How To Use The iPad For Business


I was convinced that the iPad wasn’t great for business use. I thought it was primarily a consumption advice. That was back in the day when I first picked one up. I thought I could use it for browsing, viewing, watching tv and short social media updates, but anyone who claims they’re doing any real work on their iPad would have got a “you’re bullshitting me” reaction.

So when I got my first one a few years ago, the first temptation was to find a keyboard, or keyboard case, that I could snap onto it and turn it into a mini-workstation.

But that kind of defeated the object. If I wanted a laptop, I could have bought a laptop.

[UPDATE: I now firmly believe in carrying a light bluetooth keyboard around with me. It turns both the iPad and the iPhone into real workstations. They are all much of a muchness. Take your pick from this selection.]

Now, years later, I’ve finally turned it into a real productivity tool, which means it has a work-related function, which means I can claim it as a business expense, safe in the knowledge that I’m not diddling the tax-man. Which means more money for beer.

So here’s how I use my iPad as a business productivity tool, so I can work legitimately from the coffee shop whilst lounging around like an insouciant, floppy-haired European playboy.

iThoughtsHD (link goes to iTunes) is a mind-mapping tool.

Every project I do begins with a mind-map. There is no better substitute for a hearty brain-dump than spilling your mind-matter all over your screen and then dragging it, visually, into some semblance of order.

The iPad is made for this. This app is intuitive, and simple to use. Double click, drag and drop, and you’ve got a tactile, visual representation of all your swirly brain-mass.

The real beauty of the app (which is the only paid app I use) is the export function. No matter what you’re using on your desktop computer, you can export your half-finished mindmap (via Dropbox – more about which later) in the format that works for you.

It’s compatible with:

plus, you can export as a pdf or image file.

If you don’t like Dropbox, you can save your stuff to cloud via a ton of options, including iTunes, XMind.net, box.net and Biggerplate.

Mind-mapping works for me because my brain doesn’t really start working until I’ve been up for a few hours and had a few cups of coffee. I like my coffee in the sunshine, whilst smiling servers top up my latte. This state of affairs suits abstruser musings (free gift for anybody who can identify that phrase in the comments), and mind-mapping is about the best, semi-structured use of my time.

My notes are waiting for me when I get back to my desk, via the wonders of Dropbox.

Dropbox should be the first thing you install once you unpack your iPad, I reckon, if you want a seamless work-space.

Evernote catches all the thoughts, ideas, to-dos, photos, reminders and voice-memos that don’t fit into my mind-map. Use it everywhere: phone, iPad, desktop, laptop.

There are LOTS of great apps for keeping your to-do-list in one place. I’ve yet to find any that have the flexibility of Evernote.

I use Jot (iTunes link) – a finger-painting app, for wireframing. I’ve done website redesign sketches in this pretty quickly – come up with a idea, finger paint it directly onto the screen, then email off as an image file in about three minutes flat to your designer. Your tweaked site will be waiting for you when you get back from sipping frappuccinos. Sweet.

Typing on the iPad is a bitch, there’s no hiding from it. I tried a one-handed keyboard app, but can’t recommend it.

However, if you want to scribble down your thoughts in a messy, slow and typo-ridden state, then you can’t go wrong with PlainText (iTunes link). I’ve looked at other text-editors, but this is the best, for me, at least. Again, it auto-syncs directly with Dropbox, so your messy thoughts are waiting for you in a messy text document when you get back to your desk.

And finally, Skype released Skype for Ipad (iTunes link.)

I close almost ALL of my business on the telephone. If you took away everything from my stable of tools, literally EVERYTHING, but left me with two things to run my entire business, I’d choose:

  • Infusionsoft for email marketing, shopping cart, CRM and the whole shebang (just switched to them last week – VERY impressed – more info to follow) and
  • Some way of making Skype calls.

Give me a telephone, I’m running with it. I’ve been using the Skype for iPhone app on the iPad up until now. It worked a dream. The newer, native iPad app is the bollocks.

And that is how I’ve finally worked out how to use my iPad for business.

What tools do you use? What am I missing?

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