One of the best ways to alleviate stress, for me, is to find ways to streamline processes and manage my schedule. I am always on the lookout for tools or routines that make life easier or work more smoothly. In the last couple of years, our schedules have gotten busier and busier. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. My kids are getting older and involved in a lot more activities then they used to be. And both my husband and I have quite a few activities that we are involved in during the days and evenings. Until the last year, I have felt pretty confident in my ability to keep all of the times/dates etc in my head. But not anymore, there is just too much going on.
Why I like an electronic calendar better than a paper calendar:
For so long, I loved my paper calendar, but I realized that I really like the easy use and easy sharing abilities of using an electronic app. I don’t want to be a slave to my schedule, so having an app that I can rely on, is easy to use and has a good visual interface is important to me. I started with Sunrise Calendar. It worked really well for a while, but when my husband and I decided we wanted to be serious about sharing our calendar I found it difficult to figure out how we could share the Sunrise calendar. There are a lot of options out there, iCalendar, Fantastical, Cal, Jorte Calendar, UpTo, Rainlendar, and so many more. I felt somewhat overwhelmed with the best way to select a good calendar app. But then I talked to a friend who was enjoying the ability to share and layer calendars on Google Calendar (GC). So I decided to try Google Calendar. After using GC for a few months, I want to share my impressions of it.
Google Calendar: What I Like:
GC is available on the web so I can use it on my laptop or as an app for my smartphone. This makes it really easy to update at home or out and about. I usually use the app, but if I have a lot to add using my laptop is very fast. It takes just a couple of seconds to add an appointment and I can add as few or as many details as I want. The options include custom or standard recurrence, attachments, different colors, events/reminders/goals, locations, notes, and visibility options.
Ability to have separate calendars in one:
GC gives me the ability to layer calendars. This mean that I can categorize the appointments that I make and I can choose whether to have them all show up on my main calendar or whether to have just certain categories of the calendar visible. So I have one calendar on my phone, but I have about 10 categories or overlaying calendars that are separated by color. So for example, I have calendars for each of my daughters, my job, my social media posting for my job, family/personal events, and for my husband. I like to have all of my calendars showing, but my husband likes to have the ability to look at all of the calendars, but just has his own calendar visible as the default. I can incorporate as many calendars as I want for different things and even when I have them all visible at once the different colors that I use to identify each one make them easy to differentiate at a glance.
This calendar is very easy to share. My husband and I share our calendars with each other. We went through the process of adding each other to our calendars, and now each time we update our own calendars, as long as the appointment we add has the privacy setting of “public,” our new appointments update to each other’s calendar. This has been amazingly helpful for my husband and I to easily see what appointments we each make and where it fits into our own schedules. I was often forgetting to update my husband when I would make new appointments and now I don’t even need to think about it. The only thing that could make this better is having an electronic calendar attached to the wall or refrigerator that updates itself. This is a little bit beyond us at this point.
Other web-based programs sync with it: A number of the sign-up programs like Sign-Up Genius, Facebook, and others sync with it, so when I sign up for an event through them I can choose to have it put the appointment in my calendar, which saves me steps and therefore time, too.
There really isn’t much that I don’t like about Google Calendar. However, there are a couple of things.
When GC recognizes a certain kind of event that I am entering, it puts a graphic picture of the kind of things that are going to be at that event (i.e. picture of a piano on piano lessons) on the appointment on the app instead of it just being a plain color. It makes it hard then to see what color the appointment is and therefore hard to see whose calendar it is from.
An option is to have the US holidays automatically listed on the calendar. However, I cannot customize what holidays are put on there, so it puts some pretty random holidays into the calendar. After having the holidays into my calendar for a little while, I couldn’t stand the random holidays I didn’t care anything about being in there and turned off the holidays all together. Now I just enter the holidays I want in.
I would say that having an electronic calendar and having, Google Calendar specifically have made my life run more smoothly. It has also saved time and made the communication with my husband about our activities for effective and efficient.