How to Google Calendar

Happy New Year!

All families are busy. Sometimes, even just one person is so busy that keeping track of each project/class/appointment/event/holiday/birthday etc. gets incredibly overwhelming. For a few years, my husband (the only driver in our household) carried a planner and multiple colored pens to color code for each of us. In addition, we put a large desk pad/calendar on our living room wall and color coded the large squares every month.

As anyone who’s ever scheduled a doctor’s appointment knows, having only one month visible at a time is inconvenient. Then there’s the difficulty of coordinating multiple paper calendars and planners. We ended up double and triple booked quite often.

Now so many people have smartphones and tablets that carrying a paper planner is just one more thing to fill your hands with. Add in a family of four, each with events to track and everyone needs to know where the others have to be at any given time and waiting to update the paper calendar in the kitchen leaves far too much room for error.

The solution I have found for our family involves an Android device, a computer and a Google account. How this translates to Apple products, I can’t tell you.

Most android phones are linked to Google for backup on their apps and such, but not everyone uses this. For the purposes of this how-to, you need a Google account.

When we get a Samsung phone, the My Calendar app would not automatically coordinate with Google. It wants to use Samsung Kies. On my computer, I can see my calendar on a larger screen, but I didn’t want to have to sign in to Samsung to do so. I do not enjoy signing into multiple platforms for things. So I went to Google Play Store on my phone and downloaded the Google calendar app. The Google and default icons are similar, but different colors. Blue and Green. Make sure you use the Google one or your calendars won’t sync. On my phone, the Google map is green. On the computer, it’s blue. Confusing.

Link to Google Calendar:

Our computer, tablet and phones are synced together. Out of the many schedule apps available, I’m not sure of any that syncs across devices for free and works this well. I see hubby’s work schedule, even if it’s changed in the last half hour, and he will see new appointments I’ve made and they sync almost immediately.

On your computer:

  1. Sign in to Gmail.
  2. Click on the app grid. It is a small, square icon of 9 tiny white squares, 3×3, at the very top of the page, next to your profile picture where you sign in and out.
  3. A menu drops down and you can choose maps, Google +, etc. Click on Calendar. A new window tab opens so you can click between email and calendar if you want.
  4. Looking at the calendar, I start with a Month view. To the right of the view options, there is a gear symbol for Settings. Click on the arrow of that icon and choose Settings.
  5. Under Calendar Settings, there are four tabs: General, Calendars, Mobile Setup, Labs. Click on Calendars.
  6. It might seem obvious to create a calendar that simply says “Hansen” family. If you don’t care about color-coding or keeping track of multiple people and projects, then maybe that’s good enough for you. For us, it would overwhelm our calendar with no way to separate and prioritize. So, I created multiple calendars. Hubby’s work schedule, my RWA meeting and writing events, a calendar for each of our medical appointments, etc. The same for the kids. Our daughter is now in college and only has herself to manage, but she has to keep medical appts and classes, field trips, extracurricular activities, paper due dates and holiday times all coordinated. So she uses multiple calendars also. The extra benefit is you can view all calendars together at once, each one a color, or you can simplify and eliminate the view of all but one and view only birthdays or work or doctors.
  7. On the Calendar page, click the Create New Calendar box. Fill out the title and other options, then click Create Calendar. You will return to the Month view of the calendar.
  8. On the left of the calendar, under My calendar, will be the list of calendars you’ve created. At the end of the title for each calendar is an arrow with a drop down menu. This is where you can choose a color, even customize it. The colors do not translate precisely from device to device, so instead of shades of one color, I suggest using vividly opposing colors where possible.
  9. Fill in a handful of events by clicking on a day. Add the time and specifics of the event: which job, which doctor, which paper is due. Then, key move, select the proper calendar for that event. It is now color coded.

On your phone:

  1. Click on the Google calendar app.
  2. Sign in with your Google account information.
  3. In Settings, choose the calendars you want to see.
  4. Click Save.
  5. All of your calendars should then be synced.

You may have to click refresh a few times or troubleshoot a few minor hiccups, but these steps should get you there. Now you can add an event from your phone, tablet or laptop and they will all sync to show the same information.

One particular hiccup to avoid involves double-checking the time zone on the calendar app. Hubby’s was set to Hong Kong and suddenly all of his work times changed. You can imagine the frustration. LOL

Happy New Year!

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