Decluttering iStuff: Calendars

I’m at the time of year where I begin to map out the coming year – not with mind mapping apps1, but on my various calendars. My family routinely receives/orders a wall calendar that has photos of our closest relatives on my wife’s side, mainly (and appropriately) featuring the kids. So my wife uses that one for reference, and she uses a Polestar planner for her own planning. As for me, I’m pretty much digital when it comes to calendars. I like using them and, like productivity apps, I tend to explore them. And while I can sync my stuff across multiple calendar apps using my Google Calendar settings, I’ve decided that this is a good time of year to pare down the amount of apps I have on my various iDevices that deal with scheduled appointments.

It’s decluttering time.

For the purposes of this purge, I am not including web-based calendar apps that reside on my iOS devices. For example, my GCal page contains my Lifehack posting assignment times so it isn’t going anywhere. I can’t add these scheduled times to any of my current apps, and the thing is – GCal in this fashion works for me. That said, I’m only using this calendar for Lifehack posting schedule items, so it also doesn’t count because of that limited use case. I’m thinking about possible alternatives that will work for both myself and my colleague (we share these schedules), but I’m not ready with a failsafe solution yet.2

Oh, and I’m only going to keep one calendar application per device. Partly because of having GCal at the ready, but mainly because no one needs more than one electronic calendar. Not with what they can do and how they should be used in today’s world.

Finally, keep in mind that these aren’t exactly set in stone. The decluttering process is tough enough to get to, so I don’t get too comprehensive when making cuts. In fact, many times I am actually deleting the apps as soon as I finish writing up a post in this series. I’m open to other suggestions, but I’m going to be ruthless with accepting new apps onto my gear in the same manner that I deal with apps when deleting them.

Alright…now let’s start with my primary iDevice.

MacBook Air

iCal It’s there. But as Ben Brooks put when he saw how it was going to look in Lion:

“The way to get people to love a calendar app is not to make it look like what they used 10 years ago, but to make it better than what they used 10 years ago.”

So, it’s there. I’m not able to rid myself of it because it either will break the OS or I’m afraid it will. But it is waaay buried.

Fantastical Fantastical won me over as soon as I tried to break it. I tried to have it flub my conversational entries, and it sorted it all out just fine. The only problem with Fantastical for the longest time was the inability to edit an entry, but that was fixed in a recent update. Now it’s pretty much perfect.

For what I need a calendar for, including syncing multiple calendars such as iCal and GCal, Fantastical is just that: fantastic. It wins the day – and the spot on my SSD.

CalendarBar Had this come along before Fantastical, it might have won out.3 But since CalendarBar arrived late to the party, it never got a fair shake.

And unfortunately, it’s not going to – at least at this point. CalendarBar is “barred” from my machine as a result.

iOS

Due I tried this app based on all of the hype, and it did a really good job. It actually had a place on my home screen for a bit. Then Reminders happened.

Due isn’t a calendar app in its purest sense, and because it isn’t I really don’t know where it will fit in on my iOS devices at this juncture. The time for it to go is now due.

Agenda Agenda was in a bit of a battle for a while for the coveted single calendar app spot on my iPad and iPhone, but it beat down the rest of the competition with its latest update. New themes (some of which are based on the weblogs of some of my favourite writers) and the ability to email people from directly within Agenda (either with a custom email or with templates that can confirm your appointment, notify your arrival or explain that you’re going to be “x” minutes late) sealed the deal for me.

What was already a very fluid and pleasurable calendar app leveled up – and won the highly contested iOS caledar app spot.

Fast Calendar &Tasks/Calvetica This was the calendar app I’d been using a long time until the new champion arrived. It’s an elegant app and serves as a great app for those wanting to track their schedules and appointments. And it is certainly better than the default app meant for that.

But the latest update to the app below unseated this app (which I preferred when it was just called Calvetica), leaving the former app of choice in the dust…and off of my iOS devices.

Calendar It’s also there. Waaay buried.

Easy Calendar I grabbed Easy Calendar and, much like Calendar Bar, it never really had a chance. Agenda and its recent enhancements make it very difficult to stray and try another calendar app.

No matter how easy it is.

Free-Time A neat (albeit gimmicky) take on a calendar app that spent a bit of time on my home screen. Free-Time tells you how much time in your day you have’nt got locked down in scheduled appointments. I gave it a go, but it doesn’t suit how I structure my day and my work.

Free-Time has plenty of free time now. As in, free time off of my iOS devices.

The Verdict

So to wrap things up, here’s the calendar apps that stay:

- MacBook Air: Fantastical - iPad/iPhone: Agenda

And now back to 2012 prep – and prepping a year in review post for delivery.

1Don't worry. They're getting the decluttering treatment soon. 2Although if you have one, I'm listening in the comments below.