This article is part of the "How to Get Real Work Done on an iPad" series. To go to the start, click here.
My job is about spreading ideas.
I don't want or need to keep up with the news because I don't cover that, but I do want to find new ideas that can be applied to cricket to help players and coaches. Eventually the best of these ideas will become content on PitchVision Academy, mostly as articles. That means I need to do a lot of research.
The iPad is just about the perfect tool for the job.
Feedly: The morning sweep
It starts with a daily sweep of the net for ideas courtesy of Feedly. Feedly is an RSS reader that you can load up with sites. In my case this is mostly cricket, fitness, technology and self-help. I have about 80 sites on the list at the moment including those I am interested in personally as well as professionally.
Feedly lets you quickly sweep through dozens of articles a day in no time. My process fr this si simple: Armed with a morning cup of green tea (yes, I'm that guy), I take about 20 minutes swiping and reading headlines. If anything catches my eye I will tap the article and decide what to do with it next:
- Read it
- Save it for later
- Share it
In my experience it works better to avoid getting sucked in to articles that take more than a couple of minutes to read because this part is all about speed.
There are other newsreader apps that you can re-purpose as idea finders: Nuzzle, Prismatic, Flipboard and Random are all good. They all have interesting approaches and certainly broaden your horizons. That said, I have had limited success in finding usable ideas. Feedly remains the cornerstone.
Pocket: The personal newspaper
If article is one that needs proper consideration, tap the single tap it takes to send the article to Pocket.
Pocket is a personal newspaper filled with stuff you want to read. In my case, I am not a completionist. There are dozens of articles in there because I always put in more than I make time to read. That's fine, because it's the place for that stuff to be. I won't read it in the morning sweep because I would still be reading hours later. Instead, I drop into it at down times throughout the week; on a train, in a coffee shop and so on. It's there when I need it and it's not bothering me when I don't want to or can't read it.
Linked apps: Getting it out there
The ultimate aim of Feedly and Pocket is fully fleshed out articles or conversation topics on the weekly podcast. That means getting the germ of the idea out of my reader apps.
I use the PitchVision Academy Twitter account to throw up quick quotes and links alongside general ideas that pop into my head. I want to see how popular an idea is with PV fans because ideas that get read, retweeted and favourited will be popular articles.
It used to be a pain to put a quote, title and link together for a tweet. Copying, pasting back and forth between apps was a lot of friction. But with the latest iOS it's a breeze:
- Hitting the tweet button in Feedly (after highlighting the text)
- Hitting the tweet button in Pocket
- Opening in Safari, and using Linky in the share sheet. With this option you can track clicks on the link.
If there is too much text for twitter and I don't want to edit it down to a tweet then I have a couple of options. I'll send it to a set of friends on Facebook called "cricket" using the built in Facebook share sheet. Or I'll open it in Drafts, edit it, and send it to Google+. These are lesser option as G+ and my Facebook list has a fraction of the audience of Twitter.
Twitter works great as public idea repository. You can use it to refer back to things you have read for stuff to turn into articles, graphics and podcast discussions. You can also use it track the popularity of the ideas, when deciding what to write about in more detail.
Evernote and Drafts: Idea storage
Evernote is a digital Swiss Army knife, more on that later, but one big use is for storing article ideas that don't need to be put into public. It's a smooth process from the iPad:
- From Feedly, Pocket or Safari, copy the details (usually with Clips),
- Paste into Drafts (via the iOS 8 notification centre widget)
- Tap to append it to an Evernote note called "Post Ideas".
Drafts makes moving text around easy; in the past that was difficult and annoying and would have driven me back to my desktop to do the work. Now its a seamless flow of information from consumption to sharing. I'll provide more examples of how to use it later.
You don't have to use Drafts to store stuff in Evernote. If you read an article that you want to keep for reference but not for an article, use the share sheet in Pocket to send it into the bowels of Evernote with a tap. It saves the entire article in a searchable database.
Kindle: Deeper dives
Sometimes you want to forget speed and get deeper into a topic and that's where to use Kindle.
The common advice is to read widely as it give you a broader outlook. So, keep a long wish list of books on Amazon on a range of topics. For me the range is from fiction (currently reading The Stand by Stephen King) to self-help to straight up cricket coaching manuals. Having everything on the iPad means your books go where you go and you can take a few minutes in the doctor's waiting room or other interstitial time.
Highlight key points as you go through any book so you can easily find it later. Digital reading means searchable, and that means a source of ideas for content. It is possible to get your notes into Evernote, but it's a bit of an inelegant hack. You can make a reminder to go through your notes instead.
Of course, reading is not only for iPads. Use dead trees books for both enjoyment and information too, but that's outside the scope of this article other than to say that you can easily keep book ideas and notes in Evernote.
I'll also quickly mention Audible here. Audio is a different way to consume content when you can't read a book; the gym, washing up, walking around and so on. For that reason, I don't use the iPad for audio books, although I do "read" them using my phone.