Let's face it. We are all so busy today that there is no way we can remember everything that needs to get done. All those things that need to get done once, twice, three or four times a year are SO easily forgotten! I'm talking about stuff like:
- Dentist & Doctor Appts.
- Oil Changes
- Birthdays & Anniversaries
- Making an appt with your tax preparer
- Filing estimated taxes
- Fertilizing the lawn & garden
Having a good reminder system is the way to go. One way to do this is to use your calendar / planner, but personally, I don't have the patience to sit and write all these things in for the year every year.
I've also never had success with a paper-based Tickler File system. Gina Trapani describes the problem with tickle files beautifully. "Getting Things Done author David Allen recommends keeping a tickler file which consists of a folder for each day of the month. Productive person that you are, you review that file religiously every single day for anything that has to be dealt with today. As a not-very-disciplined productive person, this system doesn't work for me." She further states "I simply never remember to review [it]. I need a tickler file that's going to jump onto my desk and do cartwheels..."
I agree completely! My solution? I use a computer-based reminder system. My choice is Outlook but, one the best things about the digital age is that there are many options for programming reminders and setting them up to recur forever! No maintenance, no repetitive work. Do it once and it's done. You can set up reminders for daily, weekly, monthly, every 2, 3, 6 weeks, annually, whatever you need! Need to upgrade or change computer systems? Most of them allow you to export your reminders and calendar into a file and then import them into your new system! And many of these choices are free!
I often teach people how to do this and it changes their lives. So I thought I'd pull together several sources here that teach you how to set up reminders in various "free" calendar / planner systems. Technically, Outlook isn't free, but lots of people use it so I'm including it.
Outlook 2007 (very similar to Outlook 2003)
Straight from the Microsoft site, here are easy instructions to program your reminder system. You need to schedule and appointment first, then make it recur. For full detailed instructions on how to schedule appointments go here.
Sams Teach Yourself Microsoft Office 2003 in 24 hours, has put the entire book online FREE! Including instructions on how to set up appointments and recurring reminders in Outlook online here! Scroll down to the the section titled "To Do: Set Appointments"
--> To keep your reminders which have no set time from interfering with scheduling real appointments, be sure to put a check in the "all-day event" option next to the Start Time.
--> If you really want to geek out and become an Outlook power-user, or just get tips on enhancing your productivity with Outlook Reminders, check out this site Outlook Tips and select the Reminders option.
Yahoo! Calendar (free)
Lifehacker's Gina Trapani has a great article on "How to Tickle Yourself with Yahoo! Calendar." She shows you step by step how to set up reminders with Yahoo!.
Google Calendar (free)
You can see Google calendar for yourself at: Google Calendar
Check out this review from TechBlog. It includes instructions and the comments are really interesting too.
Here's one posted by Jim Thompson that explains how to set up the recurring reminder.
"here's how to set up an annual event. Click on the event in the calendar, and in the popup balloon, click Edit Event Details. Isn't it obvious now how to set up a recurring event? Nope, wasn't obvious to me either - I found it only by accident. Click somewhere in the date field, and a whole new set of entry fields will appear. One of them will let you specify how often the event repeats." Read the entire comment here.
30 Boxes Calendar (free)
If you really want to be cutting edge and use a calendar that's designed to be shareable and has all the latest social networking functionality you want to check out www.30boxes.com It's still in beta, but it's worth checking out just to experience the possiblities in calendaring that truly have never been seen before! : )
Here is an in depth review from Thomas Hawk's Digital Connection Review: 30 Boxes, Best...Calendar...EVER!
I played around with it a little and I must say it is tempting!! It would be nice to access my info from anywhere, but at this point that's not a critical need for me. Some of the really attractive features to me are:
- Able to share appointments and events with other people selectively! You can tage only the things each of your calendar buddies are able to see on your calendar!
- Per Thomas Hawk's review:
"Entering items for your calendar is super intuitive. You just type whatever into the box and the calendar figures out where it goes. For instance, you can type in dinner tomorrow at Myth and it knows that tomorrow means February 3rd and will put it on your calendar for that day. You of course can add by the actual day too or edit by day but simply typing into an add event box is really easy. And (here's more eye candy) if you throw in the address in your calendar (as you would expect of course) it fetches a Google map for you."
- Also from Thomas Hawk's review:
"Update: 30boxes into Outlook | A Mountain Top A Mountain Top is reporting on a Remote Calendar project over at Sourceforge that seems to allow you to import your 30 Boxes calendar into outlook."
- It can integrate with your buddies www.flickr.com and their blogs!
That's all for now...I'll add more options as I find them! Feel free to introduce me to other great calendar based reminder systems via comment or email: abenefit at neatandsimple.com (to reduce spammers I'm not including a mailto: link. Just change the at to @ Thanks! : )