27 September 2010

More Observations and Reflections: Mobile Learning Devices

A month ago, I blogged about Kathy's mobile experiences. Since then, she's bought several apps, a stylus and a bluetooth keyboard. Each fills a work-process need she brings to the device, ones she developed with other devices. Her iPad, she said, is becoming a tablet. She's expanding it with peripherals and high end apps allowing her to mark up, manipulate and produce files in .doc, .ppt,.xls, and .pdf.

The cost of the apps (as high as $14) has become less of concern in light of what they enable her to do. In some cases that means leaving the laptop home. Kathy works out of at least 3 offices, in the field and in airplanes and hotels. Devices are baggage to schlep around. I'll be travelling to a conference in Berlin in December and plan on taking only the iPad.

I'm using Simplenote to take notes that sync across four devices--two laptops, my phone and pad. I tag them with project names, the same way I categorize them in Entourage, the Mac version of Outlook. I don't Simplenote for ToDos. Instead I find Do it (Tomorrow) amazingly easy and fun to keep track of my Todos. It's a  local app, with two screens, today and tomorrow. I have two lists, one for work on my pad, and one for personal things on my phone. I can cross things off, push them to tomorrow or back onto today and delete them entirely. No tagging, no organizing. You either do, or push it off till tomorrow. I like the aesthetic and sounds of the interface too.

The complexity tagging introduces into my workflow creates inefficiencies when it comes to ToDos. I have other ways of keeping track of them with due dates further out than next week, such as my calendar  where the meeting itself is a reminder of something I have to do for it. Emails are another way I keep track of things to do. Sending and receiving emails signal steps in a process and usually I'm on top of it all enough to not lose the thread.

While I prefer to be busier than not, I don't want to have such complexity in my life that I'm unable to function w/o complex productivity tools and the philosophies behind them, like the cult of GTD and systems like Evernote.