I read a recent post by Matt Birchler talking about his experiment with going back to Apple’s stock calendar. It sparked in me thoughts about my recent switch (well a few months ago) and I thought I would share my experiences. Not that my lowly blog needs to lend credence to the amazing Matt Birchler, but it is often helpful to see more than one person pointing to the same things.
With that said, Matt and I have very similar jobs. One full of meetings, team catch-ups and projects to complete. I am sure he also has a fair share of family things to keep up with too, and I have all sorts of appointments and meeting for my daughter to contend with. So the benefits felt by perhaps one side of life for some people very much bleed into every part of mine.
For me, my calendar is my entire life and has been for some time. When people turn their noses up at a subscription for “just a calendar app” I do understand. However, I get so much value from Fantastical, it is money I gladly hand over. You see, I could (and have) get by with the stock app, but I’m much better off with Fantastical. You might ask why, and that’s why you’re reading this post, so let me try to break it down for you without being too repetitive.
Meetings And Integrations
The pandemic accelerated my already increasing number of virtual meetings. Something I don’t really mind because I’d rather be working from home than traveling all over the place. For some reason, every company seems to use a different method for these, so I have to meet with SEO experts on Google meet, internal conversations on Teams and then move to chatting with event organisers on Zoom. Fantastical makes this a breeze. I don’t need to install loads of apps all over the place, just sign in with all of my accounts and click the join meeting button in my calendar.
Fantastical also integrates with my task manager of choice, Todoist, as well as my Office 365 work calendar, my shared iCloud calendar with my wife and even Meet Up for some sudo socialising! By having everything in one place, I can see all of my tasks scattered across the various platforms all in one full list. Not many apps allow numerous services to be integrated and work together as if they were all in the same place. This works on mobile too by selecting tasks in the top left menu.
Which leads me to my next major feeling point for Fantastical, time boxing is life changing. I first noticed this with Josh Ginter writing about this for Sweet Set Up, and it was the thing that inspired me to go all in on a better calendar app. As you can see from my screenshots, I block out time in my calendar to complete certain types of tasks all at once. Placing DND into areas that I don’t want to be disturbed – but I can do that in any calendar app Greg, I hear you say. Indeed, you can, but the customised colours and templates you can set up make this easy to set up and understand with a glance.
This is where two things come into play and make time boxing effortless for me when using Fantastical. I can look at the upcoming weeks calendar and already all tasks with due dates are present. I can then begin to plan around them, blocking out my day to make sure I know how much spare time I have and what kind of tasks will dominate those days. Pressing CMD + R brings up a list of all the tasks I have outstanding, and I can simply drag these into the places that I have blocked out. For example, above are periods where I have blocked out designing time, and in this 4–5 hours I can get several design focused tasks completed.
Granted, I understand that these things might not make a difference to you. To be honest, there was a long time when I thought they didn’t for me, and now I couldn’t be without it. Fantastical saves me more than the cost of the subscription in time and effort, but I understand it is not for everyone.