Back to the Future?

Ok ... I think I see my problem here.

I'm duplicating stuff way too much. I want to go back to a digital calendar because, like it or not, I am beholden to my employers method of using Exchange/Outlook for our calendaring. Since I'm telecommuter, I rely on the calendar to really let people know when I'm not available. The culture of our company is "if your calendar is open, then you're available". I combat it as much as I can by actually scheduling tasks (like "plan the deployment for the 20 sites in Seattle") in the morning so that I know I have enough time to get the real work done between meetings (and also so I can pay attention during meetings instead of unsuccessfully trying to multi-task during a conference call).

I want to see if I can integrate the calendar with an on-line calendar - essentially a one-way synch from the Outlook/Exchange to an on-line calendar.

For my on-line calendar I'd like to keep track of personal appointments and personal recurring tasks as well as be able to see work appointments so I can plan without necessarily logging in to my work account. I also want to keep my personal life personal - so if I have details about a Doctor's appointment, I can update that in the personal calendar without having all that info in my work calendar - just a semi-cryptic "Dr. Appt." notation. They also don't need to know that it's my mother-in-law's birthday or that I'm going to a hockey game on Thursday.

I plan to keep my non-recurring tasks on paper and, if necessary, printing out a weekly calendar to view at my desk. But I really don't need a carry-around calendar at all, and I think that's where I'm getting sort of overwhelmed.

I do daily planning on full-size sheets, but those are just that - daily and nothing I carry around with me.

Is this making any sense at all?

So the main question is - do you use an on-line calendar at all? Is there one that tracks appointments and recurring tasks? I tried out 30 Boxes last weekend, but was unable to create recurring tasks (I could create recurring events, but they wouldn't travel forward if not marked as completed). I may, of course, not be doing it right ... but I digress.

The condensed version is:

Is there an on-line (or software based, I'm not picky - but my work laptop is separate from any computer on which I'd install software and the corp e-mail servers are pretty well guarded - though there is OWA access) calendar that will let me synch up my Exchange/Outlook Calendar (one way), track recurring tasks and maintain personal appointments (recurring and one-time).

I am running Windows Vista on both work and home machines. And while I'm not Apple-phobic by any means, Mac solutions are just not in the cards for me right now (especially now that I have to postpone my kayak due to a root canal and crown!).

Whew ... I hope I didn't put you to sleep - or cause you to run away screaming. (c:

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Outlook Stuff

I put my recurring tasks on my Outlook calendar as an ALL DAY EVENT and list it as FREE (not busy or out of the office). The appt or event will be listed then at the top of your calendar and not actually be scheduled for a specific time. This is also where I put my personal events so as not to confuse me or my office with my personal matters. So, if I have an evening dinner, I make an ALL DAY EVENT that says "5din@RedLobster".

You can also "categorize" Outlook events. Not sure if this would "block" your office staff from seeing it or not??

Those are some options. I know I posted a concern like this in the past asking for info on how to use Outlook and GTD... Maybe do a search on this site for Outlook and see if any of our past conversations help a little...

Best of Luck,
nay nay

Private Calendar

You could also (instead of all the stuff I said above) mark your personal appointments in Outlook as Private. That way anyone viewing your calendar would not see your personal appointments. (I had forgotten about this)... Tasks can also be marked as Private - the nice thing about Outlook is you can send your tasks to your calendar so you can see it all on the same day!

Just more options...
nay nay

Privates

I know I can mark things private, but having been in IT a very long time I am just not certain private is as secure as I want it to be. I also want to keep my work and personal life somewhat separate since I work from home and have trouble with the blurring lines as it is. Hence the desire to only transfer work appointments and not work tasks to my personal calendar.

I do love Outlook 2007, though, and all the neat-o colors and stuff you can do with it. All my different project appointments and tasks are in different colors so that when I do my time reporting at the end of the week, there's a quick visual for me.

The more I think about it, the more I may just give Google Calendar a go and give up on my need to have it manage me.

I do appreciate the suggestions, though, very much!

Google Calendars

I use Google Calendars for my non-paper stuff. You can import/export to Outlook, categorize things very easily. You an also set your various calendars as public or private and give people you want to have access a specific website to go to to see your shared calendars. It may be just the solution you need.

Reese

Googleygoo

I already use gmail and iGoogle, but I haven't explored Google Calendar. I think this counts as a V-8 head-slapper.

I will spend some of my lunch time on playing with it.

Thanks!
t.

Go for it!

It does a lot of neat stuff. I think you can also shoot appointments right to it from Gmail. There's also a good gadget to display it right on your iGoogle desktop.

Reese

No Task List

Google Calendar doesn't have the Task List ability I'm looking for. Essentially, tasks that haunt you until you mark them as completed.

I'm still looking around Remember The Milk has the task list - and appears to export to Google Calendar.

I can see this will take more research.

Thanks again for the suggestion. I may just hybridize somehow ...

The End Result...

So, when you think you have figured out how to work all of this into a system, will you share your results? I am in pretty much the same boat, so would love to hear what you come up with! :)

Of course

I have a gazillion unused and partially used "systems", but each of them has either been too complex or just "not me".

I'm finally getting somehwere - especially with the thoughts that I posted about reading in my post GTD for Writers.

I have set aside some time to work on it this week and I'll let you how it all turns out.

t.

Grooving on Google

Ok, so far I'm getting into Google. I just loooooooove color. Not even close to "there" yet, but I also took your suggestion of making to-do's as all day events that show up at the top.

I'm going to try to import my work calendar now that I know I can get to it from my work machine. I can't log in to Gmail whilst logged in to the company VPN. Go figure. The Google calendars and iGoogle are accessible, though.

Thanks for your support (Bartles & Jaymes)

I'll put some more framework around this when I get more set-up ... but for now it's looking like a decent work in progress (as long as I fight that perfectionist urge to have it all done right now!)

t.

Go figure...

The import to Google Calendar was not pretty. With no rhyme or reason, some of the appointments came through in the time zone of their originator. Not all of 'em, just some.

Merits some more playing around this evening if I can keep my eyes open. I didn't sleep well last night, so it may have to wait another day.

t.

Breakin' the Law

I decided that the export thing was too kludge-y and for some reason only saw Google Calendar Sync this evening. I downloaded and installed it, contrary to corporate policy. I'm pretty careful about this sort of thing and it is about productivity, right - but I do feel a wee bit weird about it.

Tried it out, though, and it worked like a charm! Ok, well not completely - it'll take some daily manual tweaking of my internet settings, but way better than the import/export option I was looking at previously.

So far I've got my Google Calendar stuff fairly well mapped out - have five so far for various categories.

My to-do list is currently a legal pad, but I have some ideas on how I want to work with it to create some more context around each task.

But I find I like having the pages there in front of me and being able to cross stuff off. This may end up being my final solution, though the tudumo software I happened upon tonight looked somewhat promising.