How I’m Getting Things Done With My Blackberry
Hello everybody, it’s been a while since I updated Organize IT (the full explanation of why can be found in the previous post). I’m not planning on making a full-time return, but despite being away I’ve still had thoughts and ideas for posts and it seemed a shame not to publish some of them.
In productivity circles a lot has changed since I last posted an update. Many regular readers will remember how I favored good ol’ fashioned pen and paper. Well guess what? I ditched the desktop for a laptop and invested in a decent smartphone, having relied on other people’s castoff phones for years. I still use a notepad for the occasional brainstorm and doodle, but fundamentally my system is now tech-based and portable.
The story of how this happened isn’t interesting so I won’t detail it here. However, it’s maybe worth noting that I opted for a Blackberry over an iPhone after testing the latter and preferring a BB keypad to a touchscreen one. I can quickly write entire blog posts and chapters on a Blackberry, but on an iPhone it takes too long and usually results in numerous spelling mistakes. Maybe it was a matter of getting used to touchscreens, but the BB keypad is just more responsive.
Anyways, my Blackberry is now my primary organizational tool. Gone are the sheets of paper, gone is my weekly planner. However, I don’t rely on any fancy app, just the default ones. This is partly because BB apps can be damn expensive and partly because I’ve got a Curve 2520 and the browser is clunky, which rules out a lot of online apps (on a sidenote, while the phone is a solid one, it’s evidently no longer supported by RIM despite still being heavily pushed in the UK).
Don’t expect no revolutionary tips here, folks. This is just me explaining what I use, and perhaps demonstrates how you can still adopt a tech-based approach without any added complexity, or even the expense of a top of the range smartphone from Apple, Samsung, HTC, etc.
My primary app is the tasks app. You can create a simple list of tasks, mark them as completed, deferred, etc. and set its recurrence, when it should be completed, what categories it should go in, and so on. It’s quite extensive really, but you can end up with one big mass of tasks with little option on how to organize them. Only when a task has gone passed it’s deadline does it become highlighted. However I use this to my advantage, and set the deadline to midnight so that as soon as I wake up all the tasks I need to do that day are already highlighted for me. Nice and simple.
The other app I primarily use is the notes app. I create several memos to cover various categories, so I have “blog”, “tasks”, “music”, etc. These effectively serve as catch-all buckets. If I hear an interesting song and I’m not near my laptop, I will type the name in my music memo so that when I get onto Spotify I won’t forget it. Similarly, the tasks memo is for any oddjobs I might want to do that I haven’t made official yet. The blog memos are for planning out new posts and even properly typing them up before transferring them to the relevant websites. Again, nice and simple.
Finally, I now track my expenditure on my Blackberry, using the Sheet To Go app. Because it’s not the premium version a lot of functionality is missing, but I only basically need to add data to it anyways. I had to create a excel file on my laptop first, but it’s now a simple matter of updating as and when I spend a bit of money (or even make money, crikey!).
What’s the benefit of all this? Portability, and everything essentially being in one package. I can Google anything, make phonecalls, take notes, photos, etc. all from one device. This is especially apparent with the finances tracking. Where’s before I had to wait till I got home to copy over all my costs, now I can tally everything up as I go. Ditto with my to-do list; it’s always in my pocket, available to be referred to.
There are probably plenty of hardcore Blackberry users out there thinking that this is a crap way of doing it, but it (currently) suits my needs. There are certainly those who can make good use of the many apps out there, and there are plenty more amazing things you can do on a Blackberry (or any smartphone) that I’ve not even touched on here. I’d love to hear what approach you use, what special apps I may have missed that are worth checking out, etc. And even if you have an iPhone, Android device or even a tablet, let me know how you use it to GTD.