How to Organize Your Life With Your iPad

Does it ever seem like the digital world that was supposed to save us so much time has turned into the social media world that is sucking it all away? It's easy for that spare time you planned for relaxation to be sucked down the drain of paying bills and keeping up with a busy schedule. The cool thing about the iPad is the portability that allows you to keep organized whether your laying in bed or sitting in the stands of a soccer game, which makes it much easier to stay on top of everything.

1
Get to Know Siri

Siri

If you are trying to get more organized in your life, Siri can be your best friend. In fact, Siri can even help you be organized when you seem disorganized. Take the apps on your iPad for example. You can create multiple folders on your home screen and place all of your apps into neat categories, or you can simply use Siri to "Launch [app name]" and not worry about keeping your iPad in order.

Siri can also be a key component of one proven organizational strategy: smart multitasking. Siri has the capability of sending text messages or email. Try: "Email [friend's name]" to take the feature out for a spin. So long as you have your friend's name programmed into your contact list, Siri will guide you through a short email.

Want to write something longer? Open your favorite email app, type in the subject and then activate voice dictation for the actual content of the message. You can use dictation any time the keyboard is on the screen by tapping the microphone button. And with voice dictation, you can use phrases like "new paragraph" and "comma" and "period" to add punctuation.

2
Don't Forget Spotlight Search

Most people have at least heard about Siri, but for a feature that is so powerful, Spotlight Search often flies under the radar. As its name suggests, Spotlight Search can search your entire iPad for apps, music, movies and books. This makes it a great alternative to Siri for quickly launching an app without hunting for its placement on your Home Screen.

But Spotlight Search can do much, much more.

First, it searches all content on your iPad. So you can use it to search for a specific email address. Second, it searches outside of your iPad, so you can find results from the iTunes Store, App Store, Wikipedia or a particular website. Last, it can search within apps. This may be its most powerful feature. For example, you can type in a nearby restaurant and Spotlight Search will give you a result from Maps. Typing on the result will show you details about the restaurant including both directions to it and a link to its Open Table listing so you can make a reservation.

3
Set Reminders

Perhaps the biggest key to keeping organized is actually completing the tasks you need to perform when you need to do them. After all, it doesn't do you any good to remember the trash needed to go out when you see the truck pass by your house.

Reminders is a simple app on the iPad, but it can a real time saver. After you have set a reminder, the iPad will pop up with a short note at the specified day and time.  You can also mark your reminders as done and see a list of uncompleted items when you open the app.

Best of all, you can use Siri to do the heavy lifting with a simple "Remind me to take out the trash tomorrow at 8 AM."

4
To-Do Lists

Getty Images / muchomor

If you only make one change in your life to get more organized, making to-do lists would have to be that change. Nothing keeps you on target for larger tasks than breaking it down into smaller steps and scheduling it out. This is how skyscrapers are built, how complicated computer programs are coded and how doing a remodel of your bathroom can go from a huge project into an organized one that can easily be accomplished.

The Todoist is a great cloud-based to-do list that can be used on your iPad, iPhone or PC. You can set up multiple projects and assign tasks to multiple users. Todoist will also send out emails for tasks that are due that day and upcoming tasks, making it a great way to organize a project. One great advantage of Todoist is the multi-user supports, so each individual can have their own account linked to the master account.

Things is another great app for keeping organized and making to-do lists. It supports the iPad, iPhone, Mac and Apple Watch, which makes it a great way to keep organized across multiple devices. It doesn't have the same multi-user support as Todoist, but if you can't get the buy-in from the family to work on tasks they've been assigned without some personal prodding, Things may be the best tool for the job.

5
Notes

Don't underestimate the power of Notes. It may seem like a simple app, but a cloud-based notebook can be incredibly useful. It makes a great way to keep up with your grocery list, and because you can link it to your iCloud account, you can create the grocery list on your iPad and then read it at the grocery store on your iPhone.

But Notes is more than just making lists. You can use it for any type of note-taking from studying in class to simply brainstorming a new project. Find an item on eBay or Amazon you might want to buy? You can use the Share button to add it to either a new note or an existing note. This works with any website. You can also add a photo to a note or simply draw a picture yourself.

And Notes also works with Siri, so you can tell her to "create a note" and she will allow you to dictate the note to her.

6
The Calendar

Perhaps the most powerful cloud-based tool is the calendar app that comes with the iPad. You can use the calendar to keep up with appointments, events, lessons, birthday parties, etc. And the best part is that the iPad can use your email and text messages to create events on your calendar and Facebook to help keep track of birthdays.

The calendar is shared across the iCloud account, so if everyone in the family signs into the same Apple ID, they can see the same calendar. And, of course, you cane easily create new events by asking Siri to schedule one for you.

Apple's Calendar is great if you are deep into the Apple ecosystem, but if you use Google's apps a lot, you can easily use the Google calendar on your iPad and get many of the same benefits.

7
iCloud Photo Library and Photo Sharing

It's amazing just how many photos we take now that we carry a handy little camera around in our pocket all the time. If you take a lot of photos, especially family photos, iCloud Photo Library performs two important tasks: (1) it will allow you to sync the photos on all of your devices, so you can snap a photo with that awesome camera on the iPhone 7 and then look at it on that massive iPad Pro screen, and (2) it backs all of your photos up to the cloud. Even if you lose both the iPhone and the iPad, your photos are waiting for you at icloud.com and in your iCloud Photo Library on your Mac or PC.

But don't overlook iCloud Photo Sharing. It takes organizing your photos into individual albums to the next level by letting you share them with your friends. Photo Sharing allows friends and family to get an actual copy of the photo downloaded to their iPhone or iPad. You can also create a public page on icloud.com with the photos in your shared album.  

You can turn on iCloud Photo Library and Photo Sharing in the Settings app by going to iCloud in the left-side menu and choosing Photos. You can send photos to a shared album by using the Share button while viewing the image in the Photos app.

8
Scan Old Photos Into Your iPad

Public Domain / Pixabay

Organizing your photo library used to be about taking old photos and turning them into albums. Nowadays, it is more about getting those old photos into your digital life.

It's a task that is actually quite easier than you might think. And there's no need to buy an expensive scanner. There are plenty of great scanner apps like Scanner Pro that can do the trick for only a couple of bucks. The nice bonus these apps have over simply snapping a picture of that old photo is the ability to automatically realign it so the photo turns out looking straight.

These apps use a contrast between the what you are scanning and the background, so it is good to find a dark surface for the photos. A handy trick is to bring a chopping board for darker photos that you want to contrast with a lighter background.

A good scanner app is also a great way to keep a digital copy of contracts, invoices and any other paperwork you may want to keep safe.

9
Take Pictures as a Reminder

Photos can also make a great note. Want to make sure you get the exact right brand of paint for finishing a project? Take a photo of the paint can. Ready to buy a new couch? Take your iPad with you and snap a photo of each possibility at every store with the price tag prominently displayed. This allows you to go back and review all of the choices without relying on your memory for which costs how much.

10
Third-Party Cloud Storage

While iCloud Photo Library is great for photos, what about all of your other documents? If you use the iPad for writing letters, balancing your checkbook with a spreadsheet and various other tasks, it might be worth your while to cozy up to some cloud storage. Not only can solutions like Dropbox and Google Drive help save storage space on your iPad while backing up your precious data, they also create a centralized spot for your documents. And because they work across devices, you can get at your data on your PC, phone, iPad, etc.

The best part about third-party solutions is the ability to be platform independent. So you can use an iPad, a Samsung Galaxy phone and Windows PC and still get at your data.

11
Centralize Your Personal Finance

Getting organized about our finances can be one of the hardest tasks to perform. This is especially true for busy households where simply finding the time to pay bills can become a monumental task. This is where Mint comes into the picture. Mint allows you to centralize your finance by putting your bank, credit cards, bills and savings all in one place. You can access the information through Mint.com or with the Mint app, so you can pay bills on your laptop at your desk or at the soccer game with your iPad.

Mint.com is owned and operated by Intuit, the same company behind Quicken.

12
One Password to Rule Them All

The old saying about not putting all of your eggs in one basket rings very true in these days of cyber crime. While there is no reason to be overly paranoid about the potential of nefarious individuals hacking your personal information, there's good reason to take a few basic steps to protect yourself. And the most important of these is to use different passwords for different accounts.

It's OK to use the same password for mostly-harmless accounts like Netflix and Hulu Plus. Let's face it, thieves breaking and streaming free video isn't exactly cause for alarm. On the other hand, those same thieves getting into your Amazon account is quite another story.

The worst part about using multiple passwords is actually remembering all of those passwords. Writing them down on a piece of paper isn't exactly safe. Which is where password managers come into the picture. 1Password lets you store passwords for quick account access and stores credit cards and addresses to help you fill out online forms faster. Dashlane is a good alternative to 1Password, but it is more expensive for the premium edition.

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