Getting Things Done with Palm Desktop

My Palm Desktop experiment in office organization has lasted a couple of weeks and I have to admit, it working quite well for me which is weird because it generally has failed in the past.  A couple of things are different now.

I have to track far more information then I ever had to do at Lakeland or Lakeview Church.  There are social workers, government agencies, NGOs, politicians, other agencies, and co-workers who need to be kept track of.  Each of them has an e-mail address, fax number, address, cell phone, home and work numbers that may need to be called.  While e-mail address books do a great job of tracking e-mail addresses, I find with many agencies, the fax still rules and I joke that there is still carrier pigeons in use.  At work I have high speed Internet and a quick Windows XP based computer on a well built network.

I need to access the information from more places.  Of course my office is used quite often but also while I am in other areas of the building (which is a lot) and I am on call 24 hours a day.  While there is not a lot of calls at home, there are several calls a week and some of them require information.

Palm Desktop ScreenshopThe information is in two places.  The Palm Desktop keeps my calendar, contacts, to-do list, and notes all in one place and generates alarms for things that are urgent.  Most of that information is entered while in my office.  As I get my voice mail off my phone, it is easy to enter much of the information needed into the Palm Desktop for future use.

Whenever I feel like it but always once a day, I sync my data with my ancient Sony Clie PEG-SL10 (which is a new case on a Palm III)  This works well because part of every day I am working in the front desk area or am taking calls in other areas of the building.  Also it travels home with me where I enjoy having it to add things once in a while to my to-do list.

I know a lot of people see a Moleskine and a PDA in the context of either/or but I tend to use them in conjunction.  Using a PDA to keep notes in during a meeting is a pain and a notebook and pen still work pretty well.  At the same time I enjoy having access to the information that my PDA gives me, especially the calendar and contacts.  After any meetings, my notebook makes it way back to the desk and the relevant data is transferred back to the Palm Desktop or added to another program.

Sony Clie PEG-10I know people have told me that an iPod Touch would do all of it but as a friend has proven to me, you can’t always get a wifi connection and the iPod Touch is not a great note taking machine, especially when compared to a pen and notebook.

All of this helps create a system where I can move tasks out of the mind by recording them somewhere.  According to David Allen and the GTD theory, my limited is freed from the job of remembering everything that needs to be done, and can concentrate on actually performing those tasks.  The Palm Desktop (and a massive filing cabinet) is my way of dealing with the information.

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