My Blackberry Update #1

Background: As you may know, I spent months describing all the ways in which I observed a relatively new phenomena – smartphone abuse.  I then embarked on a process to choose one for myself in a way that I hoped would enhance my productivity, rather than turn me into an habitual drive-and-text offender.  I have used one for the past few months, and am ready to give some updates on what’s happened to my “precious” productivity!

As I noted in a prior post: “Productive Notifications on Your Blackberry,” it’s amazing to me that Blackberry (BB’s)s are shipped with so many notifications turned on.  I noticed a rumor somewhere that RIM is now shipping them with the notifications turned “off.”  This is progress!

The biggest change I have noticed in my own productivity is the way that I manage the flow of emailed time demands.

Before:  I used to manage all incoming email from my Outlook Inbox.

After:  I now manage all messages from the BB Inbox, which is continuously synched with with my Outlook Inbox.  I use the BB to do a form of triage in which I delete stuff I don’t want immediately (i.e. Tossing) and allow some items to flow into my Outlook Inbox for immediate processing when I return to my desktop environment.

By the time the message gets to Outlook, I have already decided what to do with it — dealing with it there is a matter of convenience as the small screen of the BB makes it hard to do things like read downloads, process pics, etc.

I was able to find a powerful BB app called “AddThis” that allows you to immediately convert an email message into an item in a calendar.  Using Google Calendar to synch my calendars in Outlook and BB has meant that I can change my calendar on the road and have it also change on my desktop.

Sweet!  (Even though it’d not quite working perfectly yet.)

These changes represent major shifts in my time management process, and I have tried to be careful in making them because the benefits are now more obvious.

Being able to check email without having to fire up my laptop, and assure an Internet connection has been a tremendous benefit.  Lately, my DSL line has been spotty (ever since a painter came in to do some decorating work.)  Having consistent access to email has been useful, and being able to fill the odd spot here and there when I’m on the road or far from an Internet connection has allowed me greater choices.

Have I been tempted to do indulge in the dangerous, rude, unhygienic and unproductive behaviors that I have written so much about?  Absolutely.

However, the benefit of knowing about them in advance has certainly helped in stopping myself from doing them.  I find that I have to be very awake and aware at those moments when I feel the “Blackberry Itch” and take a short breath to ask myself whether or not this is a good moment to check for new messages.

For example, in the last paragraph, I wondered if an interesting prospect who contacted me yesterday has replied to my pithy response.  I felt the Itch coming on… I could have stopped myself from writing in mid-sentence to check… breaking my flow state.

But, I noticed it and let it pass, as I have at other times when someone is talking to me, I’m in a meeting, I’m driving someplace or I’m in the shower!  (BTW, there’s a special water-proof bag they are selling for those who can’t wait…)

All in all I can make the following judgment: as a “time demand management device” my BB upgrade has been a successful one, and I’m yet to play my first game. This might be due to the fact that I have used up all the memory on other essential apps, so there might not be any games on my BB until I effect an upgrade.  There is something to be said for keeping it lean and mean!