BlackBerry zen 101: reduce errors and boost productivity

If you’re one of those people that owns a BlackBerry but never uses it for anything more than making phone calls, you need a session with ‘Berry guru Saravanan Vagesnaran.

After years of deeply studying the art of the ‘Berry, he understand the technology like a fish understands the flow of a river. He now dedicates himself to helping others gain a glimpse into the zen-like state of productivity that can be achieved when business workers break down the barriers and become one with their smartphone.

The corporate trainer with Research In Motion (RIM) has for the past three years has “done these training sessions all over the world,” he says. “I’ve learned to find what people are looking for through patterns and I use my experience to pick out those needs.”

BlackBerry guru
Saravanan Vagesnaran is a Corporate Trainer with Research In Motion. Photo by Ben Benedict.

Brain Decker is a Board of Directors Downtown Simcoe BIA member who like many others, is trying to master all the functions of his smartphone.

“I use my BlackBerry for everything,” says Decker. “For me it was a session to see where we could go and be an asset to my board.”

Dial with letters

Ever come across a phone number that includes words or letters (like 1-800-GOT-JUNK for example) and thought you couldn’t dial it on your BlackBerry? After all, the letters normally associated with numbers aren’t displayed on your keypad. But users need only press and hold the ALT key to insert letters. Spell out the number you want to call, and your BlackBerry will dial that word-number after all.

Preventing Autodial

Always find yourself pocket dialling those on your speed dial list? Fix that by selecting Dial, Options, General Options, Dial from Home Screen, and select No.

Type emails faster

Use the space bar for ‘@’ or ‘.’ as the BlackBerry recognizes these when needed – just press space twice. Press and hold down the letter keys for capitals. In an email typing “mynumber” (space bar), inserts your phone number into an email you are sending. Also, typing “mypin” followed by a space will insert your BlackBerry’s PIN.

Extend battery life

Squeeze more juice out of your ‘Berry by selecting Options, Manage Connections, and then deselecting the Bluetooth and WiFi tabs unless in use. Knowing that vibrate uses the least amount of battery life was further sage advice.

Avoid roaming charges

Select Options, then Mobile Network, then choose the “Off When Roaming” option under “Data Services” menu. Tell your carrier in advance of traveling to ensure you are on the right roaming plan.

Save time and stay organized

Create folders as a way to keep your homepage organized and optimizing applications. Related article: Using “folder” power to master your BlackBerry smartphone.

Users can also keystroke ‘Set Up, Options, Word Substitution or Auto Text, Save’ to create customized signatures in emails, where users can have different signatures (prosig, mysig, gensig) for different uses or audiences.

Stay in sync

For BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express users, you’re able to synchronize your calendar with other users within your enterprise group. This must be set up through your IT department and as well, all individuals must share their calendar for it to be truly functional.

All BlackBerry users can synchronize with other online calendars hosted by Google or Facebook.

Try setting Calendar View to display monthly as it creates that long term for planning future events and helps you become a big picture person.

Users who want to learn even more secrets about their BlackBerry can download free tutorials from RIM here.

“I’ve used it for questions when I’m stumbling and found the answers I needed,” says Nancy Wiles, Chair of the Acton, ON BIA whose attendance was “to better use my BlackBerry and get more out of it. We’re using our BlackBerry to communication all the time. I’d be lost without it.”

Ben Benedict is owner and operator of the professional writing and public relations firm, Benedict Creative Communications and can be reached at

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