How to: Communicate your plans effectively with Short Calendar

Email can be a terrible way to communicate. One such occasion is when trying to communicate planned time. As Nathan Cahill puts it:

“Plans are not easy to communicate over email. Whether you are planning a short trip or having a relative visit, you need to write it in calendar format.”

Logo for the Short Calendar web service - stylised drawing of a calendar

And, fortunately for the rest of us, he went ahead and created Short Calendar, a web app that allows you to do just that – create your plan on a calendar and email it to whoever you need to.

Simple, free. Excellent.

Thanks to Brent Sordyl, who’s blog post brought this service to my attention.

The minimalist guide to planning 2012 and beyond

No New Year resolutions this year. In fact, I don’t do any any year. However I am resolved to creating a mind map of my goals and aspirations for this year and beyond. Yes, it’s a resolution; but it’s not a New Year’s resolution.

It’s something I’ve never done before and never really understood the point; I think because it’s so far removed from the day-to-day business of getting things done – to-do lists, projects and next actions. Plus, they’re very often cited in the context of a spiritual journey, which put me off & made me somewhat sceptical of their usefulness.

Johanna Rothman’s take on estimation

Here’s some sage advice from Johanna Rothman’s “Managing Product Development” blog:

  1. Never, ever, ever provide a single date for a project or a single point for a budget without a range or a confidence level.
  2. Expect to iterate on the release date and on the budget, and train your managers to expect that from you.
  3. If you get a ranked feature set, you can provide working product in the order in which your managers want the work done, while you keep refining your estimates. This has to be good for everyone.
  4. If you can say this without being patronizing, practice saying, “Remember, the definition of estimate is guess.”

I urge you to read the whole of the post – it’s a good précis of the difficulties in estimating budgets and timescales. I’m looking forward to future posts in the series. The home page of her “Managing Product Development” blog can be found here.

Update 3rd November

Johanna has posted the second part of this series.

Update 8th November

Johanna has posted the third and fourth parts of the series.