As a time management speaker, trainer, and productivity expert, one of my New Year's Resolutions this year is to use a certain little productivity enhancement device even more in the coming year, due to it's wonderful usefulness.

The tool I am talking about is the portable personal digital voice recorder, and the tip I'm sharing with you is to keep one of these very handy anytime you are mobile! Portable voice recorders are a wonderful tool for helping you be better organized and less forgetful. They allow you to capture valuable ideas and important tasks on the fly, and act as a portable, personal "answering machine" for messages that you'd like to leave for yourself. They can also help enhance your creativity (important for any aspiring writers or speakers reading this), by giving you the opportunity to get out of any setting filled with distraction or lacking inspiration (more on that later.)

They can of course be used anywhere -- I use mine primarily in the car -- but I also find it useful to keep one on me whenever I am out of my home or office and also away from my laptop/PDA (yes, I do occasionally leave home without my Palm and/or Blackberry!!), because you never know when inspiration is going to strike. By having a personal voice recorder with me frequently, I can leave myself messages and capture good ideas whenever they happen to hit me, especially when I'm away from a "traditionally productive" setting, like a workstation or home office.

I really like having one in my car -- they tend to be a bit easier to use "on the fly" than even my PDA SmartPhone (those can be somewhat dangerous little buggers to be fooling with when driving in traffic!) The two different models of voice recorders that I have both have a large, easy to find "RECORD" button right on the front and center of the device. Thus, when I'm driving, and an idea hits me, or I think of a task I need to remember to do when I get back home/to the office, I just pick up the recorder, hit the button, leave the message/reminder to myself, hit the button again (to stop recording), and I've got an audio reminder that is there waiting for me when I'm ready for it. Then, when I get back home or to the office, I just play my voice recorder messages, transcribe them into my task list or "ideas" memo, and I never have to worry about losing those ideas/to do's again.

I mentioned that I have two recorders -- let me tell you why. First, one of them I bought a few years ago -- it runs on batteries, records up to two hours of audio, and works just great. I keep this one in my car (and often keep it on my person whenever I'm out and about), for whenever that random great idea pops up. There is one limitation to it though -- it doesn't synchronize with my PC, and thus, I can't download my audio files into my computer.

Thus, just recently, I purchased a newer version -- once again digital -- but with the added capability of automatic synchronization with my computer. Anything that I record into this one I can download into my computer and automatically convert into a universal MP3 file.

Why is that important?

Well, for me, I'm right now in the process of writing a new book on better e-mail management strategies, and I want to write it quickly. I can talk WAY FASTER than I can type (if you've ever seen one of my programs, you'll know that's no lie!) So I'm using this new digital audio recorder to "record" my first draft of my book, and then I'm using a transcriptionist to take the MP3 files generated to type the book for me. I'm figuring this could take weeks off of the writing time.

Also, I'm a professional speaker and trainer, and occasionally I have to develop new speaking programs. I've used my voice recorder in the past to help me get these new programs "organized". As a matter of fact, about a year ago, I was struggling with a good introduction for a new program I was developing. I just couldn't get the proper words formed for the opening sitting in my home office, so I decided to try something different. I jumped in my car, took my voice recorder, took a long drive in the country, and built my introduction one audio "snippet" at a time. (Basically, I drove around and would record one or two sentences at a time, then stop recording, drive some more, think some more, and then record the next piece of the intro.) After about two hours of doing this, all I had to do was play them all in order once I got back into my office, and I ended up having a very good 10 minute intro developed! I've also been known to "write" with my voice out on the golf course (always playing solo!), on walks in the woods, and of course in my car.

My new digital voice recorder works so well I can even use it to record my teleseminar and webinar sessions and turn them into nicely packaged audio products (for more info, visit One final note for all of you PDA users out there -- many of the top end PDAs and SmartPhones do have "onboard" voice recorders built in. Unfortunately, the PDA devices I am currently using don't have voice recorders, but I'm sure my next PDA will have one! If you are in the market for a new PDA or SmartPhone, I recommend you look for one with a built-in voice recorder -- it is always better to have a "single source" device. And, being a PDA, you can be pretty sure it will synchronize with your PC, thus giving you the capability to "talk-write" your next great opus (not to mention help you remember where you parked your car at the mall or airport!) Personal Digital Voice Recorders -- a definite thing to add to your "electronics store" shopping list.

Author's Bio: 

Randy Dean ( is the "Totally Obsessed" Time Management/PDA Guy and E-mail Sanity Expert. A very popular speaker and trainer, Randy has led programs all around the United States on better time management and e-mail sanity. The author of the book, Major Satisfactors = Major Success, and developer of the popular speaking/training program, "Taming the E-mail Beast: Managing the Mess of E-mail and Information Overload", Randy is working on a new book and related DVD program on how to better manage your productivity and sanity related to e-mail and info overload. Randy also has popular speaking programs for conferences and association meetings, including his "Finding an Extra Hour Every Day" program, "The PDA Power Program", and "(RE)Awakening the Passion and Energy in Your Work and Life", as well as highly rated training programs, including his highlight full-day "Time Management for Busy Managers, Leaders, and Professionals" course. You can learn much more about Randy and his upcoming courses and programs at