One Track Mind

When I look at my computer task screen, I have nine to twelve apps open at any given point in time. Two browsers, email, Twitter, iTunes, terminal, text editor, and if needed, app specific coding tools. I have a lot gonig on at once. But when I use my iPad, I have one app running at any given point in time.

Oh sure, the iPad has the ability to ‘run’ multiple apps, but really, since there’s no taskbar (dock to Mac users) visible all the time, you feel like you’re doing one thing at a time. It’s a conscious effort to either double-click the home button and switch or (as I find I prefer) go to the home screen and pick what I want. You have the sensation of doing one thing at a time and then moving on to the next.

My workflow has been totally altered, and it changes how I work on my desktop too! I hide the taskbar and run many of my apps full screen. One app at a time. Like right here? I have Chrome full sized and I’m not messing with anything except the content of my post. Once I’m done, I’ll look for images, and then, unless I’ve had a firm ‘this must be bold’ moment while writing, go back and add emphasis as needed.

Working this way, I found something amazing. While I am really good at keeping 100 balls juggling at once, I do have the ability to sit and concentrate on one thing for a short period of time. I wrote a 4k story in one sitting a few nights ago, just by plunking myself at the coffee table with my iPad, bluetooth keyboard, and the telly. Oh, my brain does still need the TV (or music) as something to tune out, but I was suddenly even more productive.

Obviously this isn’t going to work for everyone, but I’m starting to think that all I need is a good offline-webpage editor (that can sync up with my servers when I want) and a nice SubVersion and GIT editor, and I can really do everything I want to on my iPad. Already my bugaboos with WordPress’s iOS app have been fixed. And I know I can use iSSH if I really need to jump into a server and fix this. Not that I’ve bought it yet, but I know I could. It would take me maybe 20 minutes to sort it all out.

While the doctors on M*A*S*H derided his attitude, I find that Charles Emerson Winchester III was the wisest of all when he said “I do one thing at a time. I do it very well. And then I move on.” Do your one thing. Do it well. Then do your next. There will always be crossover moments, where to complete your one thing you need to do another, but to rush through trying to do all things at once will net a loss to your productivity and your end result.

Oh, and the iPad plus a keyboard is fantastic.

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