I am often asked whether or not someone should “upgrade” to keeping their contact information, calendars, etc. on their computer or PDA vs. having an address book or physical calendar. My response is always the same, everyone is different and it really all depends on how & why you might want to make the change. When I switched over to a Palm Pilot my son was just a baby and that was over 13 years ago and I remember it being a pretty major decision and this was long before Blackberries & iPhones too. So I guess people consider me somewhat “in the know” which is why they ask but I would like you to keep this in mind, I’m not an expert, these are just suggestions and as I mentioned before, everyone is different.
PDA vs. Address Book
- Always with you
- can be “backed up”
- would allow you to finally have labels for your holiday cards
- can be lost if not backed up
- information has to be input
Outlook vs. AOL/Yahoo, etc.
Outlook is a database program, not an online email host such as AOL, Yahoo, Gmail, etc. I have used Outlook for as long as I can remember. It keeps my Contacts up to date as well as our family calendar. Online email systems to the best of my knowledge don’t let you manage a “database” per se, it does keep your email addresses and any other information you want to keep but it ends there. If you want to use that information (for Holiday labels for example) you’d need to download them into a program such as Excel and then format a mail merge from there.
Programs such as Outlook also manage your calendar which is essential when you have a busy household such as ours. One of the things that I love about having our calendar digital is that when I put an event into it I can set it to “recur” or remind me that they are coming up. In the fall we have football practice every Tuesday, Thursday & Friday. I only have to input it once and then set it to “recur” which will automatically input the dates throughout the entire time that I set it to (mid-November). Another thing that I love about it is that I can color code the events. Each of my family members has a color and then we also have a “household” color as well which indicates that we’re all involved in something coming up.
Okay, this is something that baffles me. I’ve read many organizing magazines articles, books, etc. and none have suggested the following: PRINT your calendar so that your family can keep up with what is going on. You don’t have to use a white board and write everything down (again), that is a huge time commitment every week and it also allows for conflicts in the schedule, you should never have more than one calendar, that’s only asking for trouble.
Printing out the calendar also serves another purpose, it takes the pressure off of the one in charge of getting everyone everywhere they need to be… when everyone can see what is going on then they know that they have soccer practice, a recital for their brother or sister or an upcoming date night or other social obligation.
Paper vs. PDF’s
I am in both camps on this one. It is very difficult to get rid of paper altogether but it’s definitely not impossible. 4 in 1 printers with scanners and devices such as the NeatDesk scanner make saving your documents easy and will also serve another purpose, it will make you think about what you want to scan first… do you really need that piece of paper anyway?
Quicken vs. Writing Checks
Another item that I am asked about a lot is whether or not to use banking programs such as Quicken or Quickbooks. I can’t remember the last time I handwrote a check when paying the bills. Quicken/Quickbooks can integrate with your banking online which can make reconciliation (balancing your checkbook) easy.
People worry that when they order checks for their printer that they won’t be able to keep them with them which isn’t true. I suggest that they keep an extra check or two in their wallet which means they don’t have to carry around a checkbook anymore at all (yippee)!
Going digital is a very personal decision and not one to be made quickly. Even now in 2012 some of my friends still use a physical calendar rather than their PDA. Both have their advantages & you can’t go wrong either way.
Are you all digital & paperless yet?