Blackberry Productivity: How Discipline and Email Go Hand in Hand

recent trend in productivity posts is unmistakably clear: iPhones are
sexy and Blackberrys are not.  Worse yet, some have suggested that
Blackberry devices may even downgrade one's productivity.  With some
recent outages from RIM headquarters, users are wondering if their
famed "crackberry" PDA's are still valuable. The answer in short, heck yeah.

we get to the advantages of using a Blackberry, let's look at the con's
to using a device which enables all-the-time email access. 

First, there is the simple temptation to check email- all the time.
When I got my Blackberry 8830, I found this to be true.  It's somewhat
of a novelty but the temptation fades over time.  After two weeks of
use, I now check my email when I want to rather than as an automatic
habit.  Some have dubbed the Blackberry handheld as the "crackberry" exactly for this 'constant checking' pattern.  It even won one dictionary's award for 'word of the year' in 2006.  There have even been reports
of potential health risks to using a keyboard with such frequency.
Sure, if you're not careful it could crimp your productivity but as
with all tools, with discipline it works just fine.

Another con
to using a Blackberry is the shortsightedness of thinking that it can
do all things.  I can remember when I got my first FranklinCovey
day planner.  I tried to use it for everything from meeting notes to my
contacts to scheduling.  Like all tools, my planner failed after a few
weeks of use.  Ok, it didn't really fail but I realized that taking
notes in my big clunky planner wasn't as efficient as using an old
fashioned legal pad.  The result: a hybrid approach which integrates
multiple tools.

The Blackberry is no exception to this
integrated approach to productivity.  It is great with email so long as
your response is less than a paragraph.  It does calendaring very well
and its phone capability is strong.  Where it falls short (who can
blame it?) is in its use as a ubiquitous capture device. It's just
plain faster to use paper.  That's why I still use a small pad of paper
in my jacket pocket. (read my review of pocket notepads here )

So as long as you don't treat your Blackberry like a drug and put it
down for not being as fast as pen and paper, you're all set.  Now on to
the advantages.

Email management: RIM is king
when it comes to push technology and while the iPhone may be breathing
down its neck with coolness and the release of SDK, my Blackberry
allows me to stay on top of email at precisely the times when I need
it.  Here is another advantage: in my industry, fast email response is
surprising and makes a bold statement.  It tells my reader that I'm on
the ball and can solve their problem, fast.

Speed, pure and simple: I was a
Palm Treo user for years and it was really lagging towards the end.
Having demoed a Motorola q9m w/Windows Mobile, I had to jump ship and
try something new.  The WM device seemed about as stable as a 1980's
Dodge K Car and I really can't see anyone who is serious about their
PDA using something with that OS.  The Blackberry is blazing fast with
zero lag time in switching programs, etc.  I have to reset the device
about once per month and that's quite good in terms of market standards.

Google Calendar & Outlook syncronization:
Because my Blackberry syncs with Google Calendar which also syncs with
Outlook on my PC, I have redundancy built right into the three-way
system.  Update one and all three get touched.  Very smooth.

Jott: while I would be dishonest to say that Jott
is only for Blackberry, it's a near perfect product for use with a
superfast Blackberry.  Program one key to dial up Jott (in my case the
J button) and you have about the fastest to-do software available.  If
you haven't tried Jott yet, it takes your voice and in about ten
minutes, converts it into an email.  Amazing stuff.

How do I love my Blackberry?  It just works.  Sure it may not be as
sexy as the iPhone but like a finely tuned German automobile, it has
staying power and is rugged as they come.  By my estimates, it has
boosted my productivity by about 10%, not a bad return on investment
for a device that fits in your pocket.