It is possible to change the ‘desktop’ layout through the Options>Themes menu; there are three standard themes on the device and you can download others through the same menu (use the application button and select Download Themes).
I’ve selected one of standard themes, BB Dimension Today because it enables me to see at a glance the latest emails I’ve received, my next two appointments and any calls I’ve missed.
Before I got my Blackberry, the one thing people kept warning me about was the flashing red LED; apparently it is just too tempting to ignore the email that has just arrived. Therefore, the first thing I did with my Blackberry was to turn off the LED by creating my own profile (select Profiles, scroll down to Advanced… press the application button and and select New Profile). This is the equivalent of turning off the alert on my email software and means I can check my emails in batches at a time suitable for me. The options for personalising the profiles are large, especially when you consider you can have different options for when the Blackberry is in or out of its case.
I frequently change my profile to fit my current situation because I frequently want different levels of alerts, for instance a vibrating alert for new emails is great when I’m travelling, but could be embarrassing when I’m presenting.
I can access my office email folders through the Blackberry so I continue my email habits of keeping my inbox clear. All emails that require action are moved to my checklist folder, emails with useful information are stored in the relevant project folder and the emails I no longer need are deleted. This means when I’m next in the office I return to a clear inbox and I don’t need to go through emails a second time.
I have now stopped using my paper calendar and added all my personal appointments to the Blackberry so I only have one calender. I forgot to check both calendars a few times and almost double booked myself on a couple of occasions. I can easily mark any appointment as private if I don’t want my work colleagues to see it.
There is an inbuilt GPS in the Blackberry and you can download software to use it as a Satellite Navigation device. There are not many times when I would want to use Sat Nav, but it has been useful on a couple of occasions when I’ve been in London and wanting to know how long it would take to walk somewhere. instead of taking the underground. I initially used Orange Sat Nav and it was great, but unfortunately only seems to have been a trial version. The software I now have is Blackberry Maps, but I haven’t really worked out how to use this yet.
With all the other features the Blackberry has it shouldn’t be forgotten that it is also a mobile phone. Previously I did not have a work mobile phone and if I was out of the office I needed to book out a pool phone which of course took time.
It is possible that having an internet browser on the Blackberry could be a distraction at times. However it can also be fantastic to have mobile internet access, for instance when I was struggling to get home due to the recent floods in Britain I could access train times, the local road status and the BBC news to see what was happening.
To reduce further temptation I have purposely not downloaded additional games, added videos or music.
Things still to explore
There is still more for me to explore on my Blackberry, so there could be further productivity options. If any of you have other tips or any advice on how I could use the Memo Pad or Tasks option please leave a comment.