How I use my iPad Pro (January 2020) — Getting back to it

I’ve been using my iPad Pro a lot in 2020.

The iPad Pro’s signature strength has always been using the Apple Pencil. I can do a lot of things better on a MacBook. But I can’t do the things I do with the Pencil at all on the MacBook. I could get a tablet to plug into the MacBook but it wouldn’t be as direct as drawing on the screen. I could get a tablet display but the experience wouldn’t be as good as the iPad and Pencil’s.

So I set things up to be able to play toward that strength and have been using my iPad just about every day this month.

I got a cover (and stopped using the Smart Keyboard)

It’s always bugged me that the Smart Keyboard’s keys stick out the back when put into reading mode. It also doesn’t have a good way to have the raised drawing setup. So I got a cover. Just a generic one but I like the experience enough that I’ll probably shell out the dough to get Apple’s cover with the next generation.

I started using a foldable keyboard (that I’ve had for years)

I’ve been trying a setup where the iPad is in the slightly raised mode with the foldable keyboard below it. The slight raise makes it easier to draw on and keep the iPad in place. It’s easier to get over the keyboard to draw something here and there when doing things that are a little more keyboard focused.

I’ve also remembered that the on-screen keyboard is good. I wouldn’t want to write 1000 words on it but it’s great for a few sentences here and there.

I started doing some longhand writing daily on it

I’ve been starting my mornings doing some longhand writing on it.

This is one of the most enjoyable experience I’ve had with technology. I get the sense that this is the feeling people get with adult coloring books. I lose track of time easily when writing longhand in it. I’ll usually start by writing a couple pages with a sketch of where I’m at. Doodle might be more accurate.

Then I’ll open up some of the templates that I’ve made for more structured longhand writing.

Some templates I’ve been using


One I’ve been making a few iterations of this week has been the 3×3 exercise. I see this as a daily planning exercise. I’ll do a separate video about that system specifically.

The gist: I write 3 sources down the left side. I write 3 mental models across the top. (Each 1 corresponding to 1 of the sources on the left.) Then in the 9 boxes I write specific stories from the sources that match up with the theme.

Book Notes

I have a book notes template that I fill out as I read a book and am trying to make it a habit to fill out when I finish a book.

Topic Outline

I have a template for outlining a topic—here’s one I used for this video. I wrote down some quotes I could use here as well.

Weekly Plan

This is just something where I write down one AM thing and one PM thing for the upcoming week to get a sense of what blocks of time I have free. I also have a grid of 15 habits I want to cross off that week. Its…. sort of worked. Mostly as a way to see that I’m not doing a great job with habits.

Anyway, those are the templates I’ve been using and I’m planning to continue making more. Because it’s fun to do a little bit of design thinking on them. For example, I definitely want to do one that’s to track decisions each week.

Thanks for checking this out!

I’ll be doing more of these iPad journal videos, so let me know what topics you’d like to see.