This article assumes that you have never used an electronic diary before - it is written to help you understand why they are so popular, and how they can help you be more productive in your work.

Contents
  What can a PIM do ?
  Why should I use one if I already have a good paper diary and address book ?
  What are the Downsides to using a PIM
  What are the benefits of switching to an Electronic Diary
  So why should I use Acute Softwares Diary ?


What can a PIM do ?

You can record and be reminded of appointments, phone calls, meetings. You can store contacts details - names, phone numbers, addresses, emails, website addresses, who referred that person to you. You can keep a list of tasks to do.

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Why should I use one if I already have a good paper diary and address book ?

The best reasons for keeping an electronic version of your paper diary and contacts list can be summarized as follows

1. EDITING: You can change things later without resorting to liquid paper or scribbling in the side of your diary

2. SEARCHING: You can click 'search' and find the name of the person you met 'about 6 months ago' instantly, instead of leafing through pages of the diary

3. REMINDERS: Simply tick the 'remind me' when you enter an appointments and the computer will bring up a short message before the event to remind you.

4. VIEWING: You can change the way you view your data at any time. Most of the time you will probably keep it in the 'normal view' which looks like a diary opened out in either daily appointments or weekly planner mode, but you can quickly switch to only view any combination of data you like - for example, you can choose to view only the urgent appointments, or only phone calls you made, or when you used a certain file on the PC. All this can be done quickly and simply at any time while using a PIM.

.. and if you still want to keep your paper version, you can simply click 'print' and have your information either daily, weekly or monthly.

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What are the Downsides to using a PIM

1. Your computer needs to be on, and you need to be near it
Lets face, a computerised diary will be of little value to you if your computer is never turned on. Dont laugh, but many people buy electronic diaries with great intentions of being organised, but never use them, because THEY ARE NOT AT THEIR COMPUTERS.
You are at your computer right now reading this - do you have a reminder system running ? Will you be reminded when its your wife/husbands birthday?
2. What if I lose everything in a big power failure
Yes it can happen - but most diaries will keep backups of your data and / or allow you to fix a 'zapped' database file

You can avoid this simply by :
1 - backing up your data once a week
2 - print out your weekly schedules each week
This way - even if the worst happens and your PC is stolen - you will still have your diary/schedule as you would have if it were the paper version.
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What are the benefits of switching to an Electronic Diary

An electronic diary , in its simplest form is just the same as the paper versions. You can write down appointments and browse through the pages.

The first main benefit of the electronic version is that it can remind you of these appointments even if you are not looking at the page.

The second main benefit is the 'search' facility - type in any text, or date, or someones name and the dairy will find the entry you are looking for.

These 2 features alone are why most people switch to an electronic diary.

How will a Computerised Diary save me money? Time is money, right ?
How often have you flicked through each page of your paper based diary looking for something you remember writing 'a few months ago'. Come on, be honest - any busy person has done it, and most of us have wasted many hours each month flipping madly through the pages - its even worse when a customer or the boss is waiting for an answer.
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So why should I use Acute Softwares Diary ?

1. Never forget another appointment again
if your computer is turned on, and you can see it (or at least hear it), then you will be reminded of all important events.

2. Its quicker to enter a note into the diary than it is to reach for a pen and paper
That means that you will actually use it - lets face there are a lot of 'diary' type programs on the market, but the fact is, if they are not VERY EASY to use, and they are not QUICKER than pen and paper, then people simply wont use them...
They may be great products; but if it takes all your computers memory and a huge thrashing of the hard drive to load the damn things, so you can type 'ring Aunt Edna', you will not be bothered!

Acute Software's Diary is different - it only loads the months data you are looking at, so it will load quickly. Also you dont even need to have the diary running - a small program 'D-Server' runs quietly from the toolbar which lets you do the most common things such as adding appointments and finding things in the diary - All without loading the main program.

3. Find out what you really spend your time on.
Ever wonder how much time you waste at the computer doing menial tasks - the diary records what you do and gives daily, weekly and monthly summaries (Did I really spend 5 hours and 24 minutes playing Minesweeper last month?)

4. Keep track of the files you use.
Your boss walks into your office and says "Give me a printout of the spreadsheet you sent to Marketing last month with the estimates for Widget Sales".
You panic - last month you worked on a lot of estimates, but which file was the one you sent to management - you could look at the date stamp of all the estimate files you worked on, but other people have been looking at them too. Luckily you have Acute Softwares Diary installed.
You open the diary and do a power search for XLS in the last month and get a list of all files and Excel usage for the past month - you quickly see that you spent over 4 hours working on "Widget Estimate for marketing Nov99.xls" on October 22nd. You click on the Calendar on that date and see in the 'PC Usage' section that right after working on that XLS sheet you sent a mail message to marketing. That's the one! You print a copy and give it to your boss and everyone is happy again.

5. No need to backup or export data files
Tired of your old diary, when every 6 months or so you have to 'export' the data to an archive file - never to be seen again. Ever tried to do a search on all current files as well as your archived data - its not easy with the other programs.
With Acute softwares Diary all the data files are stored as individual months. This is why it is so fast to load. Backups are simple - you dont really need to do them, Autobackup (which comes with the Diary) makes sure there is a recent copy of all data files.


That's the end of this article, I hope it has been of some use to you. If you have any comments about it, email Duncan at djmurray@acutesoftware.com.au

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