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Staying on Task with Google Calendar

photo by Deannster

So, I’ve not been too shy about admitting how deficient my attention span is. There are things one should do on a regular basis that just don’t cross my mind. Things like taking the laundry out of the washer and drying it before it turns into a science project.

While I have slowed life waaaay down, there are still the inevitable appointments and outings that come when you’re raising a family. On top of that, I make commitments, like a weekly book club chat or writing for other websites, that I am always afraid I’ll forget to do. All that time spent worrying about forgetting can really clog one’s brain.

This year, I have a new strategy for staying focused and not getting sucked in by time wasters. Google Calendar to the rescue! I am able to sync my online calendar to my blackberry. So I have a little Googleberry going on. Doesn’t that sound yummy? Like snozberries.

The function that has changed my life!

The calendar itself is pretty cool, but the part that is revolutionizing my life (revolutionizing, I tell you!) is the reminder function. The beautiful little ding that alerts me to an upcoming task or appointment. Google sends me reminders from anywhere from 5 minutes before to a few days before an event. If you don’t have a Blackberry or iPhone, no worries. You can still set your calendar to send you email alerts, text alerts, and pop-ups on your home computer.

I spent a good two hours the other week on Google and I set up my schedule. I entered in general times that I wanted to be reminded of something, like “Do chores” at 3pm daily. No matter how many awesome schedules I make, you would be surprised how many times a week 3pm comes and goes and I forget to get going on chores. Not anymore! My phone dings and off I go. Totally beats post-it notes all over my house or writing on the back of my hand. Don’t judge me.

Set up: It’s easy.

Pencil and day planner
Enter in an event or task and have it repeat as often as you like with one click. So every Monday, until I tell it to stop, Google will send me a text message to remind me to log onto our book club chat at 4:45pm. I’ll also get an email earlier in the day and a pop up on my phone five minutes before the chat.

Sound excessive? For someone like me, it’s not. I could get the text at 4:45pm, open my laptop, and get distracted by my inbox. Normal people, like most of you, could probably do with one reminder.

That’s what’s awesome about this calendar, you make it work for you! I appreciate it so much that I have gotten into the habit of entering appointments the second I make them, right there at the dentist’s office or whatever. My phone will then sync to Google. While I hold a special place in my heart for the reminder function, being able to glance at my calendar and plans no matter where I am is pretty cool, too.

Of course, more than once in the last two weeks I’ve gotten the ding and looked down to see “Do chores!” or “Leave for gym!” and just plain ignored it. But at least I know I intentionally skipped things, instead of just being so frazzled and distracted that I forgot to do them. And yes, there is a difference.

Any downside?

I’ve heard reports that the calendar can crash and lose your stuff. I rest easy because I know my phone has most of the info, and I write all appointments on my paper calendar. I just can’t give up paper quite yet.

If there is a downside, it would be that I have to be attached to my phone. But this is already the case, I carry it in my pocket most days, or set it on the kitchen counter where I can hear from most anywhere in our little house.

Do you have any tips for staying on task?

Related: How to get motivated to clean your house.

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  1. says

    I live by my Google Calendar. Another function I like is creating several calendars, one for learning, one for hubby’s schedule, one each for the boy’s functions. You can give each one a different color, so it all goes on the main screen. The boy’s friends like to know when they can plan a party or library day, and I give permission to view those calendars to close family and friends. Are you available on Tuesday to go to the park? They can look and see, and then pray for sunshine. :) LOVE the txt to my cellphone since I’ve turned off my internet/data options last year. You can set up reminers to be an SMS . Its all FREE and goes great with Gmail, Google Reader, and Google Docs. Baby’s gotta love free tools!

  2. says

    Hi! Someone recommended your site on POM’s Connect MEme Monday and I’m so glad they did! I love your site & added your button to my blog. Just wanted to say hi! :)

  3. says

    I use cozi.com to keep on track. It has a color coded calendar for each person in the house & I can set up reminders. I can set up to do list’s, shopping lists, almost anything to be emailed or text to me (or anyone in the family). I can even call into their 800 # and have them read to me if I need to. It also has a journal section so I can jot little moments down, add a picture & send it off to family and friends. It has a message center that I can send hubs a text message from my computer (since it takes me a half an hour to type 3 words on my phone).Since I started using it I have been able to keep to a meal plan by keeping my weekly shopping lists labeled by week # and attaching them to my calendar to rotate every week.

  4. says

    Oh, so good! I am starting to utilize my google calendar more and more. I also love how you can overlay several calendars, or just have one showing. That is helping me a lot these days remembering what writing responsibilities I have coming due and when.

    Great feature on a great (and free!) management tool!

  5. says

    I love Google Calendar and would be totally lost without it! I have at least 10 calendars going for personal and business reasons and keep track of everything with it. But I’m also a big fan of paper still too. I just can’t put my full trust on something online. I have my personal calendar synched with my blackberry as well and find it great for planning appointments on the fly. I just wish I could synch more than one google calendar with it.

    I found your blog after you comment on ProBlogger about the Scribe plugin. I’m still trying to justify the price myself. 😉 I’ll be sure to add you to my blogroll.

    • Angela says

      Thanks Tiffany! That’s a good point, that you can only sync one calendar w/the phone. That’s why I just made one, otherwise I might lose track :)

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