Q: I recently purchased a PDA, but between this, my cell phone, and laptop, I’m feeling a little too wired and weighed down. Help.
–Shawn Rose, London, Ontario Canada
A: Here’s a little secret I like to share with just a few: You don’t need all your technology all the time. Some people might argue with me here (OK, many people will probably disagree with me), but you don’t need to be weighed down with every single gadget you own; you have to be selective.
For day-to-day activities and when I’m in the office, for example, I need only one tool: my trusty iPaq handheld. Friends and colleagues know that I am truly lost without it. I need it to schedule meetings, take notes, and keep track of pertinent information (such as when stories are due). I even use it as my alarm clock. For day trips, I pack my PDA and cell phone to stay productive and connected to the home office. For long cross-country trips–say, ones of more than two days–to conferences, meetings, and other press events, I need both tools as well as my laptop. On such trips, a laptop is essential for communicating with the office, working on files, and connecting to company e-mail.
Now, despite this separation, I have been known to flout my own rules and pack equipment that I know I won’t need. Force of habit, I guess. But one of the main reasons I can feel comfortable packing light is that I regularly back up my information. What’s important is to have the information on hand, not necessarily the tools.