How many things? Only 23.











{June 30, 2012}   Organising myself (Thing 8)

Ok, so I’m behind, but I’ll catch up. Thing 8 is Google calendar, addressing the issue of ‘organising tools’. Now, I like to think I’m quite an organised person (this statement is not contradicted by my first sentence, by the way. There are mitigating reasons why I’m behind. I may be behind but I’m still organised), and I have my own ways of keeping track of dates, events, meetings, birthdays, jobs to do etc, at home and at work.

I’m also discovering during this 23Things process that I’m quite different in work and at home.

In work we use MS Outlook for email so we have a shared calendar function within that. Anyone in work can see my calendar and I put all my meetings in it and annual leave, and times when I’m finishing early or starting later due to a dentist/optician appointment at 9am or something. I find the shared calendar function useful for checking when other colleagues are around so that we can plan a meeting date and really useful if someone rings up and asks for a colleague and you can check if they’re away, in a meeting etc. So there’s no need for Google calendar in my present job.

I also use Outlook’s ‘task’ function to record all the jobs (big and small) that I need to do in work. This is a really useful tool and I use it all the time. Yes, I have many tasks in the red (overdue), but it’s easy to change the date on them so they’re not overdue for a bit longer! I remove the ‘alert’ function though as I don’t like all the pop up boxes telling me a task is overdue. I know it’s overdue, ok? (Again, having overdue tasks does not contradict my first sentence of the blog post – I just have a very busy job and not enough hours, like most people!). So, I don’t really need Google calendar for that either.

I also use a small hard-back diary – yes, those old fashioned things. I like it. A lot. It combines my work things, and my home things. As I can’t access my work calendar at home (ok, ok, so, if I used Google calendar I could, but, I would still have to use Outlook calendar in work so that my colleagues could see my work things and duplicating entries would be double the work – update, partner pointed out should be able to sync Outlook to Google through Exchange but as work lock down many settings I’m not convinced) I need to be able to look on Sunday night and see that on Monday I have a 9am meeting at XX.

My hard-back diary also has birthdays in so I can remember when to send people a card, and it records my other things like yoga classes, other exercise classes, holidays etc. And has phone numbers and 2013 calendar for planning ahead. I really can’t see me getting rid of it any time soon. I don’t want to have to turn on a computer just to check where I am tomorrow morning, or what’s happening next weekend. No technology or energy needed just to open my diary.

I also don’t have a smartphone (or any sort of mobile phone), so wouldn’t benefit from the Google thing linking into other apps (or something – I stopped reading what Google said it can do with your iphone thingy). And again, don’t see the need to turn on an electronic device just to check a date of something. Open the paper diary, find the event.

For tasks/job list at home, I have an ongoing little pad with all the jobs written down (yes, I like lists). Some of them have been there for a long time (e.g. the list of sewing jobs), but I can see at a glance what jobs need doing at home. Like writing a blog post. Weeding the garden. Renewing the insurance. No need for an electronic device, just pen and paper. Works a treat.

I sound like a total Luddite at home, but the system works for me.

[Update – ok, it’s been pointed out by my partner that I also have two paper calendars on the walls that record things that could go in an electronic system. Yes, they could, but I’m given calendars as presents so use them for ‘household’ things like the recycling date and our organic fruit/veg box delivery.]

[And, I’ve just remembered an instance where I tried an electronic online system for my tasks at home, using one of the widgets in Netvibes, but I stopped after a few weeks and went back to paper. ]

The one instance where I can see an online shared calendar being useful is on a joint project I work on with two sets of external partners totalling about six people in three locations. We’re looking into some shared project management software and if we have a shared calendar in there it will be useful so we can see who’s off, who’s in (two/three people are p/t) etc.

The recommended link to a blog post about the ways libraries are using Google calendar is good – there are some good examples and I’m not dismissing Google calendar totally, it’s just not for me in work or at home. Pah.

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Nia Ellis says:

I don’t bother with a paper diary anymore, but I do have calendars on the wall at home, rely on Fb for birthday reminders, and have to-do lists in at least 3 different places. That’s not counting my daily to-do list which I write on any piece of scrap paper currently top of the pile on my desk. How’s that for organised?



Classic! I’m sure you are very organised, especially in a job share.



I’m the same – a mix of paper and electronic. However, the one big shift to Google Calendar for me is birthdays and things like house insurance needing renewing – I love that it emails me a reminder 5 or more days in advance in case I’ve had a mad week and forgotten to check the paper calendar… Then again, sounds like you have quite a naggy partner so that could work too? ;o) (don’t let him read that!)



Too late Sam, he’s signed up to read posts and comments! Part of me likes the idea of being emailed a little reminder, but the other part would hate to be nagged like that, and also I would think “Go away annoying big brother, I know it’s so-and-so’s birthday”. I’m not ruling online calendars out though, if the old fashioned system starts to crack or if the new system offers considerable advantages I’ll swap. Maybe when I get a mobile device?



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