If you haven’t seen the interesting discussion I’ve been having with Michelle, let me bring you up to speed. Michelle is looking for some help getting herself organized for the upcoming school year and has asked for my input. I am not a guru, but I’ve offered some help in the form of brainstorming possible solutions for her.
In the last exchange, she says:
The key questions for me seem to be:
1) Should I combine personal and professional calendars?
2) OR is it a good idea to have more than one?
3) paper or electronic?
4) if paperâ€“ which one?
5) if electronic- which one?
Because I think this is something many of us — myself included — struggle with, I’m posting this here instead of in a response to that older post.
On combining personal and professional calendars that’s how I roll. I don’t want to have to look in more than one place, or have the wrong calendar with me at the wrong time.
In the paper vs. electronic debate, I’ve been back and forth more times than I care to admit. Here’s how I see the pros and cons of each:
The Good: Easier to see weeks and months at a glance; Doesn’t crash and destroy all your data; No sync-ing issues where events disappear or show up twice; Easy archiving that’s always forward- and backward-compatible
The Bad: Paper planners tend to be bulkier than the slickest PDAs and smartphones; If it’s lost it’s gone — no backup available for recovery; When you upgrade your phone/PDA will your calendar be compatible?
The Good: Usually extremely portable; Always backed up (as long as you remember to sync…); Can share calendars with others
The Bad: Remembering to sync (unless you’re on a BlackBerry connected to an Enterprise Server or a Windows Mobile device connected to Exchange 2003); Do your calendars play nicely with each other a la iCal and gCal?; Sometimes you don’t have Internet access; Sometimes you have a dead battery; Sometimes your device will crash
Before you send me any hate-mail, let me state that there are always exceptions to the above. When my Palm III crashed, I went back to paper. Then I got a Treo. Then it broke and I went to a Franklin-Covey system. So you see, it’s always a work in process.
My current calendaring system looks like this:
- I’m (finally!) exclusively on a Mac at work and at home.
- I use iCal to manage my calendars.
- I currently have 4 calendars in iCal:
- Work – For stuff I do during my work day. This is red.
- Night coverages – For evening stuff my wife might care about when she’s making plans for us. She is subscribed to this calendar in her own iCal. This is green.
- CSU – For grad school stuff. This is orange.
- Personal – For everything else. This is blue.
- I keep my work and school machines in sync with Spanning Sync and Google Calendar. I don’t think Spanning Sync was designed with the idea of keeping multiple machines in sync, but it works handily. Google Calendar is very useful for a number of reasons (say you’re on someone else’s computer and don’t have access to your iCal. Your PDA has a dead battery, and your paper copy fell in a puddle…), but I like it because it can send SMS reminders to your phone.
- On Friday, I print a hard copy of the current month and the next week. This gets Circa punched and stuck in my notebook.
- I sync all of this with my Nokia N73 using iSync.
This sounds a lot more complex than it actually is, but once you get the syncing set up, it pretty much takes care of itself.
That’s probably way more information than Michelle wanted, but there it is. I’m hopeful that this will help others who are pondering the questions of multiple calendars and whether to go digital or analog.