This post started as a comment to Andrey’s post about self organization and time management. I just wanted to list a few things that I particularly love about Google Calendar, and then decided to do to it here instead, for the benefit of greater public.
As I mentioned some time earlier, I’ve been using Google Calendar for a few month now. I started playing with it for this and that, but now it is the only tool I use to manage my time. Here are the features that make it so useful for me:
- SMS reminders. I am one of those people who need a reminder for practically everything that needs to be done. Google Calendar is about the only web service at this time which supports non-USA mobile numbers. SMS reminders mean that I have to duplicate and synchronize that much less data.
- Sharing. Google Calendar has great sharing facilities. I can have a private calendar, allow certain people to read my calendar, have a public calendar, etc. I can sent invitations and get confirmations to people who don’t even have Google Calendar account. And I can allow those people to invite other people to my events, and I know when they do so too. No username and password hassle. Also, calendars are available in iCal format, RSS feeds, and even can be easily integrated into web sites.
- Multiple calendars. I can have several calendars of my own, and I can subscribe to a whole lot of other calendars. Holidays from different countries, sports events, cultural happenings, calendars of my friends – all these can be added to my subscriptions. And I can manage them easily hiding and showing only those parts that I want to. And I can assign different colors to events from different calendars. And I can easily copy events between calendars.
- Interface. I am among those people who absolutely love the interface of Google Calendar. Almost everything is perfect – from the quick add event form to the default view which can be customized. There are a lot of small things which make it so much easier to use. For example, when specifying the time of the event, starting time defaults to know, and ending time defaults to 1 hour from now. And it works nicely with events that span across the midnight too. Although the display of such events needs some more work, I think.
- Integration. I do enjoy the integration of the Google Calendar with GMail. When inviting people, I get name completion from my address book. When someone emails me the invitaion to some event, GMail recognizes it (in most of the cases) and provides an easy way to add it to my calendar. Daily agenda emails and reminders have this nice formatting with links to appropriate parts of my calendar. And so on and so forth.
- Secure HTTP. I wrote about it earlier, but it’s worth another reminder. In order to encrypt all communications between your computer and Google servers, simply change “http” to “https” in the URL. It will work out of the box, and you won’t even have to login again.
- Reoccuring events. Google Calendar has some flexible and easy ways of configuring events which happen more than once. Year, month, weekly, or daily; weekdays or weekends or selected days, by date, or by day of week, or by day of month – all these and much more are configured in a couple of mouse clicks. I’m using plenty of these to control my daily and weekly routines.
There is plenty more of course. But the above list is something that I can’t live without.
The only thing that I’m missing now is a tasks or TODO list manager. Everything else is in.