7 Tips to Help Freelancers Get the Most from Their iPad

iPad Tips for FreelancersBelieve it or not, some people are still debating whether the iPad (and tablets like it) is merely a gadget for entertainment, or if it will or already has changed the way we work. I don’t want to get into the debate, but I believe the bottom line is you can use a tablet pretty much for whatever you want.

It’s a perfect tool for distracting yourself, if that’s what you want. On the other hand, if you want to get more productive, an iPad can help you achieve that, too. For freelancers, an iPad can help you get more things done more efficiently and have more fun while you’re at it.

In this post, we’ll go over some simple tips so your iPad can be a gadget that helps you become a better, happier freelancer (that way, you can claim it as a business expense ;-) ).

7 Tips for Using Your iPad

Here are seven simple tips to help you get the most from your iPad. (Some of these tips will work for other tablets too!)

  1. Get the right applications. The iPad comes with a basic set of apps that will get you productive right away, including a calendar, web browser, and email client. Other tablets will have their own basic apps. You’ve got thousands of other apps at your disposal so you can do almost anything you can think of (remember, “There’s an app for that!”): access and share files across computers and devices; create text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and movies; do social networking; publish your blog, and on and on. It can take a pretty long time to find the apps that are right for you and the type of work you do. I started by reading related posts in freelancing blogs and by asking fellow freelancers which apps were most useful in their work.
  2. Use an external keyboard. Typing on the iPad is much easier than on your iPhone or iPod Touch, but if you’re going to be typing emails, blog posts and reports, you’ll definitely want an external keyboard. Apple’s Bluetooth keyboard works with the iPad, as will a number of other external keyboards made specifically for the iPad. Because I’m a writer, I need nothing more than a keyboard to get tons of work done on an iPad. If you’re a graphic artist, you may need a stylus as well.
  3. Keep it safe. The iPad is one slippery device! Protect your investment with a cover or carrier. Some covers even have an external keyboard built in. And don’t forget to protect your personal data as well. You can set a passcode so only you can use your tablet. Set up Find My iPad to help you locate your iPad if you should misplace it. You can even display a message on your iPad’s screen so whoever finds it can contact you, reset your passcode, or erase all the data on the iPad. Don’t worry, you can restore all the data if or when you find your iPad.
  4. Keep your data synchronized. It’s a big help to have all your contacts, calendar and other data available across multiple devices at any one time. Some of these data can be synchronized through iTunes when you connect your iPad to your computer. Wireless synching will be available with iOS 5. For other data, apps like Dropbox and Evernote can take care of letting you access and sync various files.
  5. Get the most life out of your battery. Make your iPad’s battery last. Keep the screen as dim as you can comfortably take it, and turn off push, Bluetooth, location services, and even the WiFi when not in use. It’s also a good idea to let the battery completely drain occasionally before recharging it fully again. They say doing this monthly or so will help the iPad’s battery last longer.
  6. Customize your home button or side switch. If you have the first-generation iPad, you can customize what the home button will do. With iPad 2, you can customize the side switch to either lock the iPad’s orientation or mute it. You can do either one by going to settings -> general then choosing either “Home” or “Use Side Switch To.” These customizations will help you use little shortcuts that can be surprisingly useful.
  7. Don’t multitask. The iPad lets you easily switch from one application to another. However, although the temptation is big, I urge you to resist it! In the end, you’ll get more things done and at higher quality if you focus on one task at a time, rather than switching from one to another. Read more about why focusing helps you get more productive.

Your Turn

These are just some of the ways you can make the most of your iPad. In the end, maximizing your tablet depends on your personal working style. However, the tips above are useful for most freelancers with iPads.

If you own an iPad (or other tablet), how do you maximize it for your freelancing? Share your specific tips with us by posting a comment below.

Image by Johnny Does