Justin Li

Calendars and To-Do Lists


I don't know how many of you use Google Calendar, which is a great piece of software. I myself don't use it, even though I use ten thousand other Google products (the Blogger page you're reading being one of them). I developed my own "in-house" calendar, which I put up on Google Pages (another one) so people can see it. It's actually three separate files:

The actual thing
The JavaScript program
The style sheet

Of the three, the style sheet is the least important, although without it the page would look really ugly. The HTML file is where I store all my events, since the beginning of 2007. I actually liked this version of my calendar (it's 4.0.x; I lost count) so much that I ported all my previous events to it.

Anyway, one problem with all calendars that I've seen (including mine, GCal, and Apples iCal) is that they don't really integrate a list of to-do items very well. iCal puts it to one side, GCal doesn't do it at all. It's strange that no one has thought of a way to integrate the two, considering that they are so interrelated. A to-do list requires action (events) to complete, and when that is done the to-do item should be done too. In all the calendars I've seen, the to-do lists are shoved to one side, while the calendar takes main stage. In iCal you can drag the an item to the calendar, to create an event, but those two are not related in any way.

For my calendar, I have a slightly (but only very) better approach. I have a to do list, but the items also show up when you mouse over the date, so you know what you have do to for that day. The ideal way I would integrate to-do lists and calendars would be some graphical method of showing it, like the thumbtacks on Google Maps (another!). It would stick to the point in time when it's due, so you know how to plan for it before.

My problem right now is my to-dos are not sorted in any way. I recently read a LifeHacker article (which I read through RSS on Google Reader) talking about using your Moleskine as a planner. I was really more interested in the way the author uses different markings to indicate the status of the event.

That is probably all the categories you need. The author also makes a chart for his day, which my calendar automatically does for me. I don't really need the deferred mark (since I can just change the date), but all the other features would be nice. However, as long as I can't see the to-dos graphically, it doesn't really help. Right now I'm thinking I might try overlaying a second table on my calendar just for to-dos, but at the same time that would obscure some parts of my calendar, especially small events like "turn in homework" which takes all of 15 minutes. Another idea was to alternate small and large rows; small rows would be for to-dos, and large rows for real events. I don't think it's too pretty though, and the elegance of my program will be messed up as well.

I heard Leopard's iCal integrates the to-do list with the calendar. I'm anxious to see how they do it.