Give Google Calendar a jolt of electricity with https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/hkhggnncdpfibdhinjiegagmopldibha, a free Chrome extension that takes the service to a whole new level.
Checker Plus lets you keep up with Google Calendar even when you don't have it open in a browser window. The app puts a customizable icon next to Chrome's address bar. Hovering over the icon shows you a list of your next few appointments; clicking on it brings up an interactive view of your full calendar, allowing you to peruse and manage events without ever leaving the Web page you're viewing.
Checker Plus gives you customizable event reminders that appear on your desktop, too -- it can even read event details aloud as part of its notifications. And the app makes adding new events a snap: You can right-click on any email or highlighted text from a Web page and copy the info directly into your calendar from there. You can also add new events from Chrome's address bar, either by typing or by speaking the details aloud.
Cloud email gets an IQ boost with Boomerang, a browser-based add-on for Gmail.
http://www.boomeranggmail.com/ lets you write messages in advance and schedule them to be sent at specific times in the future. It also allows you to "snooze" items in your inbox, temporarily sending them away; Boomerang then brings the emails back to your attention at a time and date you specify.
Boomerang has one other nifty feature worth mentioning: It can monitor outgoing messages and remind you to follow up if you don't receive a response after a certain number of days.
Boomerang integrates directly into Gmail by way of a Chrome or Firefox extension; you can also access it extension-free by going through Boomerang's mobile website. The service is free, though after a one-month trial, you'll be limited to 10 actions per month and no mobile-based access unless you decide to sign up for a subscription plan. Subscriptions start at $5 a month or $50 a year.
No matter how much you may like Gmail and Google Calendar, sometimes you need to use a desktop tool like Outlook or Lotus Notes. A little IMAP magic can get your messages synced, but what about all your other data -- you know, calendar, contacts and tasks?