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The Palm Top Computer as a Personal Organizer
Time - Time Management Articles

Time management in the palm of your hand 

A good time management system should provide a simple way to highlight annual goals, schedule goal-related activities and other priorities into a planner and keep track of the myriad of other tasks that have to be done in the future. It should also facilitate note taking at meetings and during telephone conversations and provide instant access to data such as telephone numbers, statistics, documents, articles and client information. In addition, managers should be able to assign and keep track of projects, plan meetings and obtain feedback from staff and others. Ideally, the system should be portable, have the planner and various forms combined in one unit, be easy to access and have built-in reminders.

Until recently, such time-management systems have taken the form of multi-ring binders, complete with built-in planner, forms, notepaper, pen and removable calculator. Generally called personal organizers and coming in various styles, shapes, and sizes, these systems had to be replenished weekly, monthly or quarterly. Data were entered manually, records handwritten, reminders visual, and articles and documents inserted manually into pockets or punched to fit the rings.

With technology, came electronic organizers in the form of handheld computers such as Blackberry and the Palm series. Initially these were used as accessories to the hard-copy organizers. Some manufacturers of the old-style organizers actually included compartments to hold the little computers while maintaining their own paper forms intact. It was as if to say, “Okay, if you want your electronic toy, we’ll give you a place to put it; but don’t expect it to replace the personal organizer.” They didn’t even bother to eliminate their hardcopy telephone directory.

As time passed, and people experienced the ease with which they could access names and telephone numbers, events and things to do, they started using their handhelds for other things as well. Eventually, most people realized that it was more than an electronic directory/calendar/calculator/to do list combination. With the proper settings, some third-party software and a lot of experimentation, many people discovered that the tiny hand-held computer was a time management system itself. And in many respects, it is far superior to the hard-copy versions.

Small, slim and lightweight, the handhelds have no rings to open or close, no forms to insert, sort, smear, smudge, remove or store. No dog-eared pages to flip or pens to replenish. And thankfully, no pockets in which to propagate piles of paper and coupons that expired in 1981. And the biggest advantage is not its size, but its memory, versatility, ease of operation and its ability to exchange data with a desktop or laptop computer.

In workshops we have shown people how they can use their Palm handheld computer as a self-contained time management system that will help them manage their job, their time and their life. The principles are the same as those applied to traditional paper planners and organizers. As a result, they increase their personal productivity and eliminate the frustration of not being able to access data instantly where and when they need it. They discover that they can complete projects and attend meetings on time, meet commitments as planned, maintain control of delegated assignments and keep their life in balance. With handheld computers there is now an alternative to the paper based organizer.


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