I’ve been on-call as the psychiatry junior doctor this weekend. That’s involved leaving home at 8am each day and returning around 10:30pm each night. This is rather a large chunk of the day spent ‘at work’ and yet I managed to get a lot of side-hustle stuff done (writing, planning videos etc).

The reason is “productive downtime”. When I’m at work, especially on-call, there are often long periods of downtime. In fact, I can sometimes go 2-3 hours without getting a single call. Since I started using an iPad, my downtime in moments like this has been much more productive.

It’s not that there’s a major difference between an iPad and an iPhone - you can basically do the same things on both, and especially if you connect a bluetooth keyboard to an iPhone, you can probably be just as physically productive.

But at least for me, there’s a big difference in mindset. To me, the iPhone is very much a consumption device. I browse instagram, watch YouTube videos, read articles on Reeder or Instapaper, or if I’m really stuck into a book, continue reading it on the Kindle app. These are all consumption activities.

When I’m on the iPad though, I have a much more creator mindset. Even though the operating system is identical to my iPhone (for now), I find it much easier to plan out videos in Notion, write stuff for the blog in Bear, update my to-do list on Things and update my Second Brain in Evernote.

Most of us probably find it easier to study in the library than in our bedrooms. This context-switching helps shift our brains into different gears. I suspect a similar thing is happening when switching between the iPhone and iPad.

And sure, I get that the luxury to switch between these two devices shows how enormously privileged I am etc etc. But I think that even without fancy tech to play with, we can all figure out what environments and contexts we work best in. Having identified that, we can then work with our psyche to get stuff done, rather than fighting an uphill battle in the never-ending quest for productivity.