Leave the MacBook Pro at Home

Last year, I tried an experiment... I decided to leave my MacBook Pro in its bag for an entire Friday, and rely 100% on just my iPad and iPhone to get me through the day. It was an interesting exercise, and one where I learned a lot about how I use and rely on technology. In the end, there wasn't a lot that happened that day that I couldn't accomplish on my iPad (read more here).

I thought I would take that same concept, but elevate it a little. Mondays are usually my busiest day, so what better day to perform the same test, right? The scenario is analogous to taking someone who is used to swimming in a swimming pool very day and asking them to swim the 20 miles across the English Channel. Just because you can swim doesn't mean you can survive a challenge like that. Similarly, just because you can use Facebook on an iPad doesn't mean you can use it to get real work done.

My day started off normal enough... wake up, check my social network feeds, check and respond to email that came in through the night, etc. The heavy lifting usually starts around 8:00a. That's when my laptop was tucked safely and securely into its WaterField case... not to be used again for the day.

Email (and a lot of it) and messages were sent and received consistently throughout the day. I created and modified a few spreadsheets and presentations using Apple's Numbers and Keynote apps. A few times during the day, I accessed a Windows-based Terminal Server to run some Windows-only apps (using Jump Desktop). I reviewed, signed and returned some contracts using DocuSign and even helped to plan out a building build-out using Paper by FiftyThree.

All in all, I felt just as productive as I would have been using my traditional MacBook Pro. In some cases, I felt more productive because I wasn't subjected to the constant barrage of dings and dongs going on in other windows that so easily distracts me from the task I'm working on at that moment. Case in point: I spent some time today composing a lengthy and important email. Ordinarily, that would have taken me half a day to compose because of the constant distractions. On my iPad, I was able to wrap that up in about 20 minutes and move on to the next thing.

Was there something missing? Yes. At one point during the day, I had the need to make some image edits using PhotoShop. These edits were more than just color adjustments... they definitely required PhotoShop. I simply put those off until later in the day when I pulled my laptop back out of the bag.

How did battery life hold up? I started the day at 8:00a with a full charge. By lunch-time, I was at 75%, when I turned my iPad off for about 1-20 minutes. After lunch, I turned it back on and kept it on until about 5:00p. At that point, the battery was at 7%. Considering I didn't give the device a break at all (except for a few minutes at lunch), I would say it held up really well. Oh, and the screen's brightness was set to about 90%.

I think the greatest part of experiments like this is my ability to think outside the box... to get away from traditional computing and look at things differently. The computing landscape is changing, and I can either dig my heels a little deeper each day, or embrace change and make the most of it. Change is scary for most, but it doesn't have to be. That fear can be overcome by making it your choice, not someone else's.

iPad of choice: iPad Air with 128 GB capacity, WiFi & LTE (all of which was enabled all day, as it usually is). I really, really like the iPad mini, but I type so much using the on-screen keyboard, that the larger screen is easier (note: I can type nearly as fast on the iPad as I can on a regular keyboard).

Posted on April 29, 2014 and filed under iOS, iPad, Opinion.