15 Tips for using Google Calendar

I have always been a huge fan of planning. As a young girl, I was always planning things. From things like creating new clubs (which were basically just groups my friends and I made up with meetings, projects, and rules.. we were real party animals in the 4th grade ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), to writing scripts complete with costumes and video recording our shows on the “stage” in my parent’s house (which was really just their entryway that happened to be elevated a little higher than the living room), to planning the details of slumber parties (I was a huge American Girl fan). I guess it should come as no surprise I still love a good planner and my career has wound up focused on establishing processes/ procedures, planning projects, and coordinating the chaos that comes with managing the operations of a business.

While I was preparing to put this post together, I found an old post from 2016 when I was using the brand “Happy Planner”. You can check it out here. Since that post, I switched to Erin Condren. I started out with the life planner which I really liked but it was a little restricting for me after using the Happy Planner (it is spiral bound so it is not easy to add/remove pages). Then I discovered the Erin Condren Binder. I LOVED this because it allowed me the flexibility to move pages around, add pages, take out pages, etc. Similar to how I had done with Happy Planner but it was a ringed binder with a harder cover, rather than disc pages. I also love the look of the Erin Condren papers and the feel of the paper. I carried around the binder like it was my right hand for a while. However, it was always a bit frustrating for me because –

  1. It was heavy. Goodness, it was HEAVY! So, it wasn’t super practical to carry in my purse. Meaning, it was left on my desk in my office pretty often so it wasn’t easy to access during meetings or when I was at lunch etc. Definitely not practical on weekend outings.
  2. I have a lot of things I do for work that are daily items and it was incredibly frustrating re-writing the same things each day. So, I found myself using Outlook for my tasks for work and my EC binder for my personal life. However, having two different places to look was becoming too much for me. I really needed one place to find everything I need.
  3. I tried creating my own stickers with my daily to-dos so it would be easier to just place the stickers each day instead of re-writing a list of to-dos. Honestly, it only lasted a couple of weeks and then that wasn’t working for me anymore either.

So, this leads us to why I am writing today. I want to talk to you about my discovery of Google Calendar and how I have learned to use it to maximize both my personal and my work responsibilities, streamline goals, & prioritize my to-do list. No matter your age, your career choice, whether or not you have kids -I think we can all agree – we can use a little more organization in our lives.

In March 2021, we had to transition our Microsoft Office accounts at work to another server. In the process, all of my tasks and appointments were gone (or so it seemed for about a week or so.. which basically feels like a month for someone who relies heavily on these kinds of things). To say this rocked my world is an understatement. Not having access to my to-do list or calendar made me feel incredibly lost. This was the second time something like this had happened at work and I had simply had enough (okay, okay – a little dramatic, I know ;)). I thought, there’s got to be another way for me to track all of my to-do’s without having to worry about another integration and without having to look at multiple places to stay on top of all aspects of my life. I started doing some research and found Google Calendar. I already had a Gmail account so it was a fairly quick process to set up. ๐Ÿ™‚ And boy, it has been a game changer!

Here are my top 15 reasons I love using Google Cal –

  1. You can easily access it from your smartphone or a computer and the changes you make on one device will reflect on all devices (so easy!). This has been a huge appeal for me because I can literally add a task or event using my phone, no matter where I am. No more having to write on a sticky note or accidentaly forgetting something. (Note: Outlook does work with the Reminders app on your iPhone but I personally found it was not always real time updates which frustrated me)
  2. You can create multiple calendars and color code them. I have seven! ๐Ÿ™‚ This makes it super easy to see specific events at a time and to understand as a whole what you are looking at easily. For example, if I only want to see home maintenance/ chores reminders, I can unselect the other calendars and see what we have. If I want to see them all at once (which I usually do), everything is color coordinated which makes it super obvious to me at a quick glance what types of things we have going on.
  1. You can create events on specific days/times or as “all day” events”. I usually use “events” as specific times for time blocking and I use tasks/ reminders as “all-day” items so they show up at the top of my schedule each day.
  2. You can set up events to repeat. For example, maybe you work out every Monday or have some specific task you do every day – you can set up a recurring event so you don’t have to keep re-entering the information each time. This also works well for things like birthdays or less frequent items.
  3. Events that come in through your Gmail can easily be added to your Google Calendar
    You can have your calendar, to-do list (tasks), notes (Google Keep), and budget tracking (Google Sheets) all in one place! (Again, I have come to really love this since transitioning from a paper planner to fully electronic. I used to use my paper planner for tracking expenses which I have now transitioned to Google Sheets and Notes and lists (such as packing for a trip, etc.) I have moved to Google Keep.)
  4. You can choose how you want your week to start for the weekly view (i.e. Monday start, Sunday start, or Saturday start)
  5. You can choose to view the schedule by day, week, month, year, 5 days, or “schedule’. Choosing “schedule” allows you to see your calendar as more of an agenda type of view. You can also have it email you each morning a copy of your schedule for the day.
  6. You can access your calendar while offline. You can even make updates without internet access and it will automatically update everything as soon you get connected again.
  7. You can add the weather to your calendar by subscribing to the calendar for your city here!
  8. You can subscribe to calendars showing your favorite sports team’s upcoming games and the phases of the moon by going to “other calendars” , clicking the “+” button, browse calendars of interest, and then select the sport you want to add to your calendar. You can also subscribe to things like holidays in other countries. The company I currently work for is based out of Sweden so it is helpful to be able to see their holdays (i.e. days they will be closed, etc.) so I thought this was a pretty nifty feature.
  9. You can link calendars from other platforms to your Google Cal (i.e. Outlook, etc.). I find this especially helpful to be able to my personal and my work calendars in one place. (Remember, that was the ultimate goal!) It’s super easy to drag and drop events, shorten the time, or expand the time just by dragging the mouse.
  10. When you send events to other (i.e. meeting invites), you can see other time zones and also add attachments (one less email to send!)
  11. There is a red line that moves throughout the day to show you the current time to help keep you on track
  12. You can use a combination of events and tasks to make it super easy to time block and still have a checklist you can “check off’!
  13. If you use Calendly, it easily integrated with Google Calendar too! (Calendly makes meeting scheduling easy. Instead of sending emails back and forth, you send out a link with your available times and your invitees pick the time slots that are convenient for them. )

How to link an Outlook calendar to your Google calendar:

  1. Go to your Outlook calendar (easiest if you access from http://www.office.com)
  2. Click on outlook (if accessing from office.com)
  3. Click on the “settings” gear icon
  4. Click on “view all outlook settings”
  5. Click on “calendar”
  6. Click “shared calendars”
  7. Scroll down to where it says “publish calendar” – find the calendar you want to share to your Google calendar – click on “reset links” next to it
  8. Click on the hyperlink next to ICS – click “copy link” – then “copy”
  9. Go to your Google Calendar
  10. Click on the “+” symbol next to “other calendars”
  11. Select “From URL”
  12. Paste the URL you copied
  13. Click “add calendar”
  14. It will show up as a URL under your “other calendars” – hover over it until you see an icon with three dots – click on the icon
  15. Choose settings – here you can name it and select a color
  16. Wa-lah! Now you can see your Outlook calendar on your Google Calendar!

Disclaimer – linking Outlook to Google is not usually live data. You have to reset the link if you are wanting updates more than once every 24 hours. I have seen they offer paid apps you can use to make this update more frequently but you will have to have the admin permissions to allow this to work.

Do you use Google Calendar? I would love to hear your favorite tips and tricks!

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