So Happy Together: Task Apps and Email

Email smartphone

Email can easily get out of control for school leaders and anyone else who has a lot to deal with. Among the challenges email presents:

  • Anyone can email you
  • It’s easy for other people to create work for you
  • A single email can have several tasks embedded in it
  • The work that needs to be done to handle an email often isn’t stated very clearly
  • Emails are hard to organize in a useful way, so if you have more than a handful, you have little choice but to handle them in the order they showed up

The solution? Use a task app alongside your email app.

Task apps like Remember the Milk, Nozbe, ToDoist (my current favorite), and the dozens of others on the market can make a huge difference.

Old School: Outlook

We’ve known for a long time that we need to handle emails with task management in mind, and for more than a decade, Microsoft Outlook has included a task feature.

Drag an email to the Tasks bar in Outlook, and you’ll create a new task with the email attached. It’s not a bad system.

Unfortunately, in our newly mobile world, that’s not very helpful. I read 90% of my email on my phone first, and only open it on my computer if I need to.

The more I can handle it once and be done with it, the better, and that means I need a solution that works from my iPhone and iPad.

A New Approach for A Mobile World

It’s great to have apps for all the devices we use today, but what if some of those devices don’t give us full control?

What if you use a school computer that you can’t install software on? What if you use an iPhone, and 3rd-party apps can’t integrate with the email client?

Here’s my favorite feature of modern task apps like ToDoist: Email input.

Get an email, decide that it needs to go on your to-do list, and simply forward it to a special address that the app gives you.

The app’s servers will receive the email and put it in your task inbox. (And yes, your to-do list needs an inbox too!)

Even better, you can create a project and get a project-specific email address, so tasks can be forwarded straight into that project.

Where We Live

When we’re working at our computers—which, as school leaders, should only be a small part of the actual school day—where do we “live”?

For too many of us, it’s in our email inbox. Email will consume all of our time if we let it.

If instead we use a smart app like ToDoist to manage our tasks, email becomes simply a communication tool, and we can do the work in a better-designed task management environment.

What’s your favorite task app? How do you use it?

ToDoist Tutorials Coming Soon

This week, I’m filming a detailed set of tutorial videos on ToDoist for my GoingDigital series for members of the High-Performance Instructional Leadership Network. If you’re a member of the Network, expect to receive the first videos later this week.

How to Type On Your Phone, or Why I Can’t Recommend SwiftKey for iOS

Mobile devices are erasing the limits on where we can do our work. Work we once might have done on the desktop can now be done from an iPhone or Android tablet.

We have more ways of interacting with our devices than ever, from dictation to swipes to typing. But typing is still very important, and on a small screen, little tweaks can make a big difference.

But we can also make changes that move us in the wrong direction, changes that look like improvements but are actually wrongheaded.

I’m a fan of tools that improve our productivity as leaders, but not of those that undermine our thinking, decision-making, and purposefulness. Instead, we need to invest time and effort in making our work more purposeful and more efficient, not simply “easier.”

And that’s why I can’t recommend SwiftKey for iOS. Even if you’ve never heard of it or aren’t interested, think through this with me. Ultimately, it’s about how we execute our decisions as leaders.

SwiftKey for iPhone and iPad

SwiftKey has been around for years on Android, where the less-restrictive operating system allows it to integrate deeply other apps, including third-party keyboards (which aren’t even possible on iOS).

SwiftKey

On Android, it seems like SwiftKey could be very helpful, especially if you prefer swipe-to-type.

On the iPhone and iPad, I have some concerns. SwiftKey basically works like Drafts—it’s a place for you to type (presumably faster and easier than you could type elsewhere), then send what you type to another app.

The main gimmick is that SwiftKey guesses the three words you’re most likely to type next, and updates those suggestions in real time as you type. If you see the word you’re planning to type, you can just tap it, and it’ll be inserted for you, so you don’t have to type it.

It sounds great, but even in the promo video, check out how slowly the model has to type in order for SwiftKey’s predictions to be useful.

SwiftKey for iPhone

I don’t mean to rag on what looks like a great company with a great Android product, but SwiftKey for iOS is not a professional-grade productivity tool. As the video indicates, it might be good for journaling and writing poetry with one thumb, but that’s not how most of us need to work.

How To Type on iOS

The fastest way to type, as any experienced iPhone user will tell you, is to just bang away as fast as you can, and let AutoCorrect do the rest.

Think, type with two thumbs, proofread, and you’re golden.

Typing should not slow down your thinking, should not take the place of your thinking, and should not misrepresent your thinking.

Why SwiftKey’s Approach is Misguided

SwiftKey’s word prediction is impressive, but here are at least five problems with its approach:

  1. Typing is faster than looking for and selecting the correct word. If we train ourselves to stop after each word so we can look for the next, the time we save will be more than offset by the time we waste. (If you’re typing an exceptionally long word and want some help, AutoCorrect can already finish it for you.)
  2. Muscle memory holds more than one word, so we type in phrases, not single words. Interrupting muscle memory in an attempt to save a few taps is only going to prevent us from getting better at typing, and it’s going to slow us down.
  3. We can proofread a whole sentence much faster than we can verify each word individually.
  4. Choosing from among several words is far more mentally taxing than simply thinking about what to say, then typing it. You should not have to answer a multiple-choice question with two distractor choices for every word you type. You might think “recognition is easier than recall,” which is true, but that’s for remembering facts, not communicating your own thoughts.
  5. We tend to use the same phrases and sentences over and over when typing on our phones. Once we’ve decided what to say, typing it should be at most four keystrokes, even if it’s an entire paragraph.

If you’re new to the iPhone, SwiftKey may be tempting, because it will allow you to type faster. But it will also prevent you from learning to type faster, and from taking an even more powerful approach.

Program the Robot

In my workshops, I teach school leaders to “program the robot.” Briefly, this means we need to make decisions, then encode those decisions into systems we can rely on.

For typing on your iPhone or iPad, this means programming shortcuts into TextExpander, and doing your typing in Drafts.

(If you’re a member of the High-Performance Instructional Leadership Network, I’ll have tutorials for you on both of these apps later this month.)

You probably tend to say the same things over and over again. You have “stock phrases,” bundles of words that contain more complex meanings that serve as shortcuts, so you don’t spend all day wordsmithing what you’re going to say. You can decide what you mean to communicate it, and just say it.

You can type “omw” and have Drafts or AutoCorrect (iOS Settings » General » Keyboard » Shortcuts) replace it with “I’m on my way.”

You can type “Billy Jones,” hit one button, and have Drafts email your secretary with:
Hi Martha,
Could you please call Billy Jones down to the office? We need to talk briefly. I’ll be there in 5 minutes.
Thanks,
Justin

One of the key tenets of High-Performance Instructional Leadership is that we should take these stock phrases and use them purposefully—not as clichés that people can use to make fun of us, but as ways of being more purposeful and consistent in our communication.

Once we’ve decided how to deal with a certain type of situation, our decisions and communication can be encoded into our tools, and we can execute them effortlessly each time.

One More Note: Evernope

One cool feature that caught my eye is Evernote integration, which lets SwiftKey scan your notes and base its predictions on what’s already in your Evernote account.

But think about this for a minute: Did you type everything in your Evernote account? Does what you’ve saved to Evernote reflect your writing style?

I would say that only about 10% of what’s in my Evernote notebooks is stuff I’ve actually written. Most is saved emails, observation notes, encrypted data, PDFs, and other stuff that I want to save for future reference.

The Evernote integration may clue SwiftKey into education-specific words I’m likely to use, but it won’t help with understanding how I write or what I might want to say next.

Write With Purpose

This has been a very long post on how we type very small things on very small screens. Over time, the decisions we make about handle the little things add to big things.

I’m convinced that letting your phone tell you what to type, one word at a time, is a bad idea.

Deciding what you want to say—and at another level, how you want to lead—then programming the robot, is a great idea.

What do you need to say, in writing, from your phone? How can you say it more quickly, more purposefully, and more consistently?

Using Your Smartphone & Tablet Together

Photographers have a way of ending arguments about which camera is best: “The best camera…is the one you have with you.” It doesn’t matter how good your gear is if you leave it at home.

Toolbelt

It’s the same way with our productivity tools: The best tool is the one you have with you.

No one is a bigger “iPad for administrators” guy than me, but I often find that my iPhone is even more indispensable. Why? Because it’s always with me, even when I can’t carry my iPad.

Even better than always having a single device with you, though, is always having your data with you, regardless of which device you’re using. Fortunately, your tablet and smartphone can work well together if you’re using the right apps.

I tend to use my iPhone and iPad for many of the same things, but the iPad really shines for:

  • Taking notes in classrooms or meetings (it’s faster and it looks more professional than fiddling with your phone)
  • Reading – the screen size makes a big difference
  • Planning – I much prefer mind-mapping and writing out detailed notes on the bigger screen
  • Email – especially if I have my Bluetooth external keyboard

On the other hand, the iPhone is great for more frequent message-checking and for quickly jotting down tasks.

Since I use both, it’s important that they talk together and share data seamlessly, so here are some recommendations for making that happen.

1. Use “Universal” Apps

A lot of apps work on both the iPhone and the iPad. If you’re not sure if your apps will run on both, fire up the App Store and go to the “Purchased” tab, then select “Not on This iPhone/iPad” to find apps you’ve bought but haven’t installed. Many of these will be apps you bought for iPhone that also happen to work on iPad, or vice-versa.

2. Use iCloud

iCloud allows your Apple products’ apps to sync data and settings. Make sure you’re signed into the same Apple ID on both devices so your data stays in sync.

In the Settings app, go to iCloud to enter your Apple ID email address and password:
Icloudsettings 1

3. Use Dropbox

For apps that allow you to create files, documents, or data, iCloud doesn’t always do the trick.

Try Dropbox sync whenever it’s an option in an app – Dropbox will hold and sync the data for the app, so it’s accessible and always up-to-date on all your devices.

4. Use Built-In Sync Services

Some apps have their own synchronization service, so dig into the “settings” section (look for a gear icon) and see if you can share data across different devices. Evernote, Remember the Milk (a to-do list), and Buy Me a Pie (a shopping list) are among the apps that have their own sync service.

Most of the above will apply to Android phones and tablets too.

How do you get the most from your smartphone and tablet?

4 Reasons to Switch to Google Calendar

I’ve used just about every calendar tool out there over the years, and the time has come for just about everyone to switch to Google Calendar.

Calendar

Forgive me for being blunt, but I think the benefits are undeniable.

1. It’s Free
That’s right – Google Calendar costs you nothing. If your district is using Exchange/Outlook, they’re paying a license fee for every account, but Google Calendar is free, and you don’t need anyone else’s permission to start using it. Just create an account and get started. If you already have a Gmail account, just go to google.com/calendar and start using the calendar you already have.

2. It Works on Every Device
I’m an iPhone/iPad guy, so I wish I could recommend iCloud’s calendar, which is built into your iPhone. Sadly, I can’t, because the iCloud calendar is terrible at talking to anything that isn’t an Apple device – and this includes other humans who need access to your calendar.

The good news? Your Apple device will work with Google Calendar – in fact, the built-in Calendar app on iOS works perfectly with Google Calendar. Just go to Settings » Mail, Contact, Calendars and enter your Google account details. Turn Calendars to “on” and you’re good to go. Now you can access your calendar in your:

  • Computer’s web browser
  • Mac Calendar app
  • Outlook calendar view (yes, really!)

As well as on your:

  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • Android phone
  • Android tablet

So you always have access to your calendar.

3. It’s Powerful
You might assume Outlook has the most powerful calendar features because it’s a desktop application and is used in many professional settings. But Google Calendar is just as powerful, and has a number of tricks up its sleeve. Did you know Google Calendar can do all of this?

  • Send calendar invitations just like Outlook
  • Send you a text message (SMS) appointment reminder whenever you want
  • Create recurring events with complicated patterns, like “every 4th Wednesday of the month”
  • Respond to keyboard shortcuts – my favorites are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 j, and k
  • Show your appointments in daily, weekly, monthly, or list view

4. It’s Shareable
I’ve saved the clincher for last: Your Google Calendar can talk to other calendars in whatever way you want:

  • Share your whole calendar with your secretary or family
  • Share your free/busy info—your availability—but not your specific appointments with anyone you want
  • Designate others who can edit your calendar, e.g. secretary
  • Link your calendar to scheduling tools like ScheduleOnce so it’s easy to set meetings with other people

I wish I got $5 for everyone I convert to Google Calendar, but I don’t. I’ll be satisfied if you get a boost to your productivity by making this effortless and extremely beneficial switch.

Have you switched? How did it go for you? What’s your favorite tip in Google Calendar? Do you miss anything about Outlook or whatever you were using before? Leave a comment and let me know!

Dealing with Documents on the iPad

Documents Image

A participant in my iPad workshop writes:

Do you have recommendations for apps to work with documents in Dropbox?

-Michelle

Great question, Michelle. There are a couple of ways to address this issue.

Use Text—Not Documents—Whenever Possible
Documents are a pain. When you create a document, you have to decide on:

  • A format (such as .doc or .rtf)
  • An app that can open them
  • A filename
  • A location in your folder system

Since the iPad doesn’t have a file folder system, isn’t friendly toward filenames, and doesn’t have any truly outstanding apps for managing traditional documents, I tend to avoid documents as much as possible and just use plain-text notes in Evernote (which does support some formatting, but not complex document layout).

But as principals, we often need to edit documents that are in a particular format for a particular reason—for instance, teacher observation forms with tables, checklists, comment boxes, and so forth. We’d all like to be able to use these documents on our iPads, but the truth is that it seldom works. Complex document layouts tend not to work correctly on the iPad.

So as I advised recently, if you’re filling out a district- or state-required form, you may need to use a laptop rather than your iPad.

Just Managing Files
If all you need to do is find, view, and send files and documents of various types, Dropbox is great. I’ve been recommending it in my workshops for a long time. If you’re interested in using Dropbox to sync your files across all of your devices, check out Dr. Frank Buck’s free ebook Get Organized! with Dropbox (PDF).

Dropbox allows you to share any file by emailing a link to whomever you’d like. It’s great for syncing data and managing files and folders on your iPad, but Dropbox does not allow you to edit Word documents.

While you can send documents from Dropbox to Apple’s app Pages (which is like Word), this creates a copy every time you move between apps, so you end up with a bunch of versions in both places. Not ideal.

(If you have found an app that syncs with Dropbox and is great for editing Word documents on the iPad, please leave a comment and let me know.)

Managing & Editing Word Documents with Dropbox + Pages
If you do occasionally need to edit a Word document that you have in Dropbox on your iPad, here are the steps to do so, using Apple’s iPad word processor app Pages.

From Dropbox to Pages: Click the icon in the top-right corner in Dropbox (which looks like an arrow going down into a box) when viewing a document -> Open In… -> Pages (Note: this menu will only show compatible apps that you have installed – so if you don’t have Pages, it won’t appear here).

Pages to Dropbox: Wrench icon in upper right when editing the document -> Share and Print -> Open in Another App -> Word format -> Choose App -> Dropbox

Here are visual directions:
Dropbox pages

Again, not a great solution. But there is an emerging solution that appears to be better than Pages and Dropbox.

Google Drive
Google Docs, the online word processor that’s been around for nearly a decade, is now part of Google Drive, the online storage service that is similar to Dropbox in many respects. Essentially, you are given online storage folder that is synchronized with your computer.

Drive iconGoogle recently released a Drive app for the iPad. I haven’t recommended it in my workshops because it is so new and the features have been very limited, but it’s improving rapidly, so it will probably become one of the main apps I recommend.

I would recommend installing the Drive app on your computer and your iPad (so they sync), and creating documents in Google Docs whenever possible, to keep them simple and compatible.

How Word documents work in Google Drive
You can either upload a Word document to Google Drive and just use Drive as a storage space (in which case no changes to the Word document can be made in Google Docs), or you can convert the document to Google Docs format so it’s editable. This is a choice that you make when you upload the document from your computer.

You can only convert documents on your computer, not in the iPad app, so on your iPad, you’re limited to editing documents that are in Google Docs format. You also can’t convert back to Word format from the iPad app, but you can “share” (not send) the document with other Google Drive users. This is a crucial difference between Dropbox and Google Drive: Dropbox allows you to share a file with anyone, but Google Drive requires that the other person have a Google account, which is better for collaborating on documents, but a pain for just sending them.

So, if you do occasionally need to edit and send Word documents from your iPad, Google Drive won’t work – see the rather convoluted steps above using Dropbox and Pages for a way to get the job done.

If you do want to make the transition from Word to Google Docs, you can import all of your existing documents from your computer into Google Drive with just a few clicks. You’ll need to decide whether to keep the documents in Word format (in which case they won’t be editable), or to convert them to Google Docs format (in which case you can’t convert them back into Word documents on the iPad and send them to people).

To upload files or folders to Google Drive from your computer:

Drive upload

To convert when uploading to Google Drive:
Upload settings

For now at least, you have to choose between being able to share Word-format documents from Google Drive on your iPad, or being able to edit your documents in the Google Drive app by keeping them in Google Docs format. On your desktop computer or laptop, you don’t have to choose, as all are options.

Once More: Text!
As you can see, dealing with document formats and files is complicated. To the greatest extent possible, just use plain text. In three years of using the iPad as a principal, I have never once wished I had put more of my plain-text notes into Word, Pages, or Google documents. Evernote has been a great way to organize, save, and find all of my notes, so start there if you’re looking for a way to manage information on your iPad.

But hopefully the tips above are helpful, at least until our options on the iPad improve.

Do you have any advice to share on dealing with documents on the iPad? If so, please leave a comment.

Essential iPad Apps for Principals

iPad Guide imageI recently described my iPad workflow, and thought I should describe my favorite apps and how they support my work as a school leader. I would appreciate any comments or feedback you have on iPad apps.

I’ve made an effort to describe each major app that I use, with special attention to its usefulness in my work as a school leader. I hope you find my comments helpful in considering how the iPad can support your work.

Mail
iPad MailEmail is increasingly how work is done – especially the work of leadership. I use my iPad to stay abreast of email as it comes in throughout the day, and to respond to email when I’m away from my computer but have my Bluetooth keyboard (see this post).

The iPad’s built-in email app is excellent, and it will probably work with your school or district email system. Check your desktop computer to see the server addresses and account settings, or check with your district tech staff to find out if there are any special settings to use. iPad does not have any special requirements – if you can access your email from your home computer, you can access it on the iPad.

A note about webmail – if you can access your email through a web browser, it might be tempting not to bother setting up the Mail app. However, webmail often lacks important features such as your district address book and the “mark as unread” button. It’s worth the effort to set up Mail to have access to its great features. In addition, other iPad apps need an email account to send files from (as described above), so you’ll want to have the Mail app configured.

iCal
iCal for iPadPlanning my time and keeping appointments are essential parts of my work as a school leader, so I need a reliable calendar. Paper or a desktop-based calendar will work, but I’ve found it enormously helpful to have a powerful electronic calendar with me at all times.

The iPad’s built-in calendar app is a dream to use. Add new appointments, accept or reject meeting invitations, set reminders (which will turn on your iPad when they pop up), and modify your schedule all from the slick interface. You’ll never go back to a paper calendar again after using iCal.

My secretary can add appointments directly to my calendar through Microsoft Outlook’s designee feature, and they’ll show up automatically in iCal. You can also subscribe to web-based .ical feeds, such as those generated by Google Calendar.

 
OmniFocus
OmniFocus for iPadI need to keep track of countless projects, tasks, ideas, and plans in my work as a principal. I found that if I keep only simple paper-based lists, they get out of control quickly. OmniFocus is my hub for to-do items.

This $40 app is pricey but amazing. If you’ve found that your paper or simple electronic to-do lists get unwieldy after a while, OmniFocus is the solution. Check out this video introduction to this complex but powerful app.

OmniFocus screenshot

OmniFocus is one of the best-designed iPad apps on the market, and is a joy to use. However, if you’re looking for a simpler (and cheaper) solution, try Things. I haven’t used Things, but I’ve heard good things (ahem) about it.

Whichever to-do app you use, the key is to write ALL of your tasks in it, instead of leaving them scattered across multiple apps.

Evernote
EvernoteAs a principal, I receive a large amount of information that I may need to reference in the future. I have a good paper filing system, but I don’t want to print and manually file anything if I can avoid it.

Evernote is my file cabinet. It will accept text (emailed, pasted, or typed in), photos, and file attachments, and make all of them searchable. For example, if I’m at another school and see a playground rules poster I like, I can take a picture with my phone and email it to Evernote. Searching for “playground” will bring up the photo, because Evernote can actually read text (including handwriting) inside photographs.

Best of all, your data lives on Evernote’s servers, and is instantly synched between your iPad, iPhone, desktop or laptop computer (Windows or Mac), and the web interface. In other words, your reference information is always on hand. If you’re feeling ambitious and have a sheet-fed duplexing scanner, you can even scan your paper files into Evernote and get rid of your file cabinet. There’s also a bookmarklet to clip items you find on the web.

iPad Reading Apps
A note about reading apps: if you need to read something by a specific date (e.g. for a meeting), put it on your calendar or to-do list. Otherwise, you can use the following apps to read material of interest whenever you get a chance.

Instapaper
InstapaperI believe that leadership is creative work, and creative work requires inspiration and new ideas. Reading is therefore an essential part of the work of leadership, yet we don’t read as much as we should. If you have a pile of unread leadership magazines in your office or home, you know what I mean. When you want to read something (eventually) but don’t have time right now, save it to Instapaper.

InstapaperInstapaper works best for those moments when you find yourself wanting to read an article, but you realize you aren’t going to have time to finish it without interruption. Instead of printing the article and using the resulting clutter as a reminder to read the article, save the article to Instapaper and read it at your convenience. The typography is the best I’ve ever seen – I’d rather read an article in Instapaper than any other way.

It helps to install the Safari bookmarklet to easily save articles you find online. This will take a minute but it’s worth it.

Most education publications such as EdWeek, Educational Leadership, Phi Delta Kappan, etc. offer their content free online to print subscribers. Since I don’t want a pile of EdWeek papers filling my office or home, I flip through the paper, search for the articles I want to read online, and save them to Instapaper.*

*Instapaper saves public web articles and anything you email to it. For reading material that isn’t already on the public web (e.g. EdWeek articles, which require that you be a logged-in subscriber), you can copy and paste into Evernote, then email the Evernote document to a special Instapaper email address. While this is a bit of a pain, it has the added benefit of giving you a searchable backup copy in Evernote.

iAnnotate PDF Reader
iAnnotateSometimes you need to read an article more carefully and take notes for later reference. If you’re taking graduate or advanced certification classes, you probably receive plenty of PDFs. While Safari, Mail, and Evernote can all open PDF files, a specialized reader app such as iAnnotate will save your place and let you mark up the article.

iAnnotate’s interface is very easy to learn, and it’s easy to save PDF files to the app. It’s easily worth the $10 price tag.

Again, if you need to read a document by a certain date, I don’t recommend simply saving it to iAnnotate – put it on your calendar or to-do list as well.

Kindle & iBooks
Kindle app iBooks appAn increasing number of popular and education-related titles are available for Amazon’s Kindle app or the iBooks reading app. Last Spring, I bought a paperback copy of Kim Marshall’s Rethinking Teacher Supervision & Evaluation, but I also clicked the “I want to read this book on Kindle” link on Amazon’s website. A few months later, a Kindle edition was released. It works, and reading on the iPad is much more convenient than reading a paper book.

A little-known feature of the Kindle app is that you can highlight important passages and view a list of all the passages you’ve highlighted, either on the iPad or on Amazon’s website. This is a great way to review what you’ve learned from a book. iBooks has a similar feature.

Explore
The above apps are those I find indispensable and use daily, but I have dozens of other apps that I downloaded just to try or for fun. Don’t be afraid to spend a few dollars trying new apps.

The key, as I said in my iPad workflow article, is to limit the number of apps holding actionable information; otherwise, each new app is simply another place to lose something important.

What apps do you use on the iPad? Are you considering getting an iPad? Let me know what you think.

Image credit: Brandi Sims

The Principal’s iPad: First Week

Last Friday, the iPad 3G went on sale in the US. Last Saturday, I bought one. This week, I’ve been carrying it with me everywhere, putting it through the paces in my work as an elementary principal.

The first thing I noticed is that…everyone noticed. It’s a huge distraction – kids ask me if it’s a big iPod Touch, and adults say “I knew you’d have one sooner or later” (my reputation is more solidified than I thought). I am hoping the distraction will fade as the novelty wears off.

The second thing I noticed is how useful it is for so many things. Among my favorite apps:

the dock on my iPad

1. iCal – all of my personal and work calendars sync with my district’s Outlook/Exchange server, as well as my Mac and my iPhone via MobileMe. Having this always at hand via the iPhone is indispensable, but the iPad makes iCal even more readable and usable.

2. OmniFocus – this great iPhone app by OmniGroup works fine on the iPad, though a native iPad version is coming soon. OmniFocus is my to-do list and data collection hub – every newsletter idea, every completed observation report, every task I need to complete – it all goes in OmniFocus, and syncs with my iPhone and Mac (again, via MobileMe). One of the more expensive apps at $20, but worth it.

3. Mail – the email client on the iPad is surprisingly robust and user-friendly. I don’t answer much email on the iPad, since I type faster on my laptop, but it’s useful to scan my emails and dispense with anything that doesn’t need action or a reply.

4. Evernote – the iPad is so easy to carry that I’ve kept it with me virtually all of the time, so I can capture ideas in Evernote whenever I have something I don’t want to forget. I used it to take notes in classrooms today, which I emailed to myself, edited on my Mac, and forwarded on to the teachers I observed. Free.

5. Safari – while I will never give up Firefox on my Mac, Safari for iPad is the way your grandmother will finally “get” the web. It’s completely intuitive, impossible to break, and a great way to browse text, images, and video (HTML 5) on the internet.

Will the iPad change your work and life? If you have an iPhone, you’ll love having an iPad, especially if you’ve never gotten used to the tiny screen and keyboard on the iPhone. I will share more of my experience using the iPad to stay on top of my work as a school leader, and would love to talk to any other principals who are using the iPad at work. Drop me a line in the comments if you’d like to chat.

In case you were wondering, I wrote this post on my iPad, with the help of the $69 keyboard dock and the free WordPress iPhone app.

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