The Two-Device Solution

Interesting observation from Seth Godin (whilst talking about productivity and distractions):

“One reason for this confusion is that we’re often using precisely the same device to do our work as we are to distract ourselves from our work. The distractions come along with the productivity.”

This leads him to this possible solution:

“Simple but bold: Only use your computer for work. Real work. The work of making something.

Have a second device, perhaps an iPad, and use it for games, web commenting, online shopping, networking… anything that doesn’t directly create valued output (no need to have an argument here about which is which, which is work and which is not… draw a line, any line, and separate the two of them. If you don’t like the results from that line, draw a new line).

Now, when you pick up the iPad, you can say to yourself, “break time.” And if you find yourself taking a lot of that break time, you’ve just learned something important.”

I’m about to upgrade my aging iPad to the alluring 2019 iPad Air so this is the perfect opportunity to give it a try. Simple solutions have a chance of working….

On a related note, I came across this recent tweet from Dr Bendor Grosvenor

“About a year ago, our school made the decision to do all schoolwork and homework on iPads. It has been a disaster. Kids just can’t cope with the distraction of everything else iPads have to offer. Schools – stick to paper and pen!”


  1. Interestingly, I have found myself doing the opposite.

    I have locked down my mobile devices (iPad and iPhone) so that they have no entertainment or avoiding-work value. There’s no internet, no email, no games or anything like that. I make calls, send texts, take pictures, get directions, weather, 2-factor authentication, etc. on the iPhone. On the iPad I have three screens: one with drawing apps, one with writing apps, and one with (academic) reading apps.

    It’s harder to realistically lock my computer down like this. Since I can go anywhere I want on my computer, I evoke Self Control or Freedom (distraction apps) to temporarily prevent this if I want to work and am feeling torn.

    I have found for myself that I’m more likely to “lose time” in a moment of boredom, which is often where mobile devices come in so handy.

    1. Thanks for the comment and practical details! You seem to have everything well-organised.

      I use an Android phone so that stops me, in some ways, easily linking to work (with mac based apps). I use it mainly for keeping links, mail and social. My iPad is now a bit old (it can’t easily run the latest OS) so it’ll be interesting how a new one opens up new possibilities eg the role of a pencil (currently little used). Most of my work is on a laptop (used to be a big iMac) but that can sometimes be awkward to carry around, something lighter would be good. Within this mix there is also a wandering mind!

      All in all, I’m reviewing how I work and how this could be improved so your thoughts are really appreciated 🙂

      Separately, I like your motivating posts on Tinderbox. I use it occasionally and am thinking of using it more, it has a very nice ‘feel’ to it.

      1. If you’re experience is anything like mine, I think you’ll find the pencil opening new realms of interaction and utility. I am a big fan.

        I look forward to reading more about your foray into the device, dealing with distractions, and possibly playing with TBX!

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s