Personal digital organizers can be a a great tool for your productivity when used correctly. They can also be huge time wasters. I’ve used a number of digital hand-held devices over the last few years. Some were great time savers and others cost me more in productivity. Here are some tips on choosing a device that will help you save time and be more organized.
- Make sure you’ll actually use it. For example, if the device requires you to select letters one by one using a stylus, be honest about whether or not you’ll have the patience to actually type anything that way.
- Will you carry the device with you? If you are already toting a cell phone, wallet, pager, etc. are you going to have room for another device? If not, you might want to consider getting a combination device that works as a phone and a PDA.
- Does the screen work in the places you plan to be? Some screens can’t be read in direct sunlight. If you plan to use your device outside, you should be aware of this. Other screens work great in direct sunlight, but have weak backlights making them hard to use in dimly lit rooms.
- What is better left to paper? Before you buy make sure you are being realistic about how you will use the device. For example, if you are a fast typist, you may find a small keyboard or stylus to be too annoying for taking lecture notes. Paper may be a better alternative in that situation. Also, if you need to write notes involving special symbols or sketches, it might be better to carry a small notebook for that task.
- Syncing capability. How does the device connect with your other electronic tools? Will you need to manually copy all of your addresses into it from your computer, or can it sync back and forth to keep both your desktop and hand-held up to date with the same information.
- Wireless connectivity. Does the device allow you to check your emails and browse the web? If you need to be in constant email contact, this can be a liberating feature by freeing you from being at a computer. Make sure you understand the coverage and charges associated with this feature.
- Basic usability. Make sure the device works the way you want to be able to work. For example, can you quickly place a call or send an email directly from the address book? If the device is a phone, how easy is it to record the number of someone who just called into a new or existing contact?
Originally published on September 30, 2006.