Getting Things Done With Google Calendar

Coffee cup sitting on top of an open desk calendar book
Photo by EstΓ©e Janssens on Unsplash

In my opinion, calendars are more important than most people give them credit for. If you want a bird’s eye view of what your day, week, or year will look like, then nothing beats a well-organized calendar. What does a well-organized calendar look like? I’m glad you asked! In this post, I am going to include some of my favorite strategies to help you get the most out of scheduling your time with Google Calendar.

How to Use Google Calendar for GTD

People use calendars in different ways, but essentially, there are three types of events that should end up on your calendar in a Getting Things Done environment.

  1. Events that happen at a specific time. E.g. meetings
  2. Events that happen that day. E.g. all day professional development
  3. Events that are reminders. E.g. birthdays or anniversaries

If you stick to these three categories, your calendar can be a powerful tool for productivity and will help ensure that you make the most of the time you have.

The Benefits of Block Scheduling

When you know what your calendar should look like, you can turn your attention to how you want to fill it up. One method that is growing in popularity is the idea of block scheduling. Teachers will be used to this idea because it’s essentially the structure of a school day. Classes are assigned to specific time blocks in order to construct a full day of teaching and learning.

When you use block (or hyper) scheduling, you assign a task to every hour of your working day. This ensures that you don’t waste time wondering what to do next when you have free time on your calendar. You can schedule a week at a time if you want, or simply work day by day, but to be most efficient, you need to plan ahead.

Teachers will benefit from this system as much as anyone else. For instance, school starts at 8 am, but teachers always arrive before that to get ready for the day. The same is true at the end of the day. Teachers don’t leave school at 3 pm, and they have prep times during the day.

These are unscheduled times. Block scheduling will help you account for that time and be more productive. Plan out what you will do before school each day, and after school, and also in your prep time. When you do that, you will quickly plow through that to-do list like a hot knife through butter.

How to Schedule Calendar Events

Calendars work in tandem with task managers. For instance, if you added, “grade book reports” to Google Tasks, you need to find a time on your calendar to make that happen. So, let’s take a look at how to find the best time to get things done.

In an ideal world, you could schedule any task for any time of the day. However, as Daniel Pink will attest, it’s often not that simple. We are humans, not robots, so some tasks are better suited to certain times of the day. To help you work out what those times are, consider the TEA Framework.

Think about the task first. How much time will it take to complete? How much energy does this task require? And how much of your attention will this task demand? These are key things to consider before you schedule events on your calendar.

For instance, if you are scheduling time to organize and reply to emails, you can typically save this for the end of the day where you may have less energy. Tasks that require a higher cognitive load, like lesson planning, are better scheduled for times when you are more alert and focused.

7 Google Calendar Tips for Success

To help you get the most out of Google Calendar, here are some tips that will help you work to your potential within a GTD system.

  1. Change Your View: You can view your calendar by day, week, month, year, and more. There are even custom views like 4-day weeks or a “no weekends” view. The right view brings clarity and focus. Learn more here.
  2. Mulitple Calendars: You can create multiple calendars as needed. You could have one for home, one for work, one for a grade level team, and so forth. You can show or hide each calendar as needed for a cleaner view. Learn more here.
  3. Use Emoji: Adding an emoji to a calendar event is a great way to call attention to it on your calendar. Add the ☎️ emoji when you have a phone call to make or the πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦ emoji for family events.
  4. Color Coding: You can choose a color for each calendar you own, but you can also choose a color for each event you create. Like emoji, colors give you a quick visual guide to the events you have on your calendar each day. Learn more here.
  5. Daily agenda: You can have your daily agenda emailed to you if you enable it in your Google Calendar settings. Learn more here.
  6. Add Attachments: Adding attachments to a calendar event is a great way to ensure that you have everything you need for a meeting. You can also ask Google Calendar to create a doc for you with the new “Meeting Notes” feature. Learn more here.
  7. Gmail Events: You can create a calendar event directly from Gmail. This method automatically adds the senders to the calendar event and includes the subject of the email in the event description. Learn more here.

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