Power through schedules with 21 Google Calendar tricks

You can start the new year with even greater control and productivity thanks to these tips

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Make scheduling smarter

9. Schedule an event with a one-liner

Google Calendar can understand some of your language, which means that you can add an event with one line of text, and you don't need to fuss with the full Create Event form. Start by clicking anywhere in your calendar, and then fill out the text field. As Google suggests, think like a reporter and supply the "who," "what," "where," and "when" in a phrase. You can even set up recurring events by adding, for example, "the third Thursday of each month." By default, any event lasts an hour if you name a start time without an end time, or it lasts all day if you don't list a time at all.

10. See when a colleague is available

Expand the Other Calendars drop-down menu to the left of your calendar. You'll see a list of third-party calendars if you've already added some. If your company uses Google Apps for Business, you should be able to add coworkers' calendars. Just start typing someone's email address, and Google will try to autofill the rest. Either select an email address or completely spell it out, and that person's color-coded appointments will suddenly appear on your calendar.

11. Check whether everyone can meet--in the room with the view

When it's critical for all hands to be on deck, this tool is a godsend. Click the gear icon to visit the Labs. Scroll down, choose Enable for the Smart Rescheduler, and then click Save. Back on your calendar, select that crucial meeting. Look to the right of your calendar for the Smart Rescheduler module, and click Find a new time. Google will load the team's calendars, displaying everybody's availability all at once. It even shows what time it is for people in other time zones. If your company uses Google Apps for Business, you'll also see suggestions for available rooms in the building. 12. Hide events you're not attending

Don't get confused by a lingering calendar entry for a meeting you're skipping. Click the gear icon, and under the General tab of Calendar settings, just say No to 'Show events you have declined'. Immediately beneath that option, you'll see another setting to help clean up your calendar. By default, anytime you receive an event invitation, Google pencils it in. But you have other options under 'Automatically add invitations to my calendar', including the choice not to see those events unless you've accepted the invite. Don't forget to click Save.

13. Let Google Calendar RSVP for you

If you'd rather not waste time replying 'No' to any meeting happening when you're predisposed, this tool will save time. Visit the Labs after clicking the gear icon, enable 'Automatically decline events', and save. The next time someone invites you to something that happens when your calendar is booked, they'll get an instant reply.

14. Don't miss the next meeting

Do you often show up unfashionably late? Is your boss starting to notice? Blare a reminder for your next meeting in big, bold letters by adding a module to your calendar. You'll find it by visiting Labs from the gear menu and enabling 'Next meeting'.

15. See who's free or busy

This tip is useful if you frequently meet with the same person and already share a calendar with that coworker. When you enable the 'Free or busy' add-on (from the gear drop-down menu, choose Labs), that module appears along the right edge of your calendar. Type in your colleague's email address, and you'll get an always-on 'free' or 'busy' status message. No more walking down the hall to their empty office.

Manage multiple places

16. Show two time zones

Say you're splitting the month between San Francisco and Chicago. You might as well know what time it is in both cities at a glance--and your calendar can help. Click the gear icon, and choose Settings. Under the General tab you'll see your current time zone, Pacific. To add Central time, click Show an additional time zone, and choose Central  from the drop-down menu. Back on your calendar, you'll see that times for both the left coast and the third coast now appear side by side.

17. Manage multiple time zones

Your developer is in Ho Chi Minh City, your designer is in Reykjavik, and your investor is in Palo Alto. If you need to track a ton of time zones all at once, the Google Calendar's world clock takes up less space than the item described in the previous tip. Add the clock by visiting the Labs from the gear icon. Scroll down and choose Enable  next to 'World clock'. From the module that shows up on your calendar, you can add Indochina Time and Greenwich Mean Time alongside your current Pacific time.

18. Know the weather

Now you know what time it is in Chicago, but what should you wear there? Let your calendar make the forecast. Click the gear icon, and in General settings scroll down to enter your zip code. Beneath that field, pick Celsius or Fahrenheit under 'Show weather based on my location'. Once you click Save, you'll see icons such as storm clouds or a bright sun beneath your all-day events. Click the storm clouds for the day's details--and get out your galoshes.

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