How to get my phone to remember more of the things I need to know
March 16, 2007 11:36 AM   Subscribe

When my colleagues phone me, how can I remember all the things that I am supposed to talk to them about?

I use a windows mobile pda phone (which I am very happy with) to do a job which requires me to spend much time away from my desk. On a typical day I have several things I need to communicate with various colleagues. The problem is that these 'things' are often minor details that are adjuct to the main topic of the conversation, so I often I find my self racking my brain during the conversation, and only remembering when I have hung up.

What I need is some software that lets me save a few key words to my specific contacts in my phone's address book, so that a memory jog flashes up on screen when I have that right colleague on the line. Ideally I could easily check these key words of the list as I go through the day. Any ideas?
posted by verisimilitude to Technology (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have this problem, and have never found a piece of software that can help (though I've tried lots of stuff). What I do is, every morning I write down the list of things I am supposed to get done on a scrap of paper. I sometimes forget to keep the piece of paper, and I very rarely consult them during the day. Just the act of writing it down, and going through my thoughts, helps organise things for me. Sounds silly, but it works for me. And, it costs nothing. For long term things I use technology, but short term - day of - memory is the best technology.
posted by Elmore at 11:45 AM on March 16, 2007

Don't most phone books on those let you have a "notes" section? That's already there for you to put that stuff into. You could always call them back when you remember the stuff right afterwards too.

The first thing I thought of is a second device. My husband used to have to carry a phone and a seperate blackberry for his work. I'd store the info in the blackberry and just use the phone for talking. Then you can read/type on one and talk at the same time on the other.

Perhaps a more archaic device such as pocketsized notebook and pencil?
posted by jesirose at 11:46 AM on March 16, 2007

I enter the talkpoints one-by-one in the memo section of my Palm pda before the call, and wipe them clean (to keep data to a minimum) after the call's over.
posted by Gordion Knott at 11:48 AM on March 16, 2007

Sounds like a job for a GTD-style list manager, that includes a 'context' category.

posted by Wild_Eep at 11:49 AM on March 16, 2007

I second jesirose's suggestion. A Hipster PDA, would help. You just need to write down the items so they won't be forgotten. For some tasks, the analog solution rules.
posted by browse at 12:00 PM on March 16, 2007

I have a GTD "context" called "@Calls and Emails" where I keep a list of people I need to contact about something. I use GTDTiddlyWiki to manage my GTD stuff at work. It has it's own search engine built in.

At home, I use a moleskine and just add any contact I have to make as a separate item on my global task list. The important part is to list it very specifically: "Contact Ted about installing a new sink."
posted by wheat at 12:01 PM on March 16, 2007

posted by wheat at 12:02 PM on March 16, 2007

I was going to suggest carrying a small notebook (moleskine if you want something classier) but Elmore's basically got that covered. Sometimes the the low-tech suggestion is still the best!
posted by 6550 at 12:15 PM on March 16, 2007

I write down the list of things I am supposed to get done on a scrap of paper

Me too. The back of yesterday's desk calendar page (you know, Word-A-Day or Dilbert or whatever) works nicely - it's the perfect size, and it's free. And I feel better if I don't waste 'em.
posted by vytae at 12:16 PM on March 16, 2007

I would go hipster PDA on this one. Grab a stack of index cards, label them with the names of your colleagues, clip them together, and toss them in your bag. When one calls, just grab their card and ask away. You can even cross off the questions on the card for that satisfying "I got that done" feeling we all love so much.
posted by zachlipton at 1:29 PM on March 16, 2007

If you already use an electronic address book, you should just use the note feature on the address book to remind yourself of what you need to talk to them about, as others have noted. I do this and it works very well. No need to add yet another system to your life, be it electronic or hipster PDA.
posted by grouse at 4:29 PM on March 16, 2007

send yourself to-do emails to a gmail account appended with +personsname, i.e. Put the reminder/tickler in the subject of the email. Then use filters to file these away into your johnsmith folder. When your on the call, ask the caller to hold on a sec, fire up gmail, and goto the johnsmith folder. You can kick some serious ass with the + feature in gmail.
posted by jasondigitized at 4:55 PM on March 16, 2007

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