Some automatically scheduled goal times on a Google calendar

This is when Google thinks I should do these things. It’s not a bad start!

Google has just launched Goals. It lets you pick things that you want to fit into your day, but they are a new type of event. They will automatically reschedule if something clashes with them1.

I’ve had this post as a draft for far too long now and I thought that it’d be a good time to pull it out and finish it off.

The way Google have implemented Goals is nice, but it could go so much further! Goals are like passive, low status citizens of the calendar society. They make a meek request, but get pushed around. What I’d like to see is a way of giving events way more agency! Let me illustrate this with an scenario:

if tomorrow((there are no priority 1 appointments)
        and ( weather is sunny)
        and (there is good snow at Grouse))
    Move all my appointments to the next available spot
    Book me some equipment
    Book me a hire car
    Set my alarm clock for 5am
    Put the word out to snow_friends

This is the kind of conversation you could have with a real human. This is something that I’ve been thinking about for a while now. If someone was responsible for organising your life they’d be able to take decisions to maximise the opportunities for you to have good things in your life.

gif of a goal being scheduled

Scheduling a goal is pretty easy.

It seems crazy for people to work Monday to Friday, missing out on great chances to do things, and then be miserable at home at the weekend when those chances have passed. This is the kind of stuff that Yvon Chouinard is talking about in Let My People Go Surfing2.

This is a bit simplistic as it’s just a single rule. Once you start to build up complex rule sets it might get a bit bewildering. That’s the job of designers–to help you to navigate complexity.

I can imagine a calendar that has all kinds of inputs. It could schedule some R&R if my HRV is looking bad, or it could nudge something to fit in a meeting with someone that I really want to talk to. It could balance my attention if I’ve been myopic about something, or it could throw me more tasks of a certain kind if I’m really making my way through a certain type of thing.

There are some tools out there that do this kind of thing a little bit already like taskk.it3 and but they only really load up your calendar or shuffle meetings around into the gaps. I’m thinking of a much more human way of juggling your commitments so that you get the most out of life.

  1. I know this goes against the principles of big rock planning, but it’s an interesting idea anyway. 

  2. I really dislike the idea of weekends. I get a small coordination benefit I get from being off work on the same day as other people. This tiny upside is crushed by the downside of the days being fixed, there being limited oportunities to do things (like go to the bank). That’s just my perspective. Businesses are running 2/7th of their assets redunantly, everthing is sized for peaks caused by concentrating commutes etc. The world would be better if we just got rid of the concept of weekends all together! 

  3. I think they’ve tanked. The world wasn’t ready for them.