If you use Google Calendar, you probably add events, reminders and vacation days to it, just like the calendar that used to hang on your wall (or the day planner you carried with you before the emergence of smartphones). But, what if it wasn't just a calendar, and "events" weren't just places you had to be or items on your schedule? It turns out, Google Calendar can be useful for just about any task that is relevant to either days or times.
Check out the list below, a compilation of creative ideas we found around the Web.
1. Manage your budget. All your bills may be on different tracks, but they’re usually recurring, so Google Calendar can help you set up the whole year automatically. First, create a calendar for “budget” so your money management doesn’t get mixed in with other tasks.
If you get paid on a regular schedule, you can add your paychecks to the calendar as all-day events (so it stays at the top), set on every two weeks, or the 1st and the 15th of the month, etc. Then, make a list of your bills and their due dates. Add each bill as a recurring event as well. You can set alerts for the day each bill is due (or earlier) so you don’t forget. Some people find it helpful to set an alert even if the bill is on autopay, so you don't get surprised when you see a lower bank balance.
If you want a better understanding of where your money goes, consider logging your day-to-day spending. Add an event with a title like “$9.79 lunch cash” so you can track how much you spent, in what category and whether you used credit, debit, cash or other. You might also find this to be an effective way to forecast how much money you’ll have left in your bank account to plan for upcoming bills.
2. Be prepared for inclement weather.Thanks to IFTTT, a tool that connects various digital services for efficiency, you can send Weather Channel information to your Google Calendar. Some popular ones include a reminder to take an umbrella when rain is forecast and a snow warning.
This works best if you’re the kind of person who checks your calendar when you wake up in the morning or before you leave the house.
3. Stay on top of dinner plans. If you live with a significant other, or share meals with the whole family, you might sometimes become frustrated when plans change. After all, if it’s difficult enough to remember you made dinner plans with so-and-so, then how do you expect your family to remember to not cook your favorite meal the night you’ll be gone?
You might already add dinner plans to your Google Calendar. Next time, “invite” your significant other to the event as an FYI. Then, they will have your plans on their calendar, too, and remember, “I don’t have to cook tonight, I can just grab Thai food on the way home.” Everyone wins.
4. Project management. Perhaps you’ve heard of the collaboration tool Trello or the task management list Asana but need something a little more accessible and integrated. An event on Google Calendar can be assigned to any team member working on a project and text can be added in the description (just paste in relevant URLs). This works best for a business that’s run on deadlines.
Use the multiple calendar functionality to split up tasks for design, development or marketing. The team will be able to easily see upcoming due dates.
5. Log your reading habits. Do you ever talk up a great piece of information you read about once and when you go to pull up the article, can’t find it? If you’re like me, you might have posted it on Twitter or Tumblr, too, but good luck scrolling back in time to find it.
Using IFTTT on Pocket and Google Calendar, you can hack yourself a reading diary. It’ll add the title and URL as a calendar event when you add an article to Pocket (with the bookmarklet, it’s just one click).
This also works if you want to show off your reading habits or want to recommend articles to others, make the calendar public and share it.
6. Manage employee schedules. The vacation's been booked and HR has logged the time off, but do you still cringe a bit before telling your boss, “Don’t forget, I’m going to be out of town for the rest of the week”? If your team uses Google Calendar for work-related communications already, one easy hack might allow you to avoid this reminder completely.
When you put your vacation on your Google Calendar, title the event something like “Danielle in Costa Rica” and then “invite” your boss or others on your team. That way, they’ll have it on their calendars, too, and everyone can make plans to keep the ship above water while you’re gone.
7. Buy gifts on time. There are two challenges of gift-buying: going shopping with enough time to find the right thing, and fitting it into your budget. But, the events that require gifts–holidays, weddings, birthdays–are things you know about ahead of time.
Sit down and make a list of holidays, each with bullet points of who will likely get a gift from you. Next, list out people who you’ll want to give a birthday gift to, and the day of their birthday (look it up on Facebook if you have to).
Make a new calendar called “Gifts.” Then, add all of these to your Google Calendar as events, including the estimated dollar amount in the title or description, and set the alert to a week before or a month before–however long you think you’ll need to get the gift purchased. If you do a lot of shopping online, keep in mind that you’ll need an extra few days to allow for shipping.
If you keep a budget, you can take a look at your “Gifts” calendar to see how much you’ll spend each month. This will remove the weight of having a set amount each month for gifts that sometimes is not enough and sometimes is not necessary (and gets spent elsewhere).
8. Schedule Facebook posts. There’s lots of options for scheduling posts to social media, like Buffer and TweetDeck, but Google Calendar works, too. Of the many combinations on IFTTT, a winning one is Google Calendar to your Facebook profile or page. This might be especially useful for a Facebook page that promotes events, because the post will go live on Facebook 15 minutes before the event’s “start time.”
The trick is that calendar “events” don’t need to be actual events–you can use calendar to input posts on the day and time you want it to hit Facebook, adjusted for 15 minutes.
Unfortunately the only way to send a link to Facebook with this tactic is to send the link to the Google Calendar post, so unless your calendar is public and you want to direct traffic there, you can’t do links.
In order to only send a selection of calendar posts to Facebook, you can indicate a tag when you create the IFTTT recipe and then include the tag in your calendar event description.
Anyone with repetitive and link-free Facebook posts will find this useful.