We all know that our BlackBerry devices can be great productivity tools. Just how far can you take it, though? While we see plenty of BlackBerry organizers and other software that helps keep things in order, I haven’t seen much hype for software that helps keep you on task. Yet, that can be the most important factor to your personal productivity. Everything in your life can be organized, but if you’re wasting time, what’s the point? Today, we’ll look at some software you can use to help keep you on task and producing at your best.
For this I can relate a personal anecdote. I used to be terrible with my time. In college, instead of doing my work, I surfed the Internet (and drank beers, and did other things college kid do instead of homework). When I got a job afterwards, instead of plowing ahead with my work, I surfed the Internet. While I myself am to blame for my lack of productivity, let this be a warning. The Internet is a time killer. Now that you’ve read that for the one billionth time, let’s move on.
It wasn’t until I’d read an article on why multitasking is bad that I realized the errors of my ways. My attention was so divided that I couldn’t do even one task satisfactorily. Well, except surf the Internet. I knew that I had to devise a way to stay focused on one task at a time.
While I didn’t have a BlackBerry at the time, I would have certainly opted for this application, Vorino Timer/Stopwatch for BlackBerry, rather than the egg timer I bought. It’s straightforward and easy to use. You set the amount of time you want to spend on a certain task, and then you start the timer. Work on that one task until the alarm beeps. Sure, you might use the timer as an excuse to be lazy while it’s not running, but that’s a problem for another day.
Automatically schedule tasks
Sometimes, will power and discipline will only take you so far. At least at first, you might need a crutch to help you along. Wouldn’t it be nice if while you were working on something, your BlackBerry profile switch to “off”? That way, not only wouldn’t you hear the sounds of your messages, but you also wouldn’t see the red flashing LED. In other words, you wouldn’t be distracted while you do your work.
This is where the Profiler automated profile switcher comes in handy. With it, you can schedule days and times each profile becomes active. There’s no remembering on your part. Just set it, and it’ll go. So when your boss calls while you’re putting together your presentation, you won’t even know. You can finish the project in peace, and then call your boss back. Hopefully, she wasn’t calling to fire you.
Know what’s coming next
“Every day is already a mistake if you don’t know where you’re going.”
- Steve Pavlina
I’m a big fan of personal development gurus like Pavlina and David Allen (Getting Things Done). NextAction! for BlackBerry is an application which helps implement Allen’s GTD program. It will allow you to sync your task list from your computer with your native BlackBerry Task application. However, NextAction! covers up some of the application’s blemishes.
In Getting Things Done, Allen explains the importance not of a to-do list, but a Next Action list. These are tasks, usually small, which require immediate action. In other words, they are broken down parts of larger projects. You can quickly add these next actions. They’ll appear alphabetically, so that there is no prioritization. Just task after task after task, until you’re done.
I’ve used NextAction! in combination with the Timer/Stopwatch to get even better results. I like to call it my Action List Plow. Set the timer for an hour, and see how many of your next actions you can plow through. It’s led to many a productive day.
Getting things done for yourself is always a good thing. Sometimes, though, we need to work in groups to get things done. That’s why we have the Mentat Organizer. It allows managers to track individual and team projects, including notes, next actions, and milestones. It can be synced with a Web client as well, so workers can get things done either in the office or on the road.
This is certainly a manger’s dream application. With it, she can share the project details with the team and delegate tasks. The software allows for comments, so the manager can get constant feedback from the team. When employees finish with an action, they can check it off, so the manager is aware of how far along the project is. It also creates audio alerts — distractors as they are — to notify employees of new tasks or comments for them.
Why I really like this software is its integration of Jott, a voice powered notes service. You can dictate tasks to your BlackBerry, and they’ll be forwarded right along to your team. It just makes being a manager so much easier.
One of my complaints upon switching to BlackBerry is that there is only one alarm. I’ve been a Verizon customer forever, and their native OS comes with three alarms. So what gives? So now I can’t set multiple alarms, letting me know when to switch tasks? Okay, so the timer application should do it. Some people, though, just work differently. If you like to set multiple alarms during the day, maybe Adorno! MultiAlarm Pro is what’s good for you. Hey, it’s all about how we deal with these issues personally.
All of this software should keep you focused and on task. The hope is that eventually you develop the habits of, as Annie Wilkes would say in Misery, a Do-Bee. Do you use any other BlackBerry software to stay organized and on task?