Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Google Calendar Goals: Wonderful but flawed

About a year ago Google Calendar added "Goals" in addition to Appointments and Reminders.

Appointments are firm time commitments, like my daily work schedule. Reminders are a "to-do" list that automatically goes to the top of the next day's schedule if not marked as completed.

Goals are a bit in-between.

The example Google uses is to set a goal of exercising twice a week. It doesn't matter so much when, as long as you complete your goal some time during the week. If you don't do your goal this week, they aren't carried forward. Rather the goals repeat each week (or other time period you select). Goals appear automatically in your calendar in empty time slots in your calendar.

Goals are "soft" appointments. Thus, if you decide to watch TV instead of your goal of study at 7:00 pm Tuesday, or go out to eat instead of completing your goal of buying the week's groceries at 5:30 pm Sunday, Goals reschedules your goals for you on your Google Calendar at another specific open time in your Calendar. A goal can be set for once a month or 3 times per week, or repeat in any manner you wish. Wonderful! It's supposed to learn your schedule. Eventually, it will schedule your goals when you most frequently do them. Except it doesn't. At least, not often enough to keep me from frequently resetting the dates and times. It reschedules too late in the week and at the wrong hours of the day.

I spend too much time manually adjusting the time settings for a feature that is supposed to auto-reset.

Google Calendar Goals developers evidently don't think you have a life between 10 PM and 8 AM. Why else would they make you manually set goals for those times and not automatically reschedule during those times? They've obviously never heard of graveyard or swing shift. This is my number one complaint about Goals. Let me list them...

1) You can set goals specifically for "morning," afternoon," or "evening." But Goals won't auto-set (or reschedule) between 10 PM and 8 AM. If you want to have a goal scheduled between, say, 6 and 8 in the morning, you must say "any time" and not turn off afternoon and evening settings, or it will not set your goal at all! Then you must go in and manually change the times and hope it will remember if you actually do the goal at that time.

2) What happens when I finish a goal before it was scheduled? Or what happens if I do a goal twice in a week and I only have it scheduled for once a week? I'd like to keep track of what I actually do in some situations. In the first situation I can manually move the scheduled goal to the earlier time and then mark it as done. But there isn't a way to mark a goal down more times than it was scheduled.

3a) I want to study for two weekly classes held on different days. I want to set a goal to study as many days before each class as possible. If I delay studying for the first class, I also want to put off the second. I don't want to study for the second class before I've studied for the first class. Which brings me to...

3b) If I put off a goal, I want the option for it to reschedule later in the same day, or the next available slot the next day, not reschedule it late in the week after the classes are over.

4. Just because I reschedule a Goal later once, doesn't mean that I want to use this new time as the preferred time for the goal in later weeks. I'd rather accomplish all my goals early in the week, if I can. That way, even if I delay a goal for later, I know I will get my goals accomplished for the week. If the weekly goal is set for the last day or two of the week, it might not get done at all that week.

Complain. Complain. Complain. And yet here I am still using Goals after 9 weeks. This is because, despite the quirks, I am accomplishing far more each week than I was without this nifty feature in the Google Calendar app. Before I heard about Goals, I didn't use the Calendar app at all.

And I'm still hoping that Goals will finally learn my true schedule, or that an update will allow me a bit more control. I'm sure my complaints are due to my over-scheduling. I've got maybe 20 goals a week I'm trying to have the app balance. Study periods, nature hike, art projects, shopping, household chores.

Writing this blog post was NOT one of my goals. So, while writing this I put off for later two other goals. I may end up canceling them completely for this week, knowing that these are repeating goals each week. But that will be a choice, whereas in the past I didn't accomplish all I hoped due to poor planning, distractions, or sloth.