Today's post is about exploring some ideas in calendar visualizations to support mid and long range planning. While I generally love Google Calendar's interface for managing the Monday - Friday work week, I think about weekend time and longer term planning in distinctly different ways.
The punchline is that I have two new proposed calendar views. One is an adaptation of the "agenda" view to answer the age old question, "what are we doing this weekend?". The second, is an adaptation of some linear calendar ideas that make viewing the whole year at once easier. Scroll down for the pictures!
Thinking About the Weekend
If like me, you're a parent of two small children in the time of COVID, planning ahead for the weekend and figuring out activities for the weekend can be a top of mind issue. Adding the schedule complexity of trying to coordinate with other parents for play dates and it can get challenging to organize anything at the last minute.
Of course, the "Month" view in Google calendar let's you see ahead several weekends. My problem is the lack of focus and the lack of detail. Any more than 2 or 3 items per day and the month view becomes useless for "at a glance" planning.
My solution is a slight tweak of the "Agenda" view. It shows the agenda, but for the next four upcoming weekends. It pulls calendar information in starting Friday afternoon, automatically extends through long weekends, and unlike the regular Agenda view, will show if there is unplanned day. This is what it looks like:
Thinking Long Term
My complaint with year long planners is slightly different. Typically, they show an array of 12 calendar month views, rather than a distinct "year" view. I don't like these views because linear spacing on the calendar doesn't always correlate well to time. For example, moving two grid points going left/right will correspond to a two day change, whereas moving two grid point up/down will correspond to a fourteen day change.
Google Calendar's "Year" view, if you've ever clicked it, shows no event information whatsoever. It is a solid wall of numbers.
So the first time I saw the linear calendar from the Made Shop, things instantly clicked. (They still sell linear calendars, although they update the design each year.) The linear relationship to time is better captured, and there's plenty of white space in between the lines to write notes.
I also like the IOTA Inc linear calendar where the year is blocked out in a series of neat, rectilinear, two week chunks.
I'd taken my own swings at making a linear calendar (here's mine from 2020), but I was interested in what what happen if I tried to build something that would sync live to Google Calendar.
Here's my take. (It's admittedly, hastily thrown together. For instance, to save time, all the months have 31 days.) I've laid out the year as a series of a three month, linear quarters. This cuts on some of the clutter of the 12 row linear view, and compresses some of the vertical space taken up by IOTA's view.
Rather than show every single possible event, the calendar is filtered to show full day and multiday events. When events overlap, there's room to vertically stack them.And that's my spin on a year long calendar view!
These are admittedly, static renders right now, but hey, if you know someone on the Google Calendar team, introduce me!
aka THE Awkward Engineer
p.s. The AwkEng is still <in>! I've had 10 takers show up for office hours and it's been good, so I'll be continuing to make them available. Sign up at https://calendly.com/the-awkeng-is-in