Keeping track

I like to plan ahead. I don’t mean that I want every minute of every day for the next twelve months mapped out, leaving no room for serendipity, chance, or mood swings. It’s more about the fact that I have a terrible memory so I need to write down upcoming events in order to keep track of them. The problem is that I have four calendars in various formats and various locations, leading to a lot of repetition.

During the seven hours I spend at my desk every day I keep an eye on two electronic calendars. I like to keep private and professional life as separate as possible (which is why friends never receive an email from my work account unless they’re also colleagues), so the Outlook calendar which contains details of meetings and other work-related appointments doesn’t mention private stuff unless it has an impact on my work, like a day off, leaving early to collect the girls from school once in a while, etc.

My Yahoo calendar is used for everything else, from travel to evenings out to birthdays to visits from friends and families. I also keep note of films I’ve seen at the cinema, even if it was a last-minute decision and didn’t really require advance planning and calendar consultation. This is a habit left over from the days when I was a slightly more obssessive-compulsive moviegoer than I am these days.

But what happens when I’m not near a computer? I have a traditional paper diary in my bag, which pretty much replicates my Yahoo calendar, so that I can see at a glance when I’m free for some potential scheduled fun and relaxation. I keep these (I think I have about a decade’s worth of them stored upstairs at home) which can be useful sometimes for checking dates, but they’re not really the kind of thing I’d sit and pore over, waxing nostalgic.

Finally, we have a wall calendar hanging just above the telephone. Apart from its decorative function (recently we’ve gone for various land art calendars) it’s handy to have an overview of the month in front of us when we’re on the phone making arrangements for travel or for hosting visitors.

As far as recording events after they’ve happened is concerned, I was never really the journal type. As a child I tried it once (around the age of ten, I’d guess), keeping a diary for a few months before I got bored or ran out of things to say. Before I started this blog the only record I kept of my life was scattered across photographs, videos, letters to friends and objects I kept. Even now, as you’ve probably noticed, this isn’t really the “what I did today” kind of blog. The family blog fulfils that function when necessary. The way I look at it, unless your day-to-day life is immensely varied and thrilling, that kind of stuff is of limited interest to a very small number of people, which only diminishes over time.

Anyway, must go, as an automated Outlook calendar reminder tells me that I’ve scheduled a coffee break for the next 15 minutes.

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6 thoughts on “Keeping track

  1. Erik R. October 27, 2008 / 2:05 pm

    Even though I have some of the most state-of-the-art calendaring technologies at my fingertips, I can never bring myself to actually use them to schedule anything. I suppose that my life just isn’t that full (yet) and my wife has a good brain for stuff like that.

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  2. simonlitton October 27, 2008 / 2:14 pm

    Who needs a PDA when you’ve got a PA for a wife, right? My wife is frighteningly organised too, but it wouldn’t be fair for me to leave everything to her, would it?

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  3. Janet Ching October 28, 2008 / 12:43 am

    Hi Simon, even I have stopped working, I still like and need keep my calendar up to date, I have to remember all my hubby’s travel, rendez-vous with friends, potential things I may be doing in certain days, I like planning and know what I am supposed to do. I have bad memory and there are too many things I want to do so I list them all out and check them out when it’s done. I am using Google Calendar and Sync with my Outlook Calendar in my laptop. Since I have worked in Basel and used the Blackberry, I am used to keep everything in Outlook and be able to check it anytime I want. I have just got an iPhone but it can only sync with Outlook but not Google calendar. So last weekend, I still pay and register to have the Office activated so I can use Outlook again and Sync to my iPhone. I cannot kee checking 2 calendars. Are you not allowed to keep personal activities in your Work calendar?

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  4. simonlitton October 28, 2008 / 7:52 am

    Janet: this kind of technical synchronisation issue is the reason I use a paper diary when I’m not at work.
    I could put personal stuff in my work calendar, I just prefer not to. Besides, sometimes at work we allow others access to our calendars.

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  5. Janet Ching October 29, 2008 / 10:25 pm

    I see and understand your point. By the way, although I like using iPhone or BB to note down my calendar. I still like using a post-it to make to do lists as reminder. I like crossing out the task when one task is done, it makes me feel good when the list is getting shorter (but it will grow again !) The task checklist in the Outlook is a bit hard for me to stick to it and not so convenient to use it to keep track. I need to have a piece of paper sitting right in front of me on my desk. I also like taking a small notebook with me when I travel, it’s quicker to jot down notes this way.

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  6. jagosaurus October 31, 2008 / 12:16 pm

    I manage my time more or less the same way you do, Simon. Well, except for being married to a PA.

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