Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Moving My Organizational System to the Cloud

Time Management


The last two posts are important in understanding this one. In January 2002, I moved from a paper-based organizational system to a digital one using Outlook synced to a Palm. Ever since, Outlook has taken responsibility for housing each of the following:
  • My calendar
  • My tasks (or "to-do" list)
  • My one and only address book 
  • Commonly-accessed reference information
  • Email
The Palm synced with all of the Outlook modules except email. When I moved to the BlackBerry, it synced with all 5 Outlook modules.

The last post talked about my change from the BlackBerry to an Android device. The ability to synchronize my data between my desktop software and phone was a primary concern. Syncing Outlook to the BlackBerry was a piece of cake. Install a piece of software called the "BlackBerry Desktop Manager," which shipping on CD-ROM with the device or could be easily downloaded. Work through a little initial setup. From there on, syncing Outlook with the BlackBerry was simply a matter of plugged a cord into the BlackBerry and watching the data update.

With the advent of iCloud, syncing Outlook with the iPhone became considerably easier. Having experimented with the "Reminders" app on the iPhone, however, I was a little suspicious of just how good my experience with it would be compared with the Task app on my BlackBerry.

Syncing Outlook with an Android device provided fewer clear-cut solutions. Third-party software would be required to convert Outlook data to something else which could then be read by software on the Android. Reviews of various software options were mixed. The most promising seemed to be a program called gSyncit. The app—at roughly $20—would convert the Outlook calendar and contacts to Google Calendar and Google Contacts, Outlook Tasks to Google Tasks or ToodleDo, and Outlook Notes to Evernote or other options.

Clearly, syncing Outlook to Android would mean going through a middle-man to get my Outlook data to the cloud. While Outlook has been a great tool, the future seems to be moving away from syncing data to a single computer and more towards syncing data to the cloud.

I have used my extensive use with Outlook to help others set up their own systems.Yet, not everyone has Microsoft Office, and therefore do not have Outlook. Also, my understanding is that Outlook for Macs is not nearly as good as the version for PC. Having first-hand experience with free, cloud-based tools enhances my ability to provide digital organizational systems to everyone

So, a month ago—when I moved from my BlackBerry to my Android phone—I also moved my data from Outlook to a set of cloud-based alternatives. The next few posts will outline what I use, how I moved the data, and initial tips shortcuts I have learned.

For that reason, I moved my data from Outlook to the cloud, thereby avoiding an intermediary which may or may not be reliable.
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