574: Calendars, Contacts and Tasks

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Watching the Super Bowl with the sound muted so I can listen to MPU. :football: :headphones:


One brilliant new feature in BusyCal (I have been a BusyCal user for several years) is the Zoom button. You can link BusyCal with your Zoom account. When you enter a meeting on the calendar you press the Zoom button and it goes out to Zoom, schedules it on your Zoom account, and pastes the invitation into the meeting notes on the calendar. Then you just add attendees and SEND. Before this I had to go back and forth between BusyCal (when do I have free) and Zoom (schedule the meeting) and then BusyCal (paste the invite and send). A huge win. (IMHO)


No mention of Fastmail for calendar/contacts? :frowning:

(vs Apple, Google, Microsoft)

They use real standards (CalDAV, CardDAV), so are truly interoperable.


Can’t believe you didn’t mention Rose Orchards When works https://when.works for making bookings sync’d to your Calendar :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Yes. I use fast mail for both.

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DAYLITE is an awesome way to create multiple calendars (using categories), contact goups, link every object to each other (anything), Mac mail plugin - it also connects to Harmonizely meeting booking service, and you can connect Zapier to connect/automate heaps of workflows. I use Daylite to help me frame my areas of focus and goals as projects, and categorised etc - Daylite blows fantastical and busy cal out of the water, and all the data connects. Daylite on the iPhone means that I automatically record date and time for calls. In Daylite, I can intentionally schedule goal and project completion as well as record timesheets just by using my calendar in Daylite. I use Daylite for life, rather than just for business.

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I suspect that I am swimming against the crowd here, but I am horrified by the number of calendars that David has. As he noted several times, time is finite. There is only one 10-11AM on Tuesday. I have had a small number of calendars in the past — but over time I am down to one calendar for both business and personal things. If I have to pick up a kid at school at 3PM (my kids are long grown and out of the house, so maybe this applies to my grandkids) then I cant schedule a meeting at 3PM. So why do I want to see two different versions.

That being said, I do tag items (BusyCal allows tags that display items in different colors). I also use some emoji in business (vs. personal) items (two black stars for meetings that I must attend and one black star for meetings that I should attend but dont have to, etc.).

I think my world would be crazy with 6 calendars.


In our family, we also take a very different approach to calendars. I really like knowing when my kids have practices or appointments, and even if my wife doesn’t need to be there (or I don’t), it helps us figure out who needs to be where when or what expectations there might be.

Quick shout-out to my new favorite app, Meeter.

As I wrote elsewhere on this forum, I recently had to give up Fantastical because of its incompatibility with a calendaring service that’s essential to me. Meeter gives me Fantastical’s one-click access to Zoom meetings. It also works with other videoconferencing services.

As an added bonus, it gives me a countdown timer in the menubar to tell me when my next meeting is. I like to keep an eye on that as I get to the last 30 minutes before a meeting.

It’s not quite a “one thing well” app, in that it does (at least) two things. But it’s close enough.

There the world needs more limited functionality apps like this one, IMO–a nice alternative to “everything buckets.”

6 minutes 'til my next meeting–gotta run!

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As a long-time Things user listing to the problem @ismh pointed out with recurring tasks being available before the due date, I can relate.

That said, there’s a good way of working around it. Whenever I have a recurring task that I can work before it’s due I set it to have a deadline and toggle the option to remind me before that.

It will create a task in the Today list, but if you remove it from Today (Command + R, btw), it will move to Anytime, so it can be checked of anytime (as the name implies) and it will also go back to Today when the due date comes.

Could be better if we didn’t have to remove it from the Today view. Yes… but it works just fine if you move those tasks to Anytime on you daily review.

I’m also a Things user. I highly recommend it in general, BUT my biggest frustration is the lack of power searching. as an example, I can filter by a tag, or a combination of tags, but I cannot search for tasked tagged with either Tag A OR Tag B.

But the user interface is just so pleasing. I assume my brain is more geared towards OmniFocus, but coming from Things it just wasn’t as pleasurable an experience.

BTW, my task manager of 10+ years before was REMEMBER THE MILK. Stephen, I got your back. In it’s day RTM was the power-user task manager of choice!

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Also wanted to +1 David’s comments about Fantastical’s “Propose Meeting” feature. I never tried it when it first came out. It wasn’t until I heard David talk about it (maybe on a podcast, could it have been in the Paperless field guide?) that I gave it a go. Now I’m using it ALL the time…

Part of my job is doing what are essentially courtesy calls with executives looking for work. I HATED the endless email back and forth to choose a day, and then a time. Now when someone reaches out via email, I send back a nice note letting them know to watch for a separate scheduling email. In fantastical, I create an appointment for the first time that might work, click “Propose Another Time” and move that around on my calendar. I can usually create 6 to 9 options very quickly, and when I click add event, a really nice email is sent to the person I invited. Couple of other points:

  • There is a nice option if none of the suggested times work
  • It plays nicely with my exchange calendar for work. The proposed meeting times are on a fantastical calendar that my team can’t see, but once a time is selected by the invitee, it shows up in exchange.
  • In account settings, I have added my work email address to be the sending account for meeting proposals, which is different than the personal email that I use for my Fantastical subscription.
  • If you add notes to the calendar appointment, they show up at the top of the Proposal Email in a nice orange box. A really nice touch.
  • I get a confirmation when someone has accepted a date and time.
  • One of my only areas for improvement is that I do not get a notification if the invitee chooses that “none of these times work” option. I have to go into the Fantastical alerts to see this.

I highly recommend playing with this feature. It’s a life-saver.

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I as thinking the same thing. In the caliber share with ismh, he would see that Wednesday is a free day… but when is not because on another calendar he is doing something… this will risk that ismh will schedule something when is not free time.

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That’s why calendar sets with keyboard shortcuts are so nice. You quickly flip to the right combination that shows your availability, and you name the partial views to remind you what you’re looking at. It’s hard to make a mistake.

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I know, but that is you. For example, ismh sees that he is available Wednesday at 9 am. But is because he doesn’t have anything mpu related at that time, but maybe he has some lawyer stuff to do. How ismh know that 9 am is busy, no need the details, only busy.

That is what I mean.


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Yeah, yet another feature missing. Boolean operators search would be great.

That said, there’s a workaround for those OR searches as well: nested tags.

I have a bunch of tags for my staff. One per person. If I want to filter by any of them, I just filter the list for the Agenda tag that will nest them all.

Wondering: am I the only MPU that still uses Remember The Milk? (a lot!)

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+1 I migrated off of Google and Apple a few weeks ago, with Nextcloud as a destination but I stopped off at Fastmail.

Google Contacts and Mail were very non-standard so it took a lot of work to replicate configuration in Fastmail. Some custom fields were just lost.

I’m glad they covered calendars besides Fantastical, though that section felt like half of the show. Personally, I use Apple mail and calendar apps no, problem!

Fastmail’s web interface is really nice, I might give using it for Mail, Calendar, and Contact a try. I already use it a lot on my Mac, but not on my iDevices.

Fastmail and even Nextcloud might be good topics for a future show. Also Joplin for notes.

The episode had some useful tips, and got me interested in Todoist as a replacement for Omnifocus since my needs are not very complicated.

One thing I’d note is using as few apps as possible. For the show they test out several apps with some complex workflow. For my part, I like have as few apps and accounts as possible to keep things simple!

Thanks for another great episode, Stephen and David.

I was happy to hear David mention Sorted3 again, since it jives very well with my own approach to tasks and calendars – though it still lacks a few key features for me to embrace it fully.

But let me back up a bit.

The last couple of years I’ve gone pretty much all-in on using the calendar to plan my days and weeks.

And yes, I have several different calendars - one for business meetings or events, one for private engagements, etc.

But my most used calendar is simply called Time Block. I use it to block off chunks of my days to work on different projects (I’m an indie podcaster with many differenct clients), so I can plan my time and meet deadlines.

Some blocks are recurring (I need to work, say, 3 hours every Monday to prepare for recordings on Tuesday mornings), other blocks are one-off (preparation time of 5 hours for a presentation at an event on a given date).

It’s also useful to let me know if I have enough time for new projects. I can get a very quick overview of my weeks and work out if I have time (blocks) open during the week.

Aaaanyway, back to tasks in relation to all of this.

It annoys me a lot that most task managers don’t use task duration. It’s really difficult to get a sense of my workload just by looking at the number of tasks. If I could assign them an estimated duration, it would be much easier to see if I had time to complete them, or if I needed to move a task to the next day.

It seems most task managers simply assume I will keep working until all tasks are done, no matter how long that’ll take?

This is why I use my calendar so much to set aside time to work on my tasks and projects.

But using Todoist and Fantastical together I can at least get a bit closer to my vision of an app that lets me integrate calendar and tasks.

A great new(-ish) feature in Fantastical is the integration with Reminders and/or Todoist, which lets me see my tasks in my calendar and get a more or less complete overview of what I need to do on a given day:

I have blocked 9-10 am to work on a particular podcast (event) and I need to write an invitation to my next guest (task) by 9:30 am.

But what really annoys me is that neither Fantastical or Todoist have taken the (for me) obvious last step of letting tasks have a duration.

To me it would be great to be able to see a Todoist task in Fantastical, and give it an estimated duration of 45 minutes or two hours or whatever.

I’m still hopeful, though, and have of course written to both companies.

Oh, and about Sorted3: it’s getting very close, but as mentioned still lacks a few key features - like duplication of events, a week view, perhaps integration with Reminders or Todoist, etc. But it’s definitely on my list and I return to it regularly to see if they’ve added some of these.

So, am I crazy for wanting this kind of task/blocks/events-integration, or do I have fellow blockists here in the forums? :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: