Clean up your calendar 📆
Sunsama joins a growing crop of planning apps
A new crop of calendar apps aims to help you organize your schedule. Most of these apps integrate with your Google Calendar or Outlook, so you don't have to give up your existing system. They layer on top to make it easier to add events, schedule tasks, coordinate meeting times, and plan your day.
Sunsama is one I've found useful lately. Read on below for its strengths and limitations. I’ve also noted a few alternatives.
Sunsama helps you plan your day
When you open Sunsama a prompt invites you to plan your day. First you’re shown a summary of what you completed the previous day. Then, responding to a series of brief prompts, you list and prioritize tasks and put them on your calendar. When the day ends, you're encouraged to reflect on what you accomplished and what you're aiming to do the next day.
Import tasks You can import tasks from Todoist, Trello, Asana, or Gmail, or use Sunsama to create new tasks.
Estimate timing Sunsama prompts you to optionally estimate how long each task will take so you don't overstuff your calendar. Inputting actual times then helps you learn to improve your estimates.
Put tasks on your calendar I like the split view that shows me my upcoming calendar days alongside my task list for today. It's easy to move tasks into calendar spots and to glance at what's ahead.
Get into focus Open focus mode while working on a task to see a timer based on how long you estimated the task would take. The timer helps me to wrap up tasks that the perfectionist in me might otherwise spend too much time on.
Share your agenda to Slack If you work closely with teammates, you can compile an agenda based on your calendar meetings and planned tasks and share it on Slack. I sometimes save mine to my journal for future reference.
Get an app for your platform Use Sunsama on the Web or with the MacOS, Windows or Linux apps. On mobile, there are iOS and Android apps.
It's costly Sunsama costs $20/month or $192 a year. (Pricing is 50% lower for nonprofits). Considering that Google calendar is free, and that many other subscription apps are in the $8 to $10/monthly range, it’s costly by comparison.
The developer has a thoughtful pricing manifesto explaining his rationale, including wanting to make sure his service is sustainable. Other premium apps like Roam, Superhuman and Motion also charge a lot, arguing that the value they create is worth the extra spend.
A recent survey of American consumers found that they're spending $213 a month on various subscriptions, far more than respondents estimated. Given that context, pricey subscriptions are harder to swallow, particularly for those on tight budgets.
No quick-add to the calendar A lot of new calendar apps— like Routine, Vimcal, Akiflow— enable you to quickly add events with keyboard shortcuts. Sunsama has a command palette you can summon by hitting Command+K, which is helpful. But you can't use it to add new calendar events.
Limited mobile app Sunsama's mobile app is a minimalist window into your plans. It allows you to preview your schedule and add tasks but not much more. If you do much of your planning or calendar management from your phone, the mobile features may not suffice.
Cron is a simple new calendar app recently acquired by Notion. It's free to use and has a simple, clean interface. But it's still in early-access mode and lacks task management. It mainly functions as a slicker view for your Google Calendar. I stopped using it, but I'll revisit it if/when it gains features that help with planning out my day.
Vimcal focuses on letting you fly through calendaring, quickly adding events, sharing available meeting times, adjusting time zones, and joining Zoom calls quickly with shortcuts. It's $15/month or $150/year and lacks day planning features.
Akiflow integrates with lots of task apps so you can drag to-do items directly into your calendar. It also focuses on quick shortcuts so you can manage all the stuff you have to do and all your meetings in one space. Like Vimcal, it's $15/month or $150/year and lacks the day-planning elements that I like in Sunsama.
Sorted and Slash are two planning apps I like. Both help you plan out time for tasks rather than managing your calendar. I’ll share more soon about both of those.
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I tried Motion briefly, but found the interface and functionality incredibly clunky and counter-intuitive considering how expensive they are. So instead I have been using Reclaim—much prettier and easier to use, and pricing options include a decent free plan and very reasonable $8mo Pro plan. The real genius is that its AI plans out your time based on how you've prioritised your tasks, which only takes a few clicks to do. They base it on a number of factors like start/due date, time estimate, time chunking, and where it sits in your overall priorities. I love that I only have to think about one factor at a time, and then the system works out how they all need to fit together.
You can of course override what it suggests, but it's super flexible when things change and just moves everything around automatically. It also has numerous integrations, including sync with Slack.
Downsides are that it doesn't have a mobile or desktop app so it's available purely through your browser (although I made it into a mini app via Chrome), and that so far it only works with Google Calendar (I use that for work but also iCloud for personal life). Also a few UI niggles but nothing major.
I am a very heavy calendar and task user and have been looking for an app to better integrate the two. I am going to give this a try. Thanks for the heads-up. So far it looks pretty good, or at least better than BusyCal and Asana as separate tools which is what I use now with Google Calendar as the backbone.