Personal electronics have been all the rage since the smartphone burst upon the scene over a decade ago. I didn’t truly join the craze—unless you count the Samsung BlackJack 2—until 2010 when I got an iPhone for a combination Christmas and birthday present. I upgraded in 2012, on schedule, like a good fanboy, but last Christmas, I decided that my iPhone 5 was more than enough and opted instead to buy an iPad.
While I have enjoyed the device, there have been times when I’ve felt foolish for purchasing it, but then again, more than once, it’s been a huge help to my productivity. That being said, I thought I’d share a bit of what I’ve learned between the two poles of buyer’s remorse.
This will be a five-part series that covers a variety of topics of interest to a pastor in possession of an iPad, though this could apply to any tablet or even a larger smartphone. Before we begin, however, let me start with how the idea of this series was born.
I work part-time as a minister, but I’m a full-time public school teacher during the school year. My school district is one-to-one, which means that every student has an electronic device provided to them for academic use and so do their teachers.Ten months of the year, I’ve got a sweet laptop for use at work and home, which basically means I use it to access my various WordPress installations, email, and Evernote, but then, in June, I had to return it so that I could be issued a new one, since I’m transferring schools within the same district. The five or six weeks during which I was stuck with only my old laptop and my new iPad, I fully realize just how useful an iPad can be.
In this series, we’ll discuss how to use the iPad for one’s spiritual development, for shepherding one’s flock, in sermoncraft, and in intellectual development, but first, we’ll look at how to use an iPad to increase one’s general productivity.
First Steps – Cases & Accessories
Before we get too far into this series, it’s important to get a good case. I went the cheaper route and purchased this Incipio because it folds up in two different ways: one helps me to hold it in my left hand while I’m walking around and, when placed upon a table, turns my iPad into a wonderful typewriter; the other places the iPad into the perfect position for a “second” screen, though it’s not connected to my Mac. Instead, I use it for a variety of purposes that generally help to boost my productivity, which I’ll share soon enough.
Back in May, I attended a two-day class at a university hours from home. In my desire to travel light, I brought only my iPad to class with me. One of the other students had wisely brought a small, Bluetooth keyboard, an accessory that I’ll be adding to my repertoire soon. Some cases include an external keyboard for power types like myself, but those are really expensive. My experience has been that a mid-range case is fine, though my lead pastor is using a low-range case without any issues.
There’s a lot more I could say about this, but a lot of it’s already been said, so let’s get down to business.
4 Second Screen Uses for Boosting Productivity
As I said above, I use my iPad a lot as a “second screen,” setting up on the left of my laptop—I’m right-handed and need the room—so that I can refer to important information easily. Here are three specific ways I use it.
1) Task Organizer
A while back, I created an Evernote to-do list that displays perfectly on my iPad. Keeping this opened helps me to remember what task I’m working on, what goals I want to accomplish, while also reminding me of what I’ve already done. Now, since I made this template, it’s tailored to my issues: lack of focus, neglecting my goals, and the crushing feeling of having accomplished nothing after hours and hours of work.
It’s not the neatest or flashiest thing, but it’s helpful to me to see the big picture and to be aware of needs to come next.
I love Mailbox, the email app that’s tied into my Dropbox account. (If you’ve never heard about Mailbox, you can read about it here. ) I got hooked on it last school year, using it on my iPhone, iPad, and my school-issued MacBook Air.
And then tragedy struck and I had to return my MacBook. That left my iPad as my new inbox, which turned out to be a good thing. Having my inbox always to the left of me served, first, as a secondary task list, but it also allowed me quick access to my email, which, due to Mailbox’s ingenious design, allowed me to sort and snooze each email as it came in, keeping my email clear, organized, and out of my hair while I worked on more pressing tasks.
3) Social Media Hub
My job at my church requires me to manage our social media accounts. Thanks to Hootsuite and a variety of the apps, my iPad could serve as a social media hub, allowing me to keep track of what was just posted in our church Facebook group or respond to people commenting about the ChurchMag Podcast on Twitter.
4) Reference Material
Teaching is also a big part of what I do at my church, so my iPad serves as a reference tool quite a bit. Between Logos, the Bible app, and my Kindle app, it gets quite the work out as I prepare my messages (and even my blog posts).
A Conclusion & Caveat
My iPad does whatever I tell it to do, but that doesn’t mean it can do everything I want. Until I’ve got a computer interface like they had in Minority Report, I won’t be satisfied.
That being said, it’s incredibly helpful. Now, you might be wondering how I can use my iPad for all four of these at once. Well, I can’t, but with app switching, I can move swiftly between each. Basically, as far as productivity is concerned, it’s whatever works best for you. Clearly, for me, the issue is having something to serve as a reminder or a focusing agent.
Now, as a caveat, let me say that this series isn’t designed to convince you to buy an iPad or any other tablet. Like I said above, I simply want to help you get the most out of your iPad/tablet. There’s no sales pitch here.
Until next time…