Published by Calendly - November 22, 2016

The Ultimate Google Calendar Guide: 90+ tips to supercharge productivity

Your master list of tips & tricks to become a Google Calendar pro.

If you’ve been working online within the past decade, you’ve probably used Google Calendar to manage your schedule — or, at the very least, received an invite from a colleague who uses it.

But as common and straightforward as Google Calendar may seem, it’s also packed with a surprising amount of features and integrations that help you manage your time more effectively.

So here, you’ll find over 90 tips and tricks to turn you into a Google Calendar pro. Whether you need to better manage client meetings across the globe or simply plan a quick getaway with friends, here’s how to get it all done with Google Calendar.

Consider this your go-to source for all things Google Calendar.

THE ULTIMATE GOOGLE CALENDAR GUIDE

In this guide:

  • Getting started: tips for beginners
  • Work faster inside Google Calendar
  • Reduce the need to open Google Calendar at all
  • Schedule meetings with others painlessly
  • Sync calendars across different platforms
  • Save more time by eliminating extra clicks
  • Stop typing things twice
  • Achieve new goals and improve your focus

GETTING STARTED: TIPS FOR BEGINNERS

1. Color code your different projects + parts of life with “other calendars”1-883v70prne4ikhppu4jqsq

Between your day job, the side project you’re working on, those home chores to tackle and that big networking event next week, you’ve got a lot of plates to keep spinning.

Creating a different calendar for each area of life (day job, side project, personal goals, etc) helps you understand which areas you’re spending the most time on, and how they intersect with each other.

2. Too many calendars to keep track of? Hide the low-priority ones until you need them1-wsmz6zztsnibcjp-f2nboa

You may not always want to see every calendar available (think: colleagues’ calendars, holiday and birthday calendars, etc). Hiding those calendars until you need them reduces visual clutter, so you can focus on what actually needs to happen today.

3. Add a background image that keeps you calm or motivated

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Google Calendar’s “Labs” section contains a wealth of experimental features. To find them, click the Settings cog, then choose Labs, where you’ll find add-ons like the Background Image option.

Visuals are powerful mood influencers, so use this feature to your advantage. Add a background to your calendar that keeps you motivated, focused or calm.

4. Use Agenda mode to stay focused on today’s tasks

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When this week or month’s entire mountain of work is visible on the screen, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. So create some sanity for yourself: switch to Agenda mode for a rundown of just today’s workload.

5. Prevent workflow interruptions with “gentle” notifications

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When Google Calendar is open, a notification will trigger 10 minutes before your next event. Unfortunately, that notification is extremely interruptive by default, directing you to Google Calendar no matter what other program or tab you were working in.

Switching to from interruptive alerts to “browser notifications” tames this experience. Instead of being pulled away from your current program or tab, Google will instead show a friendly notification in the top righthand corner of the screen.

6. For collaborative projects, create a shared calendar that multiple people can edit

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Be it a work project, a trip with friends or a family reunion, creating a shared calendar gives everyone involved the power to make updates as needed — removing the responsibility solely from your shoulders.

Once you’ve created the calendar you want to share, hover over its name on the left side of the screen. Click the small arrow, then choose Share This Calendar. From there, you can add others to the calendar by email.

7. Let people view your schedule by sharing your own calendar

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“Hey, are you free this afternoon?”

“What’s your schedule like tomorrow?”

“Can you join next Tuesday’s meeting?”

Tired of getting questions like these? It may be time to share your calendar with your colleagues — just repeat the process outlined in #6 above.

8. Ask for permission to view a colleague’s calendar

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Maybe you’re the one having to ask when others are available.

From Other Calendars, enter your colleague’s email address. They’ll receive an email with your request to view their calendar, which they can accept or decline. If they agree, you’ll see their calendar in your list of calendars on the left sidebar.

9. Use Calendly to let others add meetings to your calendar without giving up control

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Granting others access to your calendar can be unnerving. You may prefer not to share the details of all your appointments with colleagues, or you could be concerned about people adding meetings at inconvenient times (say, during lunch).

To remove the “when are you free?” back-and-forth without giving up calendar control, sign up for Calendly. You can set your availability preferences to ensure meetings only happen on your time, and keep all details of your existing appointments private. Plus, every new meeting scheduled through Calendly is added to your Google Calendar automatically — no need to type it in yourself or generate an invite to others.

10. Add events to your calendar from your Gmail inbox

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Once you and a colleague have decided on a meeting time via email, save yourself the hassle of creating the event from scratch. From the message in Gmail, simply:

  • Click the More drop-down menu, then select Create Event. Google Calendar will open in a new tab, with the bod of the email already added to the event description.
  • Enter the event details, then Save.

11. Create a work-week-only view

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You may not need to see all 7 days of the week if you work a Monday-to-Friday schedule. In Settings, you can toggle Show Weekends to “off” to remove visual clutter.

12. Create a workday-only view

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Similarly, you can hide your non-work hours for an even more streamlined view:

  • In Labs, select “Hide Morning and Night,” then save your changes
  • View your calendar in Day mode, where you’ll see a slider on the left
  • Drag the slider up or down as needed to hide the early morning and late evening time ranges

13. Access your calendar offline when wifi is spotty or unavailable

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Like every Google tool you use, Google Calendar is only available online by default. But if you’re working from a location with spotty-to-no wifi, you can enable offline syncing as needed.

If you’re using Google Chrome, you can click the Settings cog in the top righthand corner, then select Offline. Note that only your default calendar will sync, so you won’t have the rich, layered view of your typical online calendar.

14. Get an email reminder for every birthday on your Google Calendar

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IFTTT lets you connect your apps and devices with “if this, then that” statements. For example,If there’s a birthday on my Google Calendar, thensend me an email reminder.”

WORK FASTER INSIDE GOOGLE CALENDAR

Keyboard shortcuts shave seconds off the time it takes to navigate your calendar and create or edit events — and those seconds add up. Once you’ve enabled shortcuts in Settings, give these a try:

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15. Add a new event: “Q”

16. Skip to the previous date range: “K” or “P”

17. Skip to the upcoming date range: “J” or “N”

18. Jump from another date range back to today: “T”

19. Search: /

20. Change your calendar view to:

  • Day: “1” or “D”
  • Week: “2” or “W”
  • Month: “3” or “M”
  • 4 days: “4” or “X”
  • Agenda mode: “5” or “A”

21. Save an event (from the event details page): “S”

23. Return to full calendar view (from the event details page): “Esc”

24. Quick-select & view a specific date range

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Within the monthly calendar in the left sidebar, click and drag your mouse across the specific set of dates you’d like to view.

25. See at a glance who your 1:1 is with

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Who scheduled that event called “30 Minute Meeting” on your calendar? If an event is scheduled with just you and one other person, use the “Who’s my one-on-one with?” feature in Labs to display the attendee’s name right on your calendar.

26. Use “interesting calendars” to add every holiday to your calendar in one click

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Manually adding every holiday to your calendar is a time suck. Instead, let Google Calendar handle it by browsing Interesting Calendars and choosing the calendar for your country’s holidays.

27. Stay up-to-date on international colleagues’ holidays

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Are your coworkers or clients located in other countries? If so, it’s important to know when they’ll be out of the office, too. Adding their countries’ holidays from Interesting Calendars will keep you on top of it.

28. Set up a world clock

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From Labs, add the World Clock to your calendar to easily keep track of colleagues’ time zones when they’re traveling.

29. Add an extra timezone to your calendar

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Do you frequently need to coordinate with a colleague in a specific time zone? Add that time zone to your calendar, so everyone knows (within their own time zone) when to be available for phone and video calls.

REDUCE THE NEED TO OPEN GOOGLE CALENDAR

30. Send a “Daily Agenda” email to your inbox every morning at 5am

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Like a personal assistant with early-bird wake-up habits, Google Calendar can email you an agenda of your upcoming meetings at 5am each morning.

To enable this, open your Settings and select the Calendars tab. To the right of your calendar, choose Edit Notifications. From there, you can opt into “Daily Agenda.”

31. Use Zapier to send a “Digest” of your events to Slack

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Want a daily agenda, but can’t stand the thought of yet another email filling your Gmail inbox? Use Zapier’s new “Digest” to deliver your calendar events to the platform of your choice — like Slack, or a non-Google email address.

32. See how much time is left before your next event

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See at a glance what’s coming up next in your calendar with the “Next meeting” feature, which you’ll find in Labs.

33. Set up email reminders

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Want to ensure you don’t miss an important event because you forgot to check your calendar? Switch your notifications from pop-up to email, and you’ll only ever need to check your inbox.

34. Set up repeating events for meetings/events/etc. you hold regularly, or for recurring tasks

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For meetings that take place at the same time weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc., set the first one to Repeat to avoid manually scheduling every future occurrence.

35. Display your Google Calendar directly on your desktop

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iChrome transforms your desktop into sleek dashboard, where you can check your calendar and plenty of other things — including weather, news, and sports — in one place.

36. Checker Plus gives you Google Calendar’s full functionality, without the need to open a new tab

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For the Google Calendar power user who doesn’t want yet another tab open on their screen.

37. Using Firefox? This browser extension allows access to your calendar without opening a new tab

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Download this free add-on to integrate Google Calendar directly with your Firefox browser.

38. Using Thunderbird? Integrate Google Calendar bidirectionally with Lightning Calendar

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This add-on integrates your Google Calendar with Thunderbird and its calendar extension, Lightning. Get the free add-on here.

39. Sync your Google Calendar in the Windows 10 app

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If you live primarily in your Windows Calendar app, this guide will help you import your Google Calendar events.

40. Create an event by typing into the Google search bar

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Don’t have your calendar open right now? You can create a new calendar event in Google search, the same way you would in Google Calendar’s Quick Add box.

41. RSVP to email invites — without opening the emails

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Do you get a lot of meeting invites? Save yourself the trouble of opening up each one by using Gmail’s “RSVP” tab, which appears in the subject line of new invitations. Any you mark “Yes” or “Maybe” to will appear in your calendar automatically.

42. Download the Google Calendar mobile app to get notifications on the go

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If you prefer the look and feel of Google Calendar vs. your phone’s native calendar, download the Google Calendar Android or iPhone app here.

43. Use “OK Google” to create new G-Cal events verbally instead of typing

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Too busy to stop and type an update into Google Calendar? Use OK Google to speak the event details aloud, and Google will add them for you! This works from anywhere — your Chrome browser, your Android or your iPhone.

44. Don’t have a smartphone? Set up SMS notifications in Calendar settings

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Can’t download the app? You’re still in luck. From Mobile Setup in your calendar settings, add your cell phone number and verify it. From there, you can choose which notifications you’d like to receive by SMS or email.

45. Out-of-office? Automatically decline event invitations until you return

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Another feature hidden in Labs: select date ranges in which you know you’ll be unavailable, then choose to be shown as “Busy (decline invitations).”

46. Automatically add Alexa to-do’s to your Google Calendar

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For the Amazon Echo fans, use this IFTTT formula to create Google Calendar events from the to-do list you spoke aloud to Alexa.

47. Get reminders by phone call for important events

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When you’re running from place to place, it’s easy to miss an email or text notification — especially if your phone’s buried in your bag or pocket.

Use this IFTTT formula to take notifications to the next level: for every Google Calendar event with #callme in the title, you’ll receive an actual phone call reminding you of what’s coming up.

SCHEDULE MEETINGS WITH OTHERS PAINLESSLY

48. Politely decline invitations from that coworker who keeps trying to meet over your lunch break

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Similar to automatically declining events during a vacation, you can also choose to decline events by default during a daily recurring block of time — like that first precious hour of the morning when you’d rather be planning out your day, or during lunch.

49. Avoid the headache of scheduling across time zones

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Will clients or colleagues from many different time zones be joining this meeting? Enable the World Clock from Labs to quickly see each person’s time zone side-by-side.

50. Use “Suggested Times”

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Few tasks are as frustrating as figuring out when everyone is free to meet. Thankfully, Google Calendar can handle this for you. To get started, create a new event and add everyone who should attend. From there, “Suggested times” will show a list view of the dates and times all guests are free to meet.

51. Connect Calendly to let others schedule with you effortlessly

By using Calendly, #48–50 are handled for you automatically. When someone views your Calendly link…

  • They only see times you’ve chosen to be available
  • See your availability in their time zone automatically
  • Select the time that fits their schedule, without having to go back and forth with you

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52. Use “Find a time”

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“Find a time” is a more visual version of “Suggested times,” showing you everyone’s availability on the calendar side-by-side.

53. Share important dates / events with clients or other groups you’re part of

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Do you have regular “office hours” available for clients or colleagues, or other important dates they should know about? Create a publicly accessible calendar of those hours, and let others handle scheduling appointments without having to go through you.

When creating your new calendar, opt to “Make this calendar public.” Once you’ve saved your new calendar, you’ll find its address in Calendar Details:

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Note: make sure no personal or confidential details are shared in this calendar, since public calendars are available to anyone and can show up in Google searches.

54. Need to remove a meeting from your calendar but still want it to occur without you? Assign a new owner

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Did you set up a meeting with several people, but now realize you can no longer attend? If you’d like the meeting to take place as scheduled without you, transfer ownership to another attendee.

To give someone else ownership, open the event, select Edit, then Change Owner.

55. Embed that publicly accessible calendar on your website

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An alternative to sharing your public calendar’s address: embedding it directly on your website for clients and colleagues to see.

56. Add a meeting room or other resource

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Does your team need to manage shared resources — like conference rooms or projectors — when scheduling meetings? Create a dedicated calendar for each of these resources, then add a necessary resource to an upcoming meeting.

57. Add a Google Hangout link to meetings in 1 click

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Setting up a face-to-face remote meeting is simple with Google Hangouts. When creating your event, just choose to Add a Video Call. All invitees will see a meeting link, which they can use to join the meeting (as long as they’re signed into a Google Apps or Gmail account).

58. Add a Join.Me, GoToMeeting, etc link to meetings

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Prefer another platform, like Join.me, GoToMeeting, Zoom, etc, for video conference meetings? Copy + paste your meeting link from your preferred platform into the “Where” section of your Google Calendar event.

59. Use Calendly to add your meeting info automatically

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It takes time to manually create video conference links and copy + paste them into every event. When you use Calendly to schedule, these details are added to your Google Calendar events automatically, saving you a few minutes of admin work for every new meeting on your calendar.

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60. Add Attachments to events

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Add documents, spreadsheets, and other files directly to an event so that your guests have all the information they need right in the event.

61. Email everyone invited straight from the event with “email guests”

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When communicating about an upcoming event, skip the hassle of manually emailing everyone involved (and/or accidentally forgetting someone).

From the Google Calendar event, use “Email guests” to send one email to everyone in the group.

62. Use GoToMeeting’s Chrome extension to create new meeting links faster

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Once you’ve created your new calendar event, click the orange “Add” button above the event description to automatically create a new GoToMeeting session.

63. Use Calendly’s GoToMeeting integration, never spend time creating meeting links again

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When an invitee schedules with you through Calendly, GoToMeeting will create a new session and add the link to Google Calendar automatically.

SYNC CALENDARS ACROSS DIFFERENT PLATFORMS

64. Bulk import events into Google Calendar

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Switching over to Google from another calendar platform? Save yourself the headache of manually copying and pasting all of your events. This step-by-step guide will help you export all the events from your previous calendar, then bulk upload them into your Google Calendar.

65. Use CompanionLink to sync Google + Outlook

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If you spend your workday in Outlook, CompanionLink works as a bridge to your Google Calendar, syncing updates across both platforms. While a one-time purchase or monthly subscription are required, signup includes a 14-day free trial.

66. Add Office365 events to Google Calendar via Zapier

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Another Outlook option: if you’re using Office 365, use Zapier’s Google Calendar and Office 365 integrations to automatically add new events to both calendars.

Whenever a new event is added to Office 365, Zapier can copy it over to Google Calendar — or vise versa. It can then send Office 365 emails about events, or update existing events in Google Calendar. This short guide will get you started.

67. Sync Google Calendar with iCal across your Apple devices

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After subscribing to your Google Calendar in iCal, all new events added to your Google Calendar will sync automatically with the calendar on your Mac, iPhone or iPad.

68. Add Facebook events to G-Cal

From your “Events” page in Facebook, right-click “Upcoming events” from your righthand sidebar. Copy this link.

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Open Google Calendar, and from Other Calendars, select Add by URL.

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Paste the link you’ve just copied, save your changes, and voila! Your Facebook events should appear in your Google Calendar.

Note: if your Facebook events don’t appear after a few seconds, give this more in-depth tutorial a try.

SAVE EVEN MORE TIME BY ELIMINATING EXTRA CLICKS

69. Check the weather straight from your calendar

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Why open multiple tabs to check your schedule and the weather forecast, when you can set both to appear in your calendar?

From your Settings, enable “Show weather based on my location,” then choose Celsius © or Fahrenheit (F).

70. Scheduled a Twitter chat and want to remind people to join? Automatically send a Tweet with details 15 minutes before the chat starts.

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Use this IFTTT formula to automate social promotion of events planned in Google Calendar. Great for reminding people to join your Twitter chat!

71. Remember every friend’s birthday

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This IFTTT formula will scan your Google Calendar for “Birthday” events, then find your friends on Facebook and automatically send them a happy birthday note on the right day.

STOP TYPING THINGS TWICE

72. Let Calendly create new Google Calendar events + send invites for you

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Why manually create, type up and and send a new Google Calendar event when you don’t have to? If you use Calendly, just turn on “joint calendar events” instead. As soon as someone books with you, Calendly will automatically the Google Calendar event for you and send the other person an invite.

73. Use TripIt to sync your travel itinerary with Google Calendar

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Are you frequently on the road? Need to manage lots of travel itineraries? Sync your travel plans to your calendar automatically with TripIt.

74. Sync Google Calendar events to your to-do list app

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There are millions of apps out there to help you manage your to-do list. Thankfully, you can use Zapier to integrate your Google Calendar with hundreds of the most popular ones — including Evernote, Asana, Trello, Todoist, Wunderlist and many more. Here are some of the most common options.

75. See how you’re really spending your time: create Google Calendar events from your time tracking app

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Pull reports from your time-tracking app, like Toggl, Harvest, RescueTime or Beeminder, into Google Calendar for a visual report of how you actually spend your days.

76. Create new Google Calendar events from Google Sheets…

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Ever need to create calendar events in bulk? Or let others easily add calendar events for you? Use this integration to create new Google Calendar events straight from new rows in a Google Spreadsheet.

77. …Or create new Google Sheets entries from Google Calendar events

Need to organize or catalog lots of events from your calendar? A spreadsheet could help with that. This integration automatically creates a new Google Sheets row for every new event you create in Google Calendar.

78. Create new Google Calendar events from form entries (like surveys or lead gen forms)

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Say you’re using a form app like Typeform, Wufoo, Google Forms or Gravity Forms to collect people’s information and preferred meeting time/date. With Zapier, you can connect any of these form apps to Google Calendar and create new events automatically.

79. Get an SMS alert when a meeting is updated

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Stay up-to-date with changes to meetings and events, even if you’re away from your desk. Use SMS by Zapier to get notifications to your phone when others make changes to events in your calendar.

80. Sync Google Calendar with your CRM

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When a prospect or client books a meeting, skip the hassle of manually updating your CRM. Zapier offers integration with dozens of CRMs, so your Google Calendar and CRM can talk to each other directly.

81. Add your scheduled email campaigns to Google Calendar

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You’ve written and scheduled that MailChimp campaign to go out next week, but maybe you want to glance over it one last time before it goes live.

Use this IFTTT recipe to create a Google Calendar event for its scheduled send date, so you’ll have a visual reminder waiting for you when you open your calendar next week.

ACHIEVE NEW GOALS & IMPROVE YOUR FOCUS

82. Use Google Calendar Reminders: they turn G-Cal into a to-do list and calendar in one!

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Reminders appear similar to events in your Google Calendar, but they stay in your calendar until you mark them as done. So if you don’t finish something today, it will carry over into tomorrow’s calendar view. Helpful, right? Use this in-depth guide to learn about + set up Reminders in your calendar.

83. Achieve your long-term and ongoing goals
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Source
Want to start working out at least 4 days each week? Trying to spend more time reading? Use Goals in Google Calendar to stay on track.

When you create a Goal in Google Calendar, you’ll choose how much time you want to spend on it each week, and Google automatically schedules time to work on your goal.

If you later end up with a conflict at that time, the session will automatically be rescheduled for you.

Over time, scheduling gets better as Google Calendar learns your preferences.

Note: Goals can only be set up from the Google Calendar app (see tip #42), but will then appear in your Google Calendar on any device

84. Keep yourself + your colleagues efficient with Speedy Meetings

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When you enable Speedy Meetings in your calendar settings, 30-minute events will automatically end 5 minutes early, and 1-hour or longer events will end 10 minutes early. This encourages everyone to make the most of the time available, and gives you a buffer to help you make your next meeting on time.

85. Batch specific types of work into certain time blocks or days of the week

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By knocking out many menial tasks in one sitting, or by devoting every morning only to focused, creative work, you reduce the amount of time spent switching from task to task. This helps you get “in the zone” and be more productive overall.

To see at a glance which type of work is scheduled when, use G-calize to color-code your work batches.

86. Automatically mute your Android device during meetings scheduled in Google Calendar

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Use this IFTTT recipe to prevent that embarrassing phone-call-in-the-middle-of-a-meeting scenario.

87. Label emails “ToDo” to create an event in Google Calendar as a reminder

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This IFTTT recipe instantly creates Google Calendar events from emails without opening Google Calendar in a new tab. Just label them “ToDo” to trigger the recipe.

88. Never wonder “Whose business card is this, and where did I get it?” again

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How many business cards are floating around in your bag or file cabinet from past conferences and networking events? Wouldn’t it be nice to organize those and actually use the information on them to follow up with people?

Use this Recipe to take a picture of someone’s business card as soon as you get it. IFTTT will add it to your Google Calendar, where you’ll have an easy and searchable way to know who you met, when, and where.

89. Using Evernote? Create a “meeting minutes” note automatically before each G-Cal meeting

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For every meeting in your Google Calendar, this recipe automatically opens a new “meeting minutes” note in Evernote 15 minutes before your meeting.

90. Using FocusTime? Never forget to start a new time-tracking session again

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Start a new FocusTime session automatically when a Google Calendar event tagged #focusing begins.

91. Politely let coworkers know not to bother you during FocusTime sessions

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When beginning a FocusTime session, automatically add a “Do not disturb” event to your Google Calendar, so coworkers know you’re unavailable for meetings at that time.

From small changes like color-coding your projects to automating entire workflows, this guide will advance you from casual user to Google Calendar pro.

Of course, software is always changing and improving — so if you know of another tip we should include, leave a comment to let us know!

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