Tuesday, March 04, 2008
It's been awhile since I blogged about the time management techniques of David Allen, "life hacks", or personal productivity technology, but these topics have never been far from my mind. Regulars here will note that from the my initial encounter with Allen's methods, I have opted for a low-tech implementation of the suggestions in Getting Things Done.
I have done this for several reasons. First, PDA's and some productivity software cost money, which I don't have quite enough of to toss around, or too much time to implement. To jump right in with a buying spree before I knew my actual needs would have been counterproductive. Second, I wanted to focus on productivity rather than on getting something to work -- or even playing with some neat gadget. (Although Allen suggests putting that last urge to use, I know myself well enough to realize that the suggestion would be almost useless to me.)
But now I am more aware of my needs and have taken "low-tech" just about as far as it can go. Since I am normally near computers most of the time, I have been able to get by well enough with a nice leather organizer (which allows me access to copies of the week's calendar and my lists, as well as to have ubiquitous capture), and a "pocket office" on a pen drive.
But what about when I am away from home or work, or traveling? Furthermore, I have found there to be something of a barrier between the easy access (but inflexibility) of paper copies of lists and the flexibility (but requirement for a computer) of my electronic files. I even have a nickname for it: the digital bottleneck.
Off and on for awhile, I have been contemplating PDAs, even though they strike me as not quite flexible enough for my needs, over and above the various hassles that come with proprietary computer technology. But there is another option, which I learned about on a trip to Instapundit yesterday: A cheap, very portable laptop. This one is very close in size (picture at link) to the leather binder I currently use! (See Wikipedia and this personal account for more information.)
At 2 pounds, it's easy to tote.The bonus for me is that I normally use Linux, anyway! No "new gadget" learning curve. No software incompatibility issues. No vendor lock-in. Oh yeah. Its "hard drive" is actually flash memory, so you don't have to worry as much about damaging your computer if you drop it. The company's web site even touts it as "shock-proof".
At about $350, it's incredibly cheap compared to, say, my old Vaio laptop.
I decided not to install Windows. [That one's a no-brainer. --ed] The Linux software suite is very capable and loads a lot faster than Windows. The Open Office word processor handled some short edits of the speech I'm giving tomorrow.
The whole thing is incredibly user friendly. Open the box. Power it up. Everything's loaded and ready to rock and roll.
One big drawback -- and this is only after a cursory web search and some frantic skimming, so I could be wrong -- is that I can't seem to find this on sale in a brick-and-mortar store, including Fry's. I don't really want to buy one without trying it out, because the small keyboard could be an issue. This is especially true if I want to use one of these for more than just a travel computer. I don't travel quite enough to justify buying one of these strictly for that purpose, and we do already own a normal laptop.
A long out-of-town trip looms in the near future. If you know who sells this from actual stores or use it yourself, I'd be grateful if you dropped me a line.
I just love capitalism!