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Simplify your System or "Throwing away my PDA"

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  • Simplify your System or "Throwing away my PDA"

    I though I’d share this…

    I have been using a Palm for 3 years. I synch with Outlook at Work.

    I have always thought it to be valuable to be able to carry my calendar, addressbook, Project, NAs, Lists etc around with me.

    Since “The Day I forgot my Palm” I have had a gnawing doubt about just useful this device is.

    After some brainstorming, I have concluded that in fact it is nothing to do with the tool. The real question is “Do I really need to carry around all this information with me everywhere I go?”.

    And my conclusion is “No”.

    At work I spend 80% of my time at my desk. The remaining 20% is at meetings which are nearly all on-site. So I literally walk to and from the meeting room.

    My Weekly Review is at my desk.

    I always carry a notebook for collecting anyway and then do updates at my desk.

    My @desk context list can stay at my desk. Pointless carrying my @desk NAs around with me.
    My Waiting Fors can stay aty desk. I need e-mail or a phone to follow them up anyway.
    My @home context list can stay at home.
    My @Agenda lists can be taken to the appropriate meeting with me.
    My @Errands need to be with me when I’m out and about. A simple post-it inside my wallet will suffice.
    I don’t have a mobile phone so I don’t need a @calls list with me at all times.
    My Projects/Areas of Focus etc are only needed at Weekly Review time so they can stay at the desk.
    My Calendar – well I can print out a monthly view from Outlook and carry it at the front of my NoteBook.

    Get the gist? I don’t need a Palm. I don’t even need a Planner of any kind. I do need capture tools (paper and pen) and to prepare for meetings and trips but heck, I did that anyway.

    I certainly don’t need to carry around reference material/Project Support.

    Occasionally I do have action support to be moved between Home and Work so I’ll keep my Transit file.

    ...and so it goes on...only a small part of my system really needs to be mobile...

    How many other people have been seduced into Palms/Planners who just don’t really need them?

    Don’t forget that David Allen and Jason Womack, big advocates of there Palms, live a very mobile professional life. I would say they are in the minority.

    My challenge to everyone is to review your mobile tools. What do you really need to carry with you everywhere you go? Do you waste tiem Synching, tweaking, formatting, tidying. prepping?

    Can you simplify your system?

  • #2

    I know where your coming from. I however am in sales and I'm on the road quite a bit. I invested in a PPC PDA / Phone and now I regret that investment. I do use the phone / pda because it has all of my contacts and it's a great way to keep hundreds of contacts in a compact system. I however have gone back to my trusty 8 1/2 x 11 paper planner for scheduling and lists. Writing it down just seems to work better for me. I do keep my errands list on my pda / phone, since it's nice to have when inside a store and I can browse that list. Just my thoughts!


    • #3
      I, too, have stopped using a PDA, not because I have nothing to manage, but because I have so much to manage. With longer and longer lists, it became obvious that managing it all on a little screen, or even on my laptop, was going to be a challenge. I dug out my Time/System binder, reorganized it with my lists and calendar items, and have not looked back. My Palm now only carries my contacts, memos, and Docs to Go files.

      The other intersting discovery in the switch is that I have more time to work because I am not tweeking/resetting it all the time.

      While my PDA used to be almost a hobby for me, it now holds files and contacts I need while mobile. Old fashion paper now does the trick for my organizational needs, and does it much bettter than I expected.


      • #4
        Do you gather all the lists together, including @home, to do your weekly review?


        • #5
          I also ditched the Palm and went back to paper. I do still use a planner, but it's paper (Plannerpad) and only goes between home and work. With Palm, I found myself just slapping things on lists on the fly without adequately processing them know where they should really go. Overall I love being back to a paper system although it's a bit less portable, but I do miss the Palm for addresses and phone numbers.


          • #6
            I decided to be organized about the whole Palm or not Palm question. For a month, I was going to log every time I actually used my Palm and every time I wanted my Palm when I didn't have it with me.

            Then my hard drive failed, and I was really happy that my address book, my calendar, and all my NAs were safe in my Palm. Whatever system you use, make sure it will still be there in a disaster, because that's when you'll need it the most.

            For me, having an electronic calendar and address book makes sense because electronic versions are so much easier to update. And once I'm carrying the calendar and address book around, the NA list can come along "for free."

            On the other hand, when I'm in the office I usually work from a printed NA list because it's easier to scribble notes as I go. And when I'm out of the office, I use the Palm mostly as a reference tool, mostly using index cards or a softcover Moleskine for notes.

            *shrug* Works for me. YMMV.



            • #7
              I have often wondered if I could give up my PDA.

              I use it mostly to carry my address book. I have found it much easier to keep the address book up to date in outlook, and then carry it around with me on my Palm. However, for a few years I tried making a printed copy of the address book once per year, and just manually keeping it up to date with a pen. It worked.

              I also use it for the calendar. Could I switch to paper? Don't know.

              I also use the PDA for my @errands list. Could I switch this list to paper? Probably.

              I also use the PDA for reference materials. Most importantly, directions to customers, engineering formulas and reference constants, model numbers of personally owned stuff (like my lawn mower), computer tips and shortcuts, and packing list for trips. I don't know if I could switch this to paper. It is many pages, and I update it often enough to wonder if I'd get out of sync without the PDA.

              I switched to a PDA from a paper day-timer. The DT worked very well for me, but I found it necessary to re-copy information to often, and hard to keep sync'd with my outlook calendar, address book (including company address book that many users can add to), and reference notes.

              I guess, overall, the PDA gives me advantages over paper in terms of portability and syncronization. I do miss the feel of paper and pen, though.


              • #8
                I have some 300 reference files in Docs to Go, as well as 560 Memos. I have 854 Contacts to manage, and can only do that reasonably in my Tungsten T5. But I am using the paper-based system for Tasks and Calendar and its keeping me more in touch with what I have going on. I can't replace my Palm, but I can augment it with paper.


                • #9
                  One feature I use most on my Palm is an encrypted file of passwords. How do you handle "sensitive" information in a paper system? Thanks.


                  • #10
                    The medium is largely irrelevant. I could do GTD with clay tablets. As it happens, since I carry a cell phone, and since I need to carry some calendar and list manager with me, a Palm smartphone was a good choice. I use a Treo 650, plain vanilla setup. At work I use Outlook. After work I use the Treo. For initial capture I use a notetaker wallet, which is way faster than entering data directly into any Palm, whether it's by stylus or keyboard.

                    Because the Palm (Treo) is used strickly as a calendar, list manager and address book, I don't waste time noodling with additional software, nor do I try to load it with Office docs. I just want to know: what are the calls I have to make, the errands I have to run, the emails I need to send, etc. It's just more convenient to have a tiny device attached to my belt than to carry a binder around all the time. I like having my hands free.


                    • #11
                      I like my Palm

                      Hey Jac, I just posted on “The Day I forgot my PDA”. And I agree, at times I spend a significant amount of time at my desk and do not (Necessarily) need my Palm. However, when I’m on the road or gallivanting about, I find it indispensable.

                      In the other topic I posted this, seems relevant here:

                      “You guys are right, Palm shouldn't be a hassle to use. It should be quick and efficient otherwise it shouldn't be used. No tinkering for me, all use...and no games on my Palm (no room)



                      • #12
                        I also carry a small Cambridge notetaker wallet with me to capture items that come to mind (Staples $4.95). This is much quicker than my Palm for capturing those thoughts. I add them to my binder when I get back to the car or office.

                        While at church (I'm a pastor), I happily leave my calendar at the office, for people would try to book with me on the spot and I used to get into trouble booking appointments on the fly. I now ask them to call or email me at the church office and I book there. This way, my appointments are scheduled as best fits the weekly schedule.

                        I capture dozens of thoughts/To Do items in my little wallet during the day on Sunday and throw them into my Inbox and process them during my weekly review.


                        • #13
                          For those that use a Palm/paper system, do you always carry both, or just carry the Palm when out and about?


                          • #14
                            Palm and paper

                            I always have the Palm with me, but not always the paper. I just use the paper part at work, for the most part, and then only my most busy days (juggling NAs for twenty or more tasks). Otherwise, I use the Palm and Outlook.


                            • #15
                              I remain 100% Palm. How are you backing up your Paper Systems? They do disappear from time to time!