Who doesn’t need a few new hacks to get off on the right foot this new year? Since our Gmail Optimization post was such a success and so many of you loved the tips we uncovered, we’ve decided to keep up with this series. So today we have 20 new Google Calendar Hacks to share with you for the new year!
One of the best parts about this Google series is that you can use a lot the tricks together to get an even bigger productivity boost. For example, the first item on this list will teach you how to use your Gmail as an appointment book which will sync seamlessly with your Google Calendar. So get ready to be super organized, productive and always on the ball this year – and maybe even keep one of your New Years resolutions!
1. RSVP Through Gmail
This is a super simple trick that many people probably don’t realize they can do through their Gmail accounts. Whenever someone sends you an invite to a meeting, coffee date, Star Wars opening day movie tickets or whatever a small box will pop up in the Title line of your email that says RSVP. All you have to do is click it (without even opening the email) and you will automatically RSVP for the event.
While we’re on the subject of cool things Gmail does, these little notifications pop up for other things too like Viewing Documents, Watching Videos and Checking-In for your flight!
I’ve been using Gmail for well over 10 years and I’ve never noticed these little boxes. I even wrote a post about the 11 awesome things you can do with your Gmail account and didn’t stumble across these! (PS: You can also track packages, my personal fave.)
2. Sync it With Zapier or IFTTT
If you’re unfamiliar with Zapier and IFTTT, it’s definitely something every internet savvy individual should look into utilizing! The best way to describe what these platforms do are with the name itself – IFTTT or If this, then that. Zapier and IFTTT all allow you to create Recipes or Zaps that trigger something to happen, for example, one of our favourite recipes is If I add something to POCKET then add it to GOOGLE CALENDAR. This is a super quick and easy way to give yourself a reading list, plus a time to do it so it doesn’t get lost in your bookmarks menu forever.
You can even set up things like this:
And you can even do this:
3. Customize Your Calendar’s Appearance
Okay, this one is sort of a no-brainer and you’ve probably already done it to an extent. I’m sure you already know how to change the colour of each calendar and colour-coordinate things for easier recognition, but did you know you can also download different skins, add extra tabs, colourize Saturday and Sunday and integrate it with Facebook? All of these things are possible and there’s a full guide to them on Studyweb.com. Here’s the Black Google in LCARS model from userstyles.org:
4. Make Pre-Determined Appointment Slots
If you’re someone who sets up a lot of meetings or likes to schedule out their life weeks in advance, the Appointment Slots feature is going to be your new best friend.
Even if you’re someone who doesn’t schedule regular appointment times, this feature can still come in handy. Take for example, hiring a new employee. You’re probably going to need to schedule interviews, but you’re also probably not sure what time each person will be able to attend. For this, you can look at your schedule and put pre-made appointment slots into your calendar for people to choose from.
Another great aspect of this feature is that if you make your calendar public (or invite someone to view it) they can choose a slot that works for them and enter their information. Really, you never have to make an appointment again!
NOTE: Appointment hours are only available in School or Professional accounts.
5. Google Search To Create an Event
Running really short on time but need to add an event to your calendar? Well, you can simply find a google search bar (on your phone or computer) type in what you need to do and create an event, it’s that simple. Here’s our example:
6. Add Exact Locations For Meetings
Have you ever made a date with someone to meet for coffee and both accidentally wound up at different locations? Or sat there waiting for someone to show up while thinking, “Gee, I hope this is the right Starbucks.” Well, Google’s got you covered!
Whenever you’re booking a meeting or appointment, Google calendar gives you the option to input the location, and not just any location! It actually does a drop-down menu of things that are close to you, for example, Starbucks.
Say we were making a coffee date with you. Seeing as most of our readers aren’t from Kelowna, you’d probably be wondering which one. We could choose from the drop down menu so you could let your cab driver know exactly which one you’re supposed to be at, instead of “the one by the mall”. In our case, they’re all by the mall.
7. Use “Gentle” Notifications
This one kind of made me giggle at first, but I get the point now! Instead of having your usual “corner of the screen” pop up (rudely, we might add) and interrupt you every few minutes to remind you of meetings and appointments, Sorin M has made a gentler version of these alerts.
All you need to do to use this feature is go into Settings>Labs>Gentle Notifications>Enable and you’re good to go. You’ll never see another garish pop-up rudely trying to get your attention ever again.
8. Get The Weather
You know those handy little apps that show you the weather on your phone? Well did you know that it’s also possible to get those straight to your Google Calendar?
No matter where you are, you can set your local weather forecast to show up on the top of your daily to-dos. All you need to do to enable this feature is go into your settings, scroll down to Location and Show Weather Based on My Location. Then enter your city and state (or province) and select if you’d like to receive it in celsius or fahrenheit.
Here’s what it looks like after you have it all set up on your settings screen. HINT: Don’t forget to scroll down and press “save” before continuing, we did that the first time and were left wondering where our weather was!
When you hover your mouse over the little sun and clouds icon, it gives you the weather in greater detail. For example, on December 9th it was +8ºC in Kelowna and actually sunny. It’s never sunny here in the winter! Plus, that’s freakishly warm.
9. Use Keyboard Shortcuts
Mastering the art of keyboard short cuts will have you flying through your to-do list or adding events to your calendar like a pro. The best part about the keyboard shortcuts for Google Calendar is that it only takes one letter or number to jump to your desired screen. A couple popular ones you might want to work into your daily routine are “T” to jump to today, “A or 5” to view in agenda mode or “W or 2” to view your entire week. There’s a long list of other ones you can use as well if you’re feeling up for the challenge, check them out here.
10. Utilize the Agenda View
Utilizing Google calendar to its full potential is about find what works for you. While some people prefer to see their whole month at a glance in the form of a calendar, others might like seeing their to-do’s laid out in a neat list – like in an agenda. Here’s mine for a typical Friday:
As you can see I’m a very busy person. That recycling isn’t going to take itself out!
11. Know Who You’re Meeting With
If you use Google Calendar a lot, you’ve probably noticed you have to click on the event to see who it’s with or where it is, which can be annoying if you’re just trying to remember the name of the person you’re meeting with in 2 minutes.
Google labs has another great feature called One-On-One, which makes you able to see just who it is you’re having that Coffee Meeting or Lunch date with. The only downfall of this one is it will only show you the name of one person, so if you have a meeting with 10 people you don’t know, you’re on your own.
12. Share Your Calendar
Sharing your calendar with your colleagues or family can be a huge time saver! For example, here in the Data Nerds office, I quite often make appointments for Interviews, Meetings, Appointments etc. for everyone in the office. With shared calendars I can easily see when they are free and when I can book something in for them without bugging them or sending a string of emails.
This feature would work great for families as well to see when Josie has soccer and when Ben needs to be picked up from band practice, or to share lists, invites and tasks with each other.
13. Install a World Clock
Ever find yourself wondering why people aren’t answering their emails right when you send them? Well, maybe they are in Germany, or Japan! Installing a world clock on your Calendar will help you know when to expect a reply and when to set up a convenient (Skype or Hangouts) meeting time.
14. Add Attachments
This is one of our favourite features of Google Calendar to date. I’m sure you’re wondering why we love the fact that we can add an attachment to an appointment in our calendar. It doesn’t seem very exciting does it? Well then my friends, you’ve never been caught in a meeting unprepared!
Instead of showing up to your next appointment and fumbling with your laptop for 10 minutes trying to find the presentation/document/resume/spreadsheet you needed to bring, simply attach it to your appointment and it will be right at your fingertips. Google has thought of everything.
15. Schedule Meetings With Ease
Did you know that there’s an easier way to schedule meetings with multiple people than sending 100 back-and-forth emails? Google thought about this when designing Google Calendar and they actually give you two great options when to comes to finding a time when everyone is free.
First up is “Suggested Times”. After you’ve added everyone to your list, a suggested times button will appear below the list of names. It scans other people’s calendars and finds a time that works for everyone, allowing you to pick the perfect time. Be careful with this if you are inviting people with very full calendars though, as it may only suggest late at night and very early mornings!
Second is “Find a Time”. This feature lets to visibly see everyone’s calendars side by side so you can pick a block of time that works for everyone. How easy is that?
16. Hide The Hours You’re Not Going To Do Anything
There’s a 99% chance I’m not going to schedule anything between the hours of 9pm and 5am. Unless I start scheduling sleep, which is unlikely to start happening. Instead of letting that time take up space on your calendar, why not hide it? Google labs has a Hide Morning and Night app that lets you specify when you aren’t going to be doing anything at all.
17. Add Interesting Calendars
If you’re someone who is from another country, has family located around the world or just wants to stay on top of your favourite hockey team’s schedule, this is the feature you’re going to want to pay attention to. With add interesting calendars, you can load holiday calendars from around the world so you know when others have holidays or simply know when the Canucks next game is. Watch the GIF below to see how to add them to your current calendar.
18. Enable Google Calendar Offline
Did you know that you don’t need internet access to view your Google calendar? There’s an app in the Chrome Web store that allows you to view and respond to your calendar evens even when your computer is not connected to the internet. How it works, is it downloads your event information onto the computer and let’s you access it from there.
Although there aren’t many times when we find ourselves without internet these days, this could be super handy for anyone who travels a lot and may have to look things up on the go.
If there’s a certain day of the week when you’re always going to be busy (or just don’t want to schedule any meetings) you can set up the Google Labs auto-decline to make sure people get the point.
To activate it, all you need to do is head over to Google Labs in your settings tab and scroll down to Auto-Decline and click enable. Watch the GIF below for step-by-step instructions.
Once you have it enabled, you’ll be able to set it on every event you create. So,whether you’re working on something all day or just for a half an hour or so, it will automatically send people a busy notification for any invitations you are sent. Can I set this for my entire weekend?
20. Set Up Recurring Events
This is literally the only way I can remember to take my Garbage out every Tuesday, and I’m sure it will work just as well for picking your kids up from soccer practice, paying bills and calling your mom.