Choosing Your PDA

Choose your PDA according to personality, collaboration, and scheduling needs.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #38

Today's topic is choosing a PDA.

Listener Jerri calls in:

You have done a podcast on To Do but I was wondering if you would do one concerning personal planner/organizer use. Do you advise PDA or pen and paper? Any brands? What are your thoughts?

The quick and dirty tip is to base your choice on your personality type, your collaboration needs, and your scheduling timeframe.

Hi, Jerri! I have so many personal organizing tools I need a tool to organize them. I have a fanny pack for my Blackberry, iPod, headphones, 3x5 notpad, pen, and Palm Pilot. Pathetically, I actually wear the fanny pack. In public. It keeps me safe on the subway, along with my spandex bicycle shorts. Even Boston muggers have enough fashion sense to rescue their reputations by keeping their distance.

Choose a system that works for you

The world has two kinds of people: the structured (also known as uptight anal-retentive obsessive-compulsives), and the chill (also known as “saxaphone players”). I’m an uptight obsessive-compulsive who really wants to chill out.

In my experience, the chill are genetically incapable of keeping a detailed system, but they do benefit from having one place for everything. Chill folk need one place to stuff notes, calendars, to-do lists, and addresses where they can dig them out on demand.

We uptight like flexible systems we can design to match our thinking. It can have several pieces and since we're good at details, we keep track of all six critical pieces as we rush from the cab to yet another I'm-five-minutes-early-where-is-everyone-else meeting.>

Paper vs. Plastic: There's no Right Answer

Should your system be paper or electronic? I want to say, electronic! It's the 21st century! We don't have hovercrafts, yet, but it is the space age. We should use space-age gadgets.

Yeah, right. Electronic systems are great, until they crash or screw up synchronization. Then you waste days trying to recover your data.

Paper lets you doodle and draw, use colors, annotate, and scribble in the margins (wistful sigh). And paper’s more considerate. It's rude asking someone to wait while you spend five minutes typing their number into your device when it would take three seconds on paper. (In fact, that's why you're still single. Slipping someone your phone# on a cocktail napkin? SEXY! Punching it into your PDA and trying to beam it to your love interest? Loser!)

Where electronic systems rock is for collaboration. If your assistant keeps your schedule or shares your address book, or if your company uses an online calendar so your friendly co-workers can commit you to meetings without your knowledge or permission, get a PDA that synchronizes with your system. Exactly which PDA to use depends on your calendaring software, the operating system you use, and your intestinal fortitude in configuring the whole darned mess.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.