More steps toward mobility with the Treo

Ok, I’ve been working on this thing for literally HOURS and HOURS now… and I’m nearly up to speed on all the new programs, all the manuals have been read (yes, I read BEFORE I install… go figure). I also read user reviews before downloading programs. I highly recommend this approach to any new software or hardware, BTW.

I’ve reworked the way the desktop portions of the applications are situated on my laptop… and things are starting to hum.

I do still have a few “gotchas” to handle…PocketQuicken seems to work seamlessly with the desktop Quicken program — after a minor error issue solved by reviewing the support documents online. But, I’m still having difficulty with the business finances — which are on QuickBooks.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to carry around a copy of QB on the Treo (I don’t even like having a copy of that monster on my laptop.) I prefer to have my accountant take care of all that and do the billing and endure the headaches.

However, I do need to find the best possible timer program that will SEAMLESSLY integrate into Quicken in the same format that the QB Timer uses. Sounds simple… but it’s amazingly complex and frustrating.

I’ve probably invested about 10 hours of prime work time in that process, I’ve tested a number of programs and have found NOTHING simple and very little that will work at all.

I mean, GEEZE, I need a timer. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal… but it is.

I’ll continue to battle with this one for the next few hours… or days, if I’m unlucky.

On the sunny side —

I’ve taken this opportunity to look at my current systems (many of which are outdated for the way I work now) and reevaluate my work style and the software I use to make my business run.

I’ve used ACT for quite some time — ever since I outgrew Outlook and started getting seriously concerned about the security risks inherent in that MS Program.

I never have taken the hours required to learn all the ins and outs of that huge, complex program. I just use the basics of functionality, like most people do – and feel guilty that I’m not getting all I COULD be getting out of my software. I’ve decided, instead, to get more out of my life.

I mean, really… any program which can support an industry of “ACT! certified consultants” to handle the functionality… is probably better suited to someone else. I want an easy way to handle the contact information on the folks I want to contact — and those contacting me.

Period.

I’ve done the “biggest is best” route on software and hardware. I’ve done the “enterprise” and “corporate” solutions.

I’ve purchased based on projected growth and need… and now… I’ve decided to reassess my business and my desire for growth first and then establish the systems I need AS I need them.

There are only so many hours in each day… and I’m pretty selective about the clients I take on… so why do I need to allow for a corporate-type of growth? I don’t want it. My services are fairly specialized. My clients are hand-picked. I interview someone new, even a referral, before accepting them as a client. I don’t go for quantity – I prefer quality.

I’ve been using the old corporate mentality dictate how I plan my work and my business — which is rather self-defeating.

I think many entrepreneurs do this. We leave the “traditional” work format and, in our excitement to make a go of it solo, end up recreating that same environment on a personal level — and not necessarily on a smaller one – that we chose to leave.

It’s sad. And it’s taken me several “revisions” in my psychology of my own work and the running of my business to get to this chapter of my work life. I expect there will be many more revisions before I’m satisfied.

In the meantime…

Now, I look at the ACT! program and wonder why I need something this blasted complicated. What I really need is to clean out my contacts and use only those that I still need — and not carry around outdated e-mail addresses for people I don’t even remember from the early 1990’s. I started out by using my ACT! For Palm program – and it looked pretty good. But I MUST overcome the need to SAVE every little bit of information I’ve ever had.

Like life, where you push possessions in front of you… I think computers — especially these fast, super-storage devices I like to keep — have only encouraged me to be sloppy in cleaning, paring-down and revitalizing my information.

So, I went through ACT and put all the up-to-date contacts in a single group and exported that group into the Palm’s Desktop address tool. As data exports go, it was pretty simple. The palm desktop is not really fancy, but it works well — and looks things up quicker than ACT did. I’m sure that the sheer SIZE of the act files, with all the associated “notes” and such, had nothing to do with how slow things have become.

I’m not tossing the ACT program — that would be too painful right now. I’m just taking it off my “quick launch” and off my desktop… it’s there in case I need some inane snippet of information at some point in the future… but I’m trying to pare down.

It will take quite some time to go through the contacts in the Palm address book application and clean them all up — checking to be sure that everything I need is where it should be and grouping them for ease of “lookup” on the Treo.

The desktop interface is really easy to use and fairly quick for data entry and data review. Not bad for a standard app.

The calendar, however, isn’t ok as packaged. I’ve purchased a couple small programs Holidates and GreatDates to help me track national, religious and international holidays along with personal dates (birthdays, anniversaries, memorial dates, etc.).

I’m not sure I’ll stick with this program forever, but these two programs make it much nicer, and since they interface seamlessly into the existing calendar program, it should be fairly easy to update with a replacement product without losing my data. We shall see.

I have too many new programs to learn right now to add yet another variable to the mix.

I haven’t found the handwriting recognition program I want yet – but I’m still looking. I’m not sure how much I’ll use it, but it just SEEMS like something I should need for a PDA. And, it’s my understanding that these little wonders have really improved. I’ll report in once I test drive a couple.

This process is rather lengthy – and I’ll report in again with more insights on the path to doing it all with a hand-held. But, in the meantime, I need to go poke around and see if I can find that timer app and I need to remove a few programs that aren’t meeting my expectations.

More soon!

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