Being more productive with mobile tech

Being more productive with mobile tech

Summary: Gadgets and the apps that run them have become so powerful it makes me more productive, all of the time.


I write for a living and inspiration comes at the oddest times. Mobile technology plays a major role in my work, as it lets me capture ideas when they occur no matter where I am. Gadgets have evolved to be powerful information capture tools and also make content creation easy.

The benefit of mobile tech in my work is certainly specific to what I do for a living. Accountants or other professionals may find gadgets don't play as big a role in their work as I do. It has revolutionized my work, and I consider myself lucky for that.

A big part of my work comes in the form of ideas that get triggered based on things I see around me. Mobile tech ensures I don't lose an idea before getting it down for future reference. That can be done with a smartphone or tablet; whatever I have handy captures the idea.

The capture can be as simple as taking a picture of interest or jotting down a quick note. If I'm using an Android phone the photo is uploaded automatically to Google +, with the iPhone it is streamed to iCloud. They both make all photos I snap available from any browser on any device I use. I don't have to do anything special, which is why this method is so powerful.

The Evernote service plays a big role in this idea process, both the capture and the creation of notes. I can take a quick note on any mobile device, as Evernote apps are quite good on all platforms. I might knock off a quick outline using the onscreen keyboard of a phone or tablet. Sometimes I use voice entry to create a note when that makes more sense. The important thing is I capture the idea when I have it, and nothing is lost.

I have detailed how tablets have become a part of my writing work. This can be done with or without an external keyboard, as most onscreen keyboards are very good. SwiftKey on Android is the best of them all, as it can guess what I am going to enter after typing just a letter or two. I rarely have to type a whole word with this keyboard, just tap the guessed word.

This works well in the preparation phase of my writing work, which can be the creation of an outline for an article or a simple paragraph or two of setup. The tools on phones and tablets make this effortless on either Android or iOS. I grab the gadget, quickly enter the preliminary information, and get back out. The prep work is available to me wherever I end up writing the full article, on any device I happen to be using at the time.

In the not-too-distant past many ideas would end up lost, but no longer. I grab information as it becomes available, and I use it to lay the groundwork for writing projects whenever a few minutes presents itself. I can leverage mobile tech to maximum effect, no matter what gadget I am holding.

It isn't hard to convince most people how good mobile devices are at capturing information. The ability to create content using those devices is often disputed, but I am living proof it is very good at that, too. It is this capability that is driving the BYOD movement, as folks are getting good using their gadgets and want to keep doing it at work.


Topic: iPad

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  • I can see that to a degree

    Somethings work well with a tablet. Like, sketchbook pro and even word processing isn't hard... Spreadsheets are much more cumbersome than they need to be and carrying these things around is much easier than a laptop.
    • Maybe Excel

      I believe that's why folks want to see Office on the Windows RT tablets and the iPad. Hoping spreadsheets will get optimized for touch. We'll have to see about that.
      • I used Excel extensively in my professional career. One observation

        that I have regarding that application might indicate that tablets will NEVER be the platform of choice for working with spreadsheet files regardless whether Excel is optimized for touch or not.

        Specifically, professionals use spreadsheets to visualize and manipulate "large" data sets. For that simple reason, viewing large data sets on a 7 inch or 10 inch tablet would get tedious over time. I imagine having to either zoom down to "microscopic" text sizes or zooming out to view only a small subset of the whole constantly. Not fun.

        I always considered myself fortunate when I was able to work with my Excel files on a large monitor. And, in my day, large monitors meant large CRT monitors and a 19" CRT was considered "large" back then. Now my 27" iMac screen size seems "normal". Grin.

        To recap, when I have viewed my Excel files on my iPads (all three generations) using a VNC app like LogMeIn, I always have to pinch and zoom constantly. Needless to say, I don't do spreadsheets on a tablet. I may look at a section of a spreadsheet on a tablet but I would never create a large spreadsheet file on one.
      • Have you tried Numbers on the iPad?

        It's no Excel, but I use it for moderate-sized sheets, and the touch UI works GREAT! I had misgivings about spreadsheets on a iPad before I tried it, and it took a while for me to adapt and really learn the program, but now i use it almost every day, and am a happy camper. I especially like how the keys for data entry change depending on the type of data to be entered in a cell. Very cool!
      • I have Numbers installed on my iPad. It is a good app.

        It's a fine tablet optimized spreadsheet app for all the reasons you cited. It also imports Excel files rather well.

        Like I stated above, the iPad (or any current ARM based tablet) is a fine platform for viewing and editing spreadsheet files - even large files having a large data set.

        However, CREATING a large spreadsheet file - whether that is accomplished thru Excel, any Open Sourced app or Numbers - is not something I would wish to do on a tablet. For that task, I would prefer to use a traditional laptop (the bigger the screen display, the better) or a desktop PC - running any mainstream OS.

        BTW, if one has access to a laptop and an iPad, one can usually use the mobile app (which James has reported on in the past) called AirPlay to utilize the iPad as a secondary monitor - always a nice feature to have in creating a large spreadsheet. Afterwards, when the situation places a high value on mobility, the iPad could display or edit that spreadsheet file by itself - if required to do so.
  • sigh

    "The benefit of mobile tech in my work is certainly specific to what I do for a living. Accountants or other professionals may find gadgets don???t play as big a role in their work as I do. . . . ."

    " . . . I am living proof it is very good at that, too. It is this capability that is driving the BYOD movement, as folks are getting good using their gadgets and want to keep doing it at work."

    Fail. Just fail. First you admit that you're not really the most representative of professions, then you go on later and claim you're a shining example. Do you really expect me (or anybody else) to take you seriously?
  • I agree with the article

    Same as salesman gadgets help a lot, and my iPad raise the bar even higher, and it's part of my work every day. But for taking quick note I still have place for paper and pencil :-)
  • Improve Business Productivity on the move

    Hey James, I definitely accept your point. These mobile technologies have definitely improved both individual and business productivity. The days have gone carrying laptops, its the age of smartphones and tablets. People have the freedom to work on the go and with so many services in the market like Evernote, SyncBlaze, MiniBooks and lots more are definitely making work easier.

    Evernote is a great service to capture, create and share notes. SyncBlaze is one other great service to share files and manage your content, especially for business users. MiniBooks to manage clients, invoices and payments.
  • And yet netbooks still serve their purpose

    It's been a year since I bought my $400 HP 210 Mini netbook, and I still would not swap it for any slate out there. The 10.1" 1366x768 display does a great job viewing and creating both documents and spreadsheets, I love the 8 hours of battery life, and the recent upgrade to a 256GB SSD makes Windows 7 fly on this thing. I love being able to rip all my movies and music, watch Hulu and Netflix, play older DX9 games and get full Office functionality. It's small, light, never gets hot, and I can use it's USB ports to charge my smartphone in a pinch. Surfing, blogging, working with photos... even GPS navigation. I can do it all with my netbook.