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Productivity Consultant at Organize For Success, LLC...
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Thursday, September 4, 2014

How Mobile Professionals Sync Email, Contacts, Tasks & Calendars Across Devices to be More Productive

Busy professionals in today’s workforce are expected to be available 24/7, and mobile devices make it possible to work on-the-go. Whether at home, in a vehicle, working from the airport, in a coffee shop, meeting with a client, staying at a hotel or somewhere in between, a mobile worker needs to be able to deliver the same level of customer service and quality work at all times, which involves heavy phone usage as well as reliable access to the Internet, your email and what resources are available in your office. Still, whether you prefer AndroidBlackberryiPhone or Windows for your smartphone, it is valuable only when you sync your email, contacts, tasks and calendars across your various devices, which can be rather challenging, particularly for those using Outlook as the central hub for email, contacts, tasks and calendars.

There are two standard email protocols for pulling your email from the email server to whatever tool you are using to manage your messages: POP (Post Office Protocol) simply downloads email to your computer and, usually, deletes the original message from the remote server. When using POP across more than one device, you have to delete or file each individual email on every device; plus, none of the folders created on one device show on any other devices. Alternatively, IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) allows users to store their email on remote servers, which is a two-way protocol that allows for synchronizing email across multiple devices. A simple search of “POP versus IMAP” on your preferred Internet browser can outline the numerous differences. Yet, the conundrum related to syncing your email across devices, including Outlook, can be resolved simply by switching your email account from POP to IMAP, and you can find step-by-step instructions to walk you through this process online at http://www.pop2imap.com/how.php.

When talking about options for syncing, that related to contacts and calendar requires a different approach. If you are using exclusively Apple tools, meaning you are syncing between a MacBook laptop, iPhone, iPad and Mac desktop computer, all of your contacts and calendar events will sync seamlessly by using iCloud; however, if you are syncing any of these Apple iOS mobile devices with Outlook on your MacBook laptop or Mac desktop computer, it will require a third-party tool. One excellent option for syncing Outlook with your iPhone, iPad and iPad Mini is Sync2, and you can learn more about how this works as well as download the tool by clicking here. Another excellent option for syncing Outlook with your iPhone and iPad is CompanionLink, and you can learn more about what this will sync between devices as well as how to set it up by clicking here.

To sync contacts and calendar from an Outlook account to your Android, Blackberry or Windows device or between various PC computers can be a little more complicated than using iCloud for Apple-only devices. Until August 1, 2014, you might’ve been using Google Sync to complete such data transfer; although that is no longer an option, there are several third-party tools that can help… 
CompanionLink syncs Outlook data wirelessly through Google’s services or via a WiFi network through the DejaOffice suite of apps. Private records may be password protected and encrypted, providing the highest level of security available, and updates are free for life.
Sync2 synchronizes your Outlook calendar, tasks and contacts with Google calendar, tasks and Gmail contacts, which, then, can synchronize with your Android device’s calendar and contacts, and Android users add a Google account when first setting up the phone. 
Funambol Sync offers open source options. From this site, simply download whichever client applies to your tools and devices; then, once install is complete and the Funambol Outlook Sync Client opens, configure your sync settings under Tools and Options.
HyperOffice provides a powerful alternative to Microsoft Exchange… While it can include many other collaboration tools, HyperOffice can sync documents, calendars, contacts, projects and tasks for teams or individuals alike. Compare its pricing options by clicking here.
The Missing Sync from MarkSpace connects your Android, iPhone or Palm smartphone with your PC or Mac computer. For Android, it is exceptionally robust, including Outlook, Address Book and iCal, providing options via Bluetooth, WiFi or USB to transfer and sync data.

While the aforementioned tools of CompanionLink, Sync2, HyperOffice and MarkSpace offer options to sync your tasks from Outlook across various mobile devices, there are also plenty of task-focused apps available to help. First, remember a project is a compilation of tasks that are necessary for achieving a major undertaking while a task is a clearly defined piece of work for which a specific individual is held accountable. Second, the benefits of tracking tasks electronically include (1) automatic carryover for any items left incomplete following their scheduled due dates, (2) reminders that pop-up to nudge you in completing the action required and (3) easily scheduling completion of the designated task to recur at specific times in the future. With that in mind, applicable tools for syncing tasks across devices include Any.DoRemember The MilkPocket Informant as well as Wunderlist. Applicable tools for syncing projects include AsanaMavenlink and Teamwork PM. See which option best meets your needs and implement fully.

Alternatively, if you are looking to sync Outlook between two computers (like between your PC and that of your assistant, your spouse or your business partner), CodeTwo Outlook Sync enables you to sync Outlook calendars, contacts, tasks, email and documents between those two selected computers. If you are looking to sync Outlook calendars, contacts and tasks with the iCloud system on your iPhone, iPad or Mac, CodeTwo Sync for iCloud works well. Still, if you are looking to sync tasks from Outlook to your Android phone, SymTasks offers a great option for bridging data; adding SymTasks Outlook Sync to your computer will sync your Microsoft Outlook Tasks over to a SymTasks app on your Android device.

One word of caution… If you are on an exchange and, thereby, need a tool for syncing only tasks (not calendars or contacts), please pay close attention when establishing your settings, making sure to check off tasks for activation while not checking either contacts or calendar. Each tool that covers all three of those options will allow you to pick and choose which of the syncing tools you’d like activated; just be clear upfront about what you need from the set-up.

Finally, before you download and install any of the outlined options, review the associated privacy policy, making sure you are comfortable with what it outlines and that it meshes with what your company has outlined for records management or confidentiality guidelines.

Have you better optimized your productivity by syncing email, contacts, tasks and calendars across your various devices? If so, with which have you had the most success?

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