A few months ago, I was considering selling my iPad. It’s an older model, the battery had lost some strength, and I thought a newer model would solve what I thought of as deficiencies.

The more I thought about it, the more I questioned if I even needed a tablet. This is an important part of my relationship to things and the mindful use thereof. Most of the reasons I had bought a tablet to begin with - watching videos, reading books and articles, journaling, do some online chores - had evolved to be met by other devices, like my Kobo reader and my laptop. A new, expensive device with all the “needed” accessories wouldn’t solve these problems any better.

Still, I was left with an expensive, perfectly useful device gathering dust in my closet. I liked the idea of the iPad, just not the execution, in my life at least.

Separately, a new need arose. I’ve been worldbuilding as part of a homebrewed campaign setting, but the note taking part had been a struggle. I tried Drafts and Obsidian, but I work with text documents in my job and working with more text documents was taking me out of my headspace. I spent more time organizing my notes than actually writing and capturing ideas. At the same time, a paper notebook felt like an unnecessary extra step, one more thing to lose or get damaged or sort through when I wanted to reference a note, and I’d have to transcribe all of my content from it. I needed another solution.

On a whim, I tried my iPad with a Pencil and Goodnotes, and it fit the purpose perfectly. The weak battery doesn’t matter when I’m only using one app and recharging it every night. The app syncs to all my devices, so I won’t lose anything. I can quickly jot down or expound on what I’m writing or researching, using my writing muscle memory, without the temptation to organize or get distracted by other trivial tasks. OCR can handle transcription.

it’s not perfect, of course: the device almost has to be used on a flat surface like a table for the Pencil to work with it properly, where a paper notebook would have more options. The Pencil that works with this model is terribly designed. I’m almost certain that an iPad Mini would fit my needs even better than this old device. But for all these nitpicks, I’m happier with a device being reused to fit a hobby that has given me a lot of joy.

The next time you find yourself with an old device gathering dust because it no longer fits your need? Put it down, and reflect on what brings you happiness; then let your mind percolate on whether that device can fit your life in a new way. Chances are, it will find its niche.