It's getting to be about that time when the spring cleaning bug rears its tidy little head. It's the time of year when thoughts turn to organizing offices, cleaning out garages, donating old clothing and "getting it together" in general. As someone who doesn't like to let the opportunity of a clean, new slate pass me by, I decided it was time to dig in and take a fresh look at Personal Information Managers (PIMs).
Perhaps one of the best software inventions, PIMs help you keep yourself and your business together--running on time and on track. Although they won't do the filing that has been piling up for months, they will help you sort out your contacts, schedules and task lists. Of course, as with everything, it's "garbage in/garbage out"--for PIMs to work to your advantage, you have to do some work and be willing to change old habits and invent new ones. Scheduling from within your computer has to become second nature, as does the way in which you check for appointments (whether you print out schedules to put in your paper-based organizer or check the computer for your appointments every morning).
All three programs reviewed here are the most current versions available. They all run under Windows and are all equally useful. Your decision of which to choose will be based less on quality than on what functions work for you.
With all three of the following programs, you get tools for scheduling and viewing appointments (choosing among day, week, month and year views); and tracking contacts, including general information (phone number, address, e-mail address and so on), as well as room for additional contact notes (such as when called, next call and so forth). Keeping in touch with clients is easy with included letter-writing capabilities for creating and generating form letters, and an automatic phone dialing feature. Alarms will keep you on time, alerting you to everything from an upcoming phone call to an important meeting.
Cassandra Cavanah is a contributing editor of Portable Computing Direct Shopper magazine and has reported on the computer industry for nine years.