How I plan my Edinburgh Fringe show

Tomas Ahlbeck
4 min readJan 19


After the pandemic and some health issues I finally feel fit enough to focus on my stand up. And what better way to do that than return to Edinburgh Fringe in 2023.

But it is not just to pack a bag and go, you need months of preparation. Comedy stuff to write, venues to contact. Hotel and travel to book. And at least I also want to try my material on different clubs before being ready for the Edfringe stage.

I have written some articles here about to do apps and other stuff, but since then I have even simplified everything and changed my way of thinking.

I do not use a project manager app at all. They tend to be complicated and expensive, and since I don’t have a zillion of projects running, I can’t se the point in spending money on such apps.

Instead I base my planning on

- A pen and notebook
- Apple Notes
- Calendar
- Apple Reminders
- Apple Mail

I have ended up with these after some communication with Carl Pullein and watching his Youtube videos. I can recommend you to check out his videos, that will save you some time when figuring out your own personal way to work with projects. I have then adapted it to my own needs, and found a solution that fits me.

To start with, I jot down my ideas in the old fashioned way: pen and paper. When I am out walking, ideas tend to pop up in my head. I take up my notebook and scribble down the idea before I forget it. Younger people probably do something like “Hey Siri, in Reminders add blah blah”. But I can’t even get Siri to understand what I say, so to me paper and pen is unbeatable.

I then plan my projects in Apple Notes. I know there are many many different notes apps out there, and many would probably recommend apps like OneNote, Bear or Evernote. Myself I am an old Evernote user, but when they went Electron I decided to give the built in Apple Notes a try. And I haven’t seen any reason to go back. Once I learned how to use Apple Notes in the best way, it works just fine to me. This video by Foojee gave me an important insight into what Apple Notes actually can do.

I have a folder I call “Edfringe” (intuitive, don’t you think?) and in that folder I have different notes/documents like “Work in progress” where I put stuff like which clubs I have contacted in order to try my new stuff, “Venues” where I put all about the venues in Edinburgh I have contacted, and so on. I also add checklists to every document so I can check things when I have done them. I also forward important emails to this folder so I easily find them when needed.
As ToDo app I use Apple Reminders. Of course I could use Things3 instead, since I have a license for that aswell, but the smart folders in Reminders is why I chose to skip Things3 and go with the built in Apple Reminders. I initially was doubting if I could work without the start date function in Things3, but Carl Pullein explained to me that the only date I need is the due date. Since that is what I need a ToDo app for: to see what I need to focus on today. Everything else is in the Notes document(s).

So in my Reminders folder “Edfringe” I just put my tasks that have a due date. I update it weekly, and check every morning. I also put a link to my Notes document there.

In my calendar I put the long term thingies, which means that it is HERE I find my start dates for every sub project. And it is here I block the hours I need in order to keep on track. Yes, of course I could have put it in Things3/Reminders if I want to, but to me it is better to see a weekly overview of my daily planning in the calendar, so I don’t book a meeting with a club owner in Denmark at the same time I am supposed to meet my wife after work.

Some people use Fantastical or BusyCal in order to see the reminders in the sidebar of their calendar. Or apps like Good Task which also integrates Apple Calendar with Reminders. And by all means, there’s nothing wrong with that I guess. But to me it is just one more source of information that takes my focus away from my productivity.

So, there’s my tools of choise to plan my show at Edinburgh Fringe. No extraordinary stuff, just the built in Apple standard apps. Which gives me time to focus on my work with the show. And that in the end is what matters.

/Tomas A



Tomas Ahlbeck

Swedish Standup comedian, writer & diabetic. Published a few books, done a few gigs. ‘Sweden’s own dirty uncle, brilliant writing and some very dark humour.”