calendars & organization

Ed "Vacuum" Vielmetti asked about calendars and organization the other day. I meant to drop him a line, and never got around to it (things were extremely busy last week), so I'll throw down some thoughts here and perhaps he'll see them.

For calendaring, my personal appointments are in my PDA (a Sharp Zaurus, running OpenZaurus). Family event planning -- doctor appointments for TheBaby, TheWife's business travels, etc -- are in an eGroupWare calendar on a server on the local network. We used to keep that info on a monthly wall calendar in our bathroom, but setting up the eGroupWare calendar was one of my gifts to TheWife this Christmas. We're still working out the best ways to use it.

On the organization side, I'm very much a list person, and like all list people, I get a deep primal satisfaction in crossing something off a list -- which is perhaps why my lists are all paper-based, and why my attempts at moving to electronic lists always seem to fail. I also find writing things out long-hand causes me to think more about what I'm trying to accomplish, because I can think faster than I can write. Unfortunately, paper-based lists have pretty high maintenance overhead: you have to rewrite them every so often, or they get really scraggly. I'd like to ditch paper, but my past experiences haven't been all that positive.

Around the beginning of the year, I was thinking about ways to be more organized, and I realized that I had several tasks that I needed to do each day. Some were mandatory (take pills), some were long-term tasks that I needed to accomplish small bits of each day (read so many messages on a mailing list I was far behind on), and some were just things that I want to do daily, and sometimes forget (writing an entry in the diary). I ended up making paper-based forms, with a list of things, and a check box by each, and making a bunch of copies, and each day, I mark off the things I do. So far, it seems to be working relatively well -- well enough that I'm thinking about how to write some software to allow me to construct more elaborate task lists -- for example, I only need to take the recycling to the curb on Mondays, so that task should only show up on Mondays. Doing that on a paper-form-based level would be insane, but it's quite reasonable to do it in a piece of software. Having software would also mean that I could generate statistics about how frequently I did a particular task, which appeals to the same part of me that crossing things off a list does.

Anyway, that's how I try to keep track of my time and tasks. How about you?