Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Organization: Your Calendar {Tech Tuesday}

I'm doing really well this week hanging on to the wagon! So far, since being home from church camp, I have done all my routines every day, and been able to do a few extra things along the way. And that's without my husband here to help! (I don't say that facetiously -- he really is a huge help :-)

One thing that I think is super important in staying organized is having an efficient calendar system that you actually use. I know a lot of women are like me and love to try out new planners and notebooks in hopes that this time you will magically stay organized. But the bottom line is you have to use it! So the first step is just to create a habit of adding events to your calendar as soon as possible. I want to share my system with you. This works GREAT for me, and I have used this method for about 7 years! (Shocking for someone as easily sidetracked as I am......)

1. Set up a Google calendar.

I looooove Google's calendar more than any other online calendar. And I do believe I've tried them all (even FlyLady's beloved Cozi family system). Google just knows how to mix simple with functional without being overwhelming.

Inside Google calendar, you can have individual calendars for each family member if that makes it easier for you (I recommend this if you have school-age children). You can also have separate calendars for your menu, any team sports schedules, SEC football schedules (Go Hogs!!), etc. etc. This is super simple to do, and I really love how it keeps my schedules color-coded and separate. Then you can easily view only certain calendars if you need to. I even made a calendar for Church Camp this year that has the whole schedule on it. I was able to easily share that calendar with other staffers. But those events aren't cluttering up my regular calendar. In fact, I can delete the whole calendar now that Church Camp is over.

Another benefit to Google's system is you can easily share a calendar with someone else. For example, the "Zack" calendar above is actually his calendar. But I can view his events right along with mine, and it is automatically updated if he changes anything on it. (I can also add things to his calendar!) PERFECT for spouses and your teen children.

Google Calendar has lots of great reminder options too (SMS, Email, popup) -- look in your event details and play around with it. You can also invite people to events so they can easily add them to their calendars. You can set repeating events, add attachments (like recipes!), and lots of other options. It can be as simple or as advanced as you need.

Lastly, my favorite thing about Google Calendar is how EASY it is to add events. Google's Quick Add feature recognizes "natural language" for adding events, so you can do something like this:

Google parses out what you mean and creates the event for you. It is surprisingly smart!

So your Google calendar will be the central location for all your event information for everything you have going on. (If you use Microsoft Outlook on your computer, check out Google Calendar Sync for Outlook.)

From there, here are some of your access options...

2. Print it off.

If you need to have a hard copy on your fridge, this is easy to do. At the beginning of the month, print a Google calendar with everyone's events (color-coded!) and post it. From there on, you will obviously have to add events to it manually (maybe someday Google will invent auto-syncing paper!), but it's a great start.

Or you could print a weekly calendar every Sunday -- whatever works for you.

I don't actually do this because I don't have kids in the house who need to see the calendar, but I definitely will as they get bigger!

3. Sync your gadgets.

If you have an Android device, I'm assuming this is automatic since it's through Google. But even if you are on an iPhone/iPad/iPod, it's super simple. In fact, if you have a Gmail account on your phone, it's probably already done.

If not:

Go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Add Account...

Select Gmail and enter your account information. Make sure "Calendars" is switched on. You can turn off Gmail and Notes if you don't use those. Now your Google Calendar account is linked to your device! Go to your calendar app, and you should see your events synced like magic! (It may take a few minutes for all your events to download.) From here on, this will be done automatically every time you add an event, whether from the Google web calendar or from your device.

If you are missing some of your calendar data, check these two things:
  1. Tap the "Calendars" button in the top left corner of your calendar. This will show you the list of calendars available to view. Make sure all your calendars are selected. If you don't have the button, or if you don't see all your calendars, go to step 2.

  2. Go to www.google.com/calendar/iphoneselect (from your phone or computer, it doesn't matter). This controls which calendars are available to you on your iPhone. Make sure any calendars you want to have are checked, and you should be good to go! (Once again, you may have to wait a minute or two to see the updates)
Now your computer and your devices are automatically, up-to-the-minute, always in sync! Sweetness. Even your calendar colors are matched on your phone. :-) Better yet, your alarms and reminders sync too, so you can have your phone remind you of important events.

4. Add events. Right away.

This is the most important step! This awesome system won't do you any good if you don't add things as soon as you know about them! Fortunately, you have several easy ways to do it:

1. On your synced iPhone/iPad/iPod/Android/etc.

Of course, you can add the event right on your phone. If you have Siri, this is even easier! 

Siri thinks she is so smart -- yes, Stephanie is my mom
But if you use a regular cell phone, don't lose heart! As long as you have texting, it's still super easy.

2. Text the event to Google Calendar.

Ah, Google, I love you, I really do. 

In your calendar settings, you can give Google your mobile number, and then you can simply text your events in using the same natural language of the web interface! (Go to Settings > Mobile Setup) This is what I used for years before I got my iPhone. 

Scratch that... it's still usually what I do! The natural language just makes it so quick and easy.

And since your Google Calendar is synced over-the-air with your phone, go check it out -- it's there. Ah. Technology really makes me happy sometimes.

3. The old-fashioned way

Of course, you can always wait till you get home and type it in on your computer! But only do that if you don't have texting or a smartphone.

Any questions? What's your favorite calendar system?

1 comment:

  1. I love your techy posts! This was super helpful. Thanks!