If you’ve read other poly blogs, particularly those that seek to explain polyamory and provide support for people looking into it, you’ll notice a few issues that come up fairly consistently. One of these is the very practical issue of time management. It is possible to work through one’s jealousy, one’s insecurities, one’s hang-ups, to acknowledge things one never knew about oneself before embarking into responsible non-monogamy, and to build rewarding relationships as a result. But in order to do all that, what one needs most of all is time.
I thought I got that. I thought I understood that while one may want to get involved with, say, three different people, it is very unlikely that work and leisure schedules will all match up so perfectly that there will be time enough to spend with each individual. I mean, that sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? People have lives, after all, and interesting people even more so. Obviously!
I also thought I was a fairly organized individual. I generally know where I’m going to be and what I’m going to be doing on most days in the near future and it’s all fairly consistent. So how hard could scheduling be?
How hard indeed. My first week and a half of being actively polyamorous involved so much scheduling and planning and re-planning that I was about ready to throw in the towel. Granted I suppose I tried to do too much in too little time, but who knew organizing a simple dinner date could be so fraught? And this without anyone involved being even slightly demanding or inflexible. No, it was the speed at which planners and datebooks were whipped out and compared that threw me. When I explained that I didn’t happen to have a planner but that I thought I was free Thursday, I nearly collapsed under the weight of the pitying glances piled on me.
“No, no, no, child,” said a gorgeous woman in a red corset who kindly took me under her wing. “You need not only a planner for yourself but, a shared one for your partners. Oh and it would help if everyone could see it too. Paper and pen planners are all very well for use when you’re out, but when you get home, be sure to put the information where everyone can see it.”
Everyone else nodded sagely at this advice. “Fine,” said I, “but where do I get hold of such a thing?” In chorus, they responded “Google Calendar“.
And so the wonder of online calendars was revealed to me. With great alacrity, I signed up for an account and proceeded to fill in event after event, watching in delight as my days, weeks, and even months lined themselves up neatly for all (with permission) to see.
But then, in a fit of super-efficiency, I wandered over into ‘settings’ to change my time zone and location. Let me tell anyone contemplating an account to do this FIRST or to just leave it the hell alone. The calendar obligingly adjusted itself to match my current location, which was lovely of it, but instead of moving all my events up, it adjusted for the time zone, meaning I had meetings scheduled for 3am and lunch dates for 11 at night. Cursing under my breath, I set out to re-adjust it. That was a fun half-hour.
But back to proselytizing. I know most other email services (Yahoo! for sure) provide calendars that are quick and easy to use, and though I haven’t tried them out myself, I’m sure they’d have similar features. The sharing/viewing option is what I’d look for, since Red-Corset Lady’s point about these calendars being viewable by all one’s partners is an excellent one. Not only does it help with scheduling, it also assists in keeping things transparent. Remember Pepomint‘s advice: “If you are feeling that cheating feeling, it is time to speak up.”? I think not wanting to put certain dates or events on the calendar because you don’t want a partner to know what you’re up to is a fairly obvious indication that something is amiss, but given the ubiquity and handiness of denial, it is likely that the realization that there’s something not quite right about a situation will escape us until we come up right up against it.
I doubt that the good people at Google intended their nifty application to play Jiminy Cricket to our Pinocchio, but hey, that’s innovative usage for you.
And it’s working fairly well for us. Right now H and I can view each other’s calendars and we’ll see about getting other people on board so that we can schedule stuff more painlessly. I’m looking forward to limiting, if not outright avoiding the amount of time we spend on the ‘Sure I’m free that day. Oh wait I’m not. Oh wait…umm…arrgh….what’s the date again?!’ song and dance. Of course some of us will be viewing more calendars than others and the question of who should have access to whose schedules remains to be addressed, but I’m sure we’ll work something out.