(Last edited Sept 15, 2008)
WHY BUY A PALM? TO BECOME BETTER ORGANIZED OR CHANGE THE CURRENT DISARRAY
So, I’m finally back to the question of “Why buy a Palm?” Most people buy a Palm because they wish to become better organized. Maybe their address book is getting full and filled with scribbles, crossed out numbers, the pages are tearing, etc. It doesn’t matter what the original reason was. What matters is that there is some kind of need to try to find a solution to organize or unclutter their current life or state or way of living. Something in their current life needs some kind of fixing, or at least he/she wants to find a way out of his/her current state. There is a need for it.
Spend some time to evaluate where time is wasted and then figure how to maximize it
Remember. To become better organized, you have to first identify areas in your life, activities, appointments, etc that are not being utilized efficiently. You should spend some time evaluating and determining where your time is spent, wasted, etc. A good idea to do so is to take one typical regular working day and note down everything that happens. When I say EVERYTHING, I MEAN EVERYTHING. If you don’t have a Palm or similar PIM device, use a notepad.
Start out with the beginning of your day. What time you wake up. Jot down the time. Wake up. What time you leave the house. What time you get to the office. When you get a phone call. What time does the boss calls you in for a meeting. What time does it end. What time did you start or do a bit of work on your current project. What time do you go for lunch. What time your co-worker lurks around your office to chit chat, etc. You get the idea.
What I’m trying to do is help you jot everything down on a piece of paper. Note down the time on your watch of all the things that you jot down. That way, at the end of the day, you can get a good idea of where your time is spent. You’d be surprised how much of those little “chit chat” times there are in the day that you’ve spent. Or answering emails, or answering calls, etc. Once you’ve determined where the time leakage or wasting is, it’s time to come up with a solution.
You may start to consider taking a specific chunk or period of time to deal with one aspect. When you come into work, you can start prioritizing which emails you need to deal with right away, and which ones you can go back to later and reply. That’s where the 1-5 numbers with regards to priorities come into play. 1 being urgent and must be done immediately and 5 being not so important and can be done later. Close the door to your office to prevent those co-workers from interrupting you with needless chit chat. Tell your secretary to hold your calls, except for urgent ones. Take a certain period where you will deal with email replies. Take a certain time to return calls. Of course, things crop up during the day. You may need to spend some time to refine your new organized day but once you’ve got your rhythm, you can be sure that you are then working much more efficiently.
Are you organizing your time or wasting it to organize?
One main problem I find with most organizational tools and systems and ideas is that they take way too much time, organization, steps, before you actually get to make it work. The whole point is to only take up some time to refine a system that can make you be better organized. We want to waste as little time as possible so that we can be more productive. Not waste more time so that we can try to become more productive. Take a step back from what you’ve learned from all these organizational methods and determine if you are really able to quickly define what’s to be done now than later or if you’re wasting too much time putting them in a grid and then have to figure out which task to do.
If there’s way too much work involved, too complicated of a system of grids, maps, charts, sorting, etc, you’re wasting too much time again on something that’s seems like a great idea, but fails on execution. We’re trying to simplify, not complicate. Complication leads to disorganization. Simplification leads to organization and efficiency. Think about it.
By no means am I anything close to any organizational guru or do I pretend to be. I’M NOT. I haven’t read David Allen’s book, Getting it Done. It’s nice that people are trying to find ways to get better organized and that many swear by the GTD strategies. I try to read blogs about what methods are applied but I personally feel that there’s way too much stuff to apply, and that it seems way too complicated. it may look good, sound good, but seems hard to implement successfully. But that’s just me.
I have listened to Brian Tracy’s How to Master Your Time and found that I can use his ideas to make myself better organized. His T-R-A-F (Toss, Read, Assign/Delegate, File) makes things very easy to figure out. You deal with the issue once so that it doesn’t come back again and to waste your time dealing with the same thing which could have been dealt with once. And there’s a lot more things that Brian has talked about that makes sense and I know I can apply. They are simple and for me, make things simpler to deal with. No grids or charts or graphs or many other things. I want to simplify. Not complicate. You may disagree with me. Go with what works for you. The whole goal of organization is to keep on top of things and be in control. If GTD works for you, then that’s great. I’m not going to take you away from it. My goal is to help those who are frustrated with whatever system they think works, but it doesn’t work for them.
If you have to spend so much time, going back over your tasks (a few times a day), going back to look at your GTD strategies, maybe something is wrong. I consider the time used to “go back over” your tasks, strategies, etc to be time wasters. If you correctly prioritize when you first encounter it, then it’s taken care of in that respect. Then, go by your personal system of how to go down your priorities list and stick with it. Don’t waste time going back and re-configuring your tasks, strategies, etc. You are not becoming better organized. You are wasting time. Deal with your tasks and priorities when you encounter them and deal with them individually when you finally get to it. Everything gets its own time. Don’t spend a bit of time doing this, and a bit of time doing that. In the end, nothing gets done but everything gets a bit done. That doesn’t sound like a good system.
Again, you must be “aware” of how your time is “spent” to be able to effectively optimize it.
Why a Palm and not other organizational tools?
Why indeed? What makes a Palm so much better than all the other kinds of organizational tool? I’ve already spent some posts discussing why a Palm is better than a paper daytimer organizer because it doesn’t add any extra bulk, there’s no extra scrap of paper that can fall out, it’s neat and tidy (no erasing, scribbles,
crossing out, arrows, scrunching in stuff in limited space (the Palm has virtually no limit on how much space you can write for an entry), the multiple alarm function that will ring regardless of whether you forget or if it’s turned off. The palm can hold so much data and immediately sort everything for you without any extra work for you. I can go on but you get the idea.
How about an online organizer like a Yahoo calendar, rememberthemilk.com and other similar online organizers? Sounds great. Like the Palm, it doesn’t waste any paper. It can organize and sort everything immediately and keep things neat. Can probably set up an alarm capability. But there one main problem. You need a computer with you. Or, you need to be at a computer to utilize it. If you’re not at a computer that’s logged onto the internet, you’re at a loss. Oh. How many people are likely to take their computer, or laptop with them, and have it stay online everywhere they go? You can certainly take your laptop with you to most places, but you certainly aren’t going to keep it turned on to remind you of an alarm. I don’t know of any laptop that can ring an alarm if it’s turned off. Okay, maybe if it’s in hibernation. But you’re lugging a bulky laptop and few extra pounds just so you can stay organized. I’m sure the thieves would love to see that. With the Palm, it’s small, portable and not a big “attention getter” like a bulky laptop, and although it’s turned off, it’s still technically still “on” so that’s why it will still ring an alarm. We need something with us that we take everythere so that we can access it anywhere and everywhere. Suppose you meet someone at dinner and need to get their phone number. Most of us won’t take our laptops with us, but most likely our Palm or similar digital device, if we own one. That’s how we can still be able to be reminded of appointments and jot down data everywhere without having to rely on an internet connection, or a computer.
What about something like the PocketMod or the Hipster PDA? Well, first of all, it still relies on paper. That’s the main problem. That means that the organization is concrete and fixed. Should you need to make changes, the whole idea of
crossing out entries already makes it look disorganized and cluttered. And, if you need to sort the entries in any way after changing any entry, YOU will have to do the work. Actually, you have to do most of the work once it’s printed out on paper. All the same problems I’ve discussed with a paper organizer applies here: no alarms, can easily be lost, limited space for any additional entries, cross outs, etc. What’s even worse is that it’s printed out with a printer, it’s much harder to erase anything. So, you have to resort to crossing them out, use arrows or stars or other identifying symbol to re-direct the point to somewhere else on the sheet where you can add additional or revised info. And at the end of the day, the piece of paper is useless and what do you do with it? You toss it in the garbage! Gasp! Okay, even if you put it in the recycle bin, you are still wasting paper in the sense that the paper will require some processing to be recycled into another paper product. Doesn’t that make you think twice?
What about using a cell phone? It’s portable and has an alarm. Many cell phones have the capability to be a limited PIM device. Yes, you can add a person’s contact number onto the address book. Yes, you can set up an alarm. But unfortunately, the cell phone (most of them, not smartphones) has not gotten sophisticated enough to be able to provide you with a note pad, memo pad, multiple alarms (most phones have one alarm capability so you’d need to set the next one after the current one is done). And, you have to deal with the 123 keypad to enter text. So entering a letter “v” means you press the number keys a few times. No wonder people don’t like to enter text in the cell phone. But, the cell phone is almost the closest to what a Palm is. It’s portable so that you carry it with you everywhere. It has an alarm, although most of them only have one alarm. But the storage and PIM capabilities are limited. Maybe sometime in the future cell phones will become somewhat more sophisticated to be able to do what a Palm does,so that there’s less of the difference between them. Right now, there’s still quite a divide. Smartphones, well, they’re very similar to what a Palm or PDA is, so we’re at the same level and there’s no need to compare. If you can afford a smartphone, you don’t need a PDA.
What I’m trying to say is that the Palm is quite revolutionary in the fact that it is an organizational tool that can be changed at a moment’s notice. You can edit an address book entry, a calendar entry, an appointment entry, a memo pad entry, etc and have it reflected, sorted, IMMEDIATELY. There’s no other “work” you need to do once you’ve entered it. The Palm will ring or alarm you when the time has come, even when you’ve “switched it off”. You spend a moment of your time to enter or organize something in it and can go away, knowing that all the behind the scenes work is done by the Palm. Other “concrete” or “fixed” system can not, and will require you to do extra work to keep yourself organized, especially if you have to
cross out something and move something, or direct the idea to somewhere else. You have to do all that extra work. With the Palm, you don’t do it. The Palm does the work. That’s the beauty of the Palm. To be able to do a lot of the work that you would otherwise be doing.
WHY BUY A PALM VS WIN MOBILE? PALM IS THE POPULAR DEVICE AND OS
The main reason why buy a Palm versus a Win Mobile is that, if you are price conscious, there is no other alternative but Palm since the lowest end Win Mobile isn’t in the price range. The other reason why to buy a palm is that the Palm OS is very popular. There are many programs out there that can run on the palm. If you have an idea of what you want to do, most likely, there is someone out there that has created a program for it. There’s a lot of very talented palm programmers out there that has created many very useful programs. The third party applications from these developers is a big reason why Palm is quite popular. There’s almost an unlimited number of applications that push the palm device beyond what is imaginable. Also, the Palm OS is very simple, when compared to the Win Mobile OS. You tap on an icon and it runs. You tap on something else and it exits. It doesn’t use much in terms of resources, thus great for battery life, the user interface is somewhat simplistic, the programs are very small in size but robust, and the Palm OS is very stable.
Of course, these are very biased statements since I’ve never used a Win Mobile device and can’t compare it. But based on many forum postings, blogs, etc available on the internet, many people who used or own both devices find that they prefer the Palm. Of course, there are many that prefer the Win Mobile as well. For me, I really didn’t want another Windows machine with me since I’ve found Windows quite buggy and bloated and Palm seems to fit the bill. Now that I’ve tried Palm, I’m very happy with palm and will buy another Palm, sometime in the future.
You should consider that for something to be effective as a portable device with great battery life, but yet run fast and somewhat powerful, you’d need to compromise certain things. You can’t have great battery life if you want a powerful and speedy device. The more features and power you want, the bigger the device, the higher the requirements for resources it will need. To balance things out, you’d need something in between, which is what Palm is. Most Win Mobile programs are about 1MB in size while many Palm programs are only a few hundred kilobytes or even a few kilobytes in size. So, thinking about that, would you imagine that it would takes less resources to run code in a 1MB program compared to running a few hundred k’s? If power is a consideration, I’d think getting a tablet or subcompact notebook compared to a PDA. But, then, it’s not small enough to fit in a pocket. Think compromise and what you need. Most people want portability and battery life. And Palms fit the bill.
PALM’S COMMUNITY SUPPORT
Another reason to buy a palm is the community support. Again, I can’t speak for the other side, but the various Palm forums I participate in are very helpful. Palm users seem to be very friendly and helpful. If you come across a problem, posting your question at a Palm forum may quickly yield results and a solution to your problem. I’ve learned much and I still learn every day with respect to the Palm and with everything else in life. I am by no means an expert so if you have questions on the Palm, please take a moment to check out the various Palm forums like Brighthand or 1src or many others. Thankfully, there’s a lot of helpful people within the Palm community.
After saying all this, although the Palm can do a lot of things and help you get better organized and utilize your full potential, there are a lot of common mistakes many new Palm users tend to make. What happens is that they give up long before they discover the benefits, probably never to be attempted again. I would like to point out a few misconceptions, mistakes, and common errors that many Palm users or would be Palm users may make. Again, my idea for this posting and the blog is to help people to stick with the Palm and discover how much better life is with the Palm than without.
PALM DOESN’T DO ANYTHING FOR YOU IF YOU DON’T ENTER ANYTHING IN IT
A Palm is an electronic device. It takes in the address data, appointment times, notes, etc. Its job is to receive your data and display or remind you based on your specifications (when to sound an alarm, show a specific address entry, show a notepad entry, etc). If you don’t enter all the things you need to note down during the day, the calls, appointments, reminders, etc, the Palm isn’t going to be able to figure out to remind you of it all. What you get out of the Palm is directly related to the amount of relevant data you’ve entered into it. It’s not smart enough to know to remind you to call a client if you didn’t set it up to remind you at a certain time.
TAKE TIME TO LEARN HOW TO USE THE PALM EFFECTIVELY
The main problem that I think most first time Palm users encounter is that they don’t understand that it takes TIME to learn to use it. It takes time to learn how to navigate around the menus and how to use certain things. Remember, it took us decades to learn how to use the Windows operating system so now we’re used to it to figure out to navigate around Windows environment. Now that we know it, it seems easy but we forget how frustrated we were in the beginning. The Palm is a different operating system, very much like Windows. It uses a simple interface
In the Palm, to run or open an application in most instances, you simply use the tip of the stylus (a pen-like instrument that’s used to scribble or tap on the palm’s glass screen) and tap on the icon of the program you wish to run. The application will run. To exit out of the application, if there is an exit button or menu, you can exit that way, or, simply tap on any of the hardware buttons, or icons in the graffiti area (bottom of the glass screen). To go from an environment where we’re used to inputting via a mouse and click buttons, or tap on keyboard keys, to a completely different environment where you are expected (in most Palms) to input letters, numbers, words via a pen and tap a glass screen is quite a dramatic change. It took me a while to get used it to too.
FIRST TIME USERS GIVE UP TOO EARLY AND STOP USING IT BEFORE THEY GRASP IT
If I were Palm, I would do something to prevent this from happening. Rather than “saving money” by not including the manual in the package, spend it and have it in. In the install CD, create a video of how to use the Palm and its capabilities. Maybe show a video of the Palm’s capabilities before they can install the software.
Unfortunately, most people don’t spend the time to look around to learn more about the device. They don’t go to the Palm website or check the support pages. Yes, nowadays they are all busy with work, family, etc. Unfortunately, unless they spend some time learning how to use this device effectively, they’re going to be stuck in the same vicious circle that they were in before they bought the Palm. But they’re out the $100 or worse afterwards. And then blame the Palm for being a gimmick or something useless.
YOU ONLY GET OUT WHAT YOU’VE PUT INTO IT, ESPECIALLY WITH PALMS. GIGO (GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT)
The point is that a Palm, like many electronic technological devices, require you to spend some time to learn how to use it correctly and effectively. You can’t expect a first time Mac or Linux user to grasp how to use it in minutes. The Palm is similar as the Palm OS is another different operating system. So, I always tell someone to force him/herself to use the Palm religiously for at least 2 weeks. During those 2 weeks, he/she MUST jot down all notes, reminders, appointments, etc down in the Palm. No paper notes allowed. The Palm is the only way to record things down. By forcing him/her to use it, the brain gets conditioned in working in a diffferent way, until it becomes a habit. Like everything in life, we get used to a “routine” or habit. And procrastination is a habit too. We get used to procrastinating until the last minute when panic sets in.
Learning to use the Palm and the Palm way of thinking requires time and effort. But once we get used to it, it’s a breeze. Unfortunately, most people don’t spend any more than a few days before giving up. Unless you’re a genius, you need to get your long-term memory to memorize tasks or whatever it is to learn something before you fully grasp it. Aside from the cost of the device, the cost of time is essential. You spend some to save lots.
GRAFFITI ENTRY ISN’T AS EASY AS DRAWING A LETTER
The Graffiti recognition software in the Palm OS is also something that seems to hinder a new Palm user from being able to use it. In order to input a word or even a letter, you have to learn how to write on the screen in a way that the palm will detect the letter, symbol, or number correctly. As you can see in the image, what the Graffiti 2 software recognizes may not be the same way you write your letters. So, you have to “learn” how to write in Graffiti 2. The beginning of the stroke starts at the dot and you work your way, sliding the stylus along the glass display. Some strokes require two strokes. And let’s not forget that you need to do it in a specific area for letters, and numbers. To input a letter, you have to write on the bigger left box near the bottom of the screen. To input a number or symbol, write on the smaller right box. To input a capital letter, write in the middle, along the border of the two boxes. (It took me a while to figure that one out).
Where’s the Manual?
Most people haven’t read the manual, especially nowadays when the manual isn’t even included in the Palm packaging. In order to get the manual, you’d have to go to Palm’s website, find the support page and then to the page specific for your model. Now, unfortunately, most people who buy Palms for the first time probably isn’t too technically savvy (pardon me if I’ve offended anyone. It’s not my intention) to figure out that they need to go to Palm’s website to look for a manual or answers or find out that there’s software updates they need to install. Most people just open it up, charge it, and then try to figure out how to work it. If they are patient, maybe they will figure it out. If they aren’t, they, and I’m sure a lot of new users fall into this category, get frustrated and put the Palm into their desk drawers, never to be used again.
Wasted money, wasted Palm, frustrated consumer
Now, not only has the first time Palm consumer been frustrated with the device, but he has spent his hard earned money on something that is “seemingly” useless and a waste of time. The next time when he considers getting a similar device, he will most likely recall this horrible experience remembering the old Palm that’s still sitting in the drawer collecting dust. And he will immediately discard any notion of wasting any more money on anything like that. Also, if it irritates him enough, he may even go so far as to persuade his friends, family from buying something like that since he found it’s useless and a waste of time. Now, not only has this low end Palm convinced one person of not becoming a repeat customer, the potential of him convincing others from getting a Palm is very high.
Think about the potential of not only losing a potential upgrade client, but also someone who can persuade others from being potential customers. If I were Palm, I’d spend some money on providing some kind of way to educate the new Palm user so that he will continue using it and convince his friends to get it.
A Palm Two Week Challenge to convince Palm users to stay with it?
Maybe something like a “two week challenge” where at the end of the two weeks, if the Palm owner figures out how to effectively use the Palm that he gets rewarded with something. Maybe something where the new owners register their device with the correct info and they come back online or whatever to answer and do some quizzes. If they pass, they win something, like some accessories for their device, like maybe the cradle, stylus, case, etc?
This may entice a Palm user to learn how to use the Palm, as well as forcing them to register their device so that Palm can send out marketing stuff and figure out the warranty period, etc.
If only many first time Palm users stuck with it, they could have discovered how much life is better with the Palm.
This concludes the series of postings on why anyone should consider a Palm. I’m sure that there is more, but if I continue, this will get much more of a drawn out process (which I’m sure you’re not here for). Hopefully, through these first few postings I’ve outlined some reasons and ideas that may help persuade you to make the plunge and buy a Palm. And maybe not.
My next focus for this blog now is to introduce the various default Palm programs that are included with the Palm device. Please keep in mind that I am limited to the Zire 71 and the Palm OS 5.2.1 because that’s the only Palm device I own. Later OS versions include much better and enhanced software that aren’t the same as what I’m showing and describing, but the overall idea is to provide some info on what each application can do.
This is when things get interesting, I will start to introduce Macromedia Flash simulations showing how it actually looks on the Palm, the Zire 71 when I’m entering addresses in the Address Book, or inputting Memos in the Memo Pad. I hope you will find it fun to watch as I do creating them.
This is part 4 (the last part) of the Why get a Palm? series. If you haven’t read part 1 yet, please check out that posting out.
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