Co-ordinating your busy life with the people and businesses that matter (even those that don’t) has got a lot easier – with a simple, free, tool.
The simple e-things
Yesterday I met with an MBA student from Monash that I mentor. One of the topics we discussed was how to achieve work/life balance. His issue is that he works around 70 hours a week as well as studys. Unsurprisingly his three kids are starting to wonder where he lives.
I don’t have exactly the same issue, but I do have the problem that both my wife and I work, plus our children always have activities that we need to co-ordinate. There’s nothing worse than your child’s eyes, when you turn up to school, rushed as usual, and find everyone else’s kid in the class is wearing jelly bean colours, and yours is in school uniform.
Anyway, the solution we came up with is a family calendar that’s online. Since I have Google as my internet home page, I use the Google Calendar, and have it displayed on my home page. I have setup calendars for myself and kids, the Churchill Club and other important dates.
The Google Calendars are of course free and full featured. They work pretty much the way you expect them to, adding events that are all day or for a short period or even recurring. The other nice thing is that you can invite other people to view your calendar.
For instance my wife, who has her own calendar that I can view, can see exactly what I am up to and make entries as she sees fit. For instance she can see that we are free on Sunday for lunch so can accept an invitation.
Alternatively, my mother can see my calendar but not make any changes. Also she can’t actually see any of the detail of my calendar, only that I am available or unavailable.
The nice thing about my Google Calendar is that it is available anywhere, which mostly means at work and home. However it’s also available to me when I’m out for coffee. Using another free (kind of) product called GooSync, I can synchronise my mobile phone with my Google Calendar, no matter where I am. I say “kind of” because the data transfer on my mobile costs me, plus I can subscribe to an advanced account if I want to synchronise to lots of calendars.
The Google Calendar also allows me to view lots of other calendars as well, such as Australian holidays, sitting days for the Legislative Assembly and Council in Victoria, farmers market days, and lots, lots more.
Finally, there’s a whole lot of other functionality I can use with my Google Calendar – invitation to parties and free updates by SMS. I’m not using it yet, but it’s useful to know there is room to grow.
The result of all this? I’m happy and can negotiate “date night” with the wife with much less stress.
Brendan Lewis is the founder of two IT service firms, Edion and Verve IT, and executive director of the Churchill Club.
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