Now that I’ve got an inbox zero system in place that seems to be working well, I’m tackling Google Calendars for more productivity and less annoyance.
My prime pains with Google Calendar are:
- Meeting notifications that blocks what I’m typing (in a blog or other document) until I clear the notification
- People who forget meetings and need a reminder
- A way to integrate a document we’ll be working on within the calendar invite so everyone has the same thing
- For internal meetings, send a reminder to HipChat.
- Synch external meeting with our HubSPot CRM.
Here’s how I’ve fixed all these things and more. Let’s get started with the secret Google Calendar features!
Stop interruptions with well-behaved desktop notifications
Oh, I HATE it when I’m writing away or have my head in some code, and “Ding!” suddenly a meeting notification locked up my keyboard and that great thought didn’t get recorded. What a poorly designed “feature” in Google Calendar!
If this annoys you, too, here’s an easy way to fix it.
You can turn on a Google Labs feature called “Gentle Notification.” Instead of interrupting your work, you’ll just get a satisfying *ping* and the page title of your event or meeting will flash.
Go to Settings > Labs and enable Gentle Notifications. That’s it! No more annoying lockup.
Add an attachment to your meeting invite
Many of my meetings require referencing a relevant document – but it wasn’t easy to make sure everyone had immediate access to the same document until I found the “Add attachments” link. Truly a case of hiding in plain sight!
Now I’m sure all attendees have the materials they need before the meeting begins.
Schedule meetings with “Find a Time” or “Suggested Times”
Scheduling a meeting with someone as busy as you isn’t easy. Luckily, Google Calendar has two features that can do the heavy lifting of finding available times for you: “Suggested Times” and “Find a Time.” To use either of these tools, make sure all your invitees have been added before you begin.
If you’d like Google to suggest a time for you to meet, simply select the “Suggested Times” link below your names. A pop-up will show up with some times that everyone is available.
Or, you can choose the tab next to Event Details called “Find a Time” to have Google do just that. In this option, you’ll see everyone’s schedules side-by-side. Find an open spot? Claim it with the blue-dashed box and send off your invite.
Setup appointment slots
I have several 1:1 meetings each week, so I setup “office hours” where team members can book a time with me. (This is also great if you want to limit the times that people can book with you.) Google Appointments makes this easy.
Basically, this feature lets you carve out appointment slots on your calendar and then share the appointment calendar link with select people. When they click your appointment calendar link, they can choose from any of your available options. If they find a time they like, all they have to do is select it — and it’s booked right on your private calendar (and their calendar) with the information your need.
To setup your Appointments, click on a slot you’d like to carve out, just like you do for a typical event. But before you start filling our the event details, click “Appointment Slots” – it’s next to “Event” at the top of the pop-up. Then these new options appear:
If you’d like more control over your appointments, click “Edit Details,” and you’ll be taken here:
If you want more tips about integrating Appointments into your workflow, check out this Google Calendar hack by Brittany McLaughlin.
Email event attendees – or use HipChat, Slack, Jira, or other tools
Sometimes I need to send out a document or get some input on a question before a meeting. It’s easy to send an email to all your guests by going to the event details and choosing “Email Guests, which is above and to the right of the attendee list.
But who needs more email?!
If this is an internal meeting and you use an internal communication tool like HipChat, Slack, Jira, Skype, etc., everyone will probably appreciate your using that tool to send out your document or ask your question. Nobody needs more email (IMHO).
Add the specific meeting location
Is this a Skype call? A Google Chat? A phone call (who is calling the other?) A conference call? A face-to-face meeting somewhere?
Use the “Where” textbox to enter a specific location, conference call URL, address, etc. This eliminates the round-robin conversations about who is calling whom, which conference room, which office, etc.
Adding a full street address for out-of-office meetings makes it a quick click to get Google Maps’ driving directions on your smartphone.
Use keyboard shortcuts
To really streamline your “calendaring” use Google’s keyboard shortcuts such as:
t = Move your event to today
c = Create an event
q = Quick Add an event.
Get a complete list of Windows and Mac keyboard shortcuts here.
Synch meetings with your CRM
Do you use a CRM daily? It gets really annoying going back and forth from Google Calendars to a CRM. Instead integrate your CRM with Google Calendar.
This can often be done from within the CRM, or you can use an outside service like Zapier or IFTTT to build a quick connection between these tools.
HubSpot CRM users are in luck – you can learn how to integrate the CRM with your Google Calendar.
Synch your calendar with your marketing software
Heck, why no go all-in and synch your calendar to your marketing software! For HubSpot, you can use Zapier to zap a new HubSpot Calendar Task to your Google Calendar.
Want more information on tools we use? Read “14 Favorite Tools to Support Our Inbound Marketing,” or view all of our articles on tools.
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