Saturday, December 5, 2009

By Gerard Schwabe

We're using a lot of different communication and organization tools today. There are the basic tools, like an email client, an instant messenger and of course our phone. When you favor the latest technologies available on the market, you may even use Skype for phone calls over the internet.

It can be a hard task to add all different data, like appointments, notes, tasks and contacts into a single tool and don't lose the overview. This often results into several tools, one for its own type of data. This way of organization may result in a higher level of confusion. When your different tools aren't synced with each other, you need to ask yourself which program is holding the information you currently need.

Is it hard for you to get a contact's private phone number when you're talking to someone else at phone? How difficult is it to find a meeting time for, let's say 3 people? How often do you have to talk to them until you have all agreed on a date and time? These are just some typical examples, where a good tool can help you save time. You may think of using Excel for this job. Many users try to manage their day this way. But keep in mind: Excel was designed to calculate, not to organize your day. There are much better approaches.

You should better consider using a Personal Information Manager (PIM). PIMs are designed to ease your daily personal and business work. Your output will rise with less effort.

A PIM usually consists of a scheduler, a task and contacts manager and an email client. Some PIMs offer rich team and synchronization features, which enable you to create a team and work together. You should keep an eye on these team functions, as they will boost your communication and workflow. The most famous Personal Information Manager is MS Outlook, but there are some alternatives available, like Pimero, iCal or Lotus Organizer.

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