I knew I had a problem when I showed up five minutes early for a 10 AM meeting… that actually started at 9 AM. Mortifying.
Because my day is fluid, malleable, and ever changing, I need my calendar to have the same flexibility. Over the past few months, I’ve begged, pleaded, and got my way around getting my digital calendar (Microsoft Exchange) onto my iPhone’s native Calendar and Mail apps. Since then, it has helped me tremendously to do my job. I haven’t been this excited since I found the auxillory port on the company vehicle to plug in my iPhone.
The Dark Times That Was Mobile Exchange
Prior to having Exchange on my phone, the three-step process to get into my Outlook was to:
- Launch Safari
- Plug in the Mobile Outlook URL (or navigate to it’s place in my Favorites)
- Plug in my username/password
- Pinch, zoom, and meticulously navigate to the email I want to read or to select my calendar.
Forget about composing an email on Mobile Outlook… That’s a nightmare I want to forget.
I find that being this disconnected with my scheduling tool is disempowering.
Throw The Paper Calendar Into The Trash
One less thing to carry around. Having my calendar on my iPhone saves me from having another book weigh down my bag. It’s simple, unobtrusive, and functional.
I can quickly access my calendar. If there is anything I need to look up on my schedule, two taps and I’m in. I want to know what’s coming, where I will need to be at, and what’s next. I also need to be able to change everything on a whim, as sometimes, a big fat monkey wrench gets thrown into my day. I also need to document my time to make sure I log it. I like that I am able to account for my day, should any question arise as to what I was doing.
My paper calendar distresses me. Writing in an appointment in pen locks me in to a deep commitment that can only be undone with more ink (i.e. crossing out the appointment) or white out. Alternatively, writing in an appointment in pencil makes me feel like I’m not fully committed.
Throw The Paper Calendar Into The Trash… and burn it
I need a calendar that I can quickly add appointments to. Every week, I find a day in which I am in case management hell, but to help me get out of it, I am able to look back on my calendar and figure out what needs documentation, what 30 minute task for one client needs to be lumped in to the note about the 2 hour meeting I had with them earlier in the day.
I need a calendar that empowers me to quickly serve my clients. When I am out in the field, I am quickly able to add appointments for present- and past-tense unscheduled appointments that I need to document later, e.g. phone calls, crises, home visits. While in one field venue, I was referred a client, who I quickly found space for and added to my calendar. Boo ya.
I need a dynamic calendar. The problem with a paper calendar is that it is not maleable and you run out of real estate when you try to cram details into your entry. On my iPhone, I can put quick notes about my appointment, URLs that can be launched, phone numbers that can launched with a quick tap, or even an address where I can link to my maps app and get directions to where I need to be.
I need a fluid calendar. With my iPhone calendar, I can hold down an appointment, and the appointment can literally be lifted and dropped into another spot in my calendar. No mess, no nothing. I can quickly boot an appointment to the following week or with a few taps and dragging, extend or shorten an appointment’s time.
Exchange Email on my iPhone is a Blessing.
The benefits to having email on my phone are that I can do my job efficiently and professionally.
I can respond to email right away. I hate waiting on other people when I have one or two tasks dependent on them so that I can move forward and I don’t want to be that guy that keeps another person waiting. I don’t like to keep people hanging and I don’t like it when others keep me hanging.
I get updates pushed right away. While breaking news travels at the speed of tweet, I would rather know immediately about a change to my client, day, etc. than go about my day, get to my desktop computer, and find out about the change. Knowing right away means I can use my time efficiently to navigate around that change or readjust my priorities. Email is pushed over right away and changes, e.g. reading an email or filing it away into it’s respective folders, is reflected right away.
Composing an email is pretty awesome, too. While I do not have all of my contacts in my address book, if I type in the first few letters of my contact’s last name and wait a few seconds while my phone contacts the server. A few seconds later, options will populate as to which “Rodriguez” I can send my email to.
I get things done more efficiently. Having recently started my job (and having wrangled with Microsoft Exchange since the Bush Administration), I have developed a work-flow that incorporates an “Inbox Zero” approach. Anything in my inbox that hasn’t been archived is not completed and I am hellbent to get rid of it (by completing the task) as soon as possible (so that I can archive it).
It’s rather easy to turn off my work calendar and email. Toggle off email. Toggle off calendar. Done.
I preface what follows by stating that this is what works for me at this moment of my career and not intended to be a model for how to be professional; one has to figure out what they works for them and this is what works for me.
As a person that likes to be up to date, Exchange tends to stay on all day and night. In the field, it’s been said that it drains the iPhone’s battery, but being ever-prepared – I always have a power source nearby. That said, there have been times where I have been off and I have responded to email. My job is important to me, thus, if something important comes my way, I will take action, to the best of my ability or inform my colleague about my limited availabity and offer alternatives. As mentioned in a previous post, I do not like keeping others waiting on a response from me about a task.
I’m in a point in my career where I don’t have anything else going on. I don’t have to budget my time for children or school, but if I had either obligation, Exchange would be toggled off as soon as I got home.
How do you use your mobile device with work?