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How to use Google Calendar Proficiently

By Edited Feb 6, 2014 0 0

I am pretty sure that I would instantly go into a coma if I lost my Google Calendar.  To say I live by it would be an understatement.  It got me through college and now is a critical aspect to staying on top of my packed life where I juggle work, social, family, fitness, finances, and continuing education responsibilities.  Keeping a current calendar is the efficient way to track all your commitments.
 
Building the schedule out:
I'll assume that you've at least seen Google Calendar before and we aren't starting from ground zero.  I've found that building out my schedule week by week is best, so I set the view to "week".  Start with your know recurring events; mine include work 8am-5pm Monday through Friday.  It is easiest to start with your first event and go into it to edit and set up a recurring event.  (I'll talk about colors and reminders later.)  When in the edit mode, you can type in the location, event description (which I just use to make notes to myself typically.  For instance, the Event Title may be "Lunch" and I'll put in the description: "Go to the post office, library and bank."  It's easier than adding several small events.)  Reminders can also be weekly (which works well when setting up my Tuesday night Yoga class.  Just kidding.  It's Wednesday nights.), monthly (paydays, bills, trips to visit grandma all work well under this setting) or yearly (birthdays, anniversaries, and dates out the week after forgetting these things)  Events can be set up without a timeframe and thus will be noted as "All Day".  Most of my yearly recurring events are under this category.  Google is pretty wise and gives flexibility so you can set something up as "repeat by: day of the month or day of the week".  They set you up to manage your schedule well.
Once I've got the recurring events in place then when I get a call to go out for a friend's birthday next week I can easily open up my calendar and make sure my family dinner isn't scheduled at that same time.  Feel free to pack your schedule full or keep it empty once you've seen what you have committed to thus far.
 
Customizing:
I've found that it helps to add color to your schedule to make it more fun or see how you are spending your time via category.  My system has changed over time as what is important to me has changed.  During school, I tracked school related events with a purple color (Bow Down to Washington!) to see how much time I spent studying, in class and commuting.  Social events were colored red and family time was colored blue.  This way I could see quickly if I was spending more time in the books than with friends and family (that was the goal.)
Another system was to track events where I made money with green and events that cost me money with red and money neutral events with blue.  It helped to determine a snapshot of my budget.  I later added fitness events as tan colored (closest thing to skin I could find.  They didn't have ghost white...) so I could easily make sure I had at least 3 hours a week trying to stay in shape.
 
Staying connected:
The beauty of an online calendar is that you will be able to access it each time you get online.  I linked mine to my iPod/iPhone so I'd (theoretically) be able to schedule dates easily at school with all the ladies.  My social skills proved that unnecessary.  You can also set up email reminders if that's easier for you to get an inbox reminder to call mom, sign up for Netflix or schedule an oil change.  (You set that when you click into edit the event)
 
Addins (not to be confused with Aladdin although that is a great Disney movie):
Clicking on the gear wheel on the right side you can view how expanded the view is.  When you go into the settings tab, you have the ability to customize your calendar a bit more.  Time zone, date and time format, week starts on, show weekends, event dimming and other options can be found here.  Going one tab to the right you can add other calendars (I track the weather, and US Holidays).  Here you are able to share your calendar.  This means someone else can subscribe to yours and visa versa so you can check each other's schedules easily.  My brother and I share with each other.  Mom taught us that life lesson when we are young.  Another tab over brings you to labs.  This is where all the scientists that are locked up in a lab somewhere experiment on their calendar rats and give you the newest ideas.  These change periodically (and sometimes stop working altogether) so check these frequently.  Another option (if you use Chrome as your browser) is to search for extensions that upgrade your calendar.  There's a few good ones out there.
 
I trust that with this overview and tips you will be able to bring your calendar and scheduling to the next level of productivity.
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