How An iPhone, An iPad And A Mac Are Shaping My Digital Life

As a digital nomad, I do spend a lot of time processing and evaluating information. But the “nomad” part of being a digital nomad means I do it mostly when I’m on the road. I do not have a fixed office space. I work in a variety of places, from shared offices to coffee shops (most of the time), my own home or even parks (when weather allows me, that is). I did have an office for more than 10 years, but got rid of it after selling my company, two years ago.

To make a long story short, due to the fact that I work pretty much everywhere, I realized that my digital life has certain particularities. I’m using only 3 devices: an iPhone, an iPad and a MacBookPro. Each of them has its own usage pattern and I find it increasingly interesting to try to understand them. Since I’m a digital value creator myself, I am also interested in other people digital habits, especially what type of activity is spread over what type of device. But more on that in the end. For now, let’s start with the iPhone.

iPhone Usage Patterns

I own an iPhone for about 3 years, since the initial version. Didn’t buy an iPhone 4 yet, mostly because I don’t have any FaceTime counter parts (at least that I am aware of) to make it worth. For development I can get along pretty ok with a 3GS. I can safely ignore the retina display and the speed, I’m ok with the 3GS and I will not get rid of it until the next iteration (iPhone 5, most likely).

Emergency Info Check

I keep a number of notifications alive, like new friendship requests from Facebook, replies form Twitter and PayPal (yeah, I do love those daily tiny alerts telling me that people are still buying my books or that I just received some affiliate payment). I try to keep the number of these notifications relatively low in order to preserve battery life.

Email

I seldom answer emails on my iPhone. If I do, it means I place a really high priority on the person that sent that message (so if you get a “sent from my iPhone” signature in my email messages, be happy, I really value our relationship. Or the message was really burning, make your pick 😉 ). I have only 3 main email accounts and I’m using the iPhone unified Inbox to scan them a few times a day. Especially at red lights (if I’m driving), or while exercising. I eliminate the vast majority of garbage and leave the rest for further processing.

Facebook

I do answer Facebook friendship requests using my iPhone. The Facebook app in the iPhone is (now) pretty stable and relatively easy to use. I still hate the fact that I can’t unfriend somebody using it, but that’s it. I also answer emergency messages, sent using Facebook messaging system, if any.

Twitter

I’m only responding to push notifications like direct messages an replies. From time to time I do some impulse tweeting. Lately, I drastically downshifted my Twitter presence.

iAdd

I manage my tasks and projects with my own iOS app, called iAdd. It’s a universal app, which means I can use it both on my iPhone and my iPad. On the iPhone I stay mostly in Do. Meaning I just see what’s the next task or event and process it (either reDecide it or mark it as Done). Every once in a while, especially since I’m hit with some sudden inspiration (which tends to happen at least once a day) I use it to quickly brainstorm some ideas in Assess. It’s not uncommon also to send the freshly brainstormed idea to my own email from within iAdd.

If you’re not familiar with the terms Assess, Decide or Do, I recommend you to have a look at the ebook which outlines the productivity framework on which iAdd is based.

StumbleUpon

I’m still an active user in StumbleUpon (you can friend / follow me here) which means I get a considerably high number of shares each day. Until SU launched they iPhone app it was a real chore to empty my StumbleUpon toolbar. Today I’m using their iPhone app. It’s fast and (again, now) pretty stable.

iPad Usage Patterns

I own an iPad for about six months and no, I do not have any regrets that I didn’t wait to get an iPad 2 directly. I’m very satisfied with my current 32G 3G. Ironically, the 3G part of it it’s something I didn’t use yet, to be honest, since I already have a data plan on my iPhone. I don’t see any reason to pay twice for the same service. Oh, and I’m also going to tell you upfront that the term “couch computing” is very appropriate for the iPad. Meaning I’m using it mostly on my couch. I’m pretty sure that the location is also shaping a lot of its usage patterns.

Facebook

Since Facebook doesn’t have yet an iPad app (and third party apps are still pretty rough on the edges) I use it in Safari. I do all my Facebook activity (as sparse as it is nowadays) from within my iPad, in Safari. I interact, answer to event or app invitations (if anyone is looking interesting enough for me) and follow my friends activity.

Twitter

I use my iPad for consuming timelines. I do like the official app for Twitter, especially the user interface paradigm. I do think they created something really valuable with those panes and I find it difficult to imagine other ways of consuming Twitter. I also engage in conversations or follow links, the webView implementation in Twitter client is relatively comfortable.

Email

I do answer my emergency messages (which are not answered already on my iPhone, that is) using the iPad email app. I also use it to clean up if there are any leftovers from my previous iPhone sessions, or if I didn’t have the time to use my iPhone for email at all. So, if you get a signature like “sent using my iDevice” in my emails, do know that it was sent from my couch. If that matters for you, of course. 🙂

iAdd

Almost my entire assessing and deciding are taking place in the iPad. Meaning I do organize my entire activity using the iPad. This may be due to the fact that the Mac version of iAdd is still in its very early stage, but also to the fact that the iPad is simply a very suitable device for that kind of activity. Once the planning is done I just do a sync with Dropbox. Next morning I sync my iPhone with Dropbox too and voila, my day is literally at my fingertips.

MacBook Pro Usage Patterns

I’m using a Mac for more than 4 years now. One of the oldest posts on this blog is witnessing the very moment of my conversion from a 10 years long Linux citizen to what others may call “an Apple fanboy”. I don’t consider myself an Apple fanboy, I just use the most appropriate tools for my tasks. It just happen to be a 17 inch MacBook Pro.

Email

I do all the heavy processing on my Mac. Meaning I follow conversations and I also try to keep a relatively organized Inbox. Gave up to Inbox zero, because it conflicts with my ADD framework.So I do keep messages in my Inbox, which is assimilated to my Assess realm. Every time a message will trigger an action, I will process it with iAdd and then delete the message. Basically, it means that if I don’t have any more messages in my inbox, I either finished every imaginable thing I may do with my life, or I’m dead. Again, if you want to know more about my happy separation from the “Inbox zero” concept, with all its pressures, go ahead and read my ebook.

Writing

All the articles for this blog (and every other activity related to writing, like presentations for conferences or courses) are written on the Mac. I created more than 2 years ago a blogging setup that makes me keep my blogging under a relaxed control, using MacJournal smart journals feature. Also, all the image processing is taking place on the Mac.

Coding

It goes without even saying that I code my projects on the Mac, although I admit I played a little bit with the idea of having a (very) striped down version of XCode (or anything like that) on my iPad. But I do realize this is pretty much impossible.

Twitter and Facebook

Every once in a while I fire up Firefox and leave two tabs open: one in Twitter and the other one in Facebook. But this is relatively uncommon since I do avoid any type of interaction when I’m working (writing or coding).

Conclusions

iPhone – emergency and impulse reactions

iPad – consuming information and planning (tasks, time, projects)

MacBook Pro – producing, evaluating and distributing digital value

***

What are your digital habits? Do you have / use more than one device to manage them? Please share your experience in the comments, I’m really looking forward to it. 🙂



Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner


The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”

And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.

Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.

If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.

Running For My Life -from zero to ultramarathoner

Dragos Roua

The guy who started all this. Entrepreneur, ultra-marathoner, tanguero, father and risk taker. I'm blogging here, but I also spend a lot of time in this marvelous space.. You're invited, by the way.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Great article can relate a lot of it! Apart from the idea of being able to put off getting an iPhone 4 and ignoring the retina display, it greatly improves user experience.

  2. I use my iPad for reading, answering short emails and most of my non-work tasks when I’m sitting in the sofa. I also track blog ideas using iADD. To track my time and to-do lists, I use my Ben Nanonote together with TaskWarrior. I use my iPod Touch for music and for the occasional drawing, using it as if it was a pocket sketch pad. I use my MacBook to edit and finish posts (I usually draft them in my iPad), image processing stuff and the occasional programming. Also for heavyweight browsing and similar things. I could get along with only the iPad if necessary, but the simplicity of markup-ing a post in emacs (with the specific mode I created for mostlymaths.net post editing) is hard to beat.

    Cheers,

    Ruben

  3. I read on your blog about TaskWarrior and it looks rather neat. As for still using iAdd for something useful, well, I am fearful for that 🙂

    And yes, I forgot to write about video and music on my iPad, especially nice since Home Sharing let me play my entire iTunes library wireless.

    1. iADD is very good, but these days I don’t have time for planning: it is just “add task and kill task mode” 😀

      I don’t do music or video on iPad… yet, as I don’t have configured home sharing. It is worth considering…

  4. Great post. I have similar usage patterns for my iPad/iPhone/MacBook Pro.

    I got a bit of teasing when I purchased my iPad but it is DEFINITELY a solid investment. Couch computing is really good for me as I’m able to get work done while not sitting at a desk… the change of location is a boon for my productivity. It also helps me relax (watching movies, Netflix, listening to Pandora) without having my “work” laptop around.

    PS I just bought iADD and the ebook and am loving them both. Have you read/watched The Secret / The Law of Attraction? Your ebook has a little bit of that mentality scattered through it 🙂

    1. Hey, Brian

      First of all, thanks for buying my products, I really appreciate it. Second, yes, I saw The Secret and I will lie if I’d tell you that I wasn’t impressed. There is still a very thick consumerist layer on top of the whole message (the “you can HAVE everything you want” approach) but the main points are still valid once you get rid of that layer.

      1. Agreed. I think “take what works and ignore the rest” is a good philosophy for approaching that book/movie/school of thinking.

        BTW I LOVE iADD. It fits perfectly with the way my brain works. The iPad app has been closing as soon as I open it which is a major bummer because ideally I’d be doing the assessing and deciding on the iPad and the doing from my iPhone. At the moment, I’m confined to doing everything on the smaller iPhone. I hope that gets fixed soon.

  5. My digital habits??

    Facebook: Deleted account
    Twitter: only follow 6 ppl
    IPhone: I wish ^_^
    IPad: Don’t got one

    I only check email on my Mac and basically am a social hermit online.. and offline. Hmm how ironic

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