Creating a Plain Text Schedule

Each day, we all have things we need to do, places we need to be, folks we need to talk to. Keeping track of all of that can be a chore.

Most people use a calendar to do that — it’s convenient, and they can sync events and appointments across all of the devices that they use.

There are more than a few people who aren’t fans of the calendar — I know a couple or four such people who find calendars to be a bit of a pain to use.

Another option is to use a text file. I’ve been experimenting with using a text file as a schedule over the last few months and have found that can be quite effective. Here’s a look at how I’ve been keeping a plain text schedule.

One File Per Week

Start off with an empty text file, giving it a name like Schedule - 0915-0919.txt.

At the top of the file, add a header block that contains the week over for which the schedule applies. Here’s an example:

WEEK: 15 Sept to 19 Sept

Below that, type a heading for the first day of the week — for example, 15 Sept 2021. Below that, put a range of times — for example, 0930 - 1030, followed by a description of the event or appointment. Here’s an example:

0930 - 1030 - Video call with DQ

Below that, you can add a note about the event or appointment. That note should be short and describe something you need to do or an item you need to bring. For example:

0930 - 1030 - Video call with DQ
NOTE: Send DQ updated files before meeting

Keep doing that for everything that you need to do during the day.

Since the schedule file covers five days (or more, depending on your needs), you should separate each day using dashes or equal signs or plus signs.

The day before a new week starts, create a new schedule file. If you need to, you can also create a folder structure to organize your schedules.

Here’s an example taken from one of my schedules:

An example of a daily schedule

Sharing Your Schedule

Many people live and work on multiple devices — some combination of computers, smartphones, and tablets. Having a schedule on only one device makes the schedule less useful and less effective.

You should find a way to synchronize your schedule file across all of your devices. I prefer using Nextcloud but the choice is yours.

Drawbacks to this Approach

The main one is that you don’t have alerts or notifications. You need to check your schedule file regularly during the day. In that way, using plain text for your schedule is like using a paper-based day planner.

Sharing your schedule with others is a bit more difficult. You can do that through your syncing software, but not everyone embraces plain text. And, of course, you might not want to share your entire schedule.

To help you get started, I’ve created this template. Feel free to download and use or modify it. I’ve released the template under a CC0 public domain license that lets you do anything you want with the file.