Since roughly mid-February, I have been working primarily from a tablet. That should be no secret now, though, as I've written about it and my most recent work flow (which I'm actually very proud of) a handful of times now. I know that some people simply don't understand why I go through so much trouble just to prove a concept ... or to prove to myself that tablets are worthwhile.
Just the other day, my step-father asked me why I write from my iPad, why I don't just use a Bluetooth keyboard or something instead of typing on-screen all the time. I think my response kind of shocked him: "Because I like it. I like typing on the screen. I'm fast enough and efficient enough that I no longer need a physical keyboard." Of course, that's something I've slowly been learning myself over they past few months.
But somewhere along the line, doing as much work as possible from a tablet became less of an effort, less of a proof of concept and more of a natural way for me to work. It progressed into something I enjoy, something I feel comfortable doing each and every day, something that feels right and makes me more efficient.
Don't get me wrong, it took a lot of work (and this article by Paul Miller of The Verge definitely helped point me in the right direction), maybe a lot more than most of you would be willing to go through only to get something to work just right. But for me, someone who spends the majority of every day writing or thinking about what to write next, I needed to find something that would help me cut back on all the distractions and focus more on writing faster and more proficiently.
Before, I would spend the better part of my day on my computer, switching between Facebook, Twitter and Gruml, looking for something to write about. All the while, I would get distracted for one minute here, two minutes there. Several hours later, and I've unknowingly wasted over half of my day tweeting and Facebooking. So I started leaving the computer and using tablets to look for content ideas (and saving them). Unsurprisingly, it worked quite well and helped cut out distractions. And I quickly learned the more time I spend on a tablet, the less time I will waste on distractions.
(Seriously, I could spend an entire day reading through Twitter and all the links people post.)
Browsing RSS feeds, intelligently curated content and the Web for ideas eventually progressed to me typing out the skeleton of my article before switching to the computer. And, before I knew it, I was writing entire articles and emailing them to myself. Then I went to Evernote, Dropbox then Simplenote. And now I'm at my current work flow, which is a mix between Simplenote, Notational Velocity (on OS X), Dropbox and iA Writer on my iPhone and iPad.
I haven't totally cut the computer out, though. I probably won't for a long time. But I'm on a mission to cut out as much computer work as possible, which is why I bought an Eye-Fi SD card for my Sony NEX-C3.
I take a ton of pictures and, until now, have been resorting to moving them all to my computer. I would copy all the pictures I wanted to work on to my Dropbox folder on the MacBook, download them to the iPad and upload the edited versions to Dropbox again. Needless to say, this was both excessive and a lot of additional steps just for editing some pictures.
So I bought an Eye-Fi card this week and have been sending pictures directly to my iPad. This is nothing new or revolutionary, of course. Eye-Fi cards have been around for a couple years now, as have cameras with built-in Wi-Fi. But editing photos via mobile devices has been a sub-par experience until recently. The combination of low-density displays and poor software made editing photos from a tablet or phone a pretty poor experience.
Although I wanted to move as much work as possible to my iPad, I was hesitant. Doing quick edits of photos with Preview on OS X is extremely fast and simple. I didn't imagine it could be any easier or faster using an iPad. Admittedly, though, I was wrong. Pair the Eye-Fi card with a decent camera, the new iPad's Retina Display, iPhoto for iOS and Snapseed, and you have a pretty awesome setup for quickly editing photos. (Of course, these are just for simple edits that I make – saturation, contrast, white balance, cropping, etc. And there is Photoshop Touch for more advanced editing, but it still comes up quite short of something like full-fledged Photoshop.)
Originally, I bought this Eye-Fi card to cut the computer out of my life just a little bit more, not because I thought I would enjoy editing pictures from the iPad. I figured if I was already writing from the iPad, editing photos from there, too, might keep me from switching between the computer and iPad too much and help keep me on task. But, surprisingly, I actually enjoy and prefer editing pictures on the iPad.
And what that ultimately means is that I only finalize my work on a computer now. All the creation and editing is done via mobile devices. I write an article in its entirety and edit pictures directly from the iPad and let them sync automatically. (While adding an extra device to my work flow might seem like I'm overcomplicating things, it's actually quite frictionless.) When I turn on my computer, both the images and text are there, ready for merging. The only part I do from the computer now is link, add pictures, tag, title and publish.
It may not mean much to many of you, but I've come a long way. And I never really expected to be working the way I do today – from an iPad. Call me crazy, but I like it.