What would happen if one of your devices – your cell phone, computer or tablet – were to become lost, stolen, or broken? If you decided to switch to a new personal technology device, would you be at risk of losing your important phone numbers, appointments, or even email?
This is the first of a series of blog entries I will write having to do with productivity data. Productivity data includes email, contacts/address books, calendar, and tasks/to-do management. It’s the “who, what, when, where and how” information that comes through our computers, smartphones, and other devices.
One of my primary goals as a promoter of “better living through technology” is to help people use technology without anxiety, without struggle, and without duplication of effort like data entry. I am a strong believer in a “system of record” for productivity data, in which all records of a certain type are stored in the same place in a consistent way that supports easy retrieval on any device you use. Your productivity data should synchronize across your devices so that you are never forced to enter an appointment or a new phone number twice (or worse – miss an appointment!).
As smartphones and other portable technology become more prevalent in our lives, it is easy to wind up with several accounts (e.g., an AppleID, a Google or Gmail ID, another for your cell phone carrier, etc.). Depending on how your devices were originally set up, each of these accounts may play a role in storing and backing up your important personal data, such as your contacts/address book, calendar, and email. Most people don’t pay attention to which accounts are in play on their devices until they go to replace a device, and discover that data appears to be missing or duplicated.
A related scenario that I see often is with people who are in a career transition, perhaps leaving a company that they have been with for many years which has, up to now, supplied them with a computer and smartphone tied to the company’s productivity system.
There are a number of what I will call “complete productivity suites” that include email, contacts, calendars, and task management. So if you already have an email address that ends in @gmail.com, @hotmail.com, @msn.com, @outlook.com, @mac.com, or one of many others, you may already have the building blocks in place for a complete productivity data strategy. Which one of these is best for you depends, in part, on your existing and future preferences for computers, smartphones, and tablets. For example, devices with Android operating systems are designed to tie in tightly to Google or Gmail accounts, while Apple devices are happiest when they’re tied in to Apple accounts.
The remaining articles in this series will address each of the subcategories I’ve mentioned – Email, Contacts/Address Books, Calendars, and Tasks/To-Do’s. I had better get to writing!