Google Calendar can help you plan your workday. The Web-based calendar application features an easy-to-use minimalist design and broad compatibility; you can sync your Google Calendar with just about any mobile device, as well as with desktop calendar applications like Outlook. Plus, it's free, making it a good option for business users on a budget.
But Google Calendar is much more than a digital version of your desktop calendar. It's packed with tons of hidden functionalities to make you more productive every day. Here are eight Google Calendar features you may have not even known about.
Putting events and appointments into your Google Calendar won't do you much good if you forget about them when the time comes. That's why Google Calendar can send notifications, in the form of emails or SMS text messages, to remind you about upcoming and imminent appointments. It can even alert you when an event is canceled, or if the details are changed. To tweak your notification settings, click the gear, and then click Settings. Select the Calendars tab, click Reminders and Notifications, and edit the settings to suit your preferences.
In addition to sending alerts for individual appointments, Google Calendar can email you a daily agenda so you can see your entire schedule at a glance. First access the Reminders and Notifications menu (see above), and then check the box next to Daily Agenda. Each morning at 5 a.m. in your time zone, Google will send a complete agenda straight to your email inbox.
Hide inactive hours
If you use Google Calendar for business, weekends and evening hours are probably just taking up space on your calendar. You might consider hiding those times, so you can get a better view of the hours and days when you're open for business. To hide weekends, click the gear icon on the top-left corner of your calendar, and then click Settings. Under Show Weekends, select No. To hide hours, click the gear, and then select Labs. Enable "Hide morning and night." Now, when you view the day or week view of your calendar, you'll see a slide to the left of the entry field. Click and drag it up or down to hide unwanted nighttime hours.
Set working hours
Google Calendar users can receive meeting invitations from others and add those appointments to their calendar with a few clicks. But because you're not always available for a meeting, a feature in Google Calendar helps you set working hours. When someone tries to schedule an event outside those hours, he or she will receive a warning and will be given an option to select a different time. To set working hours, click the gear icon, and then click Settings. Set the desired hours under Working Hours.
Unexpected weather can put a damper on your business plans, and weather emergencies can make travel difficult and force you to cancel appointments. Google Calendar lets you put the weather forecast right in your calendar so you can plan for the future and avoid surprises. To activate this feature, click the gear icon, and then click Settings. Under "Show weather based on my location," click either Celsius or Fahrenheit.
Forget about pen-and-paper to-do lists. Google Calendar includes a hidden task manager that lets you create lists and check items off as you go. To access your list, click My Calendars in the left-hand column of the main calendar view, and then click Tasks. Your to-do list will pop up on the right side of the page. To add a task, click on the appropriate day in your calendar. When the event dialog pops up, select Task and type in the details.
Using a Web-based calendar has its perks; mainly, it's accessible from any Internet-connected device. But you don't always have Internet access, and sometimes mobile coverage can be spotty. For those types of instances, it comes in handy to access an offline version of your calendar using Google's Chrome browser. Enabling this functionality is a bit complicated, so check out a step-by-step guide here. Of course, new events added to your offline calendar won't be synced across your devices until the next time you establish an Internet connection.
Share your calendar
Sharing your calendar with employees, co-workers and colleagues is a good way to collaborate and complete team projects. When you share a calendar with people, they can access it via their own Google Calendar page. To share, click the gear, and then click Settings. Navigate to the Calendars page, click Share This Calendar, and type the email address of the individual with whom you want to share it. You don't have to share your primary calendar; you can create a project-specific calendar from the main calendar view. Just click the down arrow next to My Calendars in the left-hand column, and select Create New Calendar.