Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Sept. 5, 2002

My personal organizer - batteries not needed

When I checked my e-mail earlier in the week, a big ad appeared. That's nothing new. I regularly get ads on both my work and home computers - ads for consolidating my debt (the only debt I have is on the one credit card which I pay off each month); for Viagra (yeah, like I need that!); or for finding the perfect man (Art's not perfect, but I wouldn't trade him in!)

However, this new ad caught my attention.

"Congratulations! You are the next person to receive a FREE Personal Digital Organizer from the American Homeowners Association. Tell Us Where To Send Yours. Click here now!"

I must admit, I was tempted to click. I am a somewhat compulsive organizer. Anything I can do and any gadgets, storage containers or books I can buy to help me in my quest are hard to resist.

I am a list maker and a to-do person. My husband jokes that I even have to write a note to remember my lists. Although I don't think I'm THAT bad, I must admit that I'd be lost without some sort of planner to keep track of my activities and those of our daughters. I don't usually bother to keep track of Art's appointments and activities. He has his own form of remembering things and I wouldn't even attempt to understand his system.

I still use a paper "DayMinder" calendar that's small enough to fit in my purse. It's portable, has room for daily notations for my work and home lives, and keeps me on time and organized. If I have shopping to do on a certain day, I attach the list to the page with a paper clip. If I need to call someone, I attach his or her business card to the page - also with a paper clip. It's not very sophisticated, but it's kept me on track - so far.

Still, I have this nagging feeling that I should invest in some sort of electronic device - to "get with the program" with technology.

Almost everyone I know has one. A hand-held Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) would help me keep track of meetings, football games, birthdays, addresses and phone numbers, doctor appointments and other such minutiae with a quick swipe of a stylus. I could also set alarms on a PDA that would remind me when to go to an appointment, make a call or get to a parent-teacher conference on time.

A computer-based information management system would take it one step further. I'd be able to click on a certain action item, which would pull up a contact page to my computer screen, complete with phone number and pertinent information. It would even dial the phone number or bring up the e-mail address for me.

But I think I'll stick with my paper and pen system - at least for now.

When I was at a bookstore a few months ago, I picked up a "Paper Palm," which was just a notebook that fit in my hand and also could fit in a shirt pocket. The instructions with it read: "Get back to basics with PaperPalm, the new alternative to the electronic hand-held device. With a pencil included, you'll have no trouble using this old-fashioned organizer any time, anywhere - even during takeoffs and landings."

My thoughts exactly - and it never needs batteries.

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