How to use a Personal Information Managers

This Editorial Feature takes a look at the world of personal information managers or PIMs. Read all about it.
Published: Oct 30, 2006
Author: Michael E, Callahan
Related OS: Windows
Tucows Editorial Feature

Personal Information Managers

by Michael E. Callahan aka Dr. File Finder

A long time ago someone told me, "Someday time will be your most valuable commodity." They were right. If you waste paper, or pens, or printer ink, you can get more. If you waste time,however, you can never get it back. You can never buy more. The best thing you can do is maximize your time by making the best possible use of it.

When asked how I can get so many things done in a day, my simple reply is, "I'm very organized." That's the truth. By being highly organized you save time. In a way that's like making extra time,isn't it? Extra time that can be used to do other things.

People have always made "To Do" lists. They've always had tasks that needed to be completed. In the computer age we're blessed to be able to use software to help us to keep things organized. Whether you're a stay-at-home parent or president of a small company, there's software that can help you get organized. Let's take a look at some fundamental ideas.

Time or Task?

In the early days of computers there really weren't any personal information managers. All of the focus back then was on utilities.Programs to compress files, hex editors, file viewers, and so on. If memory serves me correctly the first personal information managerto hit the scene was Tornado Notes which was written by Jim Lewis in 1986. It was a cool program for 1986 and I loved it. Mr. Lewis went on to create Info Recall which is an excellent PIM distributed by his company Micro Logic. From that time in 1986 on to the present I've watched countless personal information managers come and go. The biggest question they faced? Time or task?

Think about it. People work in different ways. Take a doctor for example. Most of the things they do are based on time. Surgery scheduled for specific times, then office visits also at specific times.A doctor may have many things "to do", but they are nearly all time oriented. Then take someone like me. I also have many things to do,but hardly anything is time-oriented. At this particular time I could have been working on a different article, but I decided to write this one. As I look at my daily schedule I don't think of things in terms of a specific time I have to do them, but it terms of tasks to be done. My schedule is task-oriented.

Just one difficulty in creating a "personal information manager" is how the programmer decides to look at it. Time? Task? To Do? A PIM that's time-oriented might be perfect for a doctor or lawyer, but it wouldn't suit me or a stay at home parent at all. I like to write brief notes as I go through my day, whereas a lawyer might not. With something like a text editor most people could agree on certain, basic features the program should have. That's not really true with personal information managers because managing time is so personal.

In Search Of The Perfect PIM

Because time management is so personal, finding the perfectpersonal information manager is often difficult. Prior to writing this article I'd evaluated a good number of PIMs. In looking at the subject more closely I've looked at well over 50 personal information managers.Some I liked and there were several I thought were useless. Each one was slightly different in its approach to managing time. Some allowed for notes, others didn't. Some had room for contacts, others did not.Several had "categories" while many didn't. One thing I can say for sure: there is no shortage of personal information managers.

For the next several weeks I'll be reviewing a number of different PIMs for individuals, companies, and networks. I'll also provide a list of some other programs you may want to look at. I hope you'll find it useful in getting yourself organized.

About Michael E, Callahan

Michael E. Callahan, known around the world by the trademarked name Dr. File Finder, is regarded as the world's leading expert on shareware. Dr. File Finder works with software programs and developers full-time, and in the average year he evaluates 10,000 programs. Since 1982 he has evaluated over 250,000 software and hardware products. Mr. Callahan began evaluating software online in 1982 and no one has been at it longer. He currently works doing online PR and marketing for software companies, and is the Senior Content Producer for Butterscotch.Com.

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