This week I want to go over some applications for managing your online life. I want to outline some apps that are necessary, no matter what your platform, whether it be a desktop PC or an iPhone. In today’s highly connected world (cliche, I know), it becomes more and more important to manage your information, contacts, calender and other useful bits of knowledge. This information may be crucial to your job, or it could be crucial in helping you find a new job. The calender could be your kid’s soccer games or meetings with clients; either way its important that you can get your information when you need it, where you need it.
The first and I consider most important application for a connected online life is a good online calender. Luckily, we live in an era when it is easy to get a good calender that can synchronize with your phone and your computers, bringing your agenda to you wherever you are. The best online calender in my opinion is a Gmail calender. It is online, it is free, and it can notify you several different ways of impending appointments. The online component is very important because a calender can’t be of maximum use if its on your office computer. The online element means its cloud-based, a buzz-word basically meaning on the Internet. It offers the ability to invite others to your appointments, which further increases productivity by allowing changes to be made and group notes to be shared about the meeting. The free aspect is huge, because no one wants another bill. The notifications are probably the most important, because appointments have to be reminded to the attenders, or they won’t matter or be met. Gmail’s appointment calender can text you appointment reminders, even if you have just a plain-Jane telephone number with no smart-phone capabilities. If you do have a smart phone, you get the ability to update your calender with new appointments anywhere and have them propagate to your other computers/devices. Any book on personal organization will start out with mentioning getting a calender or organizer; I’ll do one better and give you this information for free.
The next crucial part of your digital life is an online Rolodex. Gmail is again the best in this category because it will synchronize with your phone and any other device you use either natively with its own contact system or it will allow you to import your contact list in a familiar format, the .csv file. This is a spreadsheet database format, but its the format of outlook and Eudora and any other contact management system. By using Gmail as your online contact management system, you get a cross platform application for keeping all your names and numbers and easily accessible from a computer with an internet connection. And if you have a smart phone, you can keep this contact database up-to-date across many phones in the future. This is much better than the dinky phone list your phone carrier provides with the phone, because it can be accessed from other devices on other carriers. In addition, those old carrier phone books can be imported with the above mentioned tools or other tools. It can be done and is worth doing. Multiple contact databases are frustrating and don’t provide you with the names and number you need. One last point, if you have a smart phone, you can plot addresses using GPS from the address of contacts, so its worth getting this piece of information.
So if you get an online contact database and an online calender, make sure it works across multiple devices on multiple platforms and is compatible with your mobile device. Gmail is a great one, but there are plenty others. Drop me a line at [email protected] and let me know what you use.