By now most people are using a digital planner for organizing their busy schedules.
What was once reserved for business professionals only is now mainstream thanks to devices like the iPhone. The increased competition has caused prices to drop considerably the Blackberry and Palm devices as well – thus making them affordable to the masses. Other phone manufacturers like LG, Motorola, and Samsung are also offering some slick new devices that have planning tools built right in as well. And the big news lately is the new NexusOne phone from Google.
With all of these choices it would seem that making that old Franklin Covey calender go electronic is easy to do. But sometimes the choices are staggering – too many options result in doing nothing. Even on the iPhone itself – there are so many apps for personal productivity, that choosing the right PDA program is difficult.
If you are considering purchasing a digital planner, here are a few things to consider.
First, decide if you want your cell phone to be your calendar as well. This is appealing to many people because carrying around one device is usually easier than carrying around two or more. If you always have your phone with you then your calendar and contacts will be with you as well. Obviously, storing your contacts on your cell makes things simpler too. Having all of your phone numbers in your phone means that you can call anyone with the touch of a button – no more memorizing of numbers.
Many phones have calendars and address books built right in. But if you are even a casual user of this technology then you will need ease of use – translation: a QWERTY keyboard. Tapping in events or contact info is tedious at best on a numeric keypad – and it is almost guaranteed that you will not stick with this method for very long.
Luckily, many phones have full keyboards making the input process easy. The downside of using what is known as a smartphone is purchasing the data plan. Many carriers require users to have a data plan with these devices. Even if you find one that does not require data, the capability is usually built into the phone, and should you accidentally access the internet – the data fees without a plan can add up fast.
If you select not to use your phone as a PDA then IMHO the iPod Touch is one of the most versatile standalone options out there. In fact, you might hard pressed to find an electronic personal organizer that is not a phone.
Should you choose the smartphone route then the next step is to take a look at your service provider. For example, currently the iPhone is available exclusively on the AT&T wireless network. If there is no AT&T coverage in your area then this option is not for you. Most of the other carriers like Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile have comparable phones by all of the other major manufacturers although the models will differ by carrier.
Finally, you will need to consider whether you want to sync your data with your computer. The iPhone will obviously sync seamlessly with Apple Mac laptops and iMacs, and in fact also sync up nicely with Windows PC’s as well. Unfortunately, not all of the other brands sync easily with a Macintosh so you might have more choices if you are a Windows user. There are several programs out there like the Missing Sync that will sync say a Blackberry to a Mac but there is a separate charge for the software and extra effort on your part.
Once you have made your choices and taken the plunge a digital planner is sure to make life easier for organizing both your business and family life.
UPDATE: Life is becoming more technical. Find out about a new option in Calendar sharing that is helping families keep in sync.