The Hipster PDA

I know a guy who has sent 2 BlackBerries to a watery grave in 1 year, and I'd like to suggest to him that he switch to a cheap cellphone and a hipster PDA if he plans on taking his technology for any more dips in the future. But he just got another BlackBerry and seems destined to repeat history. At the least, I think he should consider an Otterbox waterproof case.

Lately I've been sampling Google's TechTalks, where cutting-edge researchers, gurus, and shysters hawk their intellectual wares to a captive Google employee audience. They've had some interesting people talk, and one was the GTD guy, David Allen. It seems his Get Things Done (GTD) method is really popular with people who you'd think would be more interested in using BlackBerries and Droids--IT people. I think some of his ideas are just a rehashing of ideas from the 1970s and '80s (tickler files? come on, that's so retro), but his basic approach of getting organized in a simple way and staying organized is of value and I'm going to implement some of his ideas. Like the zero Inbox.

You're either a Piler or a Filer, they say, whether it's organizing papers at home or work or managing your Inbox in your email system. I'm a Piler, I admit it, so my Inbox is near the max of what we're allowed to have, which is around four thousand items. (I truly don't see what you're fussing about--I once had an Inbox with 16,000 items and though the IT department wouldn't allow me to override that number, they also wouldn't run a script to help me delete things down to a manageable number.) So part of GTD involves getting your Inbox down to zero. I'm going to try this.

I think there's more pressure on IT people to be organized ala the zero Inbox. Admitting you're an IT pro AND you have an Inbox stuffed with lots of stuff? Bad form indeed, I would think.

Admitting you're in IT and you find your smartphone not conducive to helping you remember ideas etc. you've had? No, it's just not done, especially when there's the guy with the latest smartphone next to you and everyone's paying tons of attention to him and that shiny, cool thing he just mortgaged his future to. And yet there are IT guys who seem to quietly do just fine with a hipster PDA--at its simplest, a stack of index cards or recycled paper clipped together. OF COURSE they still have a smartphone--who in his right mind would not? But they realize the green/efficient/low-tech/3D way of recycled paper and a binder clip is not necessarily silly, either.

So what works best? Is it irresponsible to not use your smartphone? Is it Luddite-like or maybe Hobbit-like to turn to paper and a binder clip? Would you laugh at a guy who whipped out his hipster PDA to take down your email address at a meeting? How DO your organize yourself, O Gurus?

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