28 August 2008

Calendar setup

In a previous post, I described how I use my calendar to send myself "strategic reminders." Reminding yourself to take your vitamins, look at your finances, schedule a haircut, etc is a pretty obvious idea and it's not surprising that Gina Trapani wrote about it in an article called "Tickle yourself with Yahoo Calendar."

I thought people might like a more detailed look at my calendar. I used Yahoo Calendar for over two years and it worked very well. However, recently I wanted to transfer my calendar from one Yahoo account to another. There was no good way of performing the transfer because I had too many events (Yahoo should fix this!). I became very annoyed and switched to Google Calendar.

One nice thing about Google Calendar is that I can manage many calendars and label each calendar with a different color. I have different calendars: "Daily reminders," "Weekly reminders," "Monthly reminders," "To do," "Appointments," and "Special events." I chose colors for the reminder calendars in the bluish-purplish part of the spectrum, allowing for easier identification.

Reminders are exactly what they sound like. They are to-do items -- reminders to do something. In general, I only require that the reminder be done the same day but I put a time on the reminder so that I get the reminder at the time-of-day when I should do that item. I should go to the gym in the morning, so the reminder email gets sent at 5 am. I don't want to worry about cleaning my room in the morning, so that reminder gets sent out at 7 pm. Often, I am so used to doing certain items on a daily basis that I will just do them without the reminder. Whenever I complete a to-do item, I delete the corresponding reminder email from my inbox.

Now for your amusement, here is my calendar for all of you to see. The first screenshot is only the daily reminders. There are a ton of them, which is why I turned off viewing for the other calendars. Most of the items are self-explanatory. "Temptation blocker" is a piece of software that prevents me from wasting time on the internet. You probably noticed that I track various information including my bedtime, wakeup time, my mood that day (on a numerical scale), and the work I planned and actually did that day (which I call a "worklog").

There are too many daily reminders, so they get cut off in the monthly view. Here's a detailed view.

As I already mentioned, these same daily reminders show up in my inbox. Since I use Gmail for personal communication and don't want to mix that up with to-do items, I setup a Gmail filter to forward calendar reminders to my Yahoo account.

Here's a view of my other calendars. The "To do" calendar consists of to-do items that don't reoccur, e.g. that only happen once. The "Appointments" calendar consists of to-do items where I need to be somewhere at a certain time. The "Special events" calendar current includes birthdays, though I might decide to add other types of events later.

Not everyone may agree with this method, but I always associate an email reminder with every calendar item. I like to be able to open my inbox and look at what needs to be done that day. I don't want to open up Google Calendar and look at the big picture unless I'm doing a weekly or thirdly review. My calendar operates on a need-to-know basis, which I believe is the most efficient setup.

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