When it comes to productivity, time management and setting priorities, most of us make the basic mistake - Not writing or documenting the schedule.
Most of us have this habit of “remembering everything”. You have a meeting this weekend, you have to submit work to your clients, you have to follow up someone, you have to create a presentation - everything is stored in your head. This practice often leads to horrific management as your brain fatigues with too much information and eventually gives up. Your efficiency is directly proportional to the efficiency of your mind, so why over stress the engine with information, dates, numbers and data that can safely be backed up in your Google account?
If you work online and often find yourself missing out on schedules or deadlines, I would highly recommend giving Google Calendar a try. Google Calendar is one of the most underused Google Apps products and I have seen only a handful of people using it for “real work”. Most people don’t realize the power of “writing it down” and if you practice this methodology for a month or two, you will surely feel the difference it makes.
Given below is a list of some simple ideas you can use to integrate Google Calendar into your usual workflow and effectively manage time, meetings and schedules; without having to remember everything in your head.
1. Layer Multiple Calendars, Set Custom view, Time zones - Google Calendar is What You Make It
Layering your Google Calendar with calendars of your business partners and friends can be of great use to you. It helps you to precisely schedule your professional life and streamline important office meetings, those you never want to miss. Actually you can keep track of “whats” and “whens”, without having to remember all the dates and times in your “head”.
To execute the desired settings, just sign in to your Google calendar, hover over “other calendars”, hit the dropdown button and choose “Add a friend’s calendar” option. You will be directed to a message box, just enter the email address of the person and you will be directed to another page, as shown in the following example:
Fill up the “Contact Email” field; you can also select “Send Invite” to those who do not have a Google calendar account yet. After layering is done, your calendar should look like this:
You can also add a pinch of your taste by setting your favorite capture as the background image for your Google calendar. Just go to Google calendar “Settings”, on the settings page choose “labs” and on the labs tab enable “Background image”. You can use any web image or just upload one from your computer.
2. Calendar, Google Docs, Gmail - Use All Of Them As A Single Tool
Why enter the same date again for your yearly recurring events such as your favorite friend’s birthday or the monthly meeting of your company, scheduled on the second Thursday of every month?
Thankfully, you don’t have to. Google calendar can pick up birthdays that you have added to your Gmail contact list. Just forget the daunting task of scheduling those important dates of your friends or colleagues each year, over and over again.Yes, forget those schedules but never forget those dates.
Go through settings > calendar tab > Browse interesting calendars > more > Contacts’ birthdays and events> Subscribe and you are done.
There is another useful feature in Google calendar that you can associate with Gmail. Create a Google Calendar event right from Gmail with all the essential data pre-filled and if you have already synced with Mavenlink, it will reflect there as well. When you receive an email from your friend about an event, you will find a link “Add to calendar” adjacent to that message text.
If this does not happen that means Gmail has not sensed about any event within that particular email. But that does not stop you from creating a calendar event. You can still convert that email to an event in Google calendar from Gmail > More actions > Create event. Enter event details manually and hit “save changes”.
3. Let People Know When You are Free Through Appointment Pages
Choose a block of time when you want to meet people. Create and share appointment page of your Google calendar and let people know when you are free. From your Google calendar page Choose “Create Appointment slots” and you will be given a link of your public appointment page. Set the time blocks for a particular person, you can even add guests to the appointment page by adding their email address.
Once this is up, guests can simply head over to your appointment page to book appointments with you and those booked appointments will appear directly on your Google calendar as regular events. I have illustrated this in the following example screenshot:
4.Keyboard Shortcuts Saves You Quality Time
Keyboard shortcuts in Google calendar are a breather when you are in a real hurry with your schedule. Google Calendar has its own set of keyboard shortcuts, you can view all the keyboard shortcuts in Google Calendar by hitting the key combination “Ctrl+?”
I’m giving a list of the most useful keyboard shortcuts in Google Calendar below:
5. Event Countdown Timer- always be prepared for your next meeting
Admit it. We are always in a hurry. No matter how busy or relaxed your schedule is, “urgency” is a necessary evil for any business.
Google calendar will tell you exactly how much time you have for give a final touch to your presentation or tighten your tie knot before your important meeting.
To enable this feature go to Settings > Labs and enable the “Next meeting” option. Then you will find this timer counting to your next meeting on the right navigation pane. Note that Google calendar only counts down to events not farther than two weeks in the future.
6. Add Events to Your Calendar via SMS
Do you often forget to schedule meetings or an event that just got updated? Missing your laptop at the dinner table and want to add an event to your Google Calendar right this instant?
No worries- you can always add events to your Google Calendar through a simple sms message. To setup SMS event scheduling in Google Calendar, go to “Settings”, choose “Mobile setup” and enter the relevant values. An example is shown below:
Now you have set up your mobile with Gcal, Gmail will send you a verification code that you have to enter to finish the process. Once the setup is complete, you will be able to send events to your calendar via your mobile by texting the details of your event (such as, "dinner with Sam 1:00pm Jan 01) to GVENT (48368). You'll receive a confirmation message shortly and the event will appear in your online Google calendar account.
7. Export All Your Google Calendar Data
You can export all your Google calendar data as an ICS file to act as a backup option, this will be handy to restore all those options in another Google account (if something goes wrong or you decide to use another business email address)
Good thing is that other calendar applications like “Microsoft Outlook” or iPhone calendar tool “iCal” are able to open this file format, so you can always access your Google calendar events offline.
You can also re-import your exported Google calendar data to another Gcal. So, either you are taking backup of your calendar or archiving it online or offline it’s just a few few clicks away.
In the calendar list on the left side of the page, move your mouse over the calendar you'd like to export from. A drop-down arrow appear next to the calendar name. Select Calendar settings, click ICAL button in the 'Private Address' section at the bottom of the page and you will get a URL. Click the displayed URL.
Save the exported ICS file to the desired folder on your computer.
These are some, if not all the foolproof methods to optimise your usual work routine with Google calendar. After having used Google Calendar for two years, I can’t live without it as it acts as a virtual assistant, always reminding me of the task at hand and the tasks that can wait. Google Calendar also helps me set priorities and plan my workflow with Mavenlink, without getting lost into a sea of information, dates, numbers and email addresses.
What Google Calendar tips do you have? Or how have you utilized our Google Calendar tips above?
posted by Casey Armstrong
Thanks Ampercent for the image.