Saturday, 13 August 2011

Thing 8: Google Calendar

I’ve been trying to work on my time management both in and outside of work recently, including looking for online tools which can help me to get organised, so I was interested to try out Google Calendar for Thing 8. When I was a student, I used a paper diary to keep track of all of my university, work and personal commitments, appointments and deadlines; since leaving education and working full-time, however, there has been more of a divide between my working and personal lives and so I haven’t done this. At work, my Outlook calendar runs my life. It is absolutely invaluable. I use it to keep track of meetings, appointments, leave, tasks, deadlines and events, and to organise my time and prioritise correctly. Being attached to my email, it is never more than a few clicks away, wherever I am. We can choose to share our calendars with colleagues, so I can see when my line manager or the people whom I line-manage are available if I’m looking to set up a meeting or grab them for a quick chat. We also have a shared Outlook calendar which everyone in the team can view and add to, which is really helpful for seeing what’s going on and managing leave and other absence. Having had a play with Google Calendar, I can’t see that it does anything that my Outlook calendar doesn’t, other than allowing me to share it with people outside of my institution, which I wouldn’t want or need to do. So, at work, I can’t see that I would use Google Calendar for organising myself.

Outside of work, I don’t think a calendar is what I need to get myself organised. My personal life isn’t anywhere near as structured as my work life. I don’t have multiple commitments, appointments and deadlines which have to take place at a certain time. I record things like doctor or hairdresser appointments in the calendar on my mobile phone. I write to-do lists or lists of things to pack for trips away if necessary. What would be far more helpful to me in my personal life would be a tool which helped me with lists, rather than a calendar. The ability to “invite” people to events in my Google Calendar could possibly be useful; I’m not sure I trust Facebook enough to make a “private” event that I create genuinely private! However, having a calendar which can be shared is not particularly important or useful to me; I don’t (and don’t wish to!) share enough of my life with anyone for them to need to see what I’m doing!

I can definitely see how Google Calendar could have its uses; for people who work multiple jobs, who combine work and study, who have a variety of commitments (could it potentially replace the family calendar hanging on the kitchen noticeboard where everyone records what they’re doing?), people who do freelance work, people who don’t want to or don’t have access to an Outlook calendar at work, or for anyone who wants to use shared calendars, to name a few. I can also see how we could use it in our library; some libraries are using it to display opening hours ,which, as is the case in many academic libraries, are not always straightforward in our library. However, for me personally, at this point in my life, I don’t think I need it. I think it would just be another thing I would forget to check! It’s good to find out what’s available though, so I have definitely learnt something from Thing 8.

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