One Week of using my iPad for personal stuff at work

January 10, 2011

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On Jan 3, I tweeted:

All personal stuff only on iPad; no twitter, email, or RSS on work computer. Will it keep me more focused?

Essentially, what I decided to try doing was to bring my iPad to work every day, and use it for Twitter, RSS, and personal emails. The only “personal” stuff I would be doing on my work machine would be IM, simply because the IM experience on iPad is not very good, and the immediacy of it would be lost on a computer that’s not right in front of me. I don’t do a lot of personal IM’ing anyway, so this seemed like a good compromise.

Why?

Normally, I get all kinds of notifications on my machine: new emails, new stories in RSS, new tweets, etc. This divides my focus. I’ll spend upwards of five minutes reading mail or blogs while waiting for a two minute test run to complete. Not good. It’s hard enough to focus where I work as it is, so I thought this would help. Further, when I do take a break and focus on RSS or personal email, I’m bombarded with work-related things…the very things I’m trying to take a break from!

How did it go?

In a word: “smashing.”

I tended to keep Twitter for iPad running, as that’s pretty easy to duck in and out of. Any interesting link, I sent right to Instapaper for reading on the train home. I only read RSS feeds a couple times a day, usually during lunch, and during the dreaded 3pm doldrums where I just start fading and need a break.

I got to most personal emails I would normally deal with, however, because of the iPad’s virtual keyboard, I pushed off dealing with emails that required a bit more writing. This turns out to be a good thing, because most of the time these sorts of emails can just wait until I get home.

I’m going to keep it going as long as I can; I think it’s going to be a great way to maintain focus without just ditching the handy notification systems that are useful throughout the day. When I’m working, I’m not thinking about personal email or what’s been posted to Daring Fireball. When I’m taking a break, I’m just dealing with email, taking in blog entries and actually recharging for the next block of work.

I don’t think this would be possible on just a phone; the iPad provides a near-to-a-real-computer enough experience that I can do just about everything I need to on it.