Are you using Google Calendar in your small business? It’s no secret that many small business owners turn to Google’s suite of productivity tools, which includes Google Calendar, because, hey… it’s free. But, even though it’s free, it packs some powerful features- many you may not even be aware of.
Here is a rundown of some incredibly useful features that you should know about if you are using Google Calendar in your business. These tips apply to both the free personal Google Calendar as well as the paid Google Apps version:
1. Make use of keyboard shortcuts. Do you know that Google has a list of keyboard shortcuts that can be used to navigate around the features in its calendar? Now, this may not seem so amazing if you are only using Google Calendar to schedule a few personal reminders. But, if you are maintaining the calendars of multiple clients, employees, and/or freelancers where repetitive actions are much more likely, then incorporating these shortcuts can save you a lot of time (and strain on your wrist).
2. Keeping your personal and work events separate. There are many ways that you can go about separating personal information from your work schedule. Here’s a quick rundown of your options:
- If you would like to completely separate your personal events and reminders from your work-related ones, you can create a personal Google account and then toggle between two calendars. If you’re already signed in to your business account, you simply click your email address in the upper-right corner of the Google Calendar page, and select “Add account.” Enter the details for your personal Gmail address. Now, the next time you click your email address in that corner, you’ll see both identities there, and you can switch easily between the two calendars.
- You can maintain both work and personal calendars but opt to share only work-related calendar’s with specific people. Here is information on how to share a calendar with specific users, and if you want to keep your personal calendar private (or hide the details of events), follow the instructions here.
- You can also make individual events private to non-administrators. Learn how to do this here.
3. Coordinating schedules for group meetings and events. Several months ago Google made the announcement that it would be discontinuing its Smart Rescheduler app which could automatically coordinate meetings between several people based on their schedule availability and even choose a room for the event. There are two other features, however, that can help you achieve the same affect. The Find a Time and Suggested Times features.
4. Show different time zones. If you often travel for work and you have to manage different time zones then you can let the most vital zones coexist on your calendar. To do this, click on the gear icon, and choose Settings. Under the General tab you’ll see your current time zone. To add another time zone, just click the “Show an additional time zone” option, and choose what you are looking for in the drop-down menu. You’ll now see this time zone and your current zone side-by-side on your calendar.
5. See who on your global team is up or sleeping. If you are working with overseas freelancers then this feature can really come in handy. Your can use the World Clock to keep track of multiple time zones all at once. You can add the clock by visiting the Labs from the gear icon. Scroll down and choose “Enable” next to “World clock.” On your calendar page, a widget will pop up in the upper-right hand corner that will show you at a glance the current time in each zone.
6. Schedule events from your social network. It’s possible to integrate event updates created on either Google+ or Facebook into your Google Calendar. On your Google+ page, just click the calendar icon on the top of the status update box. Next, type the details of your event, maybe dress it up with a picture, then press “invite.” Within Facebook when ever you create an event you have the option of exporting it to Google Calendar. From within your Facebook event page, click on the gear icon and choosing Export Events.
7. Share your calendar. Running a promotion or booking speaking engagements? You can save your fans and customers some time making your calendar available to the public or even embedding it on your website. Just click on the tiny arrow next to ‘My calendars’, and then choose “Create a new calendar.” Once you’ve filled out all the fields, select “Share this calendar with others,” then “Make this calendar public.” When you’re done, you can get the embed code and the URL for your new calendar by clicking on “Calendar Settings” from the menu that appears when you click the arrow next to each calendar title.
8. Integrate social media sharing. Google calendar can be an interactive social media calendar. With the service IFTTT (which stands for If This Than That) you can create powerful connections between many popular social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Google Calendar. There are many, many things you can do with this. Some popular integrations include: scheduling social media updates from within Google Calendar and updating social media followers a few minutes before a scheduled event is set to happen.
9. Access Google Calendar Offline. If you’re on the road and don’t have access to an Internet connection, you can still access your calendar on your laptop. To enable this feature, you must download and install the Google Chrome browser. The from Calendar, click the gear icon and choose “Offline” from the drop-down menu. You’ll be prompted to install the Google Calendar Web application from the Chrome Web Store. When the installation is complete, a new Chrome tab will open and the Google Calendar Web app icon will appear. Click the icon to go to Google Calendar. Next to “Offline,” you should see a green icon with a check mark. This indicates that your calendar is synched and ready to use offline.
10. Project management. Google Calendar can be a powerful project management tool- especially when you integrate it with other Google features and products, such as Hangouts. Since there are many possibilities here, I’ll give you a few examples of what can be accomplished:
- An event on Google Calendar can be assigned to a team member working on a project and text can be added in the description to report updates. The multi-calendar functionality can be used to break down tasks by channel, function, or role, etc. The team will be able to easily see upcoming due dates and you’ll be able to follow the overall progress of the project at a glance.
- You can easily schedule video call meetings on any event. You’ll see the link to Add a video call on the event page. Guests with edit access to the event can also add a video call.
- You can easily attach a document or a presentation from Google Drive to any event on Google Calendar. Here is a nice explanation on how to do this.
In short, Google packs a powerful punch of features and usability in its free Calendar platform. If you are using it in your micro business, make sure you know what it is capable of- especially if you are also using Google’s other products, such as Gmail, Google Drive, G+.