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Our Yearly Themes – GCU 8

This episode Mike and I choose our word for the year. Mike is worried about the dentist. I share why so many people set resolutions on the new year. Mike reads a lot in preparation, and I watched a lot of motivational videos. Both of us share our thoughts on marketing and motivational videos.

Get Show Notes and more here

Using Bear as an Apple Notes Replacement

Note-taking has become a staple in any modern computer in your pocket, backpack, or tablet sleeve. That much is clear, but the apps in which people write their notes in has been a point of contention ever since there were blogs.Apple Notes was my app of choice ever since I switched to iOS and has been my go-to note-taking app since, until I started using Bear shortly after its release.

There are a number of reasons that I can now say that Apple Notes is no longer my favorite note-taking app, here are a few of them.

Markdown

Markdown has been my preferred syntax in writing since Is started to learn it in 2014. It is simple, effective, and doesn’t require anything special.

John Gruber created an amazing way to write the majority of what is needed in blogging without ever needing anything except a word processor and a few specific characters memorized.

Markdown not only is a very nice tool to use on other platforms, it also is universal and allows you to write what you have to say and focus less on how you’re going to say it. Apple Notes doesn’t have Markdown support, instead it has its own formatting stuff that pretty much boxes itself out from other apps if you want to move it elsewhere. Essentially, Apple Notes makes your words and ideas squatters in a home, only coming out with certain conditions and rules.

I will say that Bear has its own “flavor” of Markdown, but with a quick change in the General Settings of Bear you can put it into “Markdown Compatibility Mode” and all will be the same as other Markdown apps.

This entire review was written in Markdown inside the Bear app. Including all the images, links, and text formatting you see.

Customization

There are a number of things you can customize within Bear that you simply can’t in Apple Notes, making Bear offer a unique and personalized experience to whomever is using it. Notes has improved their overall look from a journal with lined paper to now a clean look where your words pop.

However, changing the background color, the font, and the font size leaves a lot to be desired. Some of these things can be done on Apple Notes, but not easily nor to the capacity Bear offers.

Themes

Where Bear shines brighter than other writing applications is their themes. From light themes, dark themes, and everything in between Bear offers the look a vast majority of people would want when they are writing notes, or even long form.

The dark themes are especially eye-catching because of how useful they can be for people that find a white text on a black screen easier to work with than the illuminating white background and black text.

To date there are 13 theme options, some being from a recent update earlier this year. I personally like the High Contrast theme for a light theme and Panic Mode as a dark theme.

A really nice addition is that each theme has its own app icon as well. You can choose whether to use the theme icon or not when selecting one in the app.

Typography

One feature I didn’t know about until very recently is that you can change the font in the app, which blew me away because it offered a whole other level of customization I didn’t even think I needed. Needless to say I played around with it and found that I actually prefer the system font over the standard Avenir Next font it ships with. Something about have the same uniform font across all applications is more appealing to me. There are a few other options to match most peoples needs. To change the font simply go to Settings within Bear and tap on “Editor” and from there you will see the option for “Typography.”

Organization and Functionality

So far I have only spoken about the cosmetic features Bear offers, which are great, but when you are talking about a notes application the proof is in the pudding. To stick with the analogy, Bear’s “pudding” is so rich you won’t be able to enjoy any other pudding the same way again.

Checklists

When I work with my notes, I sometimes find myself needed to make a list of items or things to do into a checklist, which used to mean I would take the list I created in Apple Notes and have to create a Workflow to make this list into a format another Markdown app supports. With Bear, it is a simple selection of the text and tapping on a checkbox in their custom shortcut menu.

Not only that, but Bear has sweat the details so much you can go into settings and have it automatically fold any sub-lists once the main item is checked off. Meaning you don’t have to deal with the 16 tasks under one big project checklist you created after completion. Next time you enter the app all the completed tasks will fold into a gray icon with three dots. Which allows more screen real estate available to the remaking unchecked items.

Bear checklist before fold

Bear checklist before fold

Bear checklist with fold

Bear checklist with fold

Tagging system

Organizing your notes and lists in Apple Notes is probably the most frustrating thing about the app. Not only can you not sync your notes with third party services like Dropbox, you aren’t allowed any subfolders. So if you have plans to keep notes for that big project for work, the project has to have its own folder rather than being a subfolder within the Work folder you already had.

With Bear that all goes away, because Bear uses something similar, but different. They use a tagging system, and they allow sub-tags. For all intents and purposes this is the same as folders and subfolders. Regardless of the terminology, Bear allows you to have those project notes inside its own folder wherever you want. It doesn’t have to be a top-level folder.

Bear has actually made some serious updates to their tagging system as of late. They have now implemented autocomplete features so when you begin typing a tag within the not a pop-up dialog box appears where you can then select any existing tags that fit what is already written. It makes thing a lot easier from an organizational standpoint, and prevent users from using several tags that all have the same meaning.

The Little Things

Now that I have converted both the cosmetic and the functional portion of Bear, there are still some things that these developers have put in that deserve to be mentioned.

Icons for tags

Bear’s tagging system is not only very functional, they managed to put in a few secret nuggets of fun to boot. If you use tags like “Podcast” or “Blog” or “Personal” Bear automatically assigns icons (what they are calling “TagCons” for now) for those tags that are seemingly prebuilt in the application.

Bear TagCons Bear TagCons

If you use a tag that doesn’t meat this hidden criteria, they will use a generic “#” instead, which looks all well and good, but those TagCons that appear magically really make all the difference.

Handling of Drag and Drop

When I am working on notes for my podcast Getting Caught Up I tend to use a lot of links to things mentioned in the show. As I said before I prefer Markdown, as it is my favorite way to write, but it also is supported by my podcast host, Simplecast.

Before Bear I had to copy and paste each link in a new document, then find the summary and/or title of the articles I grabbed and then put in a serious amount of time to do the tidying up.

With Bear, I simply have to drag from the page in Safari and drop in into my Bear note where it gets the heading of the page and uses that as the text to encase the URL in. It makes for bringing webpages and articles a breeze and easily saves me an hours work.

What Bear isn’t doing that Notes can

While it is easy to tell I am a fan of Bear, there are some things that Apple Notes has that the note-taking app should consider building in.

Secure notes

Apple Notes added the functionality of having secure notes in a recent update, meaning that in order to access notes you deem private it requires either a passcode you set or Touch ID (Face ID for iPhone X).

While this was never something I used because I put my secure notes in 1Password, I do see the importance of having this option. Whether it is you banking information or just a Christmas Gift list you don’t want anyone to stumble upon on accident, the ability to thwart any snooping eyes with this added security is important.

I am not sure whether Bear hasn’t implemented this because of limitation in what Apple allows users to use (which I doubt because this kind of security is used for password managing apps all the time) or it simply isn’t something that the developer have pushed out yet.

If it is the latter, BEar needs to make the effort to make this a reality, security is a growing concern among Apple users every single day, and one way to retain your current users, and probably gain new users, is with this option.

Document scans

Sometimes when you are working with others or even for yourself, there are times when you get physical items like contracts and information you want to keep for “future you.” If you are like me, you try and go paperless as much as possible.

Sadly, Bear doesn’t have any kind of document scanning app like that of Apple Notes as of iOS 11. Granted, you can use 3rd party apps to make this happen, but going from one app to another just to keep a contract on hold for later can be a dealbreaker to some. If Bear were to implement this feature, it would dramatically improve some people’s workflows and allow them to make the complete switch over.

Final Thoughts

Bear is a colossal giant among note-taking apps and after getting deep int the application making the switch over was one of the best things I have ever done for personal productivity and keeping my thoughts organized.

you can download Bear for free, but I recommend going Pro early on for either $1.49 a month or $15.00 a year. The features you get when upgrading can be explained on Bear’s pricing page.

Did I miss something in this article or have any corrections? Feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email contact@tablethabit.com.

iPad Remains World’s Most Popular Tablet

The dust has settled with the recently release Apple Q1 results, but one thing I found interesting was the iPad market share numbers. MacRumors did a really interesting article showing the market share of the iPad compared to both Samsung and Amazon’s projected sales in 2017.

Apple captured a 26.8 percent share of the tablet market in 2017, meaning that roughly one in every four tablets sold last year was an iPad. Apple’s tablet market share rose 2.5 percentage points year-on-year.

Two things stand out to me on this. The fact that 1 out of every 4 tablets bought in the market today are iPads and that it only rose 2.5% year-over-year. It is clear the iPad is dominating the market, and for good reason.

Read More

10 iPad Life Hacks

When you are working with your iPad, many people feel stuck. Some feel like they aren’t being efficient enough or doing the right things. Well, today we have 10 ipad life hacks on how to get more out of your favorite iPad.

1. Type to Siri

Type to Siri is a new addition to iOS 11. And if you are like so many others, you usually have a keyboard attached or connected to the iPad. So, instead of talking to Siri you can type to her (or him).

This is great for the people who aren’t into talking to a computer to do tasks, it is also great for those night owls who don’t want to wake anyone that may be sleeping in your home.

Give type to Siri a try, it may just be the extra kick you need to getting things out of your head and into a system you trust.

To do this go into Settings>General>Accessibility>Siri and from there turn on Type to Siri.

2. Have a shelf app in Slide-Over

I spoke about Shelf Apps before. They are a great way to put things you want to save and use in other apps for later. One trick I found to be immensely helpful it to always have it available with a simple swipe from the right side of the iPad.

This is called the Slide-Over app. It is basically a floating app that isn’t connected to another app, allowing it to be freely accessible wherever you are on you iPad.

I use this a lot with the images to my posts, but I have seen others use it for practically any type of file or input.

If you are looking for a good Shelf app I recommend Gladys or Yoink. Each have their quirks but they are both very powerful and definitely something I keep in my dock for frequent use.

3. Use Spotlight for searching more than just apps

Spotlight is underutilized, in my opinion, when it comes to using the iPad. Many just use it for the occasional search for an app, but there are so many other things that Spotlight can search for.

You can search for files, websites, and even local stores through Maps. Spotlight is something I underutilized until I started pushing to see what all it can handle. I was beyond pleasantly surprised to see that it managed to find what I wanted a large majority of the time.

Granted, there are times where I couldn’t find what I was searching for but that happened far less then when it worked.

Give Spotlight a try more and see it it works for you.

4. Edit your Share sheet

The Share Sheet is the place to send things from one app to another. But sometimes you have to dig through to find the right app to send the information or file to.

One thing you can do is remove the apps you never use in the Share Sheet. You can do this by hitting the share icon and scrolling all the way to the right and tap the “More” button.

From there you can rearrange, hide, or add the apps you want. This works for both the top and bottom rows of the Share Sheet.

Additionally, you can drag icons to rearrange them if you find you want one more readily accessible.

5. Use text shortcuts and/or TextExpander

Many of us have common phrases or information we send to people regularly. Things like email addresses, updates on where we are, or just emails we send when someone asks a question you get asked a lot. This is where Text Replacement and TextExpander come in.

Text Replacement is a feature built into iOS. To see it go to Settings>General>Keyboard and you will see the option there. Once you open it you can add or edit text replacements. One you may see there is omw. What this means is that any time you type “omw” iOS will replace that with “On my way!”

Text Replacement is useful for quick phrases or words that you may use a lot, but when you add longer strands of text or need something that is Rick Text, you will need TextExpander.

TextExpander is a great tool I recommend to anyone who does email support, communicates to others via email or text as part of their job, or just someone that is geeky like my and wants to make things easier for me in the long run.

Because of the robust features TextExpander offer you may need some help getting over the learning curve of it. David Sparks did a video series on Textexpander a little over a year ago when the company redesigned their app from the ground up. If you want to learn more about the vast amount of features this app has, David is the man to teach you.

6. Edit Control Center

Control Center is one of those features that if you use it, it can make things much more efficient and change the way you use your iPhone or iPad.

When iOS 11 came out Apple put together a slew of options you can set for your Control Center, including having up to 8 button instead of the default 4. There are some great options on there, my personal favorite is the screen recording option. With this you just tap on the button and you screen is then being recorded. This is especially handy when you are the tech support person for your family and a relative asks you how to do something on their phone. Instead of walking them through it with long texts or emails you can record how to do it and send it their way to view as many times as they need to accomplish what they want.

7. Schedule Do Not Disturb times for working on the high-energy level tasks

Do Not Disturb sounds like a feature you would use when you are going to sleep or when you’re at the movies, but this feature can cut distractions out of your life big time.

I use DND when I am writing or working on other high-energy tasks that require my full attention. It saves me from being distracted by email, messages, and more when I am in deep work mode.

If you want to learn more about what Do Not Disturb is, Apple has a great support doc to read over.

8. Long Press on some Apps for a force-touch like response

While the new iPhones have Force Touch, the iPad does not. Regardless of the reasoning from Apple, there is a way to get the added pop-ups on an iPad.

This doesn’t work for all apps that have force touch support, but those that do have it allows you to use it without having to open the app.

Just tap and hold on an app, instead of it wiggling a pop-up will appear with whatever the developers built to come up. For instance, Apple’s Files app shows the most recent documents you have opened, which can be handy when you need to quickly open up something you were working on earlier.

9. Scan QR codes with your Camera

QR codes were never the smash hit they were meant to be. Rarely do I ever use it, but on the rare occasion I do I always thought you needed to download a separate app. Instead, you have a QR code reader built in to the camera.

With a few taps in settings you too can turn on QR Code reader and have the option to scan one within the native Camera app.

Apparently this feature was added with iOS 11. It is a hidden feature to many, but this is so convenient when necessary.

10. Access Saved Passwords in Safari

Password management has become more and more important over the years. Between hacks to your email, or even your personal finance information, a good password that is unique on each site is a must.

Safari has made some major improvements to creating passwords for accounts you make in the browser, making them uniques and then saving them to iCloud.

But there are times where you need that password and iOS doesn’t have it as an option in the shortcut menu. You’re not out of luck, you just need to copy it from Settings.

To do this go to Settings>Accounts & Passwords> then tap on the App & Website Passwords option at the top. From there you will get access to all the saved passwords in you iCloud Keychain.

While the iCloud Keychain can get the job done it doesn’t offer many options for other things like secure notes, and getting to these passwords can be tedious over time.

This is where apps like 1Password come in and they offer a great app that can be built into the Share Sheet and is integrated in may apps like Twitter where you jut tap on the lock button in the login screen and it will search for passwords that match Twitter. It is a very intuitive app and well worth the money to ease the stresses of password management and security.

Extras

So there are some life hacks for using you iPhone or iPad. Let me know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed something.

Also, if you’re wondering how I made these screenshot annotations, I used the app Annotable. They are not a sponsor, just a very cool app and one I want to share with you all!

How to Go iPad Only

If you are wanting to leave your laptop behind for the more portable, convenient, and just pleasant experience that is iOS there is one way to make this transition stick, and it isn’t what you think. The best way is to remove all other options and only have an iPad available.
It may sound simple, but when you limit yourself innovation takes over. This by no means is easy, but it is the best in my opinion. There is somewhat of a learning curve needed to acclimate yourself.

To help you decide if this is right for you, I have come up with 3 things you need to consider when making the conscious choice to leave Mac or PC behind and go iOS only.

  1. Are You Willing to Change Workflows?

Making this change in your workflows will create some hurdles you may not have had to get over before. But know this, it is possible to use iOS exclusively. To do this you need to know what to do to combat issues that may come up. For that I have a few posts that will help when getting started.

  • iCab Mobile – The Best Browser for iPad
  • Why iPad vs Mac
  • Learn How to Use Workflow

I have been using my iPad as my main computer for almost a year and it has become more fluid and second-nature to do nearly everything I could on my Mac. Some things are a little less intuitive but other things I used to do on my Mac seem like they were actually meant for iOS in the first place.

All in all, for me, iOS has made my workflows more intentional and effective than they were on the Mac.

  1. How Important is Automation to You?

Between Applescripts, applications like Hazel, and other automation options you may be using, iOS is a much more sandboxed experience. This may sound like a bad thing to you, it was for me when I started. But here’s how I think of it now: iOS makes you focus more on what is important.

Now, automation is available for iOS. There is an app called Workflow that Apple acquired last year. It provides the bridges to our apps that we needed, but doesn’t run in the background like Hazel or other software can.

Automation for iOS isn’t the same as Mac, not by a long shot, but it doesn’t need to be. I have found the limitations brought to me with iOS automation has actually improved my abilities to work on the things that matter and let the rest fall to the wayside without much hesitation. This is one of the biggest reasons I moved to iOS more and more over the years and why I keep coming back in times of doubt.

  1. Do You Enjoy Trying New Things?

When I made the switch to iOS, I made the decision to start right from the bottom and leave all my previous notions of computing at the virtual doorstep. I wanted a clear head and an open-mind when I took this plunge.

I am not going to lie, there were times when I went back to my Mac, but even when I caved a little I kept remembering all the things that were fun and delightful on my iPad over my Mac and I kept coming back because of it.

I have learned a ton about iOS and about myself through the last year when I started this journey. I feel like I know how I prefer my work done more than I did before, and I spend less time problem solving and more time actually doing. If I hadn’t made that switch to my iPad Air 2 when I did I don’t think I would be as confident in my work as I am now and definitely not as productive.

The iPad offered me what no other computer did: purpose.

So You Want to Use Your iPad More, What Now?

If you have considered the pros and cons for you and want to go all-in on iOS, then I have good news! You can join others in a Facebook Group called The iPad Only Club.

Here you will find me and other like-minded people in the iOS only community that will help you with your problems, encourage you when you are frustrated, and provide useful insight and value to help you make this switch as painless, and dare I say fun as possible.

If you want to join, head over to iPadOnly.club and join. It will redirect you to the Facebook group, from there request to join (the reason we require your request is to keep spammers out, don’t worry we will accept your request).

There may not be many users on there yet (this is the launch announcement after all), but I will be there every day to help you and encourage you throughout this change as the group grows over time. And if you want more people to join, share this with them. They say the best way to do anything life-changing is with a friend.

So, if you are looking to make the switch it iOS as your main operating system join The iPad Only Club over at iPadOnly.club.

See you there.

Snow Leopard for iOS

Ina Fried from Axios posted an article stirring the pot for the iOS community. In part Fried explains that iOS 12 may be more of a refinement update and less feature-rich than past updates.

Apple has shaken up its iOS software plans for 2018, delaying some features to next year in an effort to put more focus on addressing performance and quality issues, Axios has learned.

Fried goes on to say that this is coming from Craig Federighi in a meeting with employees.

After this report was published Dan Moren posted his thoughts on Six Colors

… any major software release is all about prioritization, and I’m sure Apple has done the math of balancing new features vs. optimization pretty much every year. It may just be a matter of seeing behind the curtain this time around, combined with the context of the recent situations that Apple’s found itself in that makes this seem more significant. But it’s hard to say because, again, Apple tends to keep its hand pretty close to its vest.

In short: this is probably no cause for either panic or jubilation.

Personally, I couldn’t agree more with Dan Moren, this “scoop” seems to be legitimate and very well may be true. However, I don’t think this is necessarily something that warrants panic or worry for iOS users.

Nick Heer of Pixel Envy also I had a great point in regards to this “Snow Leopard for iOS” rumors:

While High Sierra experienced a couple of fairly serious security vulnerabilities and has its share of irritating bugs, Snow Leopard — the go-to example of a refinement-oriented release — wasn’t exactly immune. It shipped with a bug that sometimes wiped user data after logging into a guest account, a bug which took months to fix; and, like High Sierra, Snow Leopard experienced a text rendering bug as well. We should hope software gets better over time, of course, but you can look back at every single new version of MacOS and find bugs that categorically should not have shipped. I don’t expect the next version of iOS — or MacOS, for that matter — to be an exception, but I hope it is.

We are still several months away from WWDC and this is only the beginning or rumors season, but this isn’t one rumor to grab your pitchforks over.

Especially for iPad users, iOS 11 was leaps and bounds ahead of where iOS 10 was with features. Things were upgraded to be more user friendly, we got the Dock that allowed multitasking to be more fluid, and hardware to go with the new version of iOS to boot.

2017 was a great year to be an iOS user and if 2018 is more of a “toc” instead of a “tick” to allow for Apple to make things better and less buggy, so be it.

PencilSnap Review

The Apple Pencil is a great tool when you need it, but when you don’t it can be more of an inconvenience than anything. This is why there are so many Pencil cases and products to allow you to store the pencil when you don’t need it.

Apple joined this game last year with their own case. But there was one problem: it provided no function for transporting it. To do that you would need to buy Apple’s $129.00 leather sleeve. I don’t know about you, but if I have to buy something that costs more than my Apple Pencil to just keep it near my iPad it isn’t for me. With that out as an option, I still needed a sleek, high functioning holster for my Pencil.

This is where Twelve South comes in with their new product, the PencilSnap

I recently bought my own PencilSnap to see if this would be the final accessory I would need to carry my Apple Pencil once and for all. I have to say, this little piece of leather has a lot going for it.

Look and Feel

This holster is very minimal looking and there is no noticeable branding on the product at first glance. However, If you look on the back of it where there are magnets to stick it on a Smart Cover to Smart Keyboard you can see the word PencilSnap embossed on the leather. It is a very subtle but nice touch that is something I wish other brands would do on their products.

The leather the PencilSnap is made out of is well crafted to say the least. It has the feel of fresh leather you would get from an Apple branded iPhone case. I haven’t had it long enough to see how this leather ages over time but if the photos I see of leather iPhone cases on Reddit indicates anything, it is going to look even better after some time and use. I will say that it takes a few time of putting it in and taking the Apple Pencil out for the leather to loosen up. Honestly this was fine after about a dozen time of me taking it out.

The backing with the magnets is firm but mailable enough to really allow you to pull your pencil in an out without worrying that you are going to break the case. It also bounces back very nicely, leaving my worries of it being forever bent backwards behind.

Functionality

This thing is crazy strong. Both with the magnets keeping it on the iPad and the overall casing for the Pencil. I have vigorously shaken the case with the pencil in it and it just doesn’t budge. the PencilSnap does its job well and without any margin of error.

I also have had the case on my iPad 10.5” Smart Keyboard and took a shake to that as well, way more than I would actually jostle my iPad in day-to-day use. Again, not a single budge. I wanted to see just how far I had to take things in order to get these magnets to fail.

So I removed the Smart Keyboard from my iPad and unfurled it to have one long silicone case and a keyboard and shook it like a mad man. Finally, after a few good shakes the force of the case whipping back and forth made it fly off the case. So if you end up whipping your Smart Cover around like it’s a bed sheet, this magnet won’t work. But if you aren’t insane, and you treat your tablet with even a little respect this thing won’t fail on you.

If I find any issues with this over time I will be sure to update this post and let you know, but honestly I don’t foresee me having to do that. I am utterly impressed with just how sleek yet strong Twelve South made this.

Conclusion

If you aren’t satisfied with how you are using your Apple Pencil for travel or just want something to keep your Apple Pencil with your iPad Pro, this $30 accessory will be the only thing you need. It keeps it close to your iPad and safely attached. I would recommend this over Apple’s case, or really any other Apple Pencil case, with zero hesitation.

Twelve South continues to uphold their reputation as one of the leading Apple accessory manufacturers because they sweat the details, and make sure products like the PencilSnap make your life easier and look great too.

You can pick up your own PencilSnap at Twelve South’s website for just $1 more than Apple’s and get ten times more use out of it.

Minimal iPad: 2 Weeks Later

When I started this minimalism challenge I said that I was overwhelmed, and that was one of the main reasons I decided to make a change. After 2 weeks I can say that my overwhelm has subsided some, but not all.

I was expecting this to be like lifting all the weight I had on my shoulders off in one fell swoop but that was not the case. I think i was a little naive with that idea, of course there isn’t an easy way to reduce stress in your life. If there was, everyone would be doing it!

After some time in this challenge I noticed a few patterns that I want to share with you.

My iPhone seems to collect more apps than my iPad

Everyone reading this probably isn’t surprised by this statement, I wasn’t surprised either. It is obvious that the device I use the most would have a larger net to cast when fishing for apps. Plus, my iPhone is more of a technological Swiss Army Knife while my iPad is primarily for writing, editing, and other administration work for Tablet Habit and Getting Caught Up. I use the two devices differently and my phone is more convenient to track when my packages are going to arrive with Deliveries and handling my music and podcasts. To be honest, there really isn’t much overlap between my iPhone and iPad. They seem to be on their own islands.

In total, I would guess that I have downloaded twice as many apps in the past two weeks than my iPad. I wish I was more cognizant of keeping track of what apps I downloaded to which device, that way I could give you the nitty-gritty statistics. Sadly, that isn’t the case.

Safari Still Distracts Me

Another big reason I decided to removed everything from my devices was to have less distractions and allow myself to focus more. One of my biggest distractions is YouTube. I consume YouTube more than Netflix, Hulu, and Cable combined. YouTube is my sanctuary of video content and has been for years. However, I noticed several months ago that it began to be a place I went to when I was procrastinating from writing or hammering out a big project for one of my areas (Tablet Habit, Getting Caught Up, or freelance podcast editing). Something needed to change, so I deleted that app off my devices entirely.

My plan was that if I only watched YouTube within Safari I would be adding those extra steps to get to it that I would have time to rethink my choice and instead go back to working on something more productive, I was wrong. I almost immediately saved YouTube as a Favorite in Safari so it was just a tap away every time I opened the app. It was just there, staring me in the face begging for me to press it. Much like the sailors in the poem The Odyssey by Homer I was being lured by the Sirens towards shipwreck, or in this case opened a browser.

I haven’t been noticing a huge difference in my output

Finally, I thought that this experiment would relieve friction to allow me to produce more content and have less decisions to make. The complete opposite happened in this department. I did find myself with less friction from my devices thank to no apps to immediately shut my brain off, but I was still not producing more content. I was finding myself contemplating and battling with myself on decisions on where to go next. It got a bit existential for a bit, but the main bread and butter of what was bothering me was that even when I didn’t have any excuses to write more, I still found myself making excuses.

While this was all going on I took to Twitter to try and get my mind off things and that was when I saw this.

This is a tweet by the famous comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis. If you don’t know who he is, that’s fine (I will say if you want to get more into comics listen to the podcast I Read Comic Books). Just know he is an accomplished writer with decades of work and several awards to prove it. The message he says here saying that writing never gets any easier helped me realize that no matter how focused I am or how many apps I don’t have on my devices it is entirely up to me to make the words come on to a page. Not the app, not the writing gods, 100% unequivocally me. That is refreshing, incredibly daunting, but also refreshing. The mountains I plan to climb are tall and the terrain is less than ideal but I need to make the first step towards it, otherwise what’s the point?

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

I know I have unpacked a lot of things that didn’t work or even just some personal things that might not necessarily be your experience, but even with these discoveries I think this is working in many ways. I will go into those more once I finish out the month but until then I will say that this looks like it was absolutely worth doing and it allows me to learn more about myself than before, which wasn’t necessarily my goal but it is something that can help me long-term.

What’s next?

At the end of the month I will have more to say about what worked and my overall thoughts on this challenge as well. I have noticed a lot in the last couple of weeks but I still there think there is more to uncover about myself and what I use my devices for. I plan to see this through the month of January at the very least and then completely assess where I stand on this. Until then though I do want to change one thing: being more intentional with my writing and making time to do it every single day.

Why iPad vs Mac

I love my iPad, so much so that I created a blog for it. It’s clear that I talk a lot about how to use an iPad as a “laptop replacement“” but I never have gone into why I chose to do this.

To explain this there are two schools of thought, one being why I personally chose this and then the reasons that can be universal to everyone.

Personal Reasons

Federico Viticci really changed how I looked at the iPad and is one of the biggest reasons I picked up my iPad for something other than Netflix and YouTube. It all started with him and his blog MacStories and his story of how while he was battling cancer he found a way to write on his blog with the iPad. This lead to him finding ways to use that device for everything he did. Knowing how someone can turn this big slab of glass into a work horse of a machine-made me really rethink of what you need from a computer, even what a computer actually was.

From there it was my curiosity and persistence to throw everything I could at these machines to see what stuck and what didn’t. To continue with the spaghetti metaphor, I found most of what I threw at the wall stuck.

I needed a machine that can handle multiple areas of my life: podcasting, writing, and the occasional image editing. All three of these things were handled in some capacity or another, some with less friction, and others with more. No matter the obstacles I had to hurdle there was a solution to allow me to use this tablet as my main machine, and that was easily the hard part of the battle. I was able to store my laptop away from my desk and accomplish everything I wanted with just my iPad Air 2, and now my iPad Pro.

But my personal reasons are just a portion of why I use the iPad. I also have some more general reasons that I think goes further than just my personal journey.

General Reasons

My personal reasons were much more intimate, but for the general reasons I wanted to list them out and just show how many reasons there are for me, and possibly you, to use an iPad over any other computer.

Portability

Having the ability to carry a tablet that weighs light enough to hold as a book in my hand-made even my MacBook Air seems cumbersome. The iPad is the epitome of a portable computer and having to take my computer with me to work and other places regularly this meant my bag was getting a lot lighter.

Ease of Use

David Sparks of MacSparky has said before that working on the iPad such a “delight.” I couldn’t agree more with him in the regard. Something about being able to move things with your fingers directly on-screen is much more satisfying than using a trackpad on any Mac. It felt like the future when I can actually move a piece of text or part of an image with the tips of my fingers.

There is also something special with the Apple Pencil as an input device. I know there are things you can buy to use a stylus with a computer but The Apple Pencil has no frills or hiccups because it is an Apple product for Apple devices. The Apple Pencil isn’t something I use all the time but when I do I am elated to have it. I jot notes down with it, markup PDFs, even just use to fight RSI when I get cramps on my hands. I posted some other reasons to use an Apple Pencil as well if you’re considering getting one. 

Battery Life

Charging my Macbook was a given when I decided to take it outside my desk, which meant that I also needed to find a place to do my work that had an outlet readily available. Finding a place to work that also has seating at or near an electrical outlet made my goal to find somewhere to work outside my home very undesirable.

iOS Software

Development for iOS is on a much more secure foundation than macOS is in my opinion. Buying a Mac App isn’t as easy as a one-stop shop that is the iTunes Store. The Mac App Store has had its issues over the past several years and it doesn’t look like there is a light at the end of the tunnel just yet.

Ability to Focus

One of the big reasons I love the iPad is because it allows me to focus on what matters. With a Mac or PC of any kind it is way too easy to have your writing app next to a YouTube video or search for things and go down a Wikipedia rabbit hole. With only having just one or two apps up and nothing else in the way I can find ways to focus on the things that matter.

Conclusion

So there are a plethora of reasons for me to love the iPad, but this is more about why you love the iPad. I hope these reasons helped explain that. If I missed something or you would like to add to this feel free to comment below!

Getting Caught Up #5 – Holidays as an Adult

This episode is a little different. Mike picked this topic about holidays as an adult and we recorded this just before Thanksgiving. We talked about the changes in tradition for the holidays as we get older, our favorite foods,, and working on holidays. You can take a listen to it here.

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