Setting up Google Calendar for maximum productivity


You could argue that more people have heard of Google Calendar than any other time management app on the Internet.

And for the most part, that would be true.

If you have been working in a team or regularly interact with stakeholders, you very likely use Google Calendar.

But the question you need to ask yourself is, are you getting the most out of this helpful tool? If we had to take a guess, you are probably not.

So that is precisely what we will try to address in this post. Before we get started, we would like to remind you that this post contains a lot of content that might come in handy in the future, so it would help if you bookmark this page for future reference. All that said, let's jump in.

Change the default view on Google Calendar

Most of us know some of the Google Calendar views: Daily, Weekly, Monthly, and Yearly.

What if we told you that there is a custom view that you can create on Google Calendar.

Firstly, you can choose not to show weekends on Google Calendar, and this is useful if you are using it only for work. Or even better:

  1. Head to the calendar on the left of your screen
  2. Hold command and select the date range

And that's it. Your view now is the date range you selected on the calendar, and it is that simple.


Use color palettes for your calendar

If you don't like the default colors for your calendar, you can add colors from a color palette.

You can use sites like Coolours and to find a suitable palette. To edit the color of a particular calendar:

  1. Click on the three dots icon
  2. Click the "+" icon at the bottom
  3. Paste the color code

And you are done. Soft color palettes can make working on your calendar easy on your eyes. Choosing contrasting colors can help you easily differentiate the calendars they are from, ergo their importance or priority.


Creating a new Google Calendar event

The old way of creating a new Google Calendar event would be:

  1. Click the icon on the top right
  2. Choose the calendar app
  3. Click on "Create"
  4. Choose one of the many event types

However, there is a faster and better way to do the same thing, and you'll never go back to the old ways again.

Just type into your search bar and hit enter. That's it!


Want to let someone else control the event? Change the owner

If there is an event in your Google Calendar that you can't attend, or you feel another person would be a better fit and can go in your place, you can change the owner of the event.

And by doing this, you transfer the control of the event to the other person. The process is quite simple:

  1. Go to Google Calendar
  2. Click on the event you want to edit
  3. Click on the three dots icon and select "Change owner"
  4. Enter the email address of the new owner
  5. Select "Change Owner"

Now your event has been transferred to the new owner.


Use Google Tasks right out of the Calendar

On your right-hand side, you'll see the blue Google Tasks icon; you can now use that to create tasks and schedule them right on the same screen. You can also add a description and sub-tasks and make the tasks recurring.

Now that task will appear on the calendar in its allocated timeslot; this feature is handy if you want to block time from your day.


Use the Zoom add-on for easier access

If your office is not big on Google Meets, constantly switching between Google Calendar & Zoom might be frustrating. Fret not! You can overcome this by using the Zoom add-on for Google Calendar.

  1. Click on the "+" icon on your right
  2. Search for "Zoom" and select the first result
  3. Hit "Install"
  4. Sign in to Zoom

The Zoom add-on will help to easily schedule, join, manage, and customize meetings from Gmail and Google Calendar.

You can also use other add-ons for Google Calendar to make life easier. Like Zoom, there are add-ons for similar tools like Jitsi, Webex, Microsoft Teams Meeting, Go-to Meeting, etc.


Print and pin your weekly calendar

What is out of sight is usually out of mind. Hence, if you want to ensure that you do not miss your Google Calendar events, it would help to have a printout pinned at your desk.

The best timeframe for this would be a weekly view for the following week that you could print & pin every Friday or Saturday.

Here is how you can do that:

  1. Click on the settings icon on your top right
  2. Select "Print"
  3. In the preview, you can amend the date range
  4. You can change the font size
  5. You can even change the orientation
  6. Check "Show Weekends" if applicable
  7. Check "Show events you have declined" if applicable
  8. Hit "Print"

Enable keyboard shortcuts

If you are looking to work fast and don't want to break the flow looking for your mouse or using your trackpad, keyboard shortcuts are your best bet.

Here is how you can enable keyboard shortcuts:

  1. Click on the settings icon
  2. Select "Keyboard Shortcuts"
  3. Check to see if it is enabled
  4. If not enabled, check to enable

Here are some helpful keyboard shortcuts:

  1. To refresh your calendar: Press "r"
  2. To see an event's details: Press "e"
  3. To move to the current day: Press "t"
  4. To create a new event: Press "c"
  5. To put your cursor in the search box: Press "/"
  6. To open the settings page: Press "s"
  7. To go to a specific date: Press "g"

To learn more about Google Calendar shortcuts, visit their support page.


Convert email threads into Google Calendar events

If you and your colleagues find yourself in a long email chain that is going nowhere, it is probably best to set up a quick call to sort things out.

And there is a super simple way to do that. Here is how:

  1. Open the email thread
  2. Click on the three dots icon
  3. Select “Create event”
  4. Now update the time and clean up the description

That is it. All the participants on that email thread will be automatically added to the invite list.


Change your default reminder time

Getting reminded of your event 10 minutes before might not necessarily work. By the time the event starts, you've probably already forgotten about it.

Fret not! You can now change the default reminder time to something that might suit you.

The process is fairly straightforward:

  1. Click on the settings icon on the top right
  2. Select "Settings"
  3. On your RHS, under "Settings for my calendars," select your calendar
  4. Head to "Event Notifications"
  5. Select a notification window that works for you

This simple hack will ensure that you never miss a meeting because you forgot about it. You can also add additional notifications if needed.


Add multiple time zones

If you work remotely and your team works in a different time zone, it becomes easy to miss important meetings and events because of confusion.

You can remedy that by adding multiple time zones to your Google Calendar to make it easier for you to manage events from different time zones.

Here is how:

  1. Head over to "Settings"
  2. Choose General > World Clock
  3. Enable "Show world clock"
  4. Add the time zones you need

What's next in optimizing your Google Calendar?

We come to the end of this post, but we have barely scratched the surface in terms of what is possible with Google Calendar.

If you want another post about Google Calendar but this time dealing with more advanced features, do let us know on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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