Monday 15th February 2020

For various reasons, myself and C formed a legitimate support bubble at the beginning of the pandemic.  Every night after I finish work, I head over a few streets and we hang out on the sofa watching TV.

The problem is that I’m not into all of the programmes.  You very quickly complete Netflix when you’re doing this every night.  Plus, we’re both fussy when it comes to TV, and I tend to lose as it’s not my house.

I’ve long wanted to be able to do some work in the evenings.  I’m not talking about things that require a prolonged period of concentration, but more the things that can be done with distractions.  I have to write in silence without interruption so that’s out, but I can do other things.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been trialing a number of things.  One of the reasons my admin has moved to Sunday’s is that I worked out I could do it from the sofa on my iPhone.  It was a bit more cumbersome than if I had done it sat in front of a PC, but it could still be done.  It then freed up a chunk of my Monday.

The addition of the iPad was a big gamble.  The idea was to take that productivity forward.  Ideally, I don’t want to feel I have to work on anything, but if C puts on a  programme I’m not into, it would be great if I could use that time elsewhere without taking myself off.  I can still converse if there’s some interesting scene but 90% of my focus can be elsewhere.

So far, I’m happy to report it’s been working great.  Best of all, there are a number of activities I’ve done.

Firstly, completing my weekly review is a lot easier.  Notion isn’t the best for digital ink support (you have to write on the line or it’s selecting other content blocks), but I still find it easier than the iPhone.

The split screen is also great for taking notes.  I’m working my way through a few courses at the moment, and I’m using Notion to take and file notes away.  Not only is this good practise for notetaking, but it’ll allow for easier recall later.  I know a lot of people are big fans of Notability or Goodnotes but my notes are for reference rather than revision and as such it makes sense they go into my knowledge system.  The downside to this is that I do need to concentrate a little.  I need to pair my airpods with the iPad but then that feels a little rude and I won’t hear if C talks to me.

Instead I’ve been doing a bit of work when C pops to the shops or does a bit of baking.  Instead of sitting down and making notes on an entire lecture or presentation, I’m dipping in and out.

And that’s the thing I’m really finding with the iPad.  I’m use to working on one thing for a period of 20 – 30 minutes minimum.  On the sofa, I’m finding I’m working for 5-10.

It’s not a problem, I’m just finding that I’m dipping in and out more with the iPad.  I do 5 minutes work, then stop to talk to C about something or watch something interesting happening on screen.  As a result, I’m working on a lot of different tasks but they’re taking a number of days to complete.

For instance, I started doing some editing on the iPad yesterday.  I’m using digital ink in MS Word to scrawl over the manuscript.  I like the freedom of it.  MS Word won’t turn my handwriting into digital text but the idea is that the editing I’m doing is really just making notes to myself rather than going in and fixing things.  I need more concentration and alone time to do that.

I managed to get 1 chapter of 4S done (the project I’m now working on as per my schedule for the year), but I also worked my way part through a short story I need to edit.

I don’t really have a process just yet, but this marking up stage feels like identifying potential problems rather than fixing them.  I’m enjoying it and hey… I managed to do a chapter and a third of a short story whilst sat on the sofa.

If I want to take a break, I’ve also found I can read comics in front of the TV (I can’t read books though).  I’m doing a big Marvel Comics read, and finished Avengers Disassembled (including side issues) last night.

As a result, I’m really feeling productive with the iPad, especially when I had day job training until late in the day and was unable to make a lot of progress then.  I might have to break my tasks down a lot more in the weeks to come or just accept that they might take a few nights, but given the variety of things I can do, I’m already feeling my backlog starting to clear.

It’ll be a while before I will be back on top of things, and I have to choose my tasks to do on the Support Bubble Sofa carefully.  I also have to accept that this is something for the nights when there aren’t programmes I want to watch.  Not every night will be as productive as last night.

But I’m already seeing the benefit of the iPad and I hope this new spate of productivity will continue.

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Past Years: 2020 – The Year of Being Fearsome | 2019 – The Year of Soldiering Through | 2018 – The Year of Priorities | 2017 – The Year Of The Offensive