Calendar Basics and your benevolent dictator.
I was going to do a write up about all the great things you can do with Google apps (which you can) but I’m going just jump into calendaring. We’ll cover Google apps and team collaboration later.
Calendaring and scheduling is one of the most critical functions of your day. Productivity depends on it. That is why I refer to my calendar as my benevolent dictator. If used properly and if I listen it it, it wants what is best for me and makes me more productive.
It isn’t about “THE SYSTEM!” It is about “A SYSTEM!”
What I mean is that I use Google Calendar. You might use a hand-held, paper calendar. Someone else might use iCalendar. I don’t care. There is no perfect system because we (imperfect people) get involved. But regardless of the system, you must use it for it to be functional.
Calendaring General Concepts
A few things to keep in mind regardless of your system.
A Default Day: Have an idea – more specific the better – of what your day entails if you have NOTHING specific schedule. This could be, marketing activity from 9-11, organization until lunch, return and follow up phone calls from 1:30-2, etc. It should really include your wake up time too.
Schedule time between appointments: People often fail to account for traffic, mishaps, appointments that run long, stopping for gas, etc. If possible, make sure you add an additional 15-20 minutes between appointments on busy days.
Have a weekly and daily review: One way to have less stress is to have a Sunday evening review of the past week and upcoming week. Try to take 15 minutes and schedule as many specifics as possible. Have a shorter review in the morning everyday so you can see what is coming up.
Beat the rush: If you have kids or other responsibilities that occur in the morning, be up, showered, shaved, dressed, packed, etc. PRIOR TO your children being up – or other potential obligations. This reduces a mad rush when something inevitably goes awry.
Now onto Google Calendar.
I prefer Google calendar for these reasons
Cloud based: I can get to it from any computer and numerous devices.
Multiple calendars: I can have multiple calendars and see them all color coded at the same time. I’ll explain why I use multiple calendars shortly.
Shared calendars: I can share one or more of my Google calendars – giving people read only access, the ability to just see when I am busy versus any details, or allow people to add/edit appointments as necessary.
Integrated tasks management system: Google tasks is pretty limited. But, as a basic task manager it is fine and it shows up on my Google calendar.
Text message integration: I can get pop up notices from my calendar on my Android cell phone. But even better, I can get text message notifications with embedded addresses and phone numbers. I’ll explain this in a bit too.
- Platform Independence (Android and iOS): Google calendar is seamless for both Android and iPhone users. Mac and PC. It doesn’t care about your platform and works great on all of them.
Mobile Integration for SMS (text) messages
I recommend you do this right away. Here is a simple explanation why.
I like to have Google send me a text message a few minutes prior to an appointment. I put the contacts cell phone number in the appointment name on the calendar. As in:
Mtg. Mike Smith – 555-555-5555
That way, when the text comes to me, his number is embedded in the message. If I am driving and running late, I simply click on the number and dial him. I don’t have to find him in my contacts list. Safer and more efficient.
I use the same technology and idea to remind me of phone meetings or important calls. However, I put these calls on a separate calendar (see multiple calendars below) named, phone reminders. I put them on a separate calendar because I don’t want 4 or 5 of them cluttering my main calendar. I’m simply using Google calendar as a call reminder in this case.
Setup Mobile Integration
Click the settings “Gear” in the upper right of your calendar.
Select Mobile Setup
Enter your number and Google will send you a validation code. Enter the validation code and now the “SMS” option will be available under appointment reminders.
You can view your calendar a number of ways.. sort of self-explanatory but
monthly (entire month)
4 days (like week but just 4 day). i guess for a larger view of those days. You can adjust this under settings for up to a 4 week view. “Custom Calendar”
Agenda (a list)
I spend most of my time in the weekly view. Also, under settings (the same gear as above), I start my week on Sunday and I show weekends. You’ll find these options under the “General” tab of the settings.
Appointments and Tasks
I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about how to set an appointment. There are two basic kinds of appointments.
All day appointment: Created by clicking on a day or multiple days in monthly view or by clicking the area above the time but below the day (Wed 2/5) indicator. This is also how tasks can be created.
Timed appointment: Mosty easily created in day or week view and clicking and dragging from the starting time to the ending time.
You can set 3 types of reminders.
Popup. If you are in the calendar and also pops up on your phone.
Email. I will often have key appointments email me a day prior so I have any materials needed ready for the appointment.
SMS. If you enable you calendar for mobile integration (see above), SMS reminders are a great tool to have notifications go to your phone.
You can also setup default reminders in the calendar settings. Every appointment you create will have these defaults without you needing to set them up. I show this in the video below.
Tasks is a special calendar with fewer features in Google calendar. Tasks have no time data, just a name and a description. They also cannot be share. But they are great as a list of to do’s for a given day.
Mobile integration: Tasks do not show up on your mobile google calendar. There is a separate app named, “GTasks” that you must download.
My tasks aren’t visible
When you first setup Google calendar, your tasks may not be visible. To the left of your calendar, expand the “My calendars” drop down and you should see “Tasks” listed there. Click on the check box to the left of the “Tasks” name/label and they should now show up.
Managing/Moving Appointment and Tasks
Both appointments and tasks can be dragged between dates on the calendar. At the end of the day or first thing in the morning, I ensure that any incomplete tasks and appointments are moved forward.
Tip: Using the Mini calendar
Use the mini calendar on the left to highlight several days or 2 or 3 weeks and move appointments and tasks forward into the next week if needed. (See the image below)
Multiple Calendars and Sharing Calendars
You can create additional calendars in Google calendar and view them all simultaneously. By default, each calendar with have a different color.
You can also share calendars among 1 or more collaborators. Collaborators can be given access to view free/busy time but no details, view only, or be given the ability to create and edit calendar items.
I use multiple calendars when I need to see the appointments as part of my overall plan but I do NOT want to share my main calendar. For instance, I use the following calendars:
Main calendar: Shared to me and an assistant
Band calendar: Shared to my band and a booking assistant to edit. Public for viewing.
Child’s calendar: I share a calendar with my daughter. She and I can edit it. No one else sees it.
Speaking calendar: Shared to my assistant. Public for viewing. My speaking schedule
Phone reminders: A special calendar where I put prompts with a default text message 30 minutes and 1 minute prior to the appointment. I use this calendar for time sensitive phone calls I need to make.
The 8 minute video below demonstrates some of the key features of Google calendar. Includes: mobile integration, enabling Google Tasks, multiple calendars, text message reminders, and tasks and appointment management. The video is in HD so if you want to see it better/clearer, go to full screen view or view it on YouTube (link above).[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSmEk1L6FnM]
Feel free to leave me any questions or comments.