7 Ways Google Calendar Simplifies My Life

Google Calendar Square

I couldn’t be happier to introduce you all to my dear friend Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom.  Crystal is one of those people who I just “clicked” with the instant that we met.  Every time we talk I feel both challenged to do better and encouraged that I can actually do it.  If you’ve ever read her amazing blog, you know that is just the way she is!  Her new book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, launches tomorrow, January 21st, and I can’t say enough good things about it!  It is jam-packed full of practical tips and wisdom for learning how to THRIVE in your life, instead of just survive!  She is also giving away an amazing packet of over 40 free life-organizing printables just for sharing the news about her book on social media, so be sure to first order the book here, then pop over to her site to get your printable packet!

This is a guest post from Crystal of MoneySavingMom.com

For years, I was an ardent pen and paper gal. I wrote lists. I checked things off the lists. And I prided myself on how I stayed so organized without the aid of any new-fangled techie tools.

Because isn’t old-fashioned better, right? Well, that’s what I had convinced myself was true.

But then, my business grew and my kids grew and our calendar started filling up with more appointments and activities. Needless to say, the pen and paper method wasn’t working so well.

I kept trying to make the paper system work… I was determined and committed. But I often didn’t have my paper with me when I needed to write something down. So then I’d scratch it down on any paper that was nearby — and then often lose that paper.

In addition, my brain felt constantly cluttered up by to-do’s and to-remembers. I didn’t have a streamlined way to post paper reminders of something I needed to remember in 7 weeks and 3 days from now, so I just kept it in my head, kept reminding myself that I couldn’t forget it, and then kept worrying that I wouldn’t remember to remind myself about it.

Yes, I was fighting a losing battle!

My husband — always one to jump on anything techie — strong encouraged me to try Google Calendar.  “That’s online.” I protested. “You know that online calendars won’t work for me.” But he persisted and I finally relented.

And I am so very glad I did, because using Google Calendar has revolutionized my life and my productivity. In fact, in spite of the fact that I’m usually the non-techie person, I continually catch myself championing Google Calendar to my friends and family!

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Here are seven ways Google Calendar simplifies my life:

1. It Gives Me a Place to Brain Dump

You know all those little things you’re constantly thinking you need to remember? I love that I no longer have to carry them around in my brain. Instead, I can quickly and easily add a note about something on an upcoming day my Google Calendar.

Truly, when I stopped having to keep track of such a myriad of information, it felt as if a weight lifted off my shoulders! And it cleared up a lot of space in my brain for other projects to percolate.

Google Calendar

2. It Allows Me to Have All Event Details in One Place

When I add an appointment to my calendar, I use the Description section on Google Calendar to add all pertinent details: time, place, any information I need to remember or bring, directions to the location, and/or a phone number for who I’m meeting with.

Putting all these details into one place saves me so much time and headache. Instead of having to scour through my phone or email inbox to retrieve these details if something comes up, everything I could need for an event or appointment is in one central location.

3. It Sends Me Reminders

If you’re anything like me, you have the best intentions, but then life happens and you sometimes forget that you had a phone meeting scheduled or needed to take your child to the eye doctor. This is why the reminder feature on Google Calendar is so handy!

I set up reminders based upon the likelihood of my forgetting about something. Sometimes, I might just set up one reminder to pop up on my phone ten minutes before. Other times, I set up five reminders via email and my phone… just in case!

I can’t tell you how many times these reminders have prevented me from completely missing something I was suppose to do or somewhere I was supposed to go! And knowing they are set up helps me breathe easy instead of feeling anxious that I’ll forget something important.

Google Calendar

4. It Allows Me to Easily Re-Assign Tasks

The biggest downfall of pen and paper is that you have to re-write your list when life throws you a curveball. Not so with Google Calendar.

If you end up having a busier day than expected and you don’t have time to get to four things assigned on your Calendar for today, you can just effortlessly drag and drop them to another day.

No more re-writing to-do lists or feeling guilty that you couldn’t get everything done in a day!

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5. It Syncs With My Phone

Pen and paper gets really bulky to lug around and have at all times. On the other hand, the beauty of Google Calendar is that you can check your schedule and appointments on your calendar right from your phone. There’s no longer any need to have a big planner with your entire calendar on it with you at all times or to mess with opening up your laptop to check on your schedule.

You can even have Siri update your calendar with new to-do’s and reminders while you’re driving home from the grocery store! It’s like you have a personal assistant right at your fingertips — and all for not a penny more than what you’re paying for your smartphone plan!

6. It Organizes My Travel

I use TripIt to keep all of my travel details together and I adore the fact that TripIt and Google Calendar can be synced together. Now that my accounts are synced, whatever I add to TripIt automatically shows up on my Google Calendar on my phone. This saves me lots of time and hassle shuffling through travel confirmations and also guarantees that I know where I’m supposed to be and when.

7. It Improves My Marriage

Did this last point catch you by surprise? Well, it’s true!

I love the option Google Calendar has that allows you to share calendars with others. We use this in my business to keep track of other people’s schedules and responsibilities and for deadlines and details on projects we’re collaborating on.

But I don’t just use it for sharing calendars with people I work with professionally, my husband and I share our calendars with each other so that we can know what the other has going on each day. This is helpful for logistic purposes, but it goes much deeper than that.

You see, when I look at what all my husband has scheduled for his day, it helps me to know better how to pray for him, it helps me to be able to ask questions about what he has going on, and reminds me to express gratitude to him for all he’s doing as part of his job.

If I didn’t know what he had going on throughout the day, I wouldn’t be able to be as involved in his life and I certainly wouldn’t have the level of appreciation I do for him. And it’s these things that help make our marriage stronger… thanks to Google Calendar!

7 Ways that Google Calendar Simplifies My Life

Crystal Paine is a wife, mom of three, Crystal Paineand founder of MoneySavingMom.com, one of the most popular personal finance blogs on the web, where she writes about intentional living within her finances, family, and business. Her second book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, releases January 21, 2014.

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Do you use Google Calendar?  What other ideas do you have for keeping track of your schedule and your life?

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{ 53 comments… add one }

  • Cathy January 20,

    I just discovered Google Calendar myself. I have always been a paper and pen person with lists everywhere. I am amazed at how this is revolutionizing my life – wish I had found it a long time ago….Cathy

    Reply
  • Debbie January 20,

    Is there an iPhone app that you would recommend for Google Calendar?

    Reply
    • Meaghan January 20,

      I use the calendar app on my iPhone and synced it with my Google calendar.

      Reply
    • Paul February 1,

      Pocket Informant Pro is the best there is. You can try it free now but I’m sure once you do you will pay for the upgrade.

      Reply
  • Kristen Daukas January 20,

    I actually still use a paper calendar AND Google cal.. I love Google cal but it’s not perfect. I hate that there’s not a good iPhone app for it and instead, I have to use a 3rd party one which I have yet to find one that is THE one. (I don’t understand why there isn’t a native app) Maybe it’s a throw back to my Outlook days, but I also wish there were a desktop aspect to it.. which is why I still use iCal which synchs to Google and at some point, something gets on one calendar and not the other and it’s a mess. And that is why I still use paper ;)

    Reply
  • Sarah E@The Teacher's Wife January 20,

    I may have to give this a try now. My husband has been talking about this for a while b/c we are always struggling to keep our schedules in synch. It would be nice to have a “family calendar” so we can both see what we have going on or coming up. I like paper planners for some things, but I’m sure this would be helpful for us!! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Josh January 20,

      I really like being able to sync my schedule with my girlfriend’s schedule. We have a blended family with 4 kids with 4 different schools (ugh driving is my existence…for now) I work late shift as a police officer with a rotating schedule and she works traditional day shift hours. That said we can see what is going on in each other’s schedules with visitations, social events we would like to attend, kids events, etc. I have a ridiculously complicated schedule that regularly requires adjustments to my weekly routine (ie training days, court appearances, etc) plus I play with a couple different bands and have to account for rehearsals and performances and not to mention moonlighting part time jobs. We have to schedule date nights and things of that nature and Google Calendar totally makes all this much easier to manage.

      Reply
  • Charlotte January 20,

    Just curious… do you know how Google Calendar and iCal are different? Is there some reason that I should consider Google Calendar over iCal? I have played around with iCal a little and Google Calendar only once. I think iCal can do all of that hints you mentioned but before I commit to one over the other, I’d love to know if anyone can offer a side by side comparison.

    Reply
  • Steph January 20,

    I have been using Google calendar for a while now but you brought up new ways to use it! I think I will have to put to do items in it. Do you just make those all day events? Or is there different functionality that you use?

    I have been able to sync the google calendar with my iPhone calendar and my iPhone contacts so that when I open the default calendar or contacts on my phone I am syncing with Google calendars! I highly recommend it!

    Reply
    • Crystal @ MoneySavingMom.com January 20,

      I make things like reminders/blog posts, etc. all day events and then just delete them once I’ve finished them — or move them to a different day if I don’t have time to do them.

      I know that this might seem complicated or not work for some people, but it’s REALLY worked well for me! :)

      Reply
      • Deborah January 24,

        Google Tasks can be used within the calendar. Once created, it shows as an “event” on the calendar but has a handy little checkbox to easily mark it complete (rather than spending extra seconds deleting an actual calendar event). Here is the page where Google tells you just how to do it:
        https://support.google.com/calendar/answer/144246?hl=en

        Reply
  • Mary smith January 20,

    Well that would be great if I could affored a cell phone like that.. But nope!

    Reply
    • Dana January 20,

      You can use Google calendar straight from your computer. I do all the time, actually most times.

      Reply
    • Heather January 20,

      I don’t have a smartphone, but I use Google Cal on my computer. Nice big screen is probably better anyway.

      Reply
    • Josh January 20,

      If you can’t afford the monthly expense of a cell phone data plan you might be able to find a cheap tablet. There are plenty of android based that are super cheap and all you would need is occassional access to the internet that can be found at tons of businesses these days. They tend run slightly older android software but from what I’m told they work really well and can run all the google apps without a problem. I’ve seen some in stores for about $50. Otherwise just using the desktop version is pretty convenient too. You can’t misplace it, whether or not you use it regularly is up to you.

      Reply
  • Stephanie@Mrs.Debtfighter January 20,

    I am a pen and paper gal too! I love the idea of having everything accessible electronically!! Off to check out Google Calendar…. :)

    Reply
  • Dana January 20,

    I love using Google calendar. I love that it syncs with my iPhone, iPad, and on my computer (whether it is a computer at home or a computer at work). I have always been a paper and pen person because I love to have it in my hands, but using Google calendar makes things neater.

    Reply
  • Anonymous January 20,

    I’m a huge fan of Google Calendar for tracking our family schedule/appointments/events. Everyone is color coded and all details are entered in the description.

    Reply
  • Gladys January 20,

    This is such a good idea, I have google calendar in my computer for years and never used it. I always try to write everything on my tiny planner that I buy at Dollar Store. I will try using this, thanks for the tips!

    Reply
  • Leah @ L3 Designs January 20,

    I love google calendar. We use it. I love that I can access it from my tablet, computer, phones, etc no matter the platform (windows, mac, iphone, andriod). That my husband has access to his calendar, my calendar, and the “family” calendar that is filled with kids activities and whole family events.
    I love the reminders, the colours (yes I colour code each persons events)…. The only thing I laugh at is when it tells me I’m creating an event that conflicts with other events. I rarely create an event that doesn’t conflict with something, I’m scheduling for a family of 5!!!!

    The only thing I wish was that I could automatically have it colour code events based on a keyword.

    Reply
  • Angie Young January 20,

    I use Cozi for all of my organizing and calendar needs. It can be accessed through your computer, iphone via Cozi app and any other device you put the app on say your Kindle Fire or what have you. If you put something on your Cozi calendar it automatically updates on all of your devices. It also has to do lists on there as well as shopping lists. You can also set it up with the whole family so everyone is in the know with what is going on with each other.

    Reply
    • Anonymous February 5,

      I love Cozi, too! I love that meal planning and grocery lists are there with my calendar.

      Reply
  • Vivian Myers January 20,

    I use the new BlackBerry Z10. Love that it just works with Google calendars. I have been using Google cal for a long time. I recently moved my parents in with my family. I created a “parents” calendar that’s shared with my parents and siblings. We use it to keep track of their doctors appointments, family meetings, etc. When I look at my phone I see my personal Google calendar, the parents calendar as well as my parents personal calendars. I added their calendars since I realized that I needed to know that info because they would add meetings with their friends their calendar which, of course, would impact availability for appointments. Lol
    Since everything’s integrated on the phone I can even look at an event entered on my moms calendar, change the originating calendar from her personal to the “parents” calendar so everyone can see the appointment she made.

    There’s simply too much to remember via pen and paper. I wish I could!

    Reply
  • Jennifer January 20,

    I use a Mac so I adore Ical.I recently switched from my Droid to my husband’s old Iphone until contract expiation. I must say I do not like the phone, but I do love having access to my ICal on the phone. Everyone in our family, including dogs, has their own color code so at a glance, I know what activity is who’s. I couldn’t figure out how to sync the Ical w/my droid so using the IPhone helps in that regard.
    I used to use Google calendar until I got my Mac but I do like how they sync (ICal and Google).

    Reply
  • Melanie @ Carmel Moments January 20,

    Wow. This is so helpful. I’m been really trying lately to be more self disciplined when it comes to organizing my day and fitting everything in for blogging. I’ve briefly started using Google calendar on my phone but haven’t used it to pinpoint projects, time frames and such.
    Thanks for sharing Crystal! I hope to implement this idea to get more organized.

    Reply
  • Cortney Jenkins January 20,

    I love using google calendar for my meal planning! I can share it with my husband , easily move meals around, and look back to see the previous month’s menu for ideas. It is perfect!

    Reply
  • Sonita Lewis January 20,

    We use Cozi. Google Calendar won’t work with prepaid cell phones in the US (and the only way we can afford smartphones is through a prepaid service like Boost Mobile)

    Cozi is awesome! One calendar for the whole family (color coded like Google) plus lots of extras perfect for busy families!

    We splurged for the plus version and it’s AWESOME because if hubby needs me to do something and forgets to ask me that morning, he adds it to my to-do list on his phone and it magically shows up on my phone, the tablet and the computer. Instantly. The shopping list is the same way-either of us can add something to it from our phone or the computer and it instantly shows up on everyone’s device everywhere! Plues there are more widgets for Cozi-you can choose from several sizes and feature your calendar, to-do list or shopping list.

    Plus you can make as many shopping and to-do lists as needed and assign them to people. I have a shopping list for each grocery store I use-that way I don’t have to sort through a list of items from other stores.

    It also includes a shopping list, meal planner, contacts, journal (with great privacy/sharing options) and you can sync the FlyLady Calendar to your Cozi if you do FlyLady (they have other premade lists and calendars you can add to your Cozi as well) We love it.

    Reply
    • Josh January 20,

      Great tip on the Cozi app. I was wondering what I could use on my kindle fire.

      Reply
  • MaryEllen@ImperfectHomemaker January 20,

    I would love to do something like this, but I don’t have a smartphone. Do you think it is worth the cost of a smartphone to be able to do this? (I’m asking this in all seriousness.)

    Reply
    • Josh January 20,

      I think there are some options out there that will allow to use google calendar (and other handy apps) without the need for a smartphone. Some carriers offer dumber smartphones without a smartphone premium price, but they would still require you to have a data plan. You could go with a small tablet design. Nexus, samsung, ipad mini. Be careful of kindles, I have 3 for our kids, and they are wonderful, but they don’t have access to a lot of google apps so all google calendar functions must be uploaded via web or thrid party apps which can be iffy. You could even use an ipod touch or a similar android based device. So long as you have occasional access to the internet, be it home internet or the coffee house wifi, it should update. Google has a nice set of useful apps that work best on the android platform.

      Reply
  • Josh January 20,

    Several people have mentioned not being able to afford a smartphone and the accompanying data plan. You could still use google calendar through a small tablet or possible even an ipod touch with a third party app. Even if you don’t have home internet you could still go to a business that offers free wifi (coffee houses, restaurants, etc) to log in so that whatever device you use can update. Small tablets, even non name brand tablets that use older android software still support the native google apps.

    Reply
  • Tabitha Teeter January 20,

    Wow. Great ideas and info. I’ve been trying out Edie Wadsworth’s idea to use Google calendar for menu planning and household chores. I used to be great with a paper planner, but have a smart phone and have been trying to figure out how to make it work. Google calendar lets me see my calendar the way I want and task list wherever I am…without carrying a planner around. This technology idea is growing on me.

    Reply
  • Kristia {Family Balance Sheet} January 20,

    I’m still attached to my paper calendar–it’s like my security blanket. However, my husband has been trying to convert me to Google calendar for years. He sings its praises daily.

    Reply
  • Crystal Storms January 20,

    I’ve just started using the iPad reminder feature in much the same way, but I like the idea of moving something to a different day rather than just checking it off even if I didn’t get it done. Being able to add details also sounds like a plus. I’m slowly joining in on technology, but is still like my paper lists : ) Now I just have to find Google calendar. I’m assuming it’s on gmail somewhere….
    Crystal at IntentionallyPursuing.com

    Reply
  • Rita January 20,

    I have to spend less on food which I am always afraid bad weather will be comong.

    Reply
  • Gayle January 20,

    I use Google Calender on my iphone all the time (synced with my regular Calender app), but I haven’t figured out how to see the same color coding that I use on my computer. It makes everything from my google Calender the same color. Kind of defeats the point. Is there a way to change this that I’m missing?

    Reply
  • Jen z January 20,

    I used to be iCal only, but my husband got me on Google calendar about five years ago and I use it within iCal and don’t notice a single difference! My hubs and I communicate through all our happy color coordinated calendars. I have all of my bills on there so I don’t forget them! Also, our music group at church all shares a calendar and we use it to pick dates, schedule practices, keep track of availability, etc. A real blessing! I have both a Mac and a pc so I love that I can use it in iCal or in chrome. :)

    Reply
  • Michelle @ My Gluten-free Kitchen January 21,

    Google Calendar has been a lifesaver for me too! I’ve been a devoted user for several years now as well.
    I keep clicking on your sample images to try to understand how you use it. It looks like you assign some tasks to the whole day so they show up at the top. What I don’t understand is how you have three columns of tasks for yourself. Some seem conflicting so is that really all yours for the day or what? Or is the rose a huge summary of your time that you repeat every day and the teal and purple the tasks broken down? Are those broken down items on the calendar then or are they in there as details or what?
    I’m intrigued as to your system. I keep mine pretty minimal so it pretty much just has where I need to be and when, but I’d be interested in using it for structuring my blogging time and household chores as well.

    Reply
  • Karen Zink January 21,

    I use Cozi. Can anyone tell me if there is a big difference?

    Reply
  • Raquel January 21,

    I love my google calendar also. I have an iphone and I use an app called gtasks for my tasks. This syncs with my google calendar tasks. When I am on the computer I can see the calendar and my tasks in the same place. My hubby and I also share calendars and invite each other to appointments that require both of us. Scheduling your life is not very sexy, but it has been an improvement for our marriage!

    Reply
  • Christyn@Blablamama.blogspot.com January 21,

    This was an excellent post! I’ve been using google calendar but not to it’s full potential. Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
  • Rebecca January 22,

    The beauty of Crystal’s words – they are true. She does run her time and she uses Google Calendar to help her keep her schedule, even during the busy days of her life. I do believe this is one (public) secret that fully helps her stay out of survival mode!

    Reply
  • Cécile January 22,

    How interesting, I have never been able to switch from paper to tech calendar.
    I see that Crystal’s calender is full of colours and that she has quite a list of diferent calenders. ¿How do you colour code your calendar? why do you have so many calendar’s?
    Thanks for sharing your organization.

    Reply
  • Karen Goodman January 23,

    I love how Google calendar allows you to create multiple calendars. I have one for myself, one I share with my assistant so she can put things related to my real estate contracts on my calendar and I have one for things going on around town that I want to do. What’s really nice is that you can toggle off any of the calendars you want so they don’t clutter up your schedule. I do that a lot with the things going on around town one. If I know I’m going for sure, then I switch it to my personal calendar with the details about who is going with me.

    Reply
    • Deborah January 24,

      Thanks for mentioning the multiple calendar feature; I was just going to say something about it.
      I have a separate calendar for birthdays for everyone I care about so they don’t appear as events I have scheduled each day. I can easily toggle it off so it doesn’t clutter the screen for a particularly busy week, and when it’s toggled on I can easily identify which “events” are birthdays using a specific color for anything entered on that calendar.
      And, of course, I have personal and work calendars separated (that’s what works best for me) and any calendars shared with me (but maintained by others), each with its own specific color to make everything that much easier.

      Reply
  • Steph January 27,

    My daughter recommended Google calendar and I can’t live without it now. I am retired so you are thinking what do I need it for, right? Well, I do have doctor/dentist appointments and pick up grandkids, etc. I am also connected to my daughter’s calendar since a lot of what I do involves helping her out. Once I got a smartphone and tablet, I discovered that I could sync without even doing anything except entering it in one place. Example: I am at the specialist’s office where they give me a follow-up appointment in 3 months. I enter into my phone at his office and within minutes, once I am home, it is magically on my calendars online and my tablet! I love that. the other thing I use it for is reminders like to change the filters on our heater unit, check the oil in the cars once a month, etc. I tell people if it isn’t on my calendar, it doesn’t exist and that is pretty much true. It has helped me immensely and I avoid (mostly) missing important dates and/or appointments.

    Reply
  • LeeAnn Farr January 29,

    Great for meal planning as well. You can put the recipes right in the comments section and then just pull up on phone or tablet when cooking!!! You can drag and drop the meal to any day and to make planning easy!

    Reply
  • Michelle February 13,

    I am a pen and paper person, but this post leads me to curiosity to try out the possibility of google calendar.

    Reply
  • Darylee h February 15,

    I am really late on getting on the smart phone bandwagon but I recently did for the sole purpose of becoming more organized. so when I read this post I immediately synced my Google calendar with the iPhone calendar. The question I have is in regards to where Crystal mentions ” You can even have Siri update your calendar with new to-do’s and reminders”… How would one go about doing that? Is there way to sync Siri to the google task list or is it something else? Sorry of this is a silly question but any help is appreciated! :)

    Reply
  • Veronica April 22,

    I like google calendar, and just like most people here previous to this I was a huge list maker and diary notes person until I found google. However, whats starting to get to me is that it has been deleting my past events (more than about 2 months old) but I still need access to these for business purposes. Has anyone experienced this and has anyone been able to find out how to disallow google from deleting past events? Its getting to the point that i’m considering going back to paper based for security :(

    Reply
  • Christi Wilson May 20,

    I love Google too!!! For all of the very same reasons you mentioned, plus I can save my task list on the Google calendar & sync everything to my phone!!! :)

    Reply
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