Tablets: the ultimate business tools

By | January 26, 2012

In the past year, the size of the bag I carry to work has shrunk considerably. In fact, if the weather’s nice I no longer carry a bag to work at all. Years ago that was unfathomable. Like many businessmen, and startup workers in particular, I brought a considerable amount of work home with me every night. This included documents, note pads, and especially a laptop computer. It usually left my messenger bag stuffed to the gills. But ever since I picked up an iPad, that’s all changed.

Using the iPad, which doesn’t necessarily require a bag of any sort to transport, I was able to eliminate almost all paperwork, consolidate my notes, and eliminate the necessity of my bulky laptop. On rainy days, all I need is a knapsack — which is super light, since it contains only the iPad. Here’s how I managed to reduce my business into a 10-inch device.

Documents

To be honest, the volume of documents I’ve carried home has been decreasing for years. As with many businesses, we’ve used electronic documents for most purposes. Here’s another honest moment: I hate reading them on a laptop. Call me old-fashioned, but I like holding what I read, not having it rest on my lap. (Well, actually, on a book or pillow on my lap, because that battery burns.) Scrolling can be a pain as well. For this reason, I often opted to carry physical documents home, even if we had digital copies.

Now, though, everything goes digital. Even if we haven’t scanned a copy, I can still use my iPad to create a digital version. Using an intern helps here, since it involves taking a photo of every page. But it really does pay off. Reading these digital documents and scrolling with the touchscreen is a charm. It doesn’t make the actual task of rooting through convoluted documents pleasant, but it at least removes the most unpleasant aspects of it.

Best of all, all those documents are available whenever I need them. It has made working from home after hours just a little bit easier. That’s always appreciated, since no one wants to work at home after hours.

Notes

For years, dating back to college, I relied on yellow legal pads to keep my thoughts in order. Whether it was taking notes on documents or just getting my latest idea down on paper, the yellow legal pad was always the writing tablet of choice. But when I stated working, and moving up in the business world, I ran into a problem. I’d go through so many legal pads in a month that it was hard to keep them organized. Which ones did I need to take home? If I didn’t take the right one, it meant a wasted evening of work.

Shifting note-taking to the iPad has helped considerably in this area. There are tons of notes applications that feature varying levels of organization. These help me not only keep things in one place, but it also gives them some order. Even in the case of a chaotic note-taking session, I can still use the search function to find the note I’m seeking. Since they’re all on the iPad, there’s no worry about which tablet to take home; there’s only one choice.

Yet there’s still something about yellow legal pads that I just can’t ditch completely. One still sits next to me during work hours, usually to capture spur of the moment ideas. The iPad comes in handy here, too. Instead of keeping them on legal pads, I simply use the built-in camera to scan them, just as I sometimes (have an intern) do with documents.

Laptop

At work I have a powerful desktop. It handles my daily tasks with ease. Years ago I used a laptop at my desk, since it was easy to tote around. But it became clear that the desktop was more suitable for the office. It was easy to keep it synced with my laptop, too, because of our intra-office network. But since I got, and got used to, the iPad, I no longer take my laptop home. The iPad’s all I need.

There’s little a laptop can do that an iPad cannot. The built-in Safari browser gives users access to the entire internet, excepting sites that run on Flash. (And Flash is a dying technology anyway; already HTML5 is taking its place, and that process will continue until Flash is gone.) Some sites even have apps that work even better. For instance, if I’m booking airline tickets through Orbitz, I can use their app to get a mobile-only discount on hotels. So in some cases, using the iPad can provide benefits that the laptop cannot.

Combined with the documents and notes functions, I’ve seen little reason to bring my laptop home from work with me. It seems like a bulky relic of the past in comparison to the iPad. Best of all, I’ve yet to run into any serious issues where I need to do something, and only my laptop can save me. It means a much lighter commute to work, and a much easier evening working from home.

About the Guest Post Author: Joe Pawlikowski is the editor of Prepaid Reviews.