Friday, February 1, 2002

A simple solution to staying organized


By Michael Connick

In order to be a truly effective employee of any enterprise, you need to master the skills of self-organization. In fact, the primary use of my Palm handheld is bringing organization into my life. Without its help, my very busy life could easily turn into chaos. The methods and software I use for organizing my work and personal life are now quite simple. I'd like to share them with you, and hopefully you'll end up with some ideas to help you become more organized and therefore more effective.

What do you mean by being organized?

Prior to owning my first PDA (which was an Atari Portfolio), my life was chaos! I often forgot important events, was late for meetings, and couldn't lay my hands on material important to my job. Getting my first simple PDA immediately helped bring some order into this chaos. Over time I added more and more tools and acquired more sophisticated PDAs that allow me to become even more organized. On my current Palm handheld, I ended up with a large collection of programs that allowed me to schedule appointments, determine which task I should perform next, and maintain copies of important job-related reference materials and email messages. I had reached a point where I knew what I had to do next, and I could readily access all the material I needed to accomplish each task.

What software did I use?

To help me stay organized, my Palm OS handheld contained the following software:

  • Datebk4
  • Life Balance
  • ReDo
  • DayNotez

I used Datebk4 (at to manage my appointments, Life Balance (at to manage my tasks, ReDo to schedule recurring tasks, and DayNotez (at as a journal for reference material and copies of email messages I wanted to keep for future reference. DayNotez was also running on my laptop and my home PC.

So what was wrong with that?

Although the above setup allowed me to be very organized, (i.e., knowing where I had to be, what I needed to do, and easily put my hands on the material I needed), it was a very complicated setup. It was often something of a pain to get material into DayNotez. Life Balance was extremely directive in choosing what I should next be working on and seemed to require lots of regular fiddling to keep it functioning properly. Datebk4 was fine for managing time-dependent tasks and appointments, although I really only used a tiny fraction of its power. ReDo reminded me when to take out the trash and such, but its workability with Life Balance was also very finicky.