form writing of any description
  2. MacBook Pro (15″) – for creative tasks which happen sequentially. For example, liveblogging at conferences, where I’m switching between my blogging software in one full-screen space, and my photo-editing software in another.
  3. MacBook Pro docked to a 27″ LED display – for research tasks, where I’m using software in parallel. I spent Friday doing research for a project, for example, and had Evernote, Safari and Tweetbot all open on the same screen, moving swiftly between the three.

The days of one device handling all my creative work are long, long gone, and I can’t see them coming back soon.


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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.