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How to Use Google Calendar for Time Management

How to Use Google Calendar for Time Management

Judy Tsuei
Writer
February 23, 2023
Updated on:

How to Use Google Calendar for Time Management
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Are you getting the most out of Google Calendar? Digital calendars are awesome for remembering meetings, appointments, and other important events. But when used to its full potential, Google Calendar can also help you spend your time intentionally.

In this blog post, we’re going to show you how to use Google Calendar for better time management. Let’s dive in!

Benefits of using Google Calendar for time management

  • Automatic syncing. Google Calendar is available on your browser (calendar.google.com) and Google Calendar (for Android and iOS). And since Google Calendar uses the cloud, your calendar automatically syncs across all your devices.
  • More than scheduling. Effective time management is more than keeping your calendar organized. It’s also about managing your attention. Google Calendar includes built-in features to help you reduce distractions. Clockwise for Google Calendar is also a great option for those looking to fit more quality Focus Time into their schedules.
  • User-friendliness. Google Calendar is the perfect combination of simplicity and functionality. No matter what calendar app you choose, a clean and easy-to-navigate interface is an absolute must. Any visual clutter can get in the way of your efforts to manage your time better.

Simple tips for time management in Google Calendar

Google Calendar can help you do a lot more than keep track of your events. Here’s how to use it to actually get more out of your time.

1. Use Google Tasks to tackle your to-do list

Ever wish you could manage your to-dos right alongside your calendar? With Google Tasks, you can do just that. Google Tasks is a task management tool that synchronizes across Google Workspace. That means you can pull up your to-do list right from Google Calendar, Gmail, Chat, and more. To access Tasks in the desktop version of Google Calendar, locate the sidebar on the very right side of your screen. Click the blue checkmark. Tasks will pop up on the right, like the screenshot below:

But that’s not the only way to access the Tasks feature. You can also schedule a task in Google Calendar by creating a new event. Click Create, and then select Task from the drop-down menu. Add in event details as usual – and voilà. You’re all set. 

Notable features include:

  • Create multiple lists for extra organization
  • Add sub-tasks
  • Add due dates to your tasks (doing so automatically adds the task to Calendar)
  • Mark a task as complete
  • Prioritize tasks with stars

Another plus? You can use Tasks from any type of Google account — even the free accounts. Access Tasks from Google Calendar, Gmail, Chat, or from a file in Google Sheets, Docs, Slides. (Note: If you have a work or school account and can’t access it, your administrator may have turned the feature off.)

If you want to get the most out of Google Calendar, give Google Tasks a try. Managing your to-do list and calendar, together, is a sure-fire way to stay on top of your time!

2. Pair Google Calendar with your favorite time management technique

To-do lists and calendars help us stay organized. But to really amp up your time management, you need a strategy. Take a look at these tried-and-true techniques, plus how to use them with Google Calendar:

Method 1: Time blocking

Time blocking is a method that involves scheduling specific times you’ll work on a given task. When time blocking, you always denote a start and end time — effectively “blocking” off a chunk of time in your calendar. This technique is powerful because it encourages accountability and proper estimation of tasks. To give it a go, there are two ways you can time block with Google Calendar:

  1. Manual scheduling. You can manually create events for individual tasks in Google Calendar.
    Note: Although Tasks with due dates automatically populate on your Google Calendar, this doesn’t count as time blocking. That’s because Google Tasks doesn’t support start times.
  2. Clockwise for Google Calendar. If manual scheduling sounds like more work than it’s worth, we introduce you to Clockwise. Integrating with Google Calendar, Clockwise automatically creates blocks of uninterrupted Focus Time. From there, you can decide how to spend that Focus Time, whether you’re writing a blog post or writing code. It’s the easiest way to practice time blocking!

Method 2: Pomodoro Technique

Do you prefer to work in quick, productive sprints? Do you welcome frequent breaks? Try the Pomodoro Technique. With this method, you focus on a single task for 25 minutes straight, followed by a 5-minute break. Working periods are called pomodoros (named after the tomato timer that inspired the technique). After four pomodoros, you get to take a longer 30-minute break. Your schedule should look something like this:

  • Pomodoro
  • 5-minute break
  • Pomodoro
  • 5-minute break
  • Pomodoro
  • 5-minute break
  • Pomodoro
  • 30-minute break

The Pomodoro Technique encourages you to stay focused on a single task (practically a superpower in today’s distracted world!). To try it out for yourself, you might manually enter your pomodoros and break periods into Google Calendar. But to really make the Pomodoro Technique effective, a timer is key. After all, you need a way of tracking time during your sessions! That’s why we recommend using a Pomodoro timer app.

Pomodoro timers are designed especially for the Pomodoro Technique, so they’re automatically programmed with 5-, 25-, 30-minute sessions. Just press start, then the timer will continue to go through pomodoros and breaks in the correct order. It’s like putting the Pomodoro Technique on autopilot.

Try scheduling Focus Time in Google Calendar, then use a Pomodoro timer to keep you on track during the duration of that time block.

Click here for our top three Pomodoro timers.

3. Create a color coding system in Google Calendar.

Sorting your calendar events by color may seem unnecessary and purely aesthetic. However, studies have shown that color cues can help people process information more efficiently.

There are endless ways to color code your calendar. Make all your meetings one color. Or, if you’re someone who has many meetings throughout the work week, categorize by meeting type (e.g. one-on-one, all-hands, standup, etc.). You might also color code by priority level. Whatever you do, just make sure it works for you — and keep the color set small. (Too many colors defeats the purpose of letting you process the info on your calendar at a glance.)

In Google Calendar, you can assign a different color to each of your calendars. (Yep, you heard that right — you can have multiple calendars in Google Calendar.) Or, you can customize the color of a single event. We’ll show you how.

To apply a color to all events in a single calendar:

  1. In Google Calendar desktop, click My calendars
  2. Click the three dots
  3. Select a color, or click the plus sign for more color options

To change the color of a single event:

  1. Right-click the event
  2. Select a color

4. Prioritize tasks

Sometimes, tasks just pile up. It can happen even when you’re hitting your stride and staying productive. When that occurs, prioritization is key. When you can separate the urgent from the non-urgent, and the important from the non-important, the workday becomes so much easier — regardless of how much is on your to-do list.

There are a couple of features native to Google that can help you prioritize your tasks:

  1. In Google Tasks, add a star to your priority tasks. From there, you can view all starred tasks on a separate list.
  2. In Google Calendar, use color coding to indicate priority level (see above).

5. Put Google Calendar integrations to great use

The best time management tools are ones that integrate. When your apps work together seamlessly, that simplifies your workflow and saves you time. Below are some of our favorite tools for you to pair with Google Calendar.

For scheduling and time management: Clockwise.
If you feel like you spend too much time managing your calendar, automate it with Clockwise. Clockwise helps you schedule meetings by finding the best meeting times — not just for you, but all attendees. It also intelligently optimizes your calendar once a day by rearranging your flexible meetings and finding long stretches of uninterrupted Focus Time.

For time tracking: Toggl Track for Google Calendar.
Track time directly from Google Calendar with Toggl Track’s free browser extension for Chrome. If time tracking is a part of your job, sync it up with Google Calendar to improve your workflow. That way, you can go straight from referencing your calendar — say Task A is next on the agenda — to tracking time for Task A. Brilliant!

For project management: Google Calendar + Asana.
With this integration, you can create triggers in Asana that automatically schedule a new calendar event. For example, a task in Asana that’s marked complete can trigger a meeting invite. This integration also allows you to display your Asana tasks and projects in Google Calendar.

For video conferencing: Zoom for Google Workspace.
Add Zoom to your Google Calendar events automatically with this add-on. Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams, and of course Google Meet also work great with Google Calendar.

FAQ

Does Google have a calendar scheduling tool?

Yes — Google Calendar, which you can access online via your web browser and through the Google Calendar app (Android and iOS). One thing that’s great about Google Calendar is that it allows you to schedule different types of events.

Besides standard events, you can also schedule out-of-office time, tasks, and appointment slots. With appointment slots, you can create a list of available meeting times for people to meet with you. Then, people schedule whatever time slot works for them. It’s a great way to cut back on the back-and-forth of typical meeting scheduling.

Is Google Calendar good for time management?

Google Calendar is a helpful starting point for time management. Not only does it include all the core functionality you’d need in a digital calendar (scheduling, calendar sharing, notifications, etc.), but it’s also free to use.

That said, time management isn’t just about keeping track of upcoming events. It’s also about spending your time in an intentional way. Two features within Google Calendar are really great for that: focus time and Time Insights. You can also try integrating Google Calendar with time management tools like Clockwise.

How do I customize my Google Calendar time?

Click on the gear icon, then select Settings. From there, you can choose your time zones (a primary and a secondary), set your working hours, and more. Here, you’ll find so many ways to make Google Calendar your own!

How does Google Calendar organize time?

By default, Google Calendar organizes time by week. To change the calendar view, use the following keyboard shortcuts:

  • D for Day
  • W for Week
  • M for Month
  • Y for Year
  • A for Schedule
  • X for 4 days

You can also control whether your calendar shows weekends and declined events.

How can I use Google Calendar for time management?

To use Google Calendar for time management, we recommend using Google Calendar to capture all upcoming events and tasks and to help you stay organized. Then, add in strategy. Having a method for prioritization (like the Eisenhower matrix) is essential, especially for busy weeks. Productivity strategies like time blocking and the Pomodoro Technique will also help you become more effective at managing your time.

What’s a good time management technique for Google Calendar?

If you want to step up your time management with a technique, try out time blocking or the Pomodoro Technique. The section above called “Pair Google Calendar with your favorite time management technique” can help you get started. You can also check out the Clockwise blog for time management tips and techniques.

Going forward

Effective time management starts with your calendar. If you want to invest your time with more purpose, capture your tasks with a proper to-do list, learn how to prioritize, and stick with a method like time blocking. Finally, take advantage of Google Calendar integrations like Clockwise to automate some of the busywork that comes with scheduling.

Read next: Set and share your Google Calendar status.

About the author

Judy Tsuei

Judy Tsuei is a Simon & Schuster author, speaker, and podcast host. She’s been featured in MindBodyGreen, BBC Travel, Fast Company, Hello Giggles, and more. As the founder of Wild Hearted Words, a creative marketing agency for global brands, Judy is also a mentor with the Founder Institute, the world's largest pre-seed accelerator. Judy advocates for mental and emotional health on her popular podcast, F*ck Saving Face. Follow along her journey at WildHeartedWords.com.

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