Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Staying Organized

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." -- Albert Einstein

It seems like staying organized is a constant challenge for parents -- at least it seems that way to me. With kids around, work schedules, school activities, house work, and more, there is always something to keep me too busy to really plan.

Crawl Before You Can Walk

I remember the Daytimer craze when I was younger. In movies and in the real world, executives and others were carrying around black notebooks that organized their time, contacts and more. Of course, that was before the advent of the Internet. The Daytimer didn't really appeal to me but then I didn't have a lot to organize.

I started a few years ago by trying to write things down. I kept the events on the calendar at home and the contacts in an address book next to the calendar. It didn't work real well because I didn't have the information available when I went out. If something came up while I was out I had to write it down on a scrap of paper and remember to transfer it when I got home. Not foolproof by any means.

Learning to Walk

Then I moved to a Palm Pilot to store things. I kept all of my events in Google Calendar and bought a program called GooSync to sync the Palm Pilot and the Google Calendar. That worked okay. Anyone who has used a Palm Pilot knows it can be frustrating to put in anything lengthy. I still hadn't found a good way to sync my contacts by the time I accidentally crushed the screen. Palm wanted $150 to repair the screen. Time to move on and find something different.

I kept the Google Calendar and started using Gmail to work with my home email account. If I needed to add an event or something, I sent a text to my email account and it was there the next time I logged on. It saved me lots of scrap paper and I had a copy on my phone for a while. I didn't have a way to access my calendar or email so it wasn't a perfect system but it was workable.

Running with the Big Dogs

Then my contract with Verizon came due and I was eligible for a new phone. I looked longingly at the iPhones and considered switching. Then I compared it with the Blackberry Storm and found what I was looking for -- and found it for less than an iPhone. Ahhhh, heaven for a frugal geek like me. I downloaded Google Sync and it syncs my calendar, contacts and email in the background. It has a massive storage card so it has now taken the place of my MP3 player. I put the Facebook application on it and I am in contact in every way possible -- email, phone, text message and Facebook. I still use my computer at work and home to access things when possible but the phone works well for when I am away.

This system works for me because I'm comfortable with having a single device with me that takes care of everything. If you aren't comfortable with cell phones this won't work for you.

Your Turn

Does anyone else have suggestions on how you stay organized? What are your challenges with staying organized?

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