If you only buy one productivity aid this Christmas, make it…

…an iPad Air.

I used to think I relied on my old, original iPad but it was a toy compared to the new iPad Air. Mind you, I did give my old one to my mother about two months before the new model came out so I had a lot of time to notice how much I was missing having one. Actually, my OmniFocus work fell off badly: if you don’t know OmniFocus, I should tell you that it’s a kind of bionic To Do manager that pretty much completely runs my life. If you are now intrigued by OmniFocus, I have to warn you that it only runs on Apple gear. It’s also comparatively expensive – well, it’s expensive when you compare it to all the free To Do apps; it is not in the slightest bit expensive when you contrast it to how much use it has been for me.

One of the things it does is let you focus only on what has to be done right now and what can be done right now. It does that by hiding away everything else but that only works, that can only be allowed to work, if you periodically review everything on your list. There’s a thing called Review. It’s not wonderful on the Mac version of OmniFocus, it doesn’t exist at all on the iPhone version, but it is gorgeousness incarnate on the iPad one. So good that you are fooled into thinking it’s an easy thing to look at all your tasks and then as you go through everything, it’s so remarkably easy to see what you’ve got to do that you tend to just go get it done. I timed myself once for The Blank Screen book, just finding out how long a typical review took me and I was astonished that it was two hours.

In those two hours, I reviewed about fifty different projects with a total of, I don’t know, a couple of hundred tasks. I found I’d already done a lot of them – I want to say thirty, I’m not sure now – and as I went through them all and saw ones like “Email Bert to ask for your spanner back” I’d email Bert to ask for my spanner back. By the end of the two hours, I’d marked off many more tasks as done. And most importantly of all, I knew where I was with every project.

And could immediately forget it all. Forget it, knowing that it was all in hand and that it was all in OmniFocus. Knowing that if it wasn’t something that would come up in the next couple of days, I would at least see it during the next review. I could concentrate on now. The fact that you can park the thinking and churning and worrying about things you can’t do yet and instead put all that engine effort into what you can, it’s life-changing.

Except it fell over completely when I gave away my iPad.

So the first thing I installed on my new iPad Air last month was OmniFocus. I swear to you that I breathed out. And I thought that would be something to tell you, I thought that would be enough to tell you, all by itself.

Except you may already know that iPad Airs have a ten-hour battery life. What I did not expect is that I would use up that battery life almost every day. The ten hours is true, actually the ten hours is conservative, but I use the iPad so much that I have had to charge it up again nearly every night. Don’t take that as a criticism of the battery, take it as a gulping assessment of how very, very much I use this machine.

Most of what you may have read on The Blank Screen blog was written on that iPad Air. I’ve written thousands of words on it in just the three or four weeks I’ve had it. 

And yesterday, Angela needed my bag as a prop for a play and that meant I couldn’t carry my iPad around with me all day. (As sturdy as it is, it’s also so light you can’t believe it’s strong so I’m looking for a case but haven’t found one I like yet.) I swear to you I got itchy. 

And that’s when I realised I am now life-support-dependent on my iPad Air. 

Have a look at them yourself. If you happened to choose to go through this Amazon link and then bought an iPad Air or maybe a car, I’d see some cash coming my way. But check it out on Apple’s own store instead: they have a lot more detail and some particularly well-made videos about the product.

Go to a real-life Apple Store too: just walk in and pick one of these up. I was working in Paris the day they came out and I tried one in a store there but wasn’t all that impressed with the apparent lightness. I was by the speed and the gorgeous display. Now that I have one, I’m very impressed with the display, the speed and the lightness too. Maybe I was wearing thick gloves that first time. I don’t kow.

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