My next mobile wonder

Ok, I’ve found my next hope. I’ve located THE device that is going to keep me not only MOBILE, but will enable me to leave the office without first packing up everything this side of the kitchen sink and putting it all in a too-big bag to lug around everywhere I go.

The hassle of packing up everything whenever I leave the house, paired with the inescapable urge to take EVERYTHING I might need with me at all times when I leave the farm…. well, it’s made me less willing to step a toe across the property line.

And the more I research and learn about mobile options, the more intrigued I become.

So, I did the research (I’ve done little else but work and research lately) and I made my selections and I ordered it…

A Treo 600. They will be coming out with the next model in late November… the 650.. but who knows how long it will be before a local carrier will handle THAT one? And besides, being one version back means I miss most of the bugs that they will work out in the first 3-6 months after a new product launch. If I love this as much as I think I will, I’ll spring for the new one then (it has a nicer screen resolution, twice the speed, a user-changeable battery and Bluetooth – all things I’d like, if my whole system plan will fly).

The disadvantage of living in the “boonies” and working from the farm is that mobile options are fairly limited.

However, I’ve reviewed my list of needs, how I spend most of my time when doing client work, the work I enjoy most, and have managed to narrow my scope.

Fact is, when I’m away from the office I need a cell phone (Treo 600 is a check!). I also need my contacts and all that inane information I keep at all times and that family, friends and clients call to ask me at the most inconvenient of times (Treo, check!), I need access to e-mail from anywhere (Treo, check!), I need to be able to look things up on the web when the spirit moves me — which is fairly often (Treo, check).

I need to be able to access this device WHILE on the phone conducting client conferences (Treo, CHECK!) and, I need to be able to carry important files (check), and to be able to access that information from any other computer (similar to the way I use a USB flash drive) for both file access and sharing and computer troubleshooting onsite — TREO CHECK(with the 1gig expansion card I just ordered)! and I need to be able to not only view, but manipulate word docs and excel files on the fly — check (with some specialized software).

On a personal note, I’d like to have a place to quickly jot down the stuff I need to pick up next time I’m out, from office supply items to grocery store things. I need to have task lists for each day of the week because I’m one of those weird people that don’t feel like I’m making progress unless I’m checking off things on my lists. I’m ready to improve my diet and level of fitness (both of which have suffered during the last months of working constantly) – and I even found a program that will help me track those. I used it once before on a PDA – or one similar – and it really helped me. If you have to write it down… you think about it before you plop it in your mouth. And if the daily exercise graph flat lines, well, guilt kicks in and you go take a walk.

I’m a list maker, and just KEEPING up with all the lists I make when I’m not in front of a laptop that’s booted up… well, it’s a challenge. Treo 600 and some special software will handle that. More importantly, it will boot MUCH MUCH faster than my laptop. And that’s imperative. When I think of something I need to jot down, I want to jot it, not unzip the case, wrestle the laptop out, flip the screen up, press the button and wait, and wait, and wait (and try to hold onto that slippery idea) and wait, then get in, log on, and wait and wait, and then launch the program and wait and wait… and THEN jot it down. That’s just not the way my mind works, and it’s long past time that I customize my tools to ME rather than the other way around.

And, I give away a lot of billable time because when I’m on the road or out of the office clients call and I do conferences but I don’t have my QB timer, so I don’t bill it. If I don’t have exact timing, I simply don’t bill. I refuse to “estimate” billing.

I found a program for the Treo 600 that will keep up with my timer activities and download my data and upload new data from QB.

One of my pet peeves is to load and reload information in multiple programs. I hate that. If I have my information in my contact manager, then I want it to work in my e-mail program too, and my timer, and my accounting software and I don’t want to have to retype it into each one. It makes me crazy – and since I refuse to use any more Microsoft Products than I absolutely must, I have to reenter a lot. Other packages aren’t as friendly with each other as the suites are. But, with security issues as they are, I don’t use IE or Outlook period. MS is improving security, but I’m still not a fan.

So, I’m now on a mission to determine, which of the things I do now can be done with fewer programs just as well.

I’m streamlining.

And I think, once this new productivity tool is set up, I’ll have it all figured out.

I ordered it from eBay two days ago and it should be here tomorrow a.m. I’ve been researching the software and purchasing that in advance, reading manuals, getting ready.

I’ve even ordered a fold-up keyboard (the same size, when unfolded, as the one on my laptop) that beams to the PDA via IR — so I can even do my writing on this little wonder!

If I get this set up the way I like it, and if it works as well as I hope, then I’ll look at the new model once they shake out any “new product” bugs a bit.

The phone portion won’t work any better out here than the cell phone I currently have, but I usually need the phone less than I need the access to the data and the ability to write and work. And when I use the phone most, I’m usually in an area that does have service.

I’m re-evaluating my work again… it’s nearly a new year. I’m trying to determine how to furthur narrow my scope and continue to specialize in what I enjoy most.

Internet marketing consultation, helping small businesses launch successfully, web-content writing, writing articles, and just plain writing — all while being high-tech in a rural area… these are the things I love. And, with my new (or gently used) Treo 600 I’ll know in the next month if I can make a go of this new approach.

I get a little obsessive about new “plans,” so I’ll be writing more about this as it unfolds.

By the time it’s all done, I’ll share the software that worked, what didn’t work, the accessories it takes to work like this, and whether or not it’s actually made leaving the office less of a hassle.

And, if things go according to plan…. I might actually start carrying a PURSE looking bag again, instead of something that resembles an overnight bag everywhere I go.

Wouldn’t that be refreshing?!?!