Calendars and To-do Lists

For at least a year now I have used a combination of Google Calendar and Remember the Milk to keep my life organized. I recently realized that my strategy had become messy – I had many of my entries in both places.

Strategy

Before making any drastic changes, I decided to step back and think about my strategy for a few days. This is what I came up with:

  • Items with concrete dates/times should be on a calendar.
  • Items that need action either ASAP or without any hard deadline should be on a to-do list.
  • No item should be both on a calendar and to-do list.

Previously, for example, I had bill due dates as repeating tasks in Remember the Milk and repeating entries on my calendar. With my new strategy, bills should just go on a calendar since they have a concrete due date.

Calendar and To-do Apps

With my new strategy, I also decided I should take a look at my calendar and to-do apps.

Google Calendar

Google Calendar still seems to be the best fit. Even though I am a Mac and iPhone user, I like the web interface for Google Calendar better than iCal in iCloud. Setting up Google Calendar to sync with iCal and my iPhone is slightly complicated, but it works flawlessly once it is set up. On my iPhone, I have replaced the default calendar app with Agenda (Web, iTunes, $0.99). Agenda has a beautiful, minimal design and is extremely fast. On my Mac, I use a great menubar application, Fantastical ($19.99). Fantastical makes it quick to check my calendar and add/edit events.

To-do List

Previously I was using Remember the Milk (RTM) for my to-do list. While it served me well before, I have decided to move over to Wunderlist for two reasons.

  • Simplicity. RTM is an extremely powerful app. Now that I am simplifying my to-dos, I no longer need all the features. The main reason why I chose not to use Wunderlist in the past is because it does not allow for repeating to-dos, a feature I no longer need since my repeating events now go on my calendar. If you find Wunderlist too simple, I highly recommend RTM.

  • Price. In order to have unlimited push sync with the iPhone app, RTM requires a $25/year subscription fee (basic iPhone syncing and the web app are 100% free). While Wunderlist doesn’t seem to have quite the efficient sync system, it is worth it to save the money.

Organization Zen

I feel like I have reached a simple and efficient method of organizing my life with this new method. I hope you find some inspiration to do a similar evaluation of your own calendars and to-do lists. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions of your own, please write a comment!

Welcome 2012

2012 is going to be a big year! I am marrying my best friend on July 15th and I have my comprehensive exams for grad school coming up in the fall. I also have some self-improvement plans that I have promised myself I will complete.

Wedding

Love is truly an amazing thing. It’s not something you can explain, rather something you must experience. Once you’ve experienced the real thing, you realize how permanent and infinite it is. When I met my fiancée Kimberlee for the first time 2.5 years ago, I went told myself that she would be the girl I would marry. A few key aspects to our relationship are communication and friendship, and I think those are the keys to any successful and lasting relationship. We really do talk about anything and everything and Kimberlee is truly my best friend. Having that in my life makes me feel truly lucky – we can get through anything together.

Comprehensive Exams

As part of my Ph.D. program, I have to pass comprehensive exams this fall. They consist of two extensive written research proposals, a presentation, and an oral defense. Preparations have already begun, and will be in full swing this summer.

Self-Improvement

I know it seems cliché to have self-improvement goals for the new year, but I have been inspired by some articles I’ve read recently with some ideas that are actually easy to implement and stick to. I want to have awesome mornings, get fit, and constantly improve as a fiancée and husband to be.

Awesome Mornings

I read an article about how to make each morning awesome and got some good ideas from it.

  • Eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up. I normally do this, but I want to make sure I get a breakfast full of protein and fruits and veggies, rather than one full of carbs. This will help me stay full and help me with my goal to eat better and get fit.

  • 15 minutes of activity. It is important to get exercise, and this seems like the easiest way to make sure I get some every day in addition to my walk to and from work. It is so easy to make a resolution to go to the gym X days per week, I think this is something I can actually stick to. I plan to work in extra exercise some days, but doing 15 minutes of intense exercise every morning will be a big help in getting fit.

  • Choose prioities for the day. In order to be more productive during the day, I plan to take some time in the morning to set out my priorities for the day. Picking one big goal will give me at least one thing to have completed each day to give myself a sense of accomplishment.

Get Fit

To me, geting fit doesn’t mean going to the gym X times per week or loosing a certain amount of weight, it means to feel good physically and mentally. While going to the gym and loosing weight are certainly a part of my goal, I am going to focus on feeling better by eating better, becoming more active, and learning new things every day.

While I have to be constantly learning as part of my graduate program, I also want to learn to program1, read more for fun, become a more effective writer, and to improve as a fiancée and husband to be.

Improving as a Fiancée and Husband to Be

I constantly strive to be a better partner for Kimberlee and one of my favorite blogs, Art of Manliness, gave me the perfect idea for 2012 — the 52 Love Notes Challenge. Starting yesterday, I will write a love note to her every Sunday (and find creative ways to get them to her)!

Welcome to scientifics

If you’ve made it through this post, you probably have a pretty idea about what makes me tick. My profession is chemistry, but I dabble in all fields of science, food, coffee, photography, technology, and the outdoors. My best friend is my fiancée Kimberlee. I hope to continue this year with posts about all of the above, focusing on science and my life experiences. I will have comments open on all my posts, so please feel free to interact with me. I’d love to hear feedback, criticisms, questions, your thougths…anything really! To get you started, how are you trying to improve your life in 2012?


  1. I am taking part in Code Year from Codecademy. While I’ve been trying to learn Python or Obj-C and they do JavaScript, the weekly emailed lessons will help me keep on track. I figure once I learn one language, it will be much easier to branch out and learn others.