Sunsama joins a growing crop of apps that help clean up your calendar

By Jeremy Caplan

October 31, 2022

This article is republished with permission from Wonder Tools, a newsletter that helps you discover the most useful sites and apps. Subscribe here.

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. 

 

Useful Features

    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.

Caveats

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.

Alternatives

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.

 

This article is republished with permission from Wonder Tools, a newsletter that helps you discover the most useful sites and apps. Subscribe here.

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