Organization, Brought to Me by Google

September 23, 2011

Most of you—especially those of you with kids, I’d imagine—are familiar with the household calendar concept. The premise is this: one calendar, posted in a heavily trafficked area of the house, that lists all activities for every member of the household. Maybe it’s color coded. Maybe it includes chores. However it’s customized, the household calendar is powerful organizational tool. And yet, Channing and I didn’t have one until Tuesday.

Here’s the rub: The new hubs and I have felt especially popular since the wedding. We’ve been invited to what seems like a gazillion dinners, sporting events, concerts, and birthday parties over the past seven weeks. We went to the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello last Saturday and plan to hit the Frederick Oktoberfest next Saturday (I’m hoping Channing will don some authentic lederhosen so we can get in for free). We’ve got a Riesling tasting to attend and tickets to football and baseball games. We’re running a ten miler on Sunday. To be honest, I haven’t felt all that busy—our activities have been fun, spontaneous, and, to some extent, relaxing—but we’ve overbooked enough times lately that, when Channing suggested we keep a joint calendar, I was thrilled.

But where would we get a calendar? Our home printer was out of ink, and since we’re no longer on those pesky bulk mailing lists, we didn’t have any 2011 wall calendars lying around the house. And we certainly weren’t going to buy a new one. Plus, I wanted something we could view both at home and at work—so that ruled out the iCal on our home computer. At first I thought I would create something in Numbers and share it with Channing via my Dropbox. But then I remembered that Google has a free calendar product that Channing and I could each access from our separate Gmail accounts. Yep, the Google calendar seemed like a good idea—mostly because I wouldn’t have to spend too much time on setup.

So, like I said, I created our aptly named “Calendar of Fun” on Tuesday, and I have to say, it’s pretty fantastic. The calendar is private, so only the two of us can view it. I set it up so that we can both add and modify events, just as we could on a paper calendar. As an added bonus, there is a bit of extra room for a description of each event, so we can use the calendar to share websites for festival schedules or restaurant menus with each other. Although I haven’t explored the option yet, I think our Google calendar will sync with the iCal, both on our desktop and on my iPad. Isn’t technology amazing? (I’m guessing at least a handful of readers are using Google calendars or maybe some other fancy digital calendars I’m not aware of. Feel free to share any calendar-related tips in the comments.)

Remember back in March when I wrote that post about reevaluating my use of time? Well, this calendar is another tool I can use to ensure I’m making wise decisions about “extracurricular” activities. For example, Channing has requested that we limit our joint weekend activities to no more than two. There are some nuances to this number. Generally we’ll count only activities that take us outside the house, but in some cases—e.g., parties or dinners that require both planning and hosting responsibilities—in-house activities will count too. Channing wants to ensure he has plenty of time to relax, and I have to say, I appreciate this. He keeps my hyperplanning tendencies in check. Only recently have I discovered what some college friends meant when they declined dinner plans with the excuse, “We haven’t spent enough time in our room today.” Spending time at home on the weekends has become an absolute necessity. It keeps me centered and provides peace of mind so that my workweeks are not just bearable but enjoyable.

Limiting our planned activities also occasions the opportunity for spur-of-the-moment fun. I cancelled all of my plans the weekend after our wedding because I needed to take some time off-schedule. That weekend I relearned how enjoyable it is to have the freedom to accept a dinner invitation received only three or four hours in advance. I finished my first long run in three weeks, and I think I even cooked brunch (a rarity after a three-hour run on a Sunday morning).

To conclude, I’d like to add one item to everyone’s weekend calendar: September 24, National Punctuation Day! For a few simplicity-minded, punctuation-related celebration ideas, visit the official NPD website. (I’m hoping to celebrate my favorite grammar-related holiday with Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison at the National Book Festival.)


2 Responses to “Organization, Brought to Me by Google”

  1. Anna Says:

    Only recently have I discovered what some college friends meant when they declined dinner plans with the excuse, “We haven’t spent enough time in our room today.” Yes!!!! That really made me chuckle today.

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