Minimalist Writing on the iPad



Thinking about starting a blog or sharpening up your social media posts? Due to information overload, we have developed simpler methods of communication. We read, write, even speak in abbreviated ways. Shorter, more concise language is now the rule. How effective you are in getting your message across is dependent on brevity. Text messaging is a prime example.

Here’s an example of the minimalist writing process I use, on the iPad, before I publish to this blog. Even if you don’t blog, you can be short, concise, and to the point in composing emails and social media posts.

(1) Most blog post ideas come at any time, day or night so I keep a supply of index cards in the car, house, office, and bag to get those ideas out of my brain and on paper. Any paper will do. Not to brag, but I’ve written magazine articles on restaurant napkins! 🙂

(2) Type paper notes into an event in my calendar or Evernote: a note-taking, organizing, and archiving app. The software syncs across most devices so it’s always accessible. The goal is to keep the post 300 words or less using plain English and less punctuation. Sometimes I paste the text into iA Writer for its’ clean, distraction-free interface. When I’ve developed something coherent, I’ll still continue to edit, edit, edit. Sometimes, I have to start all over again if it’s too complex.

(3) Copy the text to Hemingway Editor: I bought the stand-alone software for my laptop. They don’t have an app for the iPad but they do have a free website you can use in your browser. Hemingway Editor‘s entire purpose is to make you write more concise.

(4) Paste the text into Voice Dream: Once I’m sure about the post, I’ll review how it sounds. I can even edit within the app.

(5) Paste the text into my WordPress blogging website and format photographs, graphics, and schedule a posting.

The goal is to even shorten this process and I’m finding that the audio and text editing in Voice Dream may eliminate some of these apps in the very near future.

Remember, if you have another tablet brand or device, you can use the same or similar apps  for their operating system.

In the next post on simplifying life on one device, I’ll review social media. Might be the shortest post ever!

Life Organizing Apps

41FAEE61-3287-4A41-827C-D80954BC8FA7Every Tom, Dick, and Harry has an app so we fill up our devices with them because we can. Who doesn’t have three messaging apps or five food ordering apps or four mapping apps on their phones? I’m ashamed to admit that I have 96 apps in my iPad storage folders and if I took all of them out I would be instantly distracted.

Of all the apps on my iPad, these are the ones that are fundamental to organizing life. The remaining 96 will remain in their folders. 🙂

CALENDARS are the Swiss Army knife of organizing. Before computers, we used all types of paper-based calendars but today’s digital calendars are more flexible. For example, I centralize most everything in Google calendar. It’s web based and syncs across all devices so it accommodates my budget, day job schedules, personal appointments, birthdays, anniversaries and a to-do list. Even blog posts are stored as events on Google Calendar.

A few words of caution…don’t fill up your calendar with irrelevant items or it will appear confused and feel uninspiring to take action on. I also recommend using one calendar for both work and personal activities to prevent scheduling conflicts with both.

EMAIL is still king for the transmission of images and documents, despite the popularity of texting. I use Gmail, by Google. It’s web based; syncs across all devices and is simple to use.

ADDRESS BOOK/CONTACTS used to be stored in Rolodexes or small address books but digital address books are much more versatile. Apple Contacts is the default address book database and it works with many other apps. Again, simple to use and syncs across all Apple devices. Throw that Roledex away.

NOTEBOOKS have evolved to include many of the above-listed functions but can be complicated to use. I’ve tried many note taking apps such as Evernote, Google Keep, Microsoft OneNote, even Apple’s own “Notes” but while Evernote excells at saving whole web pages for later reading, Google Keep is simple to use and syncs across all devices.

Depending on your operating system and personal preference, you may be using different brands of tools (like Yahoo, Microsoft, etc) but these four categories of tools are what I have found to be fundamental for organizing your life on a tablet or smartphone.

In the next post on simplifying life on one device, I’ll review what writing apps and rules I use to create a simple workflow for blogging and other social media.


One Device To Rule Them All: Part 2, I’m Not A Juggler


In Part 1, I wrote of my goal to incorporate most tasks and activities such as: photo editing, contacts (address book), calendar, to-do list, music/audio player, radio, clock, calculator, audio recorder, television, telephone, books, newspaper, typewriter, and even the kitchen sink, 🙂 into one device, my tablet computer (iPad Pro).

Why? To continue my life’s mission of reducing clutter and distraction, no matter the form. For the past two years, with some degree of success, I did make my laptop the “control center” of my life.  As a business owner,  24/7 functionality was mandatory but my Apple Macbook wasn’t the most stable device to use on the daily four to five hour commute to the day job. I still watch, in amazement, how my fellow commuters manipulate their bodies, like human gyroscopes, to prevent their laptops from falling to the floor. I tried this, but I’m not a juggler. A tablet, with as many of my laptop programs as possible, seemed like a more manageable solution so last January, I decided to field-test its’ functionality.

So far, it seems to be working despite the challenges of the commute. If it didn’t, this blog would have remained dormant.

I’m now in the tweaking phase, making final decisions on those apps that will make the iPad my Swiss Army knife. What works best for me might work for you and if not, I hope to give you  ideas.  In the next installment, I’ll write about the physical considerations and initial setup. Stay tuned.

One Device To Rule Them All: The Series, Part 1


Why not document my continuing efforts of reducing and transforming my use of technology? Bet you’d like to do the same. That plus-size cell phone we all purchased last year was cool looking, but has become a brick. How about that hardly used Kindle that was advertised as the greatest thing since the invention of the book? Ever since multiple consumer electronics have existed, I’ve envisioned one device to do it all so there would be no need to manage multiple distractions….oops, I mean, devices. Having an address book, calendar, music player, radio, clock, watch, calculator, audio recorder, television, telephone, books etc. in one portable device would not only reduce electronic clutter, but help  simplify life. I started with PalmPilots and even Microsoft Pocket PCs but the most effective, most loved device I ever owned was an Apple Newton,  the grandfather of today’s iPad. The technology of my iPad Pro has eclipsed the Newton all in but one aspect…I still need a laptop or desktop computer to do some functions that the iPad can’t do or struggles with.

One Device To Rule Them All is not an original idea, there are users out there, like me, and Apple, infamous for restructuring popular computer design; marketing the hell out of the change; weathering the consumer disapproval; and then riding a tide of mainstream acceptance, is trying to accommodate us. Why do I put up with this struggle when my issues could probably be immediately solved using a Microsoft based competitor ? One word…Brand loyalty. I prefer the Apple ecosystem and have established 20+ years of databases. Those databases could be adapted and I’m not discounting any of the Microsoft based competitors, but I don’t have to spend an inordinate amount of time and effort operating or even maintaining Apple products, they just work. If Microsoft wants me to test a Microsoft Surface Pro, I would not object.

In the meantime, I’ll keep struggling to adapt the iPad to be my sole device and from time-to-time, I’ll post articles how that makes my life like less complicated;  more efficient; and more peaceful.

It’s Not A Donald Trump Life: A Primer on Minimalism

     The new barracks in Texas didn’t look anything like the one I left in Alabama. In fact, it resembled a modern apartment building. New cars and motorcycles were everywhere and after duty hours, all types of music blasted from expensive sound systems.
     Never considered Spartans among the other military services, Air Force personnel were not immune to immediate and permanent deployments anywhere in the world. That reality didn’t stop my fellow airmen from having sofas delivered by flatbed trucks! I often wondered where they put these things if we left for overseas. I had a service-issued duffle bag and a backpack containing everything I owned in the world. Without any of the other big-ticket purchases to connect-to; maintain; and store, I was “unencumbered” and proud of it. I was a warrior, not some high-maintenance prima donna dependent on large screen televisions and George Forman grills. I was always mindful of the mission; battle-ready; organized; sacrificial; and highly motivated.
 I was one of those guys that could go into a jungle with only a knife and clean underwear and come out victorious (I looked forward to continuing with an Air Force career but that is another story). The point is that without consumer distractions, I focused on my work. In turn, I was recognized and promoted far ahead of my peers. I had time to read more extensively; had time to compete in distance runs; earn a Masters Degree; and took in at least four movies every weekend! Whether I continued in the military or not, I figured my “lean, mean fighting machine” behavior would come in handy one day.
     And it did. It’s not a Donald Trump life but I have few complaints and through the years I’ve maintained my minimalist beliefs and practices. I still wear nine-year-old sneakers and I’m always evaluating my belongings to see if they interfere with my space or distract me. Living with less, having fewer concerns is a major part of my lifestyle. Besides, It gives me joy to deny the exploitive capitalists my money.
     There are many books, videos, and other websites on minimalism but I fear that it will evolve as a chic practice…something hip to do that will be abandoned as soon as middle-class money is made. So this will be my primer on minimalism. Time-to-time, I will write on it or reference resources that may be helpful to our gaining more mental and physical space in these perilous times. I recommend first visiting The Minimalists website. Watch their movie. You can see it now on Netflix or you can purchase and download an expanded version through their site or sites like iTunes.