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Gadgets that help with work/life balance

     Blackberry                      I'm amazed at all the gadgets that people are using to help them organize their hectic lives. I've started keeping my to-do lists and my shopping list on my cell phone after a friend showed me how much easier it is than writing them on scratch paper.

      Working Mother magazine says many moms are using a free online calendar from Google that let's you share scheduling information among linked accounts. The article says you can import area events with Google calendar and you can color-code events for different family members.

      Another tool busy moms like me are using is the Microsoft Outlook calendar, often carried on BlackBerrys and other smartphones. If both parents have Outlook, they can use it to schedule shared appointments. One mom said she assigns her husband tasks through Outlook, such as pick up Jared at soccer at 7 p.m. (I think I'll try it.) 

     I'm a Sprint customer and found it particularly interesting that you can sign up for "family locator" service, which allows kids' phones to act as a GPS tracking device. At any moment of the day, you can use a Web browser to check on your kids' whereabouts.

     Also, I'm really liking Facebook, which I have attached to my office e-mail, for sending messages back and forth with other moms in my carpool. And parents of teens know that text messaging is vital for shooting a quick message to your child while in an office meeting or on a business call.

        Alison Colvin, a mother of two and senior product-marketing manager quoted in Working Mother, says uses a toll-free on-demand teleconferencing line, coupled with Microsoft Live Meeting to go over presentations with a colleague in a different country. "We can look  at the same presentation, and he can be typing or writing with a little digital pen. I can see his comments and say, 'Actually, I think we should change it,' and I can type it in. It's almost like we're side by side."

     I know Wi-Fi gadgets are particularly hot right now -- devices that let you surf the Internet from the playground. Yes, technology can be overwhelming sometimes, but lately, I'm seeing all the upside.

    Do you use any gadgets to help you better organize your hectic life? Are you planning to try any new high-tech devices in 2009?