I got a Blackberry cell phone the other day, thinking that it would help me move to new levels of being super productive. So far, it has done the exact opposite. The device pretty much works as expected, but at least so far it hasn’t made me any more productive. In fact, I feel that my 7100t Blackberry has made me less productive.
First of all, there is the set up time. I’ve spent 2 to 4 hours just getting it configured with my email accounts, setting up the service with T-Mobile and learning how it works. While this doesn’t seem like a whole lot of time, it seems like quite an investment for what the Blackberry can save me. If the device saves me 2 minutes each day, it will take me 120 days to recoup my investment. This might not be that bad, except for point two.
Second, the device sometimes encourages you to waste time by replying to messages on the phone that could be answered better on a computer. They keyboard on the 7100 works surprisingly well considering it isn’t a full QWERTY setup, but there is no way I’ll get 75 WPM typing with my finger tips on its keypad. When I respond to a message that isn’t urgent, it wastes time because it is slower to type. I realize that some of this can be mitigated by setting up the Blackberry to only show me “urgent” messages, but it is still an issue.
Third, the device only syncs one way. If I get a message on the Blackberry and delete it, it will delete it out of my email. This works great. However, if I delete a message from my email client on my Powerbook, it still shows up as new on the Blackberry. This means that most of the time I have to deal with messages twice–once on the computer and then again on the Blackberry. One of the biggest advantages I was hoping to have with the Blackberry is reviewing and replying to less urgent messages when I’m traveling or waiting on someone. Since the Blackberry doesn’t show what I’ve already done on the computer, it makes this task more difficult. It seems as if the Blackberry assumes that it will be used as the primary email device and the computer is just secondary. For some people this may be true, but not for me.
Maybe I’ll have a different impression after using it for a few more weeks, but at this point, I don’t feel I’m saving any time. It is a nice device. The interface is well thought out and it seems to work very well. I just don’t think it will make me more productive. This brings up an important point. I wonder if there are any other time wasting devices or habits that I just don’t recognize. It is easy to think that we need a TV, Cell phone, XBox, PDA, or Automobile, just because everyone else has one. Just because others have them doesn’t mean it is actually helpful to us, personally. By recognizing our uniqueness, we should be able to better use our tools to maximize our productivity and time management abilities.