By Vince Nero
When it comes to a scheduling app, you need one that’s powerful enough to meet the needs of your crazy work life, but simple enough to use and understand so that you don’t waste your whole day planning.
That app is Google Calendar and with these 15 hacks, you can transform it into an incredibly powerful tool to manage and transform your teaching schedule.
1. Find a Time
With the Find a Time feature, Google lets you see your other invitees’ calendars (as long as you share them with each other), so scheduling a meeting with another teacher, or the board becomes as simple as finding an open chunk of time on both calendars. Simple, easy, and very visual.
2. Suggested Times
If you’d prefer to see the dates and times available in a list format, and have Google do most of the legwork finding the times, there’s a built-in “Suggested” Times feature. Again you need to have shared calendars for this to work.
3. Appointment Slots
Finding a time that works for everyone is so much easier with the appointment slots feature. Here, you can create an event and set the timeline you’re scheduling for. A link is then created that your guests can use to choose a time slot. This is perfect for parent-teacher conferences, for example.
4. Offline Mode
Another powerful feature is the ability to access and edit your calendar offline. After downloading the Chrome extension, found here, you’ll see the option to go into offline mode. If you’re ever out of Wi-Fi range, working on a plane, or simply have spotty network connections, offline mode allows you to edit the schedule and will automatically update the changes as soon as you get back online.
5. Set Goals
As a teacher, it’s hard to find time for anything other than lesson planning and grading. With the goal feature (available in the downloadable Google Calendar app-version only) you choose the type of goal you want to set—learn a new skill, make for time for fitness—and follow the prompts so Google can find time to schedule it for you. This awesome feature takes all the work off your plate and still gets the time on your calendar.
6. Quick Add
Are you short on time, or simply don’t feel like manually typing in all of the details of an event? With the Quick Add feature, you can type in the details like you would speak them to Siri, Alexa or any other virtual personal assistant app. (Note: you can also do this from the Google search bar if you are signed into your Google account.)
7. Color Coding
Perhaps one of the most useful features is the color-coding, which allows you to categorize and color code your calendar visually. Separate different classes or subjects with different colors; separate your work and personal calendar; and more.
8. See Weather
If you’re planning a field trip, sporting event, or outdoor graduation ceremony, this super simple feature will be your next best friend. With it, you can see the upcoming weather forecast right in your schedule.
9. Agenda View
If it’s easier for you to view your whole day’s schedule in list format, use the Agenda view. Click to expand each event and see the details, as you would with the traditional format.
10. To-Do List
The to-do list is a built-in feature of Google Calendar that not very many people know about. Under My Calendars, you will see a “Tasks” box, which can be used to create and see your task list on the right-hand side of your calendar. Add new tasks, categorize them by list, and set deadlines for yourself.
11. “Add Interesting Calendars”
It’s important to be aware of religious holidays of all nationalities as a teacher. With the Add Interesting Calendars feature, you can subscribe to holiday, sports, day of the year and phases of the moon calendars, all of which will then populate on the appropriate days.
12. Search Your Events
With the advanced search, you can query your previous or future events. This is helpful in many situations, such as rescheduling an event or meeting from last month or year. You can see who attended the meetings, what time worked for everyone, and which location you chose.
13. Mobile Notifications
With mobile notifications set up, you can get text notifications sent right to your phone (even without the Google Calendar app downloaded). This way, if you’re busy, in a meeting, or at a presentation, you don’t have to be the one with your head stuck in the phone.
14. Auto-Decline for Events
Don’t want any meetings scheduled after the workday? You can block off times and automatically decline events and meetings that you’re requested for. This is great way to separate work life and home life without doing any extra work.
15. Shared Room Schedule
The shared room schedule is perfect for schools. Teachers and admins can use it as a way to sign up for time in a conference room, all-purpose room, or any shared space. Creating a calendar with the ‘auto-accept invitations’ function allows you to simply set a time on Google Calendar and if no one else has anything scheduled, it will automatically accept—no need to constantly check everyone else’s schedules.