How Do You Manage Complex Appointments and Timelines?

I like my Outlook for appointment management, I really do. But it lacks certain functionality I would really like to have. This functionality, in my case, has to do with event management, but I guess there are a number of other scenarios where one might have the same problem.

Consider this: There’s a conference taking place on a few specific days in October 2007. Now, in conjunction with this, there’s an abundance of appointments and deadlines I need to store (just an example):

  • The start and end date of the conference itself.
  • If I’m going to travel to the conference, there are these additional dates to keep track of:
    • I’ll probably leave home somewhat earlier and arrive back somewhat later. This time span I would like to store.
    • At some point in time I have to book a flight and/or make other travel arrangements.
    • At some point in time I’ll have to look into booking a hotel.
  • If I want to speak at the conference, there are several deadlines I need:
    • The deadline for the Call for Papers
    • The deadline for submission of my slides and samples
    • The date of the speakers’ dinner or similar event
    • The deadline to RSVP for the speakers’ dinner or similar event
    • Several other deadlines that are usually set by the organizers for various things
    • The point in time where I need to start preparing my presentations for submission - depending on the presentations, of course
    • The point in time where I need to start revising my presentation before the event - depending on the presentations
  • If we exhibit at the conference, there’s yet more:
    • Deadline to book a booth location
    • Deadline to book a nice booth location
    • Deadline to ship the booth and other materials to the location
    • And similar additional stuff as above

Okay - I guess there are sometimes additional things, but I’m sure you get the picture. Now, what I do right now is basically this: I create lots and lots of separate entries in Outlook to make sure I get a reminder at all important points. In some ways that’s not bad… I’m not prepared to totally migrate my time keeping to another application and at least the Outlook data can be synced onto the BlackBerry easily. But obviously it’s a pain in the neck to handle this information, and once there’s more than one event going on per year (joke - of course there are always numerous events in some stage of preparation), it becomes really difficult to see what entries in Outlook belong to what event.

It would also be nice to get a per-event report or timeline out of Outlook, but it can’t do that. I’m currently thinking that it would be great, and maybe not even too complicated, to have an external application to manage these “information sets” per event, and to have that application simply do the grunt work of adding and modifying all the Outlook entries for me. It could probably also create nice reports. But then I thought well, there are people out there with the same problem, and some of them are bound to have much greater trouble with this than me, so maybe I should just ask whether somebody has a solution to this. Is there a tool or something that I’m not aware of? Please let me know!

(This is probably one of those blog posts that for some reason never get a single comment. Oh well.)

Sorry, this blog does not support comments.

I used various blog hosting services since this blog was established in 2005, but unfortunately they turned out to be unreliable in the long term and comment threads were lost in unavoidable transitions. At this time I don't want to enable third-party services for comments since it has become obvious in recent years that these providers invariably monetize information about their visitors and users.

Please use the links in the page footer to get in touch with me. I'm available for conversations on Keybase, Matrix, Mastodon or Twitter, as well as via email.