I’m self-aware enough to know, that whining about whether to use one highly-priced bit of tech over another, is easily seen as a humble brag, or a first world problem.

Certainly, in the context of our world today, it’s entirely insignificant. Still winds me up though.

The Dream

Aspirational-me has just ordered a boom arm for my iPad. My desk will be clear, but for some artfully-placed stationery, and a coaster. With careful lighting, I will post on Instagram, #minimalsetup, #chillsetup. Each morning, I’ll write my journals, with the sun streaming in, showing off the gleaming ink from my fountain pens. Then, having meditated, my iPad will swing across, my keyboard emerge from a drawer and I shall morph into the digital entrepreneur, typing in Ulysses.

The Reality

Pragmatic-me has finished reinstating my Macbook pro and external display atop a book case, behind me. (Or #improvisedstandingdesk in Insta-speak.)


Lime Training and Consultancy Ltd (Lime) supports firms in the retail financial services space. Think Bureau de Change, Money Transfer services, and pawnbroking. Its job is to make sure that these firms are aware of regulation around money laundering and terrorist financing, and have policies, procedures and systems to ensure that they do the right thing. So, I keep abreast of what’s going on, keep firms informed, and ensure their procedures are current and effective.

Case Study

Boom! Regulation change. I need to read some, or all of; legislation (both the old version and the new one; lawmakers don’t publish “track-changes”), regulations, guidance (from multiple sources), professional commentary, and legal opinion. Firms need a distillation of all that.

“What’s happened? How does it impact us? What needs doing? Have you done it yet?”

Sometimes, things are straightforward. I can write a note, publish it as as a pdf and issue it with an imperious glare. Mostly though, I need to explain what’s happened and why, and suggest how things might be addressed. A collaboration ensues. There are many fantastic apps and tools that can be used for this. Trouble is, the firms will use e-mail, Word and Excel and only e-mail, Word and Excel. Given that the customer is always right, I therefore, use e-mail, Word and Excel.

In short, client work generally requires multiple browser tabs, annotated pdfs and screenshots, Word, Excel and e-mail. All to be open and easily accessible. Top notch file management and search is a must.

Possible on an iPad? Sure. Easy on an iPad? No. As to archives, Ipad OS is fine, as long as you have stored in your head the exact location of every file going back to 2009, because the Files App hasn’t got a clue how to find anything.

Word, Excel and multi-tasking all work on an iPad, in much the same way that a saucepan will boil over a lighter. It works, but you’re better off using the cooker.

Accidental Improvement

I’m still stabbing the display with my finger from time to time, but overall the arrangement works well. If I’m standing at a keyboard and screen, I’m in corporate mode. The change of location, posture and machine is an excellent prompt for the required mental gear change.