Google Calendar is my choice for organizing my schedule. I don’t like Microsoft Outlook, but only because I loathe client-side applications for non-creativity-based processes. Here are 7 ways to use Google Calendar to better schedule your life, with a really cool add-on idea to boot.
Use Monthly View for Big Ticket Planning– Plan your life and obligations with a month’s eye view to begin with. Use this level to make sure you make time for the things that matter most. Having trouble spending time with your spouse or kids? Build time into the calendar first thing before planning the other obligations. Make exercise a priority by putting it in as a recurring event across the days you dictate in a month.
Use NEXT Week for Scheduling– Use weekly view but set it to next week. Make all your appointments for the week after this one, unless there’s a huge time requirement. This gives everyone a chance to arrange their calendars and priorities neatly. People will start to appreciate your scheduling method, and it’ll allow them to prepare for doing business with you.
Use Weekly View for Course Correction– As you approach events or activities, firm up your plans in the weekly view. If you have to delete exercise from Monday because you ended up having to take your kid to the doctor’s office, move it to Tuesday. Make sure you don’t “bleed” events, because they wouldn’t be on there, if you weren’t dedicating yourself to accomplishing them in the first place, right?
DON’T use Daily View – There’s just no reason.
Make a Tally– Count up what types of events are for one topic, which are for another, and make sure you’re balancing. Do you have 71 work-related calendar items and only 4 family? If family matters most, is it just that you’re not reflecting that time in your calendar, or are you missing something?
Invite Other People to use Google Calendar– Share your calendar view (or portions- there are granular settings for this), so that people can get a better sense of your time commitments. This might help them NOT bug you with trivial matters. It might prompt them to invite you to something to blow off steam, if they notice your calendar is blocked full. The best of what it does is give people some pre-warning as to how busy your life is. (This also helps cut down on friviolous offers).
Make good use of the Reminders Options– I have reminders ping my desktop email, my Gmail account, my phone, and about everything else I could configure. I want to make sure I don’t miss an appointment because some technology silo couldn’t get my attention. Sometimes, this is annoying (acknowledging all those things), but other times, it’s saved me from grave embarassment. Make sure you set the warning time to be long enough that you can take action, but not so long that you forget you were reminded.
BONUS IDEA:– Consider hiring a virtual assistant. Rates for virtual personal assistants like Sara Deutsch are reasonable enough (especially if they consider pro-rating for various tasks), and by sharing out your Google Calendar view, you might be able to enable a virtual assistant to help you with things like scheduling (imagine paying $30 a week for this service versus $5000 a year for a phone messaging company or $24,000 a year for a full salary employee). A virtual assistant can be an interesting way to farm out parts of our schedule to others, freeing us for things that matter more to us personally.
Those are my tips. What would you add to that list?
–Chris Brogan has a full schedule this week, but is still booking appointments at [chrisbrogan.com]. His calendar has an event called Podcamp scheduled on Sept 9-10.