Google offers a seemingly endless toolbox of productivity tools, and thanks to Google Calendar I've been able to fine tune my scheduling and productivity habits. Calendar has been around for years, but I was surprised by the amount of people who don't use it to its full potential. I now use Google Calendar to organize both my professional and social life, while also as a tool to stay organized on blog posts and scheduling. Here are some tips I've learned along the way...
Getting Started: Just like Google Reader, anyone with a Gmail account automatically has access to create and use their own Google Calendar. Click on the Calendar tab in the upper left-hand menu to get there from Gmail.
Schedule Meetings/Events: There are 3 ways to create an event. For meetings at work, I find it best to click on the button "Create Event" in order to fully detail the meeting with the exact time, date, location and everyone who may attend.
"Quick Add" lets you title your event first and then takes you directly to the same detailed page as "Create Event". I like to use Quick Add when planning out topics I'm going to write about for the month. For reminders that don't require any invitations or specific times, I click on the square in the calendar (generally I like to look at my calendar in month view) and quickly type in a reminder for that day, such as a note to call someone or when an RSVP for an event opens.
Organize Social Life: If your friends are willing to share calendars, this is one of the best tools for scheduling hangouts for drinks, game night, sports or anything you like to do within and as a group. Because we can't always keep in touch with friends during the week, being able to see each other's availability makes it that much easier to pick a time where everyone can get together.
Adding Calendars: At my office, Gmail is our primary email server, so it was simple to add all my colleagues' calendars in order to easily check everyone's availability when it comes to scheduling meetings or brainstorms. If all your coworkers and friends use Gmail like mine do, it's a snap to add everyone's calendars. Simply type in their email and wait for them to accept.
Color Coordination: I love color coordination, and the same applies to Gmail labels for marking and accessing others' calendars in Google Calendar. You can view your own calendar at all times, and then click onto whoever else's calendar in your list to see when they are available. The colors you assign to each calendar makes it easy to discern plans from different aspects of your life.
Plan Ahead: Color coordination also comes in handy when it comes to planning for assignments on deadline. I like to label my assignments, starting from a range of warm color tones to cool depending on the urgency. This way I can see which assignments need to be done immediately and which I have more time to plan for which makes a huge difference when work starts to pile up.