Casual Fridays: How do you use your calendar?

Just a few months ago, I finally convinced Greta to convert her old paper appointment calendar to an electronic version. Now instead of writing her appointments down in a little book, she enters it in her computer or her PDA. It's now possible for me to see her schedule on my computer, and vice versa.

But even though we're both computerized, we use our calendars differently. I need an alarm to remind me of any event, but Greta simply checks her calendar every day to remind herself of her plans for the day. This leads to endless possibilities for confusion. She might enter an item on the calendar that I'm supposed to remember, but if there's no alarm, from my perspective, it might as well not be on the calendar.

So, we were wondering if there was any pattern to calendar use. Do busier people rely more or less on alarms? Does anyone use a paper calendar any more? Whose life would be affected most if they lost their calendar?

Click here to participate.

As usual, the survey is brief, with just 16 questions. It should only take a few minutes to respond. You'll have until Thursday, February 21 to respond, and there is no limit to the number of responses. And don't forget to check back next Friday for the results! (Maybe you should put it on your calendar....)

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You really needed an option in there for checking your calendar more than once a week, but less than once a day. I tend to check my calendar every couple of days or so -- I have a running "memory buffer" of 2-3 days of things I need to do. But what was I supposed to choose?

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 15 Feb 2008 #permalink

Hmmmm... You're probably right, but we've already collected quite a bit of data so unfortunately it's going to have to stand. Typically when I'm analyzing data I'm going to lump responses together anyway, so whichever you chose will probably end up in the same pile for analysis.

I have what's probably a rather unusual situation, but I thought I'd mention it anyhow. The way I would choose to use a calendar is different from the way I _DO_ use one. My employer requires me to use a particular calendar (MS Outlook), does not allow me to synchronize that with anything or make it public, and requires me to attend things where the only notice is that they were added to my calendar.

I hope for your sake that your employer doesn't have similar restrictions.

Interesting issue today, but the survey didn't cover my usage well at all. Maybe I'm just a freak?

I have a PDA that stores everything long term (including birthdays, etc) and handles repeating events. But I work daily with a handwritten to-do list on 3x5 index cards. I find I can use the cards much faster than I can use the PDA for most things. Especially for adding simple, but important tasks like "call back the mechanic after 1pm" or "get new stats analysis to Bob by Friday". At the end of the day I write the next day's to-do list from the PDA and add any new long term stuff from the current day's index card to the PDA for retrieval when needed.

Google "hipster PDA" for some really complex variants of the index-card approach and lots of pretty printable templates.

i'm a student and rely on a spiral-bound agenda. recorded "events" on my calendar (exam dates, papers due, assigned readings, errands, steps to take that day towards all of the above, and yes, finally, professional and other appointments) probably have a rather different meaning than the meetings and such scheduled by many professionals. out of context, or without further details, the usefulness of the number of things written on any given day is quite limited.

By libbyblue (not verified) on 15 Feb 2008 #permalink

The survey was bit confusing as there are various kinds of calendars (paper and electronic) with different kinds of elecronic calendars (adn the survey did not cover them all): web-based such as those provided by Google and AOL, PDA based (for which there is usually a Desktop versoin of it that one can use and PRINT when need be), and computer based (such as Outlook) which can be stand-alone or server based. The survey used the term "Calendar" too broadly -- and ignored the "Desktop" renderings of PDA and computer based ones that can then be printed and stuck in your notebook (daily/weekly views) or on your wall (monthly view). Also -- what was meant by making your calednar "public"? The Exchange based Outlook calendering system that my employer uses (and which I ignore except to fat finger in the bare minimum of stuff while doing ALL my scheduling on my own PDA) is "public" in the sense that it's public within my company; it is NOT public outside. A Google calendar -- on other hand - CAN be made "public" to the universe (or made private).

Bottom line -- More granularity AND better precision in this survey would have been appreciated cuz I'm quite sure that it didn't capture accurately how -- in my case -- I use "calendars" -- be it the one on my wall (with very funny pictures of cats) or my PDA (for EVERYTHING) or my company provide Outlook (used VERY sparingly)

Since I know that if my PDA were to go belly up and its data lost both on my home and office computer (its' synced to both),I have a very handy program that backs-up my data and that I can use (and have used at least once) to restore my calendar data.

To those who think I may have waxed too long - have a great Friday!

I use Google Calendar for keeping track of EVERYTHING--since it allows you to have multiple calendars I have "Events", "Birthdays", "Misc.", "School", "Schoolwork", "Tickler" and "To Do" displayed majority of the time. For reference, I also have "Cancelled/Can't Attend", "Mum/Jack/Daz" (the rest of my family's events) and "School timetable", which remain mostly unchecked.

Each night before I go to bed I look at my calendar and my to-do list (I have a seperate, non-date specific account at Todoist) and I plan out the entire next day. I write that out in my school planner, which I take with me. There's also room in there for me to write down things that pop up--events, assignments, and so on--so that I can put them into the calendar when I get home.

And, if someone asks about a specific date, then I can consult my iPod, which syncs with my GCal (though I've been having some issues with that lately).

It may sound overly complicated, but I promise it's not.

I'm using paper calendars, and don't be surprised by that. I don't have PDAs, and carrying laptops are heavy work. So I just use a paper calendar to remind myself of things. Important things are recorded in bold, or big text, or maybe using colorful stickies. I can't rely my Internet or electronic calendar because my computer isn't turned on 24/7.

I've tried everything from Palm's to daily paper schedules with 30-minute bins. Google Calendar is the only thing that has worked for me. I can access it from work or home, I can send myself email or popup alerts with various leeway built in (3 hours for something I need to prepare for, 5 minutes for a seminar). I can "invite" my wife if it means I'm going to be late home that day. When I do a session with another person I invite them, so they know it is confirmed.

By Robert P. (not verified) on 18 Feb 2008 #permalink

I was happy to go all paperless! I hated so much to set up the paper calendar before each January 1st and copy events and holidays and contacts....I use a PDA for personal and work appointments; have in it all contacts and holidays, repeating events, etc. The problem is that sometimes I forget to synchronize it daily and over schedule myself (this happens mostly at work; if I schedule something on the PC when I am home and don't synchronize before going to work next day).
I use post-it on top of the handheld for small reminders, since the PDA screen gets very cluttered if I make small reminders (i.e., call mechanic for apptmnt.).
I have paper copies of most of my contacts (older contacts), but did not update the paper address book for new contacts. Loss of PDA means I loose all new contacts (in the last 2 years). I send e-mails to myself and do the post-it when I really MUST remember.
I think my brain gets lazy, and I rely too much on calendar not on keeping in mind my to do tasks.

My answers today are noticaby different than they would have been 6 months ago because of a new job and its requirements. I now face many of the same challenges as Michael Chermside.

Previously, all appointments were recorded in my google calendar and once a week I'd manually transfer all my appointments into an Excel sheet I made, and would print out a 3x5 card for each day of the week. From that point on, any new appointments were handwritten on the 3x5s. Worked great! I loved it and really miss it!

The computer restrictions and requirements of my new job have reduced my productivity by at least 10% (drastically more in relation to specific tasks). Maybe there's a study to be had on workplace technology restrictions and requirements as they relate to productivity?