Calendar Reversing

Sun 2/8/2015

I currently have five email accounts (have I ever mentioned that email is the bane of my existence?). I use Gmail for all of them, which means I also have access to five sets of Google's suite of web applications, including the built-in calendar. Up until this year, I have only ever used one of these calendars, with my personal email account, to keep track of my various deadlines and appointments. This year however, as a productivity experiment, I started using a second calendar, with my Phase 7 account.

With my personal calendar, all of the events I enter will happen in the future, obviously. Let's say I have a meeting with a student next week on Tuesday - I'll enter this event on that date, using the "Teaching" subcalendar. And I have subcalendars for various different things I need to remember: Comics Events, Travel, Visitors, Birthdays, etc. With my new calendar though, I created subcalendars for each of the projects I am working on, and I reversed the structure by only entering events from the past.

For example, I wake up in the morning and script a page of a future issue of Phase 7. When I am done, I'll enter an event under the subcalendar "Phase 7" called: "scripted 1 page." Then, if I go ink a page of the current issue of Phase 7, when I'm done I'll enter another event using the same subcalendar called "P7 #021 inked page 10." Next let's say I have a meeting with a student. When the meeting is over, I'll enter "Met with Joe" under the "Teaching" subcalendar.

Now, this is not a revolutionary idea or anything. I'm basically just keeping a log of the tasks I accomplish each day. But I have found that the way Google Calendar is structured, it makes this very easy and enjoyable to do. As you can see above, each day can hold about six entries, which currently seems to be about the number of projects I am able to work on each day. So even right there I get a nice gauge on how my day is going: "Hmmm, it's noon and I only have two items entered. What else am I working on today?" It gives me a deep sense of contentment at the end of the day to see six items in there and to have the little box all full up.

Also, with a few simple clicks you can turn off all the subcalendars except one to see how much you have been working on a project. As an example, here is the same calendar shown above, but only with the Phase 7 option turned on:

This allows you to see the last time you worked on something, or how many hours you put in on a project, or lets you see if any patterns are emerging from your working habits for a particular project.

Anyway, in 2015 I'm trying to finish off a wide variety of old projects, and I'm finding this a very efficient, satisfying way to keep track of my progress. I share it here with the hopes that this technique might be useful to others!

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