Lets’ face it, no matter how hooah, oorah, hooyah, squared-away, ship-shape, high-speed, low-drag (and whatever Air Force people say about themselves) you are, at some point in your career you began to spend more time at your desk than out eating snakes, shooting things, getting dirty and generally having fun. Invariably, your days were controlled more or less by what your Outlook calendar told you that you should be doing. In some positions, you probably even had someone that filled up your days and sometimes nights with meetings, tasks, phone calls and appointments for you.
Then magic happens. You sign out on terminal leave to begin your retirement, thinking you are free of that tireless master and its dammed tasks. Your pace slowed, there was still much work to do but you had a to-do list and appointments written down – no worries.
It is all fun and games until you realize you are a little lost without the safety of a calendar, that thing you grew to hate but also that thing that added structure to your day.
Here is the most critical lesson I learned after freeing myself from the beast of Outlook. Paper lists and a calendar on Gmail just do not cut it. Sometimes you just have to accept who you are, or rather who you have become. You are comfortable with a calendar in Outlook, it puts order to chaos and provides a visual reference to your schedule. There are many things to free yourself from, but this is not one.
If, for some reason you do not already have a Gmail account – something other than “snakeeater1970” or perhaps tragically worse “colonel.nolife” – go to Google and sign up for one, it is easy and free. Set up a simple email with just a variation of your name. Avoid like the plague numbers and dates if you can, it makes you look like an old guy. Then purchase MS Office if you do not already have it if you do it while still on active duty it cost something like $10 on each service’s knowledge portal. You need a professional email for many purposes so if your personal email does not meet the standard now is the time to hit two birds with the proverbial one stone.
I will say again, use Gmail, not Yahoo and certainly not your cable provider – those too make you look old and out of touch. Besides, Gmail has a workable interface that connects to Outlook easily.
A simple Google search of “how to connect Gmail to Outlook” will return many sites that instruct you on the next steps, here is a useful one. Use IMAP, not POP – you will not regret it.
Office has a free option to install apps on your smartphone so that you carry that calendar with you – just like the old days except for the most part YOU are really in charge now.
Do this one thing, for yourself. There is no point in trying to reinvent the wheel and no purpose in cutting the chord on something that has been such a big part of your life. Perhaps you will not forget a VA appointment written on a piece of paper like I did if you follow this advice – heed my words.
One word of caution – give your spouse write access to your calendar at your peril! Sure, you thought you were cleaning out your building tomorrow but when a new “appointment” shows up you might come to regret the entire “calendar on your phone thing”.