Monday, November 26, 2007

David Seah's Compact Calendar


Another blogger who impresses me is a chap called David Seah :: he is a real GTD obsessive and... more importantly... guru who has produced some fab kit for keeping folk organised.

His latest initiative is the Compact Calendar :: which is basically a neat way of printing off a 2008 calendar for use as and when you need it > project planning... to do lists etc. Here's what David has to say about his calendar:
The problem with traditional calendar design is that they chunk time in months, not continuous days. I generally am thinking of things like:

* How many days are available, including weekends?
* When are critical deliverables?
* How much calendar time is needed to finish a task?
* What are the specific days we have to work around?

One way to do this is to use a long timeline, like a Gantt chart. All the days line up one after the other in a long horizontal format, which makes it easy to see how long something takes; distance is directly equatable to duration. The drawback of the Gantt chart is its lack of compactness.../

When I'm doing impromptu planning, I just circle dates and underline ranges, writing notes in the empty space on the right. It is basically a form of doodling your schedule. I find it's a great planning tool in meetings too; just whip out a few of these sheets out at a client meeting to do a quick thumbnail schedule on-the-spot.

The advantages of the Compact Calendar:
  • The days are all packed together visually, so "distance" corresponds directly to time. This makes visually estimating how much time you need much easier, an visual advantage shared with the Gantt chart.
  • The calendar for an entire year can fit on a single piece of paper, with plenty of room for notes. You can also just print out a section of it, for short projects.
  • It still largely retains the monthly calendar format, with days of the week in columns, so it's a bit easier to use than a Gantt chart.
  • Saturdays and Sundays are shaded differently, so we are not as tempted to plan our work schedule on them.
  • It's easy to count weeks too. "Unit weeks" tend to be the building blocks of longer-term projects.
  • You're forced to break up project tasks to fit into each 5-day work period. Gantt charts, by comparison, tend to draw long lines through the weekend because that's what lines want to do. Even if you don't work on the weekend, from a visual perspective it seems to imply that you should be working. This has always bugged me, from the perspective of visual gestalt and information design.
  • Because we retain the days of the week in the same column, it's easy to mark recurring events that are tied to them. "Oh, every Friday we have a company meeting." Easy to see where they'll be; not so on the Gantt chart.
The main drawback of the Compact Calendar is that you can't easily show dependencies or overlapping tasks. It's also not so good for detailed planning.
Anyway... I had a wee play around with his templates and created one for UK [English] Bank Holidays. I intend to use them at my work and thought I'd share them with anyone who would want/need this kind of thing.

Download it here and check out David's blog [above] for instructions on use etc. He also has a wide selection from this big ol' world > including the USofA.

Thanks David!

U*P*D*A*T*E
Fixed the download link. Sorry for any hassle.

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