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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

CPD23 - Thing 8 - Organising yourself (Google Calendar)

"Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it" M. Scott Peck

"The great dividing line between success and failure can be expressed in five words: 'I did not have time' "Franklin Field

"Never leave 'till tomorrow which you can do today" Benjamin Franklin

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I have a confession, somebody once described me as being a kernel of organisation in the middle but frayed round the edges, which is unfortunately true.
Is Google Calendar therefore the answer to my prayers and will it help me in becoming more organised?
Although I freely use many other Google tools, such as Blogger and Picasa (for photo sharing), I've never been inclined to share my schedule online. I don't particularly feel the desire or need to share my calendar widely to the world.

I do appreciate online calendar sharing might have some advantages (eg for busy families or for use by co-workers) but a calendar is only as useful as connecting with others and having the right tools to access it. For various reasons, Google Calendar does not initially meet my organisational needs since:
  1. My friends and family are not always online and my husband is notorious for not planning - he always famously says 'I'll have to check my diary' as a running joke.
  2. Working for government, there are also restrictions on syncing desktop applications which means I can only effectively use Google Calendar for personal reasons. At work, we use the proprietary Microsoft Outlook system which does the job of communicating my schedule for colleagues.
  3. Finally, I don't have access to an app-enabled phone to make maximum use of an online calendar tool.
In other contexts, however, I can see the value of a tool like Google Calendar. For instance, it can prove invaluable to professional networking groups like CILIP's Career Development Group in enabling members to view the latest events programme without resorting to lots of tireless HTML web-coding. Given the rise of blogs and more applications integrated into corporate and personal websites I can see why using Google Calendar would be useful since it lives on 'the cloud' and can be accessed anywhere.

I also remember many times when we were looking to organise Christmas or Summer social events and using Google Calendar would have been very helpful in connecting with other committee members to share our personal schedules more quickly and easily. In this context, we sometimes used an online tool called Meet-o-matic which is described as 'the world's simplest meeting scheduler'. Although it is a bit clunky and badly laid out, it did the job of helping the group in narrowing down on potential dates for holding events - invaluable when you all work in different organisations. The advantage of Meet-O-Matic is that no registration is required and  you don't need to share a common diary or website platform. You can use to propose and schedule meetings and invite participants using your own email system. I am aware that there are many other similar online applications around such as Doodle, Diarised, 30 Boxes, Cozi, Yahoo Calendar and many more. I've not used any of these so, I wouldn't feel qualified to comment but you can read reviews and make up your own mind by reading reviews published at http://www.calendarreview.com/ and http://www.pcmag.com/.

In reading round the topic of online calendars I've come across some favourable reviews of Google Calendar. I'd recommend reading "Getting Organised using Google Calendar" published by Simon Haughton where you highlights some useful tasks it has enabled him to do. Another clear and comprehensive review can be found in a blog post called "Getting organised in the Cloud: Google Calendar" (posted on the blog Owen Swart's Don't Fear the Tech). This posting explains more about maintaining multiple calendars for all the different aspects of your life and cool stuff that helps you stay organised such as the ability to add public or interesting calendars others have added, the ability to publicise appointment slots to show when you are available and chance to use extra fun tools in development.

Given these reviews (and also that Google is free and I already have a Google account), I will probably explore Google Calendar more (in the hope that one day I will be able to sync more effectively between work and personal life computers and get even more organised).

There can't be too much harm in this as being as organised as possible improves efficiency and your chances in life and work and making the most of all opportunities that might come your way. Maybe this will help me become less frayed round the edges...there is always hope!

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