Calendar template

How to use Google Calendar: 6 tips


As public events gradually resume after a long hiatus, these tips can help you keep up with community events, minimize scheduling conflicts, and ensure access to your calendar while you travel.

Image: Andy Wolber / TechRepublic

As public events resume after the long hiatus from the COVID-19 pandemic, we will again need to be aware of events outside our homes. When every meeting is a Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams link, your concern is your internet connection, not potential conflicts with sporting events, community gatherings, or vacations.

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The following six tips explain how to use Google Calendar in a desktop web browser to add external event calendars, quickly turn them on or off, view additional times and time zones, set up non-contiguous working hours, receive a daily planner via email, as well as how to make your calendar available offline, while you are traveling. All of these tips work in Google Calendar on the web with Chrome on a laptop or desktop.

SEE: Google Sheets: tips and tricks (TechRepublic download)

How to update working hours for Google Calendar

Go to your Google Calendar settings, then select Working Hours from the left menu. Select the Enable working hours check box, then select your working days and enter your available working hours. Once set, the calendar will alert people when they attempt to schedule meetings with you outside of the selected times.

You can either enter a single set of times (for example, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or enter more than one shift per day. The latter approach allows you to enter multiple work segments, such as 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. (Figure A). This allows people who have other obligations (eg a parent who needs to drop off or pick up children from school activities) a way to set working hours as flexibly as needed. Use the + to the right of each day to add a segment or select — to remove a segment. The settings are saved automatically.

Figure A

Screenshot of Working Hours, shows non-contiguous hours on Tuesdays, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Turn on and change working hours to encourage people to only schedule meetings with you at selected times.

How to add calendars of interest

Browse calendars of interest to quickly add contact birthdays, holidays (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Orthodox, as well as holidays for many countries of the world), sports (baseball, basketball, cricket, football, hockey or rugby) or the phases of the moon (Number B).

Number B

Screenshot of the calendar provided by Google, with Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Orthodox and regional holidays listed, as well as baseball, basketball, cricket, football, hockey, carpet and phases of the moon, and, of course, birthdays.

Browse calendars of interest to add birthdays, holidays, sporting events, or moon phases as additional Google calendars.

Free third-party calendar services allow you to select and subscribe to calendars for things like soccer (i.e. football outside the United States) and weather situation. Check with your favorite team or event organizer to see if they have a public Google Calendar that you can subscribe to.

How to activate or deactivate calendars

A key feature of Google Calendar is the ability to quickly turn the display of individual calendars on and off. Most people leave their own calendar displayed most of the time, along with one or two calendars from a close colleague or family member (Figure C). But the many calendars of interest that can come in handy when planning (for example, not scheduling an event that conflicts with an important game in a client’s town) will probably be the ones you leave the most often. disabled.

Figure C

Andy Wolber's Google Calendar is selected, with three other calendars unchecked and unshown.

Only the selected calendars display data.

How to get a daily planner in Gmail

You can choose to get a daily agenda by e-mail for any Google calendar you can access (Number D). If you check your email before checking your calendar, it can be an effective way to get an overview of your day. It’s also a great option for selecting calendars that you’ve rarely turned on, but have events that you don’t want to miss. Try to limit the number of daily calendar emails you receive to a few calendars. If you flood your inbox with multiple calendar emails every day, there’s a good chance you’ll just start ignoring them over time.

Number D

Screenshot of the Other notifications section of Google Calendar, with Daily calendar: Receive a daily email with this calendar's calendar set to Email (as opposed to None).

Choose to receive a daily calendar email with calendar activities. You can select this notification individually for each of your calendars.

How to display additional time information

If you coordinate events or communicate often with people outside of your time zone, you can turn on a secondary time zone in Google Calendar (Encrypted). Go to your Google Calendar settings, choose Time Zone from the menu on the left, select the Show secondary time zone check box, and then choose the time zone to display from the drop-down menu. The secondary time zone is displayed side by side with the hour-by-hour view on Google Calendar.

Activate the World clock to display the current time in various places under the calendar in the month view. You can add several different locations (Encrypted). The current time for each selected location is displayed (with a sun or moon icon) to indicate whether it is day or night at each location.


Screenshot of Google Calendar time zone and world clock settings.  Time zone set to display Mountain Time and UTC.  World clock configured to display UTC, Pacific and Eastern time.

Display a secondary time zone next to the time displayed on your calendar. Additionally, turn on the world clock to display the current time (on the left side of the Google Calendar screen) for one or more time zones.

To note: You can choose UTC / GMT as the time zone option for the calendars. I encourage you to do so, because I am one of those who believe that humanity should move to a single world time zone.

How to activate offline calendars

If you are using Google Chrome to access Google Calendar on a laptop or desktop, there is a checkbox that lets you enable offline calendar (Figure F). The setting is at the bottom of the Google Calendar General Settings Screen. Once selected, Chrome stores calendar events locally. However, when you are offline, neither reminders nor tasks appear. However, it does mean that you can review your schedule on an airplane, train, or boat when you are not connected to the internet. The the system stores the events over the past month as well as future events.

Figure F

Screenshot of Google Calendar offline settings, with Enable offline calendar checked.

Enable offline calendar access so you can view events from the past four weeks as well as future events when you don’t have internet access.

What are your favorite Google Calendar tips?

Other than event notifications, what Google Calendar features do you rely on? If your work has moved from face-to-face to telecommuting, has it affected your use of Google Calendar? What calendar tips would you like your coworkers or friends to know? Let me know, either in the comments below or on Twitter (@awolber).

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