The last six months have been an extended PDA experiment for me. I bought a Palm 515 on eBay and have been using it along with Franklin Planner software on both my laptop and my Palm. The goal was to replace my paper based Franklin Planner system that I have been using for years. The benefit to me if successful was to reduce the bulk I travel with every week, a worthy Road Warrior goal, and also to possibly increase the effectiveness of my planning and information management.
I have watched my clients use PDAs to great effect. They are able to sync their Outlook/Lotus Notes schedules and sometimes even their email. This way they always have their electronic schedule current and available to them. This seems to be the most obvious use pattern out there. This is effective because their planning largely consists of meeting management and schedule recording.
My case as a Road Warrior is a bit different. My schedule is driven by client engagement confirmations that are not communicated via email. I need to plan and manage adhoc information from three main sets of activities: client engagements, inhouse work, and perhaps even more importantly, my at home days since there are so few of those. Its like I have three jobs and a purely electronic solution doesn't seem to work for me.
Part of this is also that when I am not travelling, I really don't want to fireup my laptop to get at the PC version of the Franklin software. Its like I want to avoid that part of my world when time is my own. Trouble is, that is where I can plan ... the larger views of the month and year are easier to see, I can more quickly get a picture of future commitments ... all this is much easier on the PC version than on the Palm version. But I have laptop phobia on the weekends ... and the planning doesn't happen. I also find that the Franklin Palm software runs very slowly even on a Palm 515.
So I find myself wishing to get my paper based planner back. Not having it close has actually been stressful. I feel like I am out of control. Perhaps my Franklin Planner works better for me because I have had a long relationship with paper based planning tools. I find myself looking longingly at the archived Franklin Planner pages for the last years. There is a sense of permanance to the record that I am missing with the purely electronic system. Perhaps had I started using pda like tools sooner it would work better for me. I wonder what other road warriors have done? Anyway, it looks like I am going to the Franklin store tommorrow.
I have found the palm to be very effective at information management using tools like AvantGo, Acrobat for Palm, JPluck, Franklin Planner for Palm and the palm address manager but have found it to be inadequate as a planning and overall life management tool. For now I am going to go back to using my paper based planner and continue to use the palm to store data that I need close at hand. Perhaps that will produce the best synergy of the two tools.