Google Calendar (Life) Hacks

by Christopher Paul on July 24, 2006

Although not much of a hack. I’ve been using Google Calendar to hack my life in positive ways. Not only am I putting everything on the calendar, I’m taking advantage of the near limitless calendars you can create in Google’s online PIM of AJAX-y goodness.

In addition to creating my own personal calendar, I made one for my wife. We share each other’s personal calendars and we share a “family” calendar that I set up too. The personal calendars are for those obviously personal appointments. I have my eye doctor visits, for example, of the my calendar and when she goes out ‘with the girls” she adds that on to her agenda; I do the same with my friends on the rare occasions I go out. When we have guests over (like we have this Wednesday) or when we are doing things together – say, going to a party – we put it on the calendar. That way, we know what each other has planned and what we have planned for each other.

Furthering the multiple calendar idea, I’ve created five additional calendars. The first calendar is for our pay days. The second is for the bills. The third calendar is for our meals. The fourth is my volunteer calendar and the fifth is actually an RSS feed of our local weather. To help distinguish one calendar from another, I use the color code system Google provides.

The pay day calendar obviously tracks when my wife and I get paid. We are on different pay cycles with my checks coming twice a month and hers every two weeks. I assigned a dull yellow color to that calendar because I wanted to be drawn to the events but not give a sense of utmost urgency.
The bill calendar is in red. That way, I’m alerted to when the bills are due. Reminders are set two days in advance so I can be prepared for the eventual drawing of funds. Eventually, I’m going to add – or create a new calendar – for the days that the bills arrive in the mailbox. Since snail-mail ends up in a pile in my office, I never pay attention to when the bills arrive. With the secondary bill calendar, I will only add an event when a bill arrives. Over time, I’ll be able to predict when the bills come in and understand the statement cycle of our payees.

The meal plan is mostly for my wife but I benefit greatly from it too. along with our Fresh Direct orders, we add the meals we plan to make that week. Today, I made buffalo burgers. Tomorrow, my wife is making turkey chili. And Wednesday, she is making salmon with potatoes and asparagus. Thursday is always pizza and beer nights for us so we never have problems remembering what’s for dinner but its always good to know its on its way. And like the pay day calendar and the bill pay calendar, the meal calendar gets its own color.

I am getting involved with a non-profit organization that promotes parks in my town. Don’t worry loyal fans, I’m not getting all granola. I want my property values to go up and parks are one way to do so – not the 1000s of condos they keep building. Anyway, I add the meetings, fund raisers, discussions, and my contributing work to that calendar with its own color so I can tell when I’ll be fulfilling those responsibilities.

The last calendar is just one that I added using Google’s RSS importer. That way I know what to wear for the day. I choose a dull gray color so I don’t get distracted with lesser important information (vs the bill payment calendar).

In the future, I’ll add my exercise routine to a new calendar so I know what workouts I’m scheduled to do on any given day. I’ve also started to train for bike races with my friend Paul and I’ll add our routes to the workout calendar or create a separate calendar for those days.

Since I now check my Google Calendar several times a day, I’m always on top of what needs to be done and what’s coming up in my life. I’m hopeful this life hack will help keep me organized. Give the multi-color, multi-calendar approach a try and see if works for you. If there are other Calendar hacks out there that have made someone else more productive and more organized, please pass them along.

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