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Unifying the split personality

Morning Andrew hates Night Andrew. Morning Andrew is tired and grumpy because Night Andrew kept him up late again, frittering around and finding interesting things to do instead of sleeping.

Morning Andrew hates Night Andrew. Morning Andrew is tired and grumpy because Night Andrew kept him up late again, frittering around and finding interesting things to do instead of sleeping. Night Andrew knows Morning Andrew needs a break, but that guy only thinks about himself - why sleep when he can play guitar or video games, watch movies, read books and do all the other things he enjoys? Sometimes Night Andrew will even have a few beers, which only makes Morning Andrew feel worse...

Afternoon Andrew is tired and unhappy too, because Morning Andrew was in such a hurry (Night Andrew kept him up late again last night) that he forgot to pack Afternoon Andrew a good lunch or healthy snacks. He's also kind of grumpy because he wanted to go for a jog at lunch, and Morning Andrew forgot to bring shorts/shoes/shirt to work again.

Night Andrew and Afternoon Andrew also have issues. Afternoon Andrew is always working which is why Night Andrew feels he needs to play. Afternoon Andrew also wants to go for a bike ride or something after work, which makes Night Andrew too tired to play all night... ah, who am I kidding! Night Andrew will always suck it up because he's a night owl, the One True Andrew as he used to be before job, kid and responsibilities.

I'd like to get Morning, Afternoon and Night Andrew into a room so they can work it out, but since they all think they're right I don't think it's going to happen. The best I can hope for is a truce.

So Late Morning Andrew - who has forgiven Night Andrew for keeping him up, Morning Andrew for packing carbs for lunch (and still hasn't realized morning Andrew didn't pack his running stuff) - had an idea to use technology to send reminders to himself.

If I had a smart phone with a calendar application I could make notes to myself that will result in pop-up reminders. The ability to copy and paste these reminders over and over again is extremely useful.

For example, I could set a reminder to go off at 10 p.m. every night telling Night Andrew to go to bed, that he needs his sleep. I could set a reminder for Morning Andrew not to forget to make a health lunch and snack, and every second or third day a reminder to bring his running stuff to work. I could send one-time reminders to myself to pay bills, work on projects - even to play guitar and video games every so often so Night Andrew can get all those things out of his system and give the other Andrews a freaking break.

With a little bit of organization I could also sync my phone calendar with calendars at home and work and get in the habit of checking them regularly.

But I don't have a smart phone right now, so that's moot... So is the trick of sending myself text message reminders that a lot of people have figured out, or using To Do Lists apps to organize my life.

That leaves the Andrews with an Internet solution, and luckily there is no shortage of those.

One of the best is Remember The Milk (www.rememberthemilk.com), a web-based program that will coordinate reminder messages between a variety of different calendars, e-mail accounts and phones and that can be customized to send reminders to any device at any time.

I've written about this service before but it's become a lot more powerful recently by adding the ability to deliver reminders through almost any device or set reminders by sending your Remember The Milk account an e-mail. You can also receive reminders through e-mail, text messaging, Skype, chat and a variety of other services you might use on a regular basis. It will keep your diverse calendars up to date (providing they're compatible). You can use Remember The Milk as your default calendar/date book and review any of your future reminders at any time.

You can create categories for reminders, you can set reminders to repeat themselves as desired, and even choose the type of reminder you'd like to send - phone call, text, pop-up, whatever. You can use it to manage To Do lists, map out your itinerary, share your itinerary with others... it's really pretty amazing. And the learning curve makes it easy to fit it into your hectic life.

A program called SuperMinder (www.superminder.com) also attracted a lot of attention a year ago, but their website seems to be down with no explanation. I'm hoping that this is just part of the transition from beta to a finished product and that it will re-launch soon.

There are a variety of other tools you can use - Memo To Me (www.memotome.com), FutureMe.org (www.futureme.org) and even Google Calendar and Microsoft Live Calendar, which send reminders to your e-mail.

It's tough to sync a variety of different calendars, web-based and not, but it can be done. A web search asking how to sync two different calendars will usually help.

If you're a big Firefox user then you might consider downloading the ReminderFox add-on. With a bit of wizardry you can sync this add-on between computers by saving the calendar file to a folder that will automatically sync between computers like Dropbox (www.getdropbox.com). More information is at reminderfox.mozdev.org/faq.html.

Firefox has also launched a cross-platform calendar application called Sunbird that is portable and can sync between different computers and devices. I haven't tested it yet but the reviews are generally good.

Night Andrew won't know what hit him...

 

 




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