Ever scheduled two meetings at the same time? Or forgot that a report was due on Monday, not Tuesday?
Staying on top of all your tasks is hard. With meetings, errands, and events, it is easy to forget about important tasks or fall prey to scheduling conflicts.
This is where calendars come in handy. They help us track everything that goes on throughout the day. By keeping tabs on things we need to attend to, we are better able to organize and prepare for events. Having a bird's eye view of the coming week is crucial for productivity.
Online calendars are by our side 24/7. They can be accessed at any time of the day. They are very powerful and boast an array of features. In today's world, online calendars are indispensable for your work week.
One of the most popular online calendars is Google Calendar. It was released in 2009 and is available on both mobile and desktop. This time management and scheduling service is completely free, and remains one of the most commonly used calendars for good reason.
Many of us may simply use Google Calendar to arrange events and tasks. In fact, Google Calendar actually has many ‘hidden’ features. These lesser known tools give you more control over your busy schedule.
Here are ten tips to unlock the hidden power of Google Calendar and super-charge your schedule.
1. Use keyboard shortcuts to speed up your work flow seamlessly.
Anyone who uses digital software will tell you that shortcuts are lifesavers. The same goes for Google Calendar. Instead of using your mouse to navigate, check out the in-built keyboard shortcuts instead. Switching to shortcuts saves time and makes your work flow more efficient.
You can enable keyboard shortcuts by going to 'Settings' and clicking on 'Keyboard shortcuts'.
Some useful ones include: t to jump to the current day, c to create a new event, and Esc to return to the main calendar screen.
2. Hack your agenda with daily reminders.
Did you know that Google Calendar has a function that sends you your daily agenda every day? This trick is simple but useful. It ensures that you are up to date every morning and prepared for the coming day.
Simply go to ‘Settings’ and select the calendar you wish to be notified about. Then go to ‘General Notifications’ and select 'Email' under the ‘Daily Agenda’ field. With this, you will receive a message in your inbox at 5am every morning that has a summary of your events for the day!
3. Easily find common timings for meetings.
Searching for a time slot when everyone is able to make it can be a tedious task. We are no strangers to asking every single person in the team just to find half an hour when everyone is free. Google Calendar makes this painful task much easier. In fact, you can have a glimpse at your teammates' schedules!
Make use of the 'Find a Time' function, which can be found under the 'More options' tab of each event. You can then add up to 20 people as guests and have a peek at their calendars. After this, it becomes simple to find a time when everyone can make it.
4. View calendars side by side for easy schedule coordination.
Other than viewing event participants' agendas with the above tip, Google Calendar can also display your agenda side by side with someone else's in a slick split-screen format.
This feature is perhaps for those of us who might want a more in-depth look into someone else's agenda. The other person would have to share their calendar with you. After accepting the invitation, head to 'View options' under your own calendar. Activate the 'View calendars side by side in day view' option. Once you open up your day view, you can see the new calendar placed next to yours. This makes it much easier to manage your events.
5. Block off chunks of time for appointments.
Instead of going back and forth on what time works best, you can create Appointment slots on Google Calendar. This nifty feature makes the process of agreeing on a common timing much more smooth. This feature works by blocking out chunks of time which others can use to request appointments with you.
To do this, first create a new event during your free time slots. Next, click 'Appointment slots'. On the event page, there is a link for the calendar's appointment page. This link contains a web version of your calendar, which can be shared with others. Appointment slots make it quick and easy for others to know what timings work best, saving time for all people involved.
6. Customize what your week looks like.
By default, the work week on Google Calendar starts on Sunday and ends on Saturday. But you can actually customize it to what best suits you. For example, you might prefer a classic work week that starts with Mondays. Simply head to the 'View options' tab, which can be found under Settings.
You can even create your own custom view. For instance, you might want to opt for a micro two-day overview or a macro four-week one. Like the above, you can also do this under 'View options'. Just use the 'Select custom view' option to customize your week, month, and year.
7. Enable event notifications for timely reminders.
Sometimes, we slip up and forget about a meeting or task that is due. This can happen even if we diligently write down everything in our schedules. Luckily, Google Calendar has a useful email notification function that alerts you to events. You can even use this feature to be informed of changes that are made to the event. For example, changes in venue or timing.
More importantly, these notifications are customizable! Being alerted to a meeting one week in advance is not very useful. So you can use Google Calendar to manage your notifications. Go to ‘Settings’ and select the calendar you want to receive alerts for. From here, you can manage when and where you want to receive your notifications. You can also add alerts for all-day events.
8. Get up to speed with different time zones.
It can be a huge pain to coordinate schedules across time zones. Even the best of us may miss a call with someone on the other side of the globe. For those of us who find scheduling events across countries a bit tough, Google Calendar can help.
Simply go to ‘Settings’ and find the ‘Time zone’ option. Here, you can activate the feature that shows the time zone and world clock on your calendar. You can even choose to change the time zone of just one calendar.
9. Embed your calendar onto an external page.
Sometimes, it might be a hassle to send someone a link to your Google Calendar. Instead, you may find it more useful to simply display your schedule on a web page. This is made simple with Google Calendar’s powerful features. It allows you to embed your calendar on a web page or blog.
Under ‘Settings’, select the calendar you want to embed, and head to ‘Integrate calendar’. Then copy the code on the right. You can even edit what the calendar looks like using the ‘Customize’ option. This useful trick can be employed for your personal pages and blog posts, making your agenda easily accessible.
10. Get LinkedIn details of the people you're meeting with.
Whether you work in sales, partnerships, venture capital or other professional organisations, you often get ready for meetings at the very last minute, looking up attendees on Google and LinkedIn. It's manual, time consuming and sometimes, you don't even have enough time to do it!
Rupert2001 brings people insights in your calendar: It connects to your calendar, researches who you're meeting with, and brings information for anyone you meet with, right into your calendar: name, job title, company, location, email threads with them & more.
PS: This is not an extension but a Google-verified background app - you don't need to install anything!
Bonus: Enhance Google Calendar with extensions.
Like Google Chrome, Google Calendar also boasts an array of extensions that can super-charge your schedule. While the scheduling service is powerful on its own, these third-party extensions take your time management to a whole other level.
A must-have is the Meetric Chrome extension, shown above. While you can indicate information like timing and location on your events in Google Calendar, sometimes we might be missing important or crucial details. This 100% free extension allows you to take actionable meeting notes directly in Google Calendar. You can use it to write down notes that are directly integrated with events in your calendar, without having to switch windows.