The funny thing about New Year’s resolutions is that they’re really just last year’s mistakes. “Go to the gym more” or “stop wasting time” always seem to make it onto people’s lists, and it’s never surprising to find that someone has been wasting too much time if they write “make a schedule” on their resolution.
Approaching the start of my Spring semester, I resolved to jumpstart my own productivity by planning out my daily schedule in advance. Reluctant to learn an entirely new application, I started by experimenting with the default calendar apps on my phone. At first, it seemed like a great choice. The UI was familiar because I had occasionally used them in the past and it felt good to finally have a productive schedule in place. Sadly, only two days later, I realized how tedious it was to have to copy and paste events from day to day, and I knew that I would quickly fall out of rhythm if I had to repeat this on a daily basis. As a result, I began searching for another app; one that required far less maintenance and which I could comfortably rely on in the future.
It wasn’t a fun experience, to say the least. Listing out daily tasks every week may seem tolerable in the beginning, but after inputting “Bathroom”, “Go to Gym” or “Do the Laundry” for the twentieth time, and on five different apps, I began to lose motivation of daily planning altogether. All I wanted was a decent-looking app that would keep track of the various events I had for each day and display it to me via a clean and seamlessly fitting widget on my phone. Instead, what I found were ad-infested apps, lacking in functionality and demanding you to purchase their premium versions for basic features which should otherwise be free. Some even had the necessary functions but had a user interface so bland and difficult to interact with that I just stopped using them entirely.
Eventually, I ran out of patience, as well as memory on my phone. So instead of experimenting further, I settled on one of the daily planning apps that topped the charts. Luckily for me, it had the function of duplicating weekly events, because some sane developer actually had the sense to know that people downloaded scheduling apps so they could do less scheduling instead of more.
For a month, the planning app worked like a dream. Following my pre-planned schedule without having to touch the app made me more productive than I ever knew was possible. Instead of finishing a class at 3 pm and being idle or wasting time grabbing snacks and scrolling through social media, I knew exactly what to study or work on due to the app’s scheduled notifications. What’s best is that I never had to touch the app again after I installed it. One simple schedule set up was enough to last me several weeks. For once, I was finally getting things done at a reliable pace and could accurately predict how much I would achieve within a month’s time.
Then came a Startup Convention, a Career Fair, and my friend’s birthday party, which I admit took up a lot more of my day, or night, than it should have. Either way, my schedule was torn apart. As key projects neared their deadlines, I was forced to dedicate more time towards one class than another, increasingly urging me away from my pre-planned schedule and into a free-falling mess of finishing project after project and cramming for a series of midterms that shortly followed.
By the end of March, after doing nothing but midterms and presentations, week in, week out, I found I was no longer following the notifications from my daily planner app, nor any trace of a schedule whatsoever. My productivity visibly dropped. I knew I needed better structure to my time, but the rigid schedules of daily planning apps had so many underlying inconveniences that I ultimately became dejected by them.
Where I sought a simple and time-saving method of outlining tasks, the app itself became a chore that sucked up time and energy to execute. It always felt bothersome having to plug in tasks for each day when I could just as easily type it into the phone’s default note-taking app and receive just as much utility. Because of that, I gradually withdrew from daily planner apps and started relying on traditional pen-and-paper methods instead. The only issue was, pen and paper couldn’t send push notifications onto my phone. In fact, pen and paper couldn’t do a lot of things, but I was so scarred by my previous experiences with daily planner apps that I could no longer try them again.
Would there ever be a wonder-app that understands realistic schedules? An app that could dynamically tailor your schedule as the unpredictable happened, yet still made sure you accomplished your daily tasks? Impossible right? It sounds like something from a sci-fi movie, something I would never see for at least a hundred years.
That was what I thought until I sat down at a career convention one day and heard about PlannerScape, an app that understands there’s more to a day than the tasks and activities you plug into it. Imagine you wanted to read a book for an hour and go to the gym after work, but you ran into an old friend, had a long chat and don’t have any time left? What will you do? Ordinarily, you would have to reconsider your priorities and redefine your plans accordingly, but how much time and energy does that take? Imagine doing that every day. What if your life is full of the unexpected? Like a surgeon who operates on emergency patients? How much time can he devote to typing “Do the Laundry” and selecting times, dates, and various other details on an app when he’s busy sewing up gunshot wounds and stopping patients from dying?
With PlannerScape, it will no longer be a question of how much time is wasted on scheduling, but how much time you want to be wasted on scheduling. With Natural Language Processing, users can set an entire week’s schedule within a series of short verbal phrases and edit them without the extensive input processes of regular planners. More importantly, the scheduling of PlannerScape is dynamic. You made plans to go drinking with friends at 10, but find out you have an assignment due at 9? No problem. PlannerScape utilizes A.I and Machine Learning to understand your priorities and automatically reorganizes your schedule to make sure you complete what you want to complete without ignoring everything else on your schedule. It’s fast, it learns, and it’s dynamic. What more could you want? An idea as groundbreaking as this is definitely something to keep an eye on, and I personally can’t tell if I’m more excited to use it as I am to see what it becomes.