November 3, 2013

Unitasking

It should come as no surprise that I’m a big fan of the iPad. There are so many reasons for this, but the most obvious one is that it’s a unitasking device. Yes, it multitasks, much like a bunch of other tablets and smartphones do, but although you have a fairly large screen at your disposal, most apps let you do just one (1) thing at a time.

This fellow is definitely multitasking. Photo by erkuthanci (CC)
This fellow is definitely multitasking. Photo by erkuthanci (CC)

Compared to the 27″ Thunderbolt Display I hook up my retina MacBook Pro to every day at the Odd Alice office, that might not sound so great. The 27″ screen gives so much screen real estate it’s almost silly, I can stack windows all over the place, and tend to do so. There’s the Mail app, Reminders, HipChat, Tweetbot, Skype, Simplenote and/or Notes, and more often than not a few Finder windows on top of that, and it’s still just the first screen of four…

Sometimes it’s great to be able to monitor everything, but it’s not the way to stay productive. I tend to produce more code when I’m sitting by my 13″ MacBook Pro, without the Thunderbolt Display. That’s because I have my relevant apps in fullscreen, something I’ve written about previously.

The iPad offers me the same unitasking experience. I can jump between apps easily enough, but I’m not tempted to open Mail or Tweetbot when I’m writing, because they’re not there, at the edge of my vision, begging for attention, as they would be on my 27″ screen. I just see the app I’m working in (this is written in Simplenote on my iPad mini, by the way), and the only thing that can possibly disturb me are notifications, so I tend to limit those severly. It’s the same as running fullscreen apps on the Mac, which I do regularly on the MacBook Pro, but never when connected to a 27″ screen because it looks like shit.

Unitasking is about doing one thing at a time. Finish what you’re doing, which could be a part of a task or the whole thing itself, and then you can go procrastinate on Twitter.

Compare that to taking a sneak peak at whatever’s your procrastination poision while working, and you’ll soon realize that’s not the perfect work environment.

This is why I love the iPad as a writing tool (which sparked me to write The Writer’s iPad in the first place), and this is why I think fullscreen apps are awesome.

Now if you’d excuse me, my Twitter feed needs my attention. So, you know, THE END and all.

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