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Have Only One Calendar


Have Only One Calendar

By James H. Choi
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Dear Sabio Students,

You always accomplish less when your days lack organization. (You see the same thing in parking lots covered in snow: They always fit fewer cars because drivers don’t see the organization.) The first thing you need to organize your life is a calendar. But the modern-day warrior’s calendar must meet these specifications:

  1. It must be indestructible. (i.e. online in Cloud storage)
  2. It must be accessible anywhere. (smart phone, web access)
  3. It must automatically synchronize among all devices

Various services are available to help you do this: I use Exchange Server in Microsoft Outlook but it costs you money. For free services, try Google Calendar, or any other services that allows you to access your calendar on any computer or on your smartphone. And it must synchronize, i.e., whatever you change on the phone calendar must update automatically on the server and vice versa. Above two programs are the ones I have used, but most modern calendar programs should perform all three specifications listed above. But check before you start entering your data.
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6378458/Column/Info/English/SpecialEvents.gifOnce you pick a program, follow these tips:

  1. The surest way to miss an appointment is to have multiple calendars. Have only one calendar no matter how complex a life you lead. In fact, the more complex your life, the more you need to consolidate your commitments into one calendar. This comes as a shock to many people but your life has only one timeline; it can never overlap itself. No matter how tempting, do not separate your school, social, and extracurricular lives into a calendar apiece.
  2. Enter recurring events such as birthdays and weekly meetings in one entry. Your calendar should allow you to specify all manners of recurrence such as “the first Friday of every month.” If the weekly lesson stops unexpectedly, then just change the ending date rather than deleting the whole entry. If there was an exception in the middle, you can “break” that day out of the recurrence and change it individually. That way, you have an accurate record of what you did where when.
  3. Set alarms lead time properly. Imagine where you’ll be as you leave for an event. For example, if you have an chess match in your school right after tennis practice, then a 15-minute notice suffices. But if you’re setting an alarm for a morning appointment, set an alarm 12 hours earlier. Getting the alarm the night before will remind you to go to bed early. If you need to send a birthday gift for a friend who lives across the world, you might need two weeks’ lead time to avoid paying for express delivery service. These alarms will also save you from the embarrassment of forgetting an important recurring events such as birthdays and anniversaries. For a super important date, set up multiple alarms programmed to remind you at different lead times.
  4. When you enter an appointment into your calendar, use consistent and intuitive terminology. Consider what would happen if you tried to search this appointment years from now. What key words would you search for? Enter these into the appointment name. That way, if you are struck by a burning desire to know how many piano lessons you took in 2011, you can search “piano lessons” to list all lessons.
  5. When entering events in different time zones, enter the time they would happen in your local time. This takes some work because flight schedules always specifies the local departing and landing time. (This work is made easy by displaying dual time zone on your calendar. Your phone also can be forced into different time zone temporarily.) But this extra work will pay off when you can trust all your local meeting times and flight schedules as your smart phone goes through many time zone changes.
  6. Paper calendars have charm, but paper calendars can get lost, won’t remind you of events, and won’t adapt to the local time zones. If you must, you can always print your electronic calendar in various formats: by day, week, month, etc.

Your contact information (e.g., friends’ phone numbers) should be arranged the same way: stored on a server and accessible on your phone. Any time you have a friend who writes, “Hey, send me ur numberz I lost them all,” on Facebook, rest assured this person doesn’t know how to manage his information. It’s OK to be this person’s friend, but never hire him as a project manager in your future company because when he lose his phone, as he already proved that he is capable, the whole project could go down with him. Most importantly, don’t let yourself be this person.


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