I got an iPad for Christmas, and despite the many pundits who told me that it wasn’t a business tool, I was determined to make it work.
I’m a small business consultant, so most of my “work” is done in my client’s offices. I spend 60% – 80% of my time each week away from my office. Pre-iPad, I had been carrying my laptop, along with 2 – 4 client files (bulky files I might add), with me to each appointment.
When I first got the iPad, I bought a bluetooth keyboard to see if I could use the iPad as a laptop replacement. It took me less than a week to realize that this was untenable. The iPad with the keyboard was almost as bulky as the laptop, and a lot less functional. The keyboard I chose was small, and it just didn’t work for me. Strike one.
So if I’m still carrying my laptop, the next largest piece of my travel pack was the paper, the notebook and client files. I figured if I could eliminate those items, I would be carrying less weight, even if I was carrying a laptop and an iPad.
The client files were the first to go. I signed up for a Dropbox account, and started religiously scanning any piece of paper that I couldn’t get in native digital form. This works great! I actually feel more prepared for meetings because I don’t have to pick or choose which client files to bring along; I’ve got access to 100% of my client files all the time. That’s a win.
I was determined to lose the notebook. My pre-iPad workflow was to take notes during client meetings, then move the action items to Evernote for action when I get back to the office. So I went looking for a note taking app that integrates with Evernote. (Typing on a laptop or iPad just isn’t culturally acceptable in my client meetings at this point.)
I tried a number of note- taking apps and they were all a little clunky until I found Noteshelf. What makes Noteshelf work for me is the Zoom Window that stays on the bottom of the screen, so I don’t have to worry about my hand touching the screen while I write. I know a lot of other apps have “wrist guard” features, but the zoom window really works for me. Plus NoteShelf exports PDFs directly to my Evernote account.
So now I’m traveling with my iPad, laptop, and… wait, that’s it. Light as a feather. I actually bought a new (smaller) briefcase because I was carrying so much less. It’s a dream.
Now that I’m working with the iPad all the time, I found a couple of other apps that I have come to depend on. Agendas is a calendar replacement that ROCKS. It’s a great interface, but the two killer features are that you can text or email people to tell them you are late or confirm an appointment with 2 CLICKS! (Also, available for the iPhone.)
Another great find is Due. In some ways this is just a replacement for the Apple reminders app that I wasn’t really using. But it also sports a spiffy interface that I’m digging. It makes it super quick and easy to set a reminder (Bring your gym bag to work) for a particular time (7AM). I also use it to remind me that my meter is going to expire, to set a timer to keep me focused when I’m writing a blog post, or working on a client project. It’s become one of my top apps. (Also available for iPhone.)
Have you found the iPad to be a useful business tool? How are you using it?