Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Organizational Tip #9 - Creating Shared Calendars to Organize Events(Great for the Upcoming Holidays)

Even the most organized people can get overbooked by events.  This is usually more common during the winter when there are more holidays and more events to either attend, host, or help out with.  If you want to get organized and have events you want to schedule and share with a group, the easiest way to do this is by creating a shared calendar.  A commonly used shared calendar application is Google Calendar.  With any Google account you can use the calendar feature.  The nice thing about the Calendar feature is you can create multiple unique calendars with related events and share them all differently or keep them private. 

Keep in mind shared calendars are not necessarily public and view-able to anyone at any time unless you set it up to be public.  When you first create a shared calendar you can make it public or keep it private except to those people you invite.  Most of the time you would create a shared calendar and keep it private.  In the list below you would keep the shared calendar private except for example number four.  Here are some examples of shared calendar uses:

  1. Planning and scheduling events - an easy way to plan events with family and friends during summer vacations, winter and spring breaks, birthday parties, and more.
  2. Work scheduling - if for instance you work with schools, it might be beneficial for all of your employees to have access to a shared calendar documenting each school's holidays.  This would help plan projects and best utilize time and resources.
  3. Sharing a vacation property - a vacation property could use a shared calendar to keep track of who scheduled time at the property.  This could help eliminate scheduling conflicts if everyone could view the shared calendar to look for available times to visit before requesting time making the process more efficient for all.
  4. Renting a property - a shared calendar could keep track of all guests.  If the calendar is public, all potential guests could see what days were available before requesting specific dates making the rental process more efficient.  If the calendar was private but accessible to those people scheduling guests at the property, the calendar could help prevent scheduling conflicts.
As an example I will create a shared calendar as if I were one of three siblings with a vacation home in Tahoe, CA.  Now that the family has grown, it has become necessary to keep track of who wants to visit the vacation home in a way better than everyone calling everyone else each time someone wants to use the property.  As siblings, we decide it makes sense to create a shared calendar, give our kids access to see when the property is scheduled to be used and when it is free, but that only we can add or change events. 

To create a shared calendar using Google Calendar, log into your Google account and go to Calendar.  In the left panel click on the arrow to the right of My Calendars and select Create Calendar.  This will bring up the Create New Calendar page which allows you to name the calendar, give it a description and a location, make it public or shared only with specific users, and set each person's permissions for the calendar.  If you click on the Learn More link next to make your calendar public you will see this allows this information to be public to anyone on the Internet.  In most cases this is NOT how you want to create a shared calendar.  

Looking at the example below you can see you have four permission levels for each user you give access to the shared calendar.  In my current example I would add all of my children and my siblings' children as users who can see all event details because we are all family.  This would allow them to see what dates where marked off already as well as who has requested those dates.  Then, I would add my remaining two siblings with permissions to make changes to events.  If something happened and I no longer wanted to manage the calendar, I could assign one of my siblings the permissions so they could manage events and calendar sharing for me.  The flexibility these permissions allow are available so a calendar can be shared with multiple people while allowing them as much or as little control to the calendar as needed.  Once you have added all the information you want, click Create Calendar.

Once the calendar is created, you can start adding events.  In the upper left corner, click Create, and add an event name in the Quick Add box, then click Add.  In the Event detail box, you can add as many or as little details as you want.  Be sure to select the appropriate calendar from the drop down menu then click Save at the top to save your event.  NOTE:  There are permissions in each event as well - default, public, and private. If you leave this on the default setting the privacy settings for the event will mimic the privacy settings of the calendar you selected for that event.

Shared calendars can be a big help in organizing events and can reduce the time spent scheduling repeated events.  Also, shared calendars can be updated at any time to remove or add users, change users' permissions, or to add, modify, or remove events.  Lastly, anyone with a smart phone and access to a shared calendar can add a shared calendar to their calendar app making them as easy to use as any other calendar on your phone.

Good luck as we enter the beginning of the holiday season!

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