I'm not suggesting that you stop using whatever calendar software you're currently using. I'm saying that Google is super powerful as a secondary calendar, or even as a non-calendar resource that does all kinds of useful jobs for you.
Google calendar is such an easy and powerful tool for so many things that have little or nothing to do with your actual appointments and schedule, that everyone should use it.
Here's how you can improve your life with Google Calendar.
Make Your Own Local City Guide
You can create or subscribe to two, three, five, ten or dozens of individual calendars in Google Calendar, and view all at once if you want to. Each can be toggled on or off separately.
By subscribing to multiple local-event related public calendars, you can see everything that's happening in your town at a glance.
On the bottom of the left navigation bar, click "Manage calendars." At the bottom of the page that opens, click the "Add calendar" button. In the search box at top, search for "Movie releases." Choose one of the movie release options, which will add movies when they're released in theaters or on DVD (depending on which you choose).
Now, again in the search box, enter your city and state. Browse the many event calendars and pick those you're interested in. Depending on the city you live in, you'll find concerts, sports events, lectures, festivals, and other local events. By adding these to your secondary calendar, you're creating a passive resource that shows you at a glance everything happening in your area.
Alternatively or in addition, you can create a professional events calendar -- trade shows and other events. Just search.
And, finally, if you travel to another city or another country, set up calendars for events wherever you're going to be. No tourist guidebook can give you this quality of schedule event information.
Never Forget Birthdays and Anniversaries
Google Calendar is perfect for birthdays, anniversaries and similar annual events. Here's why: You can set as many notifications as you like for each event.
With events like birthdays and anniversaries, you need to be notified on the special day plus at minimum some number of days before the event so you can buy a gift, make reservations and order flowers.
By setting up a special personal events calendar, you can set the defaults in advance to automatically give you multiple reminders. Once set, you just add annual events, and Google Calendar will give you your multiple reminders every year forever. Set it and never forget it.
From the left navigation bar, choose "Add," then "Create a new calendar."
After you've created your calendar, click on the down arrow to the right of the calendar on the left navigation bar and choose "Calendar settings." At top, click "Notifications." At the top of the Notifications page, choose "Add a reminder." Choose the medium for the first reminder (SMS, e-mail or pop-up), then the amount of time before the event occurs that you'd like to be notified. For a birthday, for example, you might start with e-mail one week in advance. Once that's set, Click "Add another reminder." You might choose SMS 5 minutes before event occurs. If you haven't set up your cell phone with calendar, just click on the link at the bottom of the Notifications page to do so.
Just In Time Information System
Some information is useful only during a small window of time. Examples include hotel name and address just as I'm getting off the plane in another city; frequent flier number just as I'm arriving at a hotel (to take advantage of miles programs), information about a person I'm about to meet with, such as their background, etc.
This kind of "just in time" information can be entered into a custom-created calendar, which by default sends you an SMS message to your phone, right at the very moment when you need it.
Personal Nagging (Email) System
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If you want to make sure you don't forget something, set a recurring daily, weekly, monthly or annual item in Google Calendar, and have it send you an e-mail. You can remind yourself about a new policy at work, or to remember to take out the trash, or to stop cracking your knuckles -- whatever. Nag yourself with Google Calendar until you can't stand it anymore, at which time you can delete the reminder.
Information At Your Fingertips
If you go to Google Calendar from your cell phone, the site will detect your device and show you a special mobile view of the items on today's and tomorrow's calendar. (Your phone number needs to be entered in your Google Calendar setup -- see above.)
You can also get that mobile view by sending a Text message from your phone to the shortcode "48368" with a one-word command. The command "next" tells you your next scheduled events; "day" tells you all events for today; and "nday" gets you all of tomorrow's events.
Google Calendar is a great primary calendar for managing your appointments. But it's even better as a secondary resource for all kinds of things unrelated to your meetings and schedule. It's free. It requires no software installation. And it's very powerful. Everyone should use Google Calendar.