Do you use free online calendars or personal planners to organize your life? You can work smarter, not harder.
Each January, a plethora of free wall calendars sneak into my house. I’ve used them to mark upcoming birthdays and events, but over the last few years, I’ve turned to online calendars and reminder programs to help me keep my finances and household in order. Here’s a brief review of some of those applications and how they help me out, throughout the year.
Image by DHome
Free Online Calendars and Personal Planners
I use this calendar the most because it integrates with the email program I prefer, Gmail. Thanks to the Lifehacker book, “Upgrade Your Life”, I’ve set up GCal to email me a daily agenda, listing the events on my calendar. I’ve also told it to send me reminders for events via text message. If I want to, I could share my calendar with family members and friends so they can see when I’m available. In addition, I can monitor other calendars, such as one that lists public holidays or one that’s being used by a group.
So far, I’ve used this program to remind me to pay my utility bills, to pick up gifts for birthdays and holidays, to corral people for haircuts, and to go to local events. I’ve even been able to text message GCal to set up events — last week, I reminded myself that I should give to a local coat drive. Even though the text messages cost me a dime a piece, the service has proven more reliable than my crowded memory bank. If I expect to be offline for a period of time, I can always print my calendar and take it with me.
I started off a few years back with this program. In addition to the daily and monthly reminders listed above, I have reminders to keep me on track with running my office — to check ink and paper on a regular basis, to stay on track with my goals, and any other necessary maintenance chores. For several years, I’ve been a member of the FlyLadyMentors Group that puts its reminders on Yahoo Calendar; by checking in here, I can see what tasks to do next.
RTM is a task management application rather than a calendar program. You can use it as a to do list, and it integrates with Google Calendar, along with other applications. Right now, I’ve got it set up to remind me to do a weekly grocery list. This reminder saves me money because with my handy list, I’m not going to the supermarket and filling my cart with 19 candy bars instead of the yogurt I really need.
Also, I have an ongoing reminder to refill a family member’s prepaid cell phone. The last time I forgot, he lost his unused minutes, so that turned out to be an expensive lesson for me; now I make sure that my reminders are properly set up.
RTM can send reminders to you via email, SMS, and instant message. Basic service is free, while paid membership gives you access to more features, like iPhone support.
Have you ever heard of the productivity book called “Getting Things Done” by David Allen? Well HiTask is a task management application that is formulated after the methodology espoused in this book, and has a basic version available for free. To make use of more advanced features such as the ability to manage an unlimited number of projects and teammates, the site charges a small annual fee.
Some nice things about the application: it has a drag and drop interface for better usability, task grouping modes and multi-user support (the My Team feature). I haven’t personally tried out this tool, so if you have, do share with us your impressions of HiTask in the comment section below.
Famundo is another calendar site that I stumbled upon, and it bills itself as a “free online calendar for families, schools, churches and other organizations”. It includes features such as a family homepage, calendars, address book, event manager, secure file and document storage capability, shared photo album and To Do lists. They also provide some demos and sample accounts to help show you how their site features work. This is yet another tool I haven’t had a chance to try beyond playing with the demos. But it’s something I’d like to use at some point.
Other Online Calendars
As an aside, I thought to comment on the fact that one of the organizer/planner applications I use, the popular I Want Sandy tool, has closed down. It’s unfortunate that this virtual assistant is now out of commission.
I’ve only mentioned a few productivity applications. With plenty of choices out there, you might be able to find even more ways to manage your time and money!
Sample Reminders For Your Personal Planners
Here’s a sample listing of reminders:
Daily Reminders: plan dinner, get exercising; leave early to pick up the kids.
Weekly Reminders: write out menus; return library books; take videos back; favorite TV show’s time; groceries, errands; housecleaning chores.
Monthly Reminders: bill paying; extra payments on credit cards or other loans; refill prescriptions; haircuts; give to charity; add $ to prepaid cell phone; buy or make a holiday gift; go to meetings.
Quarterly & Yearly Reminders: change furnace filters; car registration renewal; subscription renewals; look @ investment accounts; doctor & dental appointments; inventory computer & printing supplies like toner, paper, and DVDs.
Occasional & Seasonal Reminders: check auction sites; call family members & friends; check on lawn mower & garden equipment; find the snow shovel & ice scraper; find holiday decorations & cards; upload pictures from the camera; save $ for upcoming video games or other goodies.
Given how busy we can get, it’s great to be able to lean on more sophisticated tools to help map out our day, to organize our finances and maybe even to simplify our lives. If you want to work smarter, not harder, then these tools provide some ways to achieve that goal!