We get it: your schedule looks like a Tetris game that you’re about to lose. It’s cluttered with soccer practice, piano lessons, pre-K parents meeting, Wednesday night kickball. Oh, and a few date nights or even a guy’s night out, too. And it’s only going to get more hectic as your children grow and add more field trips, more weekend obligations, more extra curricular activities. While there are some excellent time-management and calendar apps around, one of the best options is a shared Google calendar. If you know how to use it correctly, that is. To help you ensure your shared calendar is as efficient and helpful as possible, we asked Digital Learning Consultant Jonathan Wylie, a man who is well-aware of all the intricacies of the program, for a few tips and tricks. Here are his tips for optimizing your google calendar.
Color-Coding is a Must
Remember how you would highlight events in different colors on a paper calendar? Well, one of the first things you need to do in Google Cal is use a color-coding system to keep track of everyone. It’s simple, but extraordinarily important. “Color-coding calendars is useful to help you quickly recognize who’s calendar you are looking at,” says Wylie. Red, green, blue, go wild. Click the “…” button beside a calendar and select the color you’d like.
Share and Share Alike
A must-do is share the calendars — mom’s, dad’s, little Debbie’s, little Bobby’s — with each member of the family. “Sharing calendars with each other so you can see calendars for each family member is perhaps the most important tip I could give,” Wylie says. To do this, go to your calendar on a desktop or laptop, click the “…” button, and go to “Settings and sharing.” From there, you can add people to the calendar and ensure everyone is literally on the same page.
If Your Kids Are Too Young, Set Them Up
Google requires everyone who has an account to be at least 13 years old. And while we won’t tell, if you have reservations about your kid having a Google account, you can always just set up and manage their own. “Parents can create a calendar for each of their kids by creating a new calendar in their own accounts,” says Wylie. “This will show up in the sidebar next to your primary calendar. You can then share those calendars with your spouse, grandparents, or other family members.”
See If School Uses One
Some schools make it a whole lot easier to stay in sync. “Kids who attend schools that use Google Apps for Education typically have access to Google Calendar,” says Wylie. “Not every school makes use of that, but kids can still use it. This means that even if your child is under 13, they can use Google Calendar.” If so, your kid can simply share their calendar with you.
Turn Off Calendars When You Need To
If you have an Outlook calendar for work with reams of meetings taking up blocks of time, you’ll know the terror of being overwhelmed. Don’t let it happen on the family calendar. “For more clarity, you can turn calendars on and off by tapping on them [in the mobile app],” says Wylie. “This can help if your calendar is filled with events from other people and you only want to see one calendar at a time.”
Recurring Events Are Your Friend
Practice every Thursday at 6:00 pm? Family brunch time Sundays at noon? Don’t worry about setting it up each week. “Use recurring events for things like weekly sports practice sessions,” says Wylie. When you create an event in the calendar, next to the “Does not repeat” button, click the dropdown and choose how often you want the even repeated. Click save. Done.
Don’t Just Trust Your Kids
Managing a calendar can be a bit of a responsibility, so you should have some visibility into your kid’s calendar. Although there’s no parental controls, you can easily make change to your kid’s calendar. “If your child has their own Google Account, make sure you have rights to ‘Make changes’ on your child’s calendar so you can add events to their calendar, and see everything they have added,” Wylie says.