One of the most important and effective tools that you can use in your business is an online calendar. Sure, it seems simple enough, but the truth is that so many people still aren’t using their calendars the way that will best serve them, their clients, and their business. They mindlessly throw appointments and events in there with little or no thought. Some people schedule things in their calendar, but rarely look at it during the day. Others pile so much (read: unnecessary) information into their calendar that they can’t see the difference between important deadlines and personal reminders.
Hands down + no doubt about it, Google Calendars is my number one pick for an online calendar and scheduling system. It’s not just the pretty label colors or the fact that it’s completely FREE that makes it so wonderful. Having multiple calendars on ONE screen and having the ability to show and hide each calendar is what makes Google Calendars so useful. You might already be using this calendar for deadlines + appointments, but I want to share a few tips on optimizing Google Calendars to best suit your biz needs.
Find a Happy Medium
I notice people struggle with deciding what to designate as it’s own calendar and what to put on their “all inclusive” or “personal” calendar. It doesn’t serve you well to have one main calendar with a ton of crazy and jumbled appointments that have no context, nor does it help to have everything separated on individual calendars.
- If you have a client-based business, create an individual color-coded (to match the label + folder in Gmail, right??) calendar for each of your clients. If you really want to be on the same page with them, share the calendar with them so you’ll both know what mutual deadlines are coming up.
- For projects, create two separate calendars related to the same project. One calendar should be used for internal project-related deadlines, and the other calendar should be used for the deadlines that you set with the client. You’ll have a clear picture of how you need to budget your time to make sure that all of your deadlines are met.
- Categorize life areas that are important to you – personal, business, clients, kids, etc. and designate a special calendar for each category.
- Don’t forget to schedule other misc. important events/ deadlines like upcoming bills, routine activities like church, soccer practice, and Rest/Downtime (yes, you can schedule that, too!)
Differentiate Between All-Day Events + Time Slots
It’s tempting to just throw all of your daily events on to your calendar without specifying a time. Unfortunately this is counter-productive, and you’ll create unnecessary stress and frustration trying to figure out which you should tackle first. The awesome part about scheduling events for a specific time is that it clearly lays out your day, and creates an action plan that you can follow.
- Save a step and type the scheduled time right in the event title right before entering the event title. Google Calendars will automatically place it in the correct timeslot!
- Exception #1: events that need to be remembered for the entire day (think: pay rent, other bills, etc) can be added as an all-day event. You’ll see them right at the top of your calendar screen, no matter which calendar view you’re using.
- Exception #2: events that coincide with program launches or other work projects work best when they’re entered as all-day events. Include the entire range of dates. Example: if you have an early bird special pricing for your upcoming program launch, mark that date block!
Know Your Zone
Google Calendars gives you the option to display time zones. Isn’t it frustrating when you’re trying to schedule a client meeting and you waste time hammering out the details of “who will call whom and at what time, whose time zone?” The easiest way around this little scheduling snafu is to politely suggest to schedule a time in the other person’s time zone by saying “How about 12:00pm your time?” Done and done. You’ll know exactly what time to create that event in your calendar because you’ve got all the time zones listed right in front of you and lined up perfectly so there’s no guessing involved.
- Look at the calendar settings and add additional time zones under “Your Time Zone”.
- Make sure the little box is checked next to “Display All Time Zones”.
Now, what if you’re thinking, “But Jamie, I’m the only person in the world who doesn’t use Google calendars or have a Google/Gmail account.” Well go sign up now!! You don’t even have to use the email account or access the calendars from the account. Google Calendars is so versatile; you can sync and share your Google Calendars with just about any other calendar program out there, whether you’re a Mac or PC user.
If you’re not entirely ready to give up your old pencil + paper approach to scheduling, or you’re not quite sure if you’re up to copying everything over, try to slowly merge things together. Take your time! No pun intended :)
Do This Now!
Think of three ways that you can use (or already have used!) Google Calendars to make your business event and appointment scheduling easier.
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