A Random Broad Gives up Her PDA for a Week: The Aftermath

hpdasm.JPG  The great Office Survivalist experiment culminated Friday, close of business.  It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  That’s not to say it was great, but there was no loss of life, limb or liberty.  So, all things considered, I guess the project went OK.


I copied all my appointments from my Outlook calendar and our departmental calendar into my Hipster PDA (or PAA, if you like).  I also entered a few key contacts whose telephone numbers I can’t ever seem to recall.  Finally, I wrote down a few items from my Notes folder in Outlook—some codes, etc. to which I refer often.  Having downloaded what I thought I’d need for the week—or at least the day—I was ready to embark on my new analog project.

Fortunately, it was an unusually light day.  I did have two rather important meetings that I would have done well not to have forgotten.  I easily committed them to memory and also flipped to the calendar section of my PAA often, while checking the time as if my life depended on it.  Suffice it to say, I was early to one appointment and right on time to another.


Nothing much happened this day.  I made a few appointments for the project that was slated to start the next day.  I entered them in my Outlook calendar and then copied them into my PAA.  Even though I was only two business days into the Experiment, I could see this entering in appointments twice getting real old, real quick.  On one hand, it did make it easier to remember meetings and what not because I had to recall the details twice.  On the other hand, entering something into Outlook and knowing within seconds the meeting, including the reminder option,  will wirelessly sync to my BlackBerry is clearly the way to go. 

So far, I haven’t had to enter an appointment on the go, as it were.  I did have to check my Hipster PDA’s calendar to see if I was available for a meeting on Thursday, but the person for whom I was checking was going to send an invitation later that day, so there was no need to write down the meeting details at the time.  I mentally blocked off the time and, when I received the invite, copied the meeting information into my PAA.


I have to confirm several appointments for a major project we’ve got slated for tomorrow and Friday.  I needed to call someone while I was away from my desk.  It was a person who wouldn’t have been in my Outlook Contacts folder, so therefore was not in my PAA.  If I were using my BlackBerry, I would have performed a Lookup while in the Address Book, obtained the person’s number and called.  I improvised by using my mobile phone to call the main number and asking to be transferred to the person.  All in all, it was actually quicker than what I usually would have done.


The  Awfully Big Project started today.  As I was contemplating what shoes to wear with my kick-ass ensemble I had picked out the evening before, the thought of cheating crossed my mind.  It would be so much easier if I used my BlackBerry, relying on its precious, precious reminders to keep all my appointments.  Seeking solace in its cold, digital bosom never felt so tempting.

I had seven mission-critical, time-sensitive appointments today.  I kept all but one.  I failed to copy it into my Hipster PDA, as it wasn’t confirmed until late Wednesday afternoon.  This wouldn’t have happened if I had been using my BlackBerry.  Of course, this wouldn’t have happened if I had been diligent about confirming the data in both places were in sync at the end of each business day as was the plan when the details of this silly experiment were being hashed out.  Oh well, the dude was totally cool about it and we rescheduled for Friday.  Until now, I had been transcribing entries into my PAA in pencil.  I wrote this one in red ink, and used a Post-it note to flag the page so it would stand out as something that required my attention.


I checked my PAA’s calendar page today.  I was greeted with a sentence I forgot I wrote Monday: It’s almost over; today’s the last day.  Yay!  I reviewed my appointments.  As the day trudged along, I kept all my meetings, missing nary a one. 

At the end of the experiment, I wasn’t sure what to do with the Hipster PDA.  I mean, I was really looking forward to going back to using my BlackBerry.  It’s not as though I wished my PAA any ill will.  I just, well, didn’t like it.  Copying things twice just seemed so inefficient.  Clearly there was margin for error.  If the details of a meeting changed, updating it in Outlook is as easy as opening it and editing it or dragging and dropping it to a new timeslot.  Updating items in the PAA meant erasing and rewriting it.  That part sucked.  On more than one occasion, I opted to print a new calendar page and re-write the appointments so that the page looked neater.  Yes, I’m a wee bit particular—what of it?

I decided to archive my PAA.  It’s in my desk drawer, binder clip, stylus (read: pencil) and all.  It’s a reminder that, if I put my mind to it, I can rely on my memory and a few 3 x 5” index cards for work.  Of course, I’d rather not, but at least I know I can.

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Good luck and happy taking care of things from a random broad.

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3 Comments on “A Random Broad Gives up Her PDA for a Week: The Aftermath”

  1. Matt Says:

    Thanks for reporting on the results of your experiment.

    I love my index card system because it relies on constant tending. For me that is a plus. For others, it is very likely a drawback.

    Though my hipster is eminently portable, the entire system is not nearly as compact as a Palm or Blackberry, since I rely on index card boxes to store reference information and to filter my tasks. But if I think ahead, I can be sure to grab everything I need for the day.

    Basically, digital is more efficient, convenient, powerful, especially when handling lots of data. But I would argue that analog remains richer and more aesthetically pleasing. (E.g., mechanical vs. digital watches, LPs vs. CDs, books vs. etexts, Moleskines vs. PDAs). Also, depending on your archival needs, analog data has the potential to remain accessible for generations.

  2. It’s nice to know someone’s following my kooky adventure. It was kind of fun, drew interesting comments (read: mildly amusing insults) from colleagues and taught me few things about myself, too.

    Because my BlackBerry device syncs wirelessly with Outlook, I’ve virtually eliminated the need to think ahead re appointments, meetings and tasks. I set the reminder accordingly–anywhere from fifteen minutes to two months before the item is scheduled to occur and then, well, forget it. I like that aspect of BlackBerry usage.

    I agree that in some cases analog is more aesthetically pleasing than digital. My Hipster PDA wasn’t much to look at, though. I am very glad to be back using my BlackBerry, supplementing it with the occasional Notes on the Run card.

    Thanks for reading and I hope you stop back soon.

  3. Gone Analog Again Says:

    I stumbled across your entry sort of by accident, perhaps a little late too.

    I’m changing jobs and, thus, see it as an opportunity to reorganize myself. Over many years, I’ve used the analog day planners, PDA’s, Blackberries, etc. For the last few years I found myself getting more and more frustrated with the digital systems. Sure, you can store vast amounts of information on them and they can sync with your office computer (usually) with ease. But, I’ve had too many instances where I’ve found myself low or out of battery power, had data loss and other issues. I’ve also noted that it often takes more effort and time to look something up on an electronic PDA than it does in a paper system. The electronic PDA’s are also lousy for note taking unless you’re just writing a few words. Electronic PDAs, especially Blackerries are excellent for keeping you accessible. I mention this as a negative, not a positive. I really don’t want to be answering email’s everywhere I go and don’t want to be reached after hours and on weekends.

    So, I’m going analog again.

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