I use Google Calendar to keep me in the right place at the right time. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably also using this tool. But there may be some capabilities that escape even experienced users. This article examines 10 Google Calendar tips you can put to use.
Change Views with Keyboard Shortcuts
Which view is best? Is it the monthly, weekly, or daily view? You don’t have to choose, Switching from one to the other requires only a single keystroke. While viewing the calendar, try these:
- “M” changes to the monthly view.
- “W” changes to the weekly view.
- “D” displays the day.
- “J” and “K” move forward or back in whatever view you are in.
Be sure keyboard shortcuts have been turned on. In Google Calendar, click the cog in the upper-right corner and choose “Settings.” Look for a checkbox that says “Enable keyboard shortcuts.” To view all available keyboard shortcuts in Google Calendar, while in Google Calendar, touch the question mark key (along with holding “Shift”).
Customize the Day Range
We just talked about being able to see a view of the week. As you plan, sometimes you need to focus on a wider or narrower timeframe. You may need to see only three days at a glance. On the other hand, maybe you need to see two weeks at a glance. In the left-hand pane, you see a small monthly calendar. Click and drag to highlight any date range. Google Calendar will adjust to display that range.
One of the nice things about a digital calendar is being able to get an audible reminder. Set these intentionally so you are interrupted when you want to be!
In the left-hand pane, you see the various calendars created. Click the three dots beside any one of them to view the settings for that calendar. Among the settings is “event notifications.” The typical setting is 15 minutes. Change it as needed and add additional reminders. Perhaps you want to be reminded 30 minutes before every event and again 10 minutes prior to the start. Whatever is set becomes the default for that calendar.
WIthin any calendar event, you can change the notification for just that one event. Perhaps you have an appointment that involves a 30-minute drive. You might want a notification 45 minutes ahead of the appointment as a reminder to begin the commute,
Use Calendar Invitations Instead of Email
When we announce an event via email, each recipient must read the email, see that it announces an event, and then correctly add it to the calendar. That doesn’t seem like a great deal. But there’s an easier way. Simply put the event on your own calendar.
What? How is putting it on your calendar going to alert everyone else? Look for the “Add guests” field in the right-hand pane. Start entering the same email addresses for the people who need to attend.
Each person still receives an email, but inside is an option to click “yes” or “no” as far as attending. Clicking “yes” automatically puts the events and all detail on the person’s Google Calendar.
Build Meeting Agenda and Attachments into the Calendar Event
Every meeting needs an agenda, right? Perhaps you want to participants to have certain documents during the meeting. The old-fashioned way is to send all of that piecemeal through multiple emails.
The better way to do it is also the easiest way. If you organized the meeting, just go to that event on your own calendar. Add information in the details. Add attachments. What you add will also be reflected on the calendar of everyone else who has that meeting on their calendars.
Use an Auto Scheduler
Scheduling one-on-one meetings can be a nightmare when doing it through email or voicemail. You suggest times, but those aren’t good for them. They suggest times, but those aren’t good for you. It’s like playing “Battleship” by email. Both of you are trying to hit a calendar you can’t see.
I use Calendly. The setup consists of allowing Calendly to view your Google Calendar. Calendly knows when you are busy and when you are free. In addition, you can set parameters, such as not accepting appointments on weekends or before/after a certain time each day.
Calendly provides you a link you can give to others. The other person clicks the link, sees your available times, chooses one, and it automatically shows up on your calendar. It’s the end of “Email Battleship.” This has become my biggest area of growth out of all the Google Calendar tips!
Add Events with Your Voice
This one is for all the times you need to add an event and all you have is your phone, Typing with two thumbs on a piece of glass is not nearly as easy as entry on a desktop computer.
If you use an Android phone, just say, “OK Google. New event.” Google Assistant asks questions about the name of the event, the date, and when it starts. If you use an iPhone, you can add Google Calendar with Siri. Here is how.
Add an “FYI” Calendar
We all have events we won’t necessarily attend but yet do exist. For example, if you live in a college town, traffic may be heavy on “game day.” While you’re not attending the game, knowing about the event helps you plan.
In the left-hand pane, look at the list of calendars and click the “plus” sign beside “other Calendars.” “Create new calendar” allows you to structure your own “FYI” calendar and choose a color for it.
Toggle any calendar on or off to see as much or as little as desired. In this image, all calendars except the FYI calendar are off.
While you are adding your FYI calendar, you also see an option to “Browse calendars of interest.” You can add national holidays and/or religious holidays. Also, add such things as calendars for a favorite sports team.
Subscribe to a Calendar
How many times have you seen a Google Calendar embedded in a website? For example, perhaps your child’s school has a Google Calendar showing all of the events and holidays for the school. Look at the lower right-hand corner of that calendar. See the small Google Calendar icon? Click on it and you are given the opportunity to “subscribe” to that calendar.
If you elect to subscribe, all of the calendar events are added to your own Google Calendar in a new color. If the school adds new events or makes changes, the changes are automatically reflected in your own Google Calendar.
Which of these Google Calendar tips do you already use? Which are you excited to give a try? Leave a comment to let me know.
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Lisa SicardDecember 3, 2021 4:18 am
Hi Frank, I didn’t realize you could add an agenda to the Google calendar. That is fabulous, thank you! I like using at least 30 minutes prior in case I have forgotten what is up for that day.