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Streamline Your Life With a Cell Phone

Children and adults with ADD can use a cell phone to improve punctuality, memory and communication.

Did you know that you can get directory assistance free of charge? Just call 1-800-FREE411. You may have to listen to a brief advertisement, but that's better than paying up to $3.49 a pop.

Today's sophisticated cell phones can simplify and streamline your busy life in some pretty surprising ways (and not just by calculating the tip when you dine out). Here's a sampling of what phones can do:

Keep you on schedule. At home, you can set an alarm clock to wake you and keep you on track during the day. What if there were an alarm clock you could carry with you - so you'd be sure to stick to your schedule?

Well, you're in luck. Many cell phones sold today have a clock/calendar function that lets you set multiple alarms. You can use a different ring tone for each alarm, so you'll immediately know, for instance, that "Who Let the Dogs Out?" means "pick up the kids."

Record your ideas. Ever come up with a brilliant idea, only to forget it before you could write it down? Me too. Now, whenever I have a brainstorm, I grab my cell phone and start dictating. Like many phones sold today, mine lets me record up to 100 seconds at the push of a button. The voice-recording feature is also great for creating shopping lists and for reminding yourself where you parked the car.

Keep track of names and faces. If your phone has a built-in camera, use it to create a rudimentary "face book." Just snap a photo of each new acquaintance, and tap in his/her name. A quick scan of the resulting images will help you avoid the embarrassment of forgetting who someone is.

Reach your children at school. When you need to contact your child during the school day, send a text message to his cell phone: CHANGE OF PLANS - I'LL PICK YOU UP AT FOUR O'CLOCK. With his phone set to vibrate, he can check the phone's display without disturbing the classroom. (Check to make sure this doesn't violate school policy.)

Provide driving directions. Why spend hundreds on a GPS unit, when you can get maps and turn-by-turn driving directions free of charge, using your phone's Web browser? Web sites like go2.com offer maps and directions, along with weather information, Yellow Pages, updates on airport delays, and more.

If your phone lacks a browser, you can still get free info (driving directions, forecasts, movie listings, sports scores, restaurant listings, and so on) from Google Short Message Service (SMS). Just send a text message that contains the relevant keyword, followed by your Zip code, to GOOGL, or 46645. For example, if you're craving sushi in Boulder, Colorado, send "sushi 80305." In seconds Google SMS will send you a message containing the names and telephone numbers of nearby sushi restaurants. If you need directions, send Google SMS another message with your address (street, city, state), then "to," and the restaurant's address. (For detailed instructions on how to use Google SMS, go to google.com/sms/howtouse.html.)

Isn't it amazing what cell phones can do? Mmmm, sushi. I'm hungry!

NOTE: Product names, models, prices, and specifications were current as of print. Please leave a comment below if you are aware of more accurate and up-to-date information.


This article comes from the August/September 2006 issue of ADDitude.

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