Keeping track of your own calendar can sometimes seem a daunting task. Having to also keep track of your husband’s, your kid’s, your grand kid’s, etc. can seem almost impossible — or at a minimum something that will surely give you a headache.
If you have a smartphone and a Gmail account, and you’re not also using Google Calendar, I challenge you to give it a try.
Basic Calendar Features
Start off by adding events to your calendar to keep track of your own appointments, tasks, outings, birthday’s, days off, etc. — I add events for anything that I would write into a paper planner. By doing this, I don’t need to remember to carry my paper planner with me (unless I’m attending a meeting). Wherever I am, I can quickly glance at my calendar on my phone to check my future availability, and I can add new appointments/events to my calendar directly from my phone.
To add an event to your calendar, click the date and time. A popup window will appear where you can add whatever details you’d like to include. You can be as basic or as elaborate as you’d like. You can also set an event to repeat. Do you pick you son up from tennis every Thursday after practice? You can set this as a repeating event. You can use this same feature for birthday’s and anniversaries you want to remember. When you create events, be sure to set a reminder — I use 30 minutes as a reminder for appointments, but one week for an out -of-town birthday which give me time to pick up a card and mail it to arrive before their birthday.
You can also invite people to your calendar events, and they can invite you to theirs. You can invite your husband to a party you both need to attend this weekend. You can invite him, and then pass off additional information such as: ‘I can’t pick up John from tennis on x date. Please be sure you arrive to pick him up by 6 p.m.”
Use your calendar to share the little snippets that you would share in a verbal conversation. I’m not suggesting you should replace talking to your husband or significant other, still share things with them, but also confirm the information through the calendar. This way, there’s not any room for someone not being where they need to be. We’ve all done it. Blissfully doing something when suddenly our phone rings or we jump up realizing we’re supposed to be somewhere else at that precise moment.
Share your Calendar
In order to invite others to your events, they don’t have to be using a Google Calendar. But, if they are, in addition to inviting others to your events to keep them informed or involved, you can also share your calendar with them. With a simple click, they’ll be able to view your calendar (you can choose which events you want to share — I prefer to share it all, that way there’s no chance of being double booked).
In order to view a calendar that’s been shared with you, you’ll need to select it from sidebar under the area which says “My calendars”. Click the small arrow next to that, and any of your calendar’s or ones shared with you will appear. This is also where you can create separate calendars if you’d like to color code your own evens/activities. You can create separate calendar for work activities versus personal ones. By assigning a color to each calendar, you can make your electronic calendar color coded just like you might do with your paper planner/calendar.
This is also the same area where you can share your calendar with others. (For privacy issues – don’t make your calendars public – if you’re going to share them, share them only with specific people.)
Here’s an example:
The different colors on here are for different calendars. You can quickly see by looking at the calendar, and the color, who is where when.
Use Tasks to Organize your “To Do List”
Another neat feature in Google Calendar is the ability to create tasks. These can be found on the right hand side of the calendar. You can use them to remind you to do every day tasks or to remind you do pay bills, purchase gifts, etc. Whatever you would include on a paper list, you can create a task for. You can add due dates, reminders, notes, etc. The nice thing is when you check them off your task list, they get a nice big line through them. Talk about satisfaction!
Using Google Calendar is just like using any calendar – either paper or electronic. It’s a trial and error process to determine which features work best you and which ones don’t.
If you have tips on how to use an electronic calendar which isn’t covered here, please be sure to post them in the comments section.