In the mobile world filled with hotspots and wireless, you will be stuck if you continue to use an old fashioned calendar. I stopped using them years ago. Maybe I’ve been lazy and I just never got into the whole “writing things down” habit. In the past I relied heavily on Microsoft Outlook’s awesome calendaring and appointment scheduling functionality. In those years I was forced to rely on Microsoft products because the companies I worked for rolled it out as the company standard.

These days I’m a convert to Open Source software models because I believe in the principles underlying this movement. So for my desktops operating systems I’ve switched to Ubuntu Linux, for my office and productivity applications I’ve switched to OpenOffice, which runs brilliantly across Windows, Linux and Mac OS X (my current primary desktop OS)!

Since moving my email to Mozilla Thunderbird I’ve had to let go of an integrated email and calendaring solution. And after experimenting with the awful standalone Mozilla calendar project called Sunbird, I decided to continue looking for alternatives. Any Outlook user will understand the exceptional flexibility of having integrated email and calendar software. So for a while I even relied on my cellphone calendar, and this again was so tedious to keep updating. And of course I didn’t have a way to schedule recurring appointments – this is a key requirement for anyone focussed on increasing their productivity. I do a Tai Chi class every Monday and Wednesday, 6-7pm and I have other routines I’ve built into my weekly and monthly schedule, like Toastmasters, which is important for me to reflect in my diary.

And so I found what may be one of the best tools available, as with most Google tools, also free: Google Calendar. This calendar is based on the iCal web standard for data exchange. This enhances interoperability with other calendaring applications. If you are using GMail it synchronizes with your contact list. The sharing is also extremely flexible and you can assign other Google users various levels of access to your calendar. I’ve had my personal assist be able to schedule new appointments directly in my calendar for a while now and it works perfectly.

The one thing that really stands out about Google Calendar, being a user from South Africa, is the ability for reminders to be sent to you via SMS. This is a big deal because you’re not always at your laptop or always online. And whenever you are away from your computer this function can be a real life saver. Again the best part about this is the fact that the SMS messages does not cost you a cent. It’s been a real life save for me, allowing me to automate certain aspects of my life. I highly recommend you consider this amazing free tool as you preferred scheduling tool and appointment tool.