Productivity 101: 5 tips on mastering Google Calendar

In a deviation from the standard personal finance content, I’d be starting a new series of productivity tips and hacks using digital tools called Productivity 101. The first post for this series will be dedicated to mastering the world’s best digital planner – Google Calendar.

The Google Calendar app is actually a tremendously useful application for productivity and organising your life. Unlike a physical planner, a digital calendar is always with you whenever you go (as long as you bring your mobile phone around!).

Let’s get right into five of my favourite Google calendar tips –

Tip #1: Categorise and colour-code your events

By categorising and colour-coding your calendar, you’d gain a very powerful visual overview of your daily routine.

For me, I categorise my calendar events as follows, each with a different colour:

  • Personal
  • Work
  • Important
  • Trips
  • Notes
  • Photography

It helps me to quickly tell what I am busy with for the week or month just by glancing over my calendar, and I know how much time I have left for other stuff. Of course you might want to consider a different way of categorising your events to fit your needs. But it’s best not to overly complicate things with too many categories!

To create categories and colour code your events, head over to Google Calendar and locate My calendars at the bottom left.

Under Other calendars, click on the + symbol and click Create new calendar to create another calendar. Give your calendar a name and click Create calendar.

To give this new calendar a different colour, highlight over the newly created calendar and click the ellipsis (3 dots) symbol and choose your favourite colour!

Now, you have your very own colour-coded calendars 🙂

Tip #2: Schedule recurring events

Recurring events are a cornerstone is my calendar because they help me block time out for repeated events (such as scheduling a gym session every Sunday, or work from 9am to 6pm every weekday) and set reminders for birthdays and anniversaries.

To create a recurring event, you can first create a calendar event, then click on more options to bring up the extended selection.

For all day events like birthdays, anniversaries or important dates (e.g. interest payment), I usually tag them to repeat annually with the calendar categorised to ‘important’ and the notification set to remind 3 days before.

You can also create more than one notification if you feel like it, and sometimes I set another notification 1 day before so that I don’t forget. Google will send me an email and an app notification to remind me about the event.

#3: Add a Holiday calendar to stay on top of upcoming holidays

Holiday calendars are a good way to stay in touch with the dates for upcoming holidays, in case you want to take leave or plan for a long weekend getaway.

To incorporate holidays into your calendar, you can either toggle the pre-built Holidays calendar on that some calendar apps already have, or add a public calendar for upcoming holidays.

In Google Calendar under Other calendars, click on the + sign (add other calendars) and hit on Browse calendars of interest.

Navigate to the calendar Holidays in Singapore and tick the checkbox to add it into your view.

That’s it! You will now subscribe to the latest public holidays in Singapore.

#4: Add location for Google Maps navigation /  AI-assisted directions

The great thing about Google Calendar is its seamless Google Maps integration which allows you to quickly get directions to your next event in a click of a button.

Say your next event is at Changi Airport. By adding Changi Airport to the location in your calendar, clicking on the location on your phone brings you instantly to the Google Maps interface with the directions ready!

 

You can now click on Directions to find the fastest way to the airport!

Alternatively, you could use Google Assistant or Siri to ask ‘Directions to my next event’ and it will magically work!

#5: Invite guests to track attendance (e.g. gatherings)

Instead of always asking your friends on your WhatsApp chat whether they can make it for your upcoming gathering, you can also choose to send a calendar invite and see if they accept or reject the invitation.

To invite your friends, create an event as per normal and click the more options button once again.

Look for add guests and enter your friend’s email address to send the meeting invite to them.

Friends who accepted the invite will have a green tick shown beside their display picture – so now you know who can make it and who doesn’t easily.

There you have it! Your all-in-one digital planner for organising your time, scheduling events, and never forgetting all your important dates.

Derrick is a digital native, finance geek and avid photographer. He loves spontaneity but is a control freak at the same time.

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