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Productivity : 9 min read

33 Google Calendar Hacks to Boost Your Productivity

Time is a funny thing, isn’t? We always seem to want more of it. But when we get it, we’re frustrated with how little we get done.

Everyone seems to have suggestions for better time management, too.

“Install a time tracker.”

“Use Asana/Trello/Basecamp/some other project management software.”

“Try the Pomodoro technique.”

While they’re all valid tips, why try to recreate the wheel with another shiny new tool or technique? Instead, use one that’s already a part of your workflow:

Google Calendar.

If you really want to maximize the time you spend at work, you should tap into the wealth of Google Calendar hacks available.

For those of you using a regular Gmail address to manage your professional schedule, there are a ton of Google Calendar hacks hiding in plain sight.

On the other hand, for those of you using G Suite to power email for yourself and your team, there are even more settings you can use to upgrade your time management and scheduling capabilities.

We'll be going through both tips for both scenarios, so make sure to check them out at the bottom of this post.

Google Calendar hacks with Gmail

Ready to learn how to unlock the secrets to a more productive day with Google Calendar and Gmail? Let’s get started.

1. Set a better default calendar view

By default, your Google calendar displays the next four workdays. But glancing only a few days ahead is not how many teams work.

Before you do anything else, find a default calendar view that works for your schedule and your preferred workflow.

You can configure this under the following drop-down:

google calendar default weekly view

As for finding the best timeline and view, that depends on how you work.

For instance, if you plan on using Google Calendar to track smaller daily tasks, a one-day view would be best. That way, you can more closely focus on the day’s itinerary.

On the other hand, if you’re responsible for managing projects and timelines, a week’s or month’s view would be better.

Pro-tip: Keep in mind that the fuller your calendar gets, the fewer days you’ll want to see at a time.

2. Quickly check on a specific timeframe

Let’s say that you need to see a block of dates at once, but Google Calendar doesn’t offer that view. That’s okay, you can hack it yourself.

Using the monthly calendar widget on the left, simply click on the first date you want to see and drag it along to highlight as many other dates you want to include in the view:

specific timeframe view in google calendar

This way, if you’re on the phone with a client or your boss, and they’re asking about your availability in the coming weeks, you can get a bird’s eye view more efficiently than having to click through each day or week on its own.

3. Use the Schedule view to see a list

Another view you might find useful is the “Schedule” view:

schedule view in google calendar
You can find this under the same timeline menu in the top-right corner of your calendar.

This would be useful if someone asks you, “Hey, what do you have planned for lunch on August 4?”

Quickly toggle your calendar view to “Schedule” and see if you have anything pencilled in.

Again, there’s no need to click through different views or to scroll week-by-week if you can just look at all your appointments at once and provide an instantaneous answer.

4. Improve your focus on the workweek

Unless you’re planning to merge your personal and business calendars together… or you’re a workaholic that struggles to put the computer away on the weekends… is there any reason to see the weekend?

Go to the gear widget at the top of Google Calendar and open your settings. Scroll down to “View options”:

google calendar view options

If you want to get those pesky weekends out of the way and reduce the temptation to work, uncheck the “Show weekends” box.

While you’re at it, you might want to uncheck “Show declined events” and remove that unnecessary distraction. Reducing the brightness of past events will also help you focus on what needs to be done instead of being reminded of what you’ve already accomplished.

If you’re not completely comfortable removing weekends, that’s fine. The occasional weekend project or call — especially if you’re working with international clients — can’t be helped.

In that case, it might be better to restructure your calendar so it starts on a different day.

Under “View options,” you’ll see a dropdown that says “Start week on.” Your choices are:

  • Saturday
  • Sunday
  • Monday
google calendar options for different start days for the week

If you’d like to group your weekends at one end of the calendar so you can focus on the five-day (or less!) workweek, definitely take advantage of this setting.

5. Color-code your calendar

Color-coding is a great way to more clearly organize your calendar and keep an eye out for certain types of tasks.

In Google Calendar, there are two ways you can do this. The first looks something like this:

a color-coded schedule in google calendar

For those of you who work from home or who simply can’t work for extended periods of time, structuring and color-coding your schedule and breaks like this could help.

Pro-tip: You could also color-code your schedule based on the urgency of tasks.

Another way Google allows you to color-code your calendar is by the calendars themselves:

color-coded calendars in google calendar
Here, there are five calendars selected on the left-hand sidebar. Each has a color assigned to it.

6. Find any event in seconds

Have you ever been in a situation where you know you scheduled a meeting with someone or put a task on your calendar, but you just can’t find it?

When your calendar is jam-packed with events, the last thing you want to do is have to go appointment-by-appointment to find out where it went.

In that case, just use the search bar at the top of the calendar. If you can remember just one of the words in the event name, you should be able to quickly locate it:

search bar in google calendar

You can also use this if someone asks, “Where’s our appointment with that supplier next month?”

Just locate the event in the search bar and, if a location is designated, the details will be right there.

7. Create more than just events

This is the basic quick-add pop-up you’ll see in Google Calendar for Gmail:

creating an event in google calendar

It’s a simple enough event widget to fill out. But take note of the three options under the “Add title” field:

  • Event
  • Reminder
  • Task

An event is probably what you’ll use most of the time. You can set all sorts of details for events like location, timed notifications, and you can add guests as well.

A reminder is an alert you send yourself that’s independent of your calendar’s events. Maybe you’ll use it for minor tasks like following up on a proposal or leaving early to pick the kids up from school.

And a task is something you’re accountable for completing:

creating tasks in gcal

While you can manage your tasks from the blue task widget on the apps sidebar on the right, you can attach dates to them when you add them from your calendar. (If that’s important to you.)

8. Use quick-add for events

When you have a simple task that needs to be added to your calendar, use the quick-add option.

Either click “Create Task” or click on an open space you want to fill on the calendar. This pop-up will appear:

quickly add a new event in google calendar

Fill in the details and save the note to your calendar.

If you click “Save” before you’re ready to commit, that’s okay. You can always open the event again to edit the details.

But if all you need to do is change the time, there’s no need to do that! You can adjust the time or length of time on the calendar itself.

Just drag-and-drop the event block to the date and time slot it belongs in. And if it’s the length of time you want to change, that can be done with a simple click-and-drag to expand (or shrink) the size of the event.

9. Create full-day events

There are two ways to create a full-day event on your calendar. The first is to create a new event as you normally would. Then, enter a full day’s business hours (e.g. 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.)

However, an easier way to do this is to click at the top of the calendar, just below the date. A new event pop-up will appear with the full day’s date pre-populated:

creating a full-day event in google calendar

You’ll still have to fill in other details, but this is a quicker way to get a full-day event on your calendar.

10. Create an event — from Google search

Yep, that’s right. Let’s say you’re roaming around the web and you’re reminded of something you should put on your calendar.

You could open a new tab, go to Gmail (more Gmail tips here), and add the appointment to your calendar. Or…

Type the meeting details into your Chrome address bar or Google search form. You should see this:

creating a gcal event in google

Go to your calendar and you’ll find the new meeting has indeed been created for you.

new gcal meeting from google

Just enter as many details as you can into the search bar so Google can get your appointment as close to perfect as possible.

11. Create an event with the Google Calendar Chrome extension

If you’re using Chrome, there’s another way Google helps you add new events to your calendar. All you need is the Chrome extension for Google Calendar.

Once installed, you’ll see the new extension in your browser:

google calendar chrome extension

Also, the browser icon itself displays a tiny reminder on how long you have until your next appointment. In the example above, the browser icon says there are no appointments for “3d” (3 days).

The red plus-sign is where you can activate the new event pop-up.

The other features of the widget are also really helpful.

You can see all scheduled events from your calendar along with a daily forecast. The latter is an especially nice touch if you leave the office often for meetings or company lunches and want a quick idea of how to prepare for the weather.

12. Ask Siri to add a new event

There’s one more convenient way to add new events to your calendar without having to log into it or to even be computer-side.

From your Siri-enabled device, simply ask her to do it for you:

adding a google calendar event with siri

What’s nice about this is that Siri will check your calendar to see if there are any conflicting appointments at that time.

You can then either cancel the request and reschedule at a different time or you can confirm the appointment anyway.

Now, the only drawback to something like this is that Siri isn’t going to nail the details of your request perfectly, at least not in terms of spelling.

Pro-tip: If you’re trying to schedule something with a client or manager, it’s probably best not to attach them to the invite until you’ve had a chance to proofread it.

13. Restore a deleted event

If you ever get a little trash-happy and accidentally delete the wrong event, or someone changes their mind and you need to bring a cancelled event back to the calendar, there’s no need to re-enter the details.

From the Settings widget, you’ll see the Trash folder.

restoring events in the trash in google calendar

From here, you can find the appointment you want to restore and pop it back on the schedule in no time.

14. Use keyboard shortcuts to save time clicking

In your calendar’s settings, you have the option to enable keyboard shortcuts. If you’re in the habit of using shortcuts elsewhere in your workflow, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to adopt them for Google Calendar, too.

To find the list of available keyboard shortcuts, go to the question mark icon at the top of the calendar and ask for “Help.” Type “keyboard shortcuts” and you’ll see all the available options.

They include shortcuts for things like:

  • Moving to the current day.
  • Searching for an appointment.
  • Navigating to the Settings page.
  • Switching to Schedule view.
  • And so on...

15. Subscribe to other people’s calendars

It’s not just your own calendar you can view in Google Calendar. You can subscribe to other calendars, too.

One way to use this feature is to add your personal calendar on top of your professional one:

adding a teammate's calendar to gcal

That way, personal appointments that overlap with your workday — like family obligations, doctor’s appointments, and vacations — are accounted for when you plan your workload.

It’s not just your own calendar you would benefit from subscribing to either.

Say you manage appointments for a manager or you’re responsible for scheduling meetings with clients that include your whole team.

You could play email tag with each of them to try to find the best times for everyone. Or you could subscribe to their individual calendars.

subscribing to other calendars in gcal

What’s nice about the Google Calendar subscribe feature is that you don’t have to view those calendars all the time.

By checking the boxes next to them, you add those events to your calendar. By removing the check, you hide them from view until you need them.

That way, you don’t have to worry about getting confused or distracted when trying to determine your individual availability.

16. Add calendars of interest

Google Calendar includes additional calendars that could be useful to you, too.

adding other calendars to gcal

By default, you’ll see a list of “Holidays in”. These are the holidays in the country you’ve added to your calendar’s settings.

You can also add religious or other regional holiday calendars to your own as well:

  • Other region’s holidays
  • Christian holidays
  • Muslim holidays
  • Jewish holidays
  • Orthodox holidays

Seeing holidays on your calendar might not seem like a big deal, but it is if you care about the relationships you have with clients and other teammates. And might land you some bonus points with clients if you avoid scheduling meetings during their Holy Weeks or other major holidays.

Pro-tip: If you know your client is a huge sports fan, you can also use this feature to add sports team schedules to your calendar.

seeing multiple calendars in gcal

There are a number of reasons to do this.

The most obvious is so you can keep upcoming games of interest on your radar (whether they’re important to you or your clients).

Secondly, some games could have a major impact on your ability to travel. For instance, Boston Red Sox home games often back up the city’s subway for hours.

Whether you’re taking public transportation or driving to get to a meeting, a calendar reminder about a game could prevent you from being late.

17. Create a shared calendar for your team

Realistically, you could create as many Google Calendars for yourself and your team as you want.

creating a new shared calendar in gcal

If you work in an office, consider creating a separate calendar for your conference rooms.

This way, you and your team don’t have to stalk meeting rooms to see if they’re available for use. You also don’t have to subscribe to extra software that organizes conference room availability either.

Instead, create a new calendar where time can be booked by anyone at the company:

adding a new calendar in gcal

The only thing to keep in mind is that if you want to more strictly manage how long the meeting rooms can be booked for and by whom, you’ll have to upgrade to G Suite.

18. Automate notification settings and never miss a meeting again

There are two ways to configure settings for your calendar. The first is with the General Settings tab where you can set location, preferred time zone, and choose the default design for your calendar.

The second way is to select one of your calendars from the sidebar.

One of the most important settings to configure here is how your event notifications are served to you.

automating event notifications in gcal

Every time you create a new event, your pre-programmed notification will automatically be attached to it. This applies both to regular events and all-day events.

You can even add multiple notifications and different types as well.

Notifications will pop up in the corner of your screen (or as a push notification on your phone) at the set time. You can also program them to make a noise.

Turning on email notifications will deliver a message straight to your inbox to remind you about the upcoming meeting.

Whatever you choose, just know that your events will now be pre-populated with reminders, so you don’t have to remember to fill in those details every time.

reminder notifications in gcal

19. Automatically accept and add new invitations to your calendar

You’re not the only one creating and sharing events. So, why not save time in getting those events onto your calendar?

Under the General settings tab, you’ll find a section called “Events from Gmail.”

auto-add events in gcal

Typically, you’d have to click on “Yes” to accept the invite and have it added to your calendar.

By enabling this feature, any event sent to your inbox will get loaded automatically to your calendar with all of the details from the sender. This is useful if you tend to receive invites hours (or even minutes) before events and you’re not otherwise paying attention to your inbox.

20. Save time by creating recurring events

For some of you, events or meetings will usually be a one-time thing. For others, though, you’ll have a standing appointment — with a client, a supplier, your team, etc.

Rather than have to create that event into the calendar every time it’s scheduled to happen, just use Google Calendar’s recurring meeting option.

recurring events in gcal

When you set up a new event, click on the drop-down beneath the date and time that says “Does not repeat.” This will reveal your recurring meeting options.

Daily and weekly would be good for internal meetings.

Monthly would be good if you have standing meetings with clients or external vendors.

Annually is useful for things like yearly reviews or company events.

And “Custom” might come in handy if you want to set something up for non-consecutive days (like classes that take place every Monday and Wednesday at 5 p.m.).

21. Invite guests to your event

There’s no reason to add an event or meeting to your calendar and then email the details to guests separately. Let Google Calendar do the work for you.

Inside your event, look to the right. You can either paste emails into the “Add guests” field or start typing a name to have Calendar search through your Contacts lists and pull names in from there.

adding guests to a google calendar invite

Once a guest is attached to an event and it’s been saved, they’ll receive an email notification about the event creation as well as any updates made to the event.

Now, let’s say you want to invite some stakeholders to a meeting. However, it’s really only necessary for the project lead and the client to show up.

If you want to make it optional for certain guests to attend, all you have to do is hover over your list and uncheck the icons for anyone who’s not required to show up:

setting optional guest attendance in gcal

22. Add a physical location to your events

One of the things that’s hard about communicating with a team solely online is that it’s easy for messages to get lost, especially when too many of them are sent at once.

So, let’s say you’re trying to schedule something at the local coffee shop.

adding physical locations to gcal events

Rather than send the basic details of the event — e.g. name, date, time — to attendees and then follow it up with an email about where it’s located, attach the physical location to the invite.

And because Google Calendar is connected to Google’s other apps, it’ll quickly help you find your location from Google Maps.

23. Add a virtual conference room to your events

If you’re hosting a meeting virtually, use Google Calendar’s conferencing option to provide guests with access details.

add hangouts link to gcal

Now, there are two ways to do this.

If you prefer using a conferencing tool like Google Hangouts, then simply click the “Add conferencing” button to add your Hangouts information to the invite.

However, if you want to use your professional conferencing software instead, use add-ons from the G Suite Marketplace to connect your preferred platform.

Go to the right-hand side of the screen and click on the plus-sign to reveal Calendar’s add-ons.

google calendar add-ons

You’ll see these free conferencing options from G Suite Marketplace.

Choose your conferencing software and install the add-on for Google Calendar. Then, return to the “Add conferencing” tab in your event and you’ll see the new option available.

add zoom to google calendar

The first time you choose to add a meeting from external software (in this case, we're using Zoom), Google will ask you to authorize access. Go ahead and give it permission.

Once it’s set up, your meeting details will look similar to this in your invites:

zoom meeting details in google calendar

If you hate having to log into your conferencing software to create a new meeting and then email the details separately to attendees (and hope they actually see them), this’ll be super helpful.

24. Find the perfect time for your event

Scheduling events with multiple guests can be difficult. And, again, you want to avoid playing email or phone tag as much as possible.

Usually when scheduling a new event, you’re focused on the “Event Details” tab. Don’t overlook the “Find a Time” option that’s right next to it:

finding a time for multiple guests in google calendar

That said, this option is only available if you’ve subscribed to your guests’ calendars and they’ve openly shared their availability with you. (Or if your team is all connected through G Suite.)

When it’s checked, you get this great side-by-side glance of all your guests’ schedules, so it’s easy to find the most convenient time to meet.

25. Change the ownership of your event

What do you do if you’ve created an event, but you’re no longer available to run it?

You could leave it as is and just hope the organizer doesn’t need to bother you with updating details in the event.

Or, you could ask the person taking over to copy your meeting details into a new event from their end. The only problem with that is that they’ll have to re-send it to everyone on the list, which could cause some confusion.

Your best option is to change ownership from the event’s settings.

transferring event ownership in google calendar

Under “More actions,” click on “Change owner.”

This enables you to choose someone else to take over control of the event. Once they accept, you’ll be removed as organizer and can move on to whatever else requires your attention.

26. Duplicate events instead of creating new ones

The “Duplicate” option from the “More actions” drop-down is another useful time-saving trick.

To be clear, though, don’t use this to create a recurring event. Those can be automated elsewhere (see step 20).

Instead, use this feature to save time in building out similar-looking events from scratch. That way, you can keep the details that still hold true and quickly edit everything else.

For example, let’s say you hosted a team training session last month. The topic was “How to deal with negative customer feedback the right way.” Your team loved it and is begging for another one.

Rather than create a brand new event for the new training session, you could duplicate the last one, which would preserve your guest list and meeting room info. Then, you just have to fill in the new event name, date, time, and description.

27. Get a daily schedule of events emailed to you

Rather than be caught off guard by an event that was scheduled awhile back, or that someone else added you to, let Google send you a gentle reminder.

Under your individual calendar’s settings, look for “General notifications.” Here you’ll see an option for “Daily agenda":

daily agenda emails from google calendar
When activated, you’ll receive an email every morning with your day’s appointments.

28. Use the mobile app for offline access

Regardless of which kind of mobile device you use — iOS or Android — Google Calendar has an app you can take with you on the go and for those times when you don’t have wifi access.

gcal mobile app

You can do everything with this mobile app that you can do with the browser version of the app, from scheduling events to refining details and adding guests, and so on.

As you can see above, Google has also gone out of its way to add illustrations that match your event types (when applicable).

29. Create goals

One thing your app can do that the desktop Google Calendar can’t? Set goals.

creating a goal in mobile gcal

Goal types include:

  • Exercise
  • Build a skill
  • Friends & family
  • Me time
  • Organize my life
choosing goal type in gcal

Each of those categories has various options within them, too.

You get to choose specific tasks, how frequently you want to do them, the best time of day to do them — and Google Calendar will schedule them at the best time based on your schedule.

scheduling goals in google calendar

As you complete more of these goals, Google will track your progress and update the schedule based on when you’re actually able to accomplish them.

If you’re finding it hard to take care of the health and wellness part of your life (especially the parts affected by work), this goal tracker will help.

30. Factor travel time into your event

You won’t be able to use this hack with the official Google Calendar app. However, if you’re using the default calendar app for your iPhone, you can. It works like this:

Create a new event with a physical location in your (Google) calendar:

turning on mobile location to activate travel time

Then, click on Travel Time.

This will activate the following module:

how to activate travel time in gcal

Enter your Starting Location so the app can calculate how far you have to travel in order to make it to the event on time. Be sure to choose your mode of transportation or a custom departure time so this works.

gcal travel reminder

You’ll then see that your event details include a note about how long you have to travel.

In addition to the standard alert you’ve set for yourself, you’ll get a push notification that reminds you when you need to hit the road. This is especially nice if you have a tendency to get caught up in work and don’t realize what time it is until it’s too late.

31. Integrate Google Calendar with your CRM

One of the problems that can occur when you use a variety of software is that it adds more work to your already overloaded plate.

That’s why you should find software platforms that speak directly to each other.

As far as Google Calendar is concerned, you might not think much about how other software integrates with it, besides maybe your conferencing software. But what about your CRM?

adding a gcal event through copper crm

Copper, for instance, directly integrates with your Gmail and G Suite processes. Once you’ve got it set up, it only takes one click to add your leads and clients from your CRM to your Google Calendar events.

For example, see the “Calendar Events” section under Andrew’s “Opportunities” panel on the right-hand side? If you were to click “Add Calendar Event,” a Google Calendar tab would pop up where you could create an event with Andrew’s email populated under the guest list. It’s that easy.

More Google Calendar hacks with G Suite

Now, let's take a look at what you can do with Google Calendar if you work in G Suite.

32. Take advantage of other quick-add event types

The default quick-add options for Google Calendar are: Event, Reminder, Task. G Suite has added a couple more options.

The first is out-of-office:

Out of Office setting in G Suite and Google Calendar

This allows you to block off a segment of time when you’re unavailable for meetings. This will automatically decline anything that hits your inbox at that time.

Another new quick-add option is called “Appointment slots.”

appointment slots in google calendar

With this option, you can either create a single slot where you’re available for booking or you can segment off a specific timeframe and create multiple slots within it.

When you add an appointment to your calendar, a link is generated. When you share it with someone who’s interested in a meeting with you, they’ll see an appointments page laid over their own Google Calendar.

In this example, I’ve created back-to-back slots for Discovery calls between 12 and 4 each weekday.

If someone were to try to access a date without slots for discovery calls, or if everything were to be booked up, they’d see something like this:

a blocked off google calendar

If appointment times were available, the calendar view would look like this:

google calendar schedule with appointments

The appointment slots show up in light gray and will be labeled with whatever name you’ve given your Appointment.

The person can then pick the time slot they want, add a location (if any), and save the request. That appointment time is then removed from your calendar so that no one else can book it.

But how do you even let people know that appointments are available for booking? Well, there’s a section under your calendar’s settings called “Integrate calendar.”

integrating calendars in gcal

This allows you to either share the public URL with others as a direct link (like in the signature of your email), or you can embed the calendar on a web page (like on your company’s website).

This way, it’s not your sole responsibility to schedule appointments with clients or prospects. You can let them take the lead, too.

33. Set work hours so people can’t book outside them

Another new feature you get with G Suite is Working Hours.:

working hours in g suite and google calendar

Unlike the Out of Office slot that you can add to your calendar for the occasional absence from work, this allows you to define when you’re at work and when you want to make yourself available for meetings. (Sometimes it’s just not feasible to be in meetings eight hours a day!)

Although this feature won’t notify event owners that you’re unavailable if they try to schedule you outside that time, the appointments will show up differently on your calendar.

In this example, you’ll see the block of Discovery call appointments I just created:

calendar hours in gcal

Look down below at the appointment scheduled for 8 p.m. on Monday. That’s an event that someone has attempted to put on my calendar outside of my work hours.

While you can still accept an outlier meeting if it’s something particularly urgent or important, this hollowed-out placeholder will at least remind you that you shouldn’t be taking appointments at that time.

Boost your productivity with Google Calendar

Who would’ve thought there would be so much tucked away inside of Google Calendar? But here’s the thing:

Google gets us. It always has.

So, the next time you look to improve your workflow, start with the set of Google tools you already use. Chances are good that a solution has already been created to fix the problem.