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October 2013

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  • Read last month's PD TO GO on Simplifying your Decision Making.

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PD TO GO: Make Your Phone Carry the Burden of Organization

By Amy Orlov, Director of Professional Education & Training, GMAC

I have a love/hate relationship with my smart phone. I am one of those people that check my phone in meetings, restaurants, just about anywhere and yet I am also the one complaining that it is a portable tether from which I can’t escape. And, because I have an 11-year old daughter, my phone is loaded with apps which allow me to crush candy or determine which character I most resemble on Monsters, Inc. whenever I want. 

In my never-ending attempt to be more organized, I asked my GMAC colleagues, Director of Technical Operations & Customer Support Brian Maggio and Director of Web Operations Anne Daugherty, for their tips. To my surprise, I learned that some people actually use their phones efficiently. I guess smart phones are like expensive golf clubs; they're only as good as the person swinging them. If you want to increase the usefulness of your smart phone, here are some apps you need to check out.

  • Cure for information overload...Zite: Brian recommends this app that lets you customize your own news, creating a personalized magazine of all your preferred subjects. How does it work? Just choose some of your favorite topics and Zite will pull news stories in those areas. You can have an array of different news feeds about anything from MBA education to sports to food to travel.  

  • For the forgetful…The To-Do List: Most smart phones come with some sort of reminders or to-do list, so you can set a reminder to go off at a certain time. But you may be overlooking the 'Remind me at a Location’ function. You can use this feature to remind yourself to do something when arriving at or leaving a location rather than at a specific time. Forgot your lunch three times this week? Set a daily reminder and it will go off as you leave your house. Have to make a phone call as soon as you arrive at work? Set your reminder and it will sound as you enter the office. Set it to remind you to bring something on a trip, or make a call when you land at the airport. The possibilities are endless.

  • For the repeat-offender forgetful….Checklists: Checklists are not to-do lists. You want to make checklists for repetitive tasks involving many steps that never change. For example, editing a document or holding a meeting. A meeting checklist might look like this: _food, _projector, _agenda, _extension cord, _more food…whatever items are needed for every meeting. If you are like me, you “think” that these are things you’ll never forget so there is no need to write them down. And like me, you are wrong – you do forget. I like the app Checklist+; it's easy to use without complicated extras and is just your basic checklist. 

  • And speaking of organizing...EvernoteFor the under-organized like me, Evernote sounds almost too good to be true. A place to organize…everything? From favorite websites to notes to files, its easily searchable system makes this a must-have app to keep track of those things that you know you will need to recall at a later date. Anne tells me that if you use it with your Evernote moleskin, you can file and search your handwritten notes. Perhaps this is the cure for my constantly writing things down and then never remembering where I wrote them!

  • For the “this is an interesting article, I think I’ll read it later” type…Pocket (formerly known as Read It Later): Pocket allows you to save articles, webpages, videos to read/view later and sync across platforms – for free. (Note, the author of this article highly recommends that you continue reading now, however, and do not save this for later.)

  • Need a bigger screen…AirDroid: Brian’s colleague carries an Android phone and highly recommends AirDroid (so yes – it is only for droids). It lets you control your phone from a web browser. For those of us who appreciate bigger print – you can send messages, view photos and movies, manage your apps…it’s all here on your computer screen and no USB cable required. 

  • And my own personal find…Meditation: Yes, perhaps you find playing 4 Pics 1 Word, or one of the 50 other games you have on your phone, to be a stress release. I’m trying to detox from these as I finally realized that I don’t feel less stressed when I spend 10 minutes trying to figure out the connection between random pictures. If you want a true break from stress, try meditating. There are hundreds of great free apps. Most apps have a timer, so you can find a quiet place, set the timer for five or so minutes, relax, and find your center. I find this especially helpful right before a big meeting or right after a seriously unproductive one. 

Hopefully, some of these tips can help you sleep easier; rather than staying up at night worrying about tomorrow’s workday. It's time to make your phone carry the burden.

I’d love to hear your ideas. Feel free to share any phone efficiencies with me at  

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