Using Your Google Calendar To Help Manage Workload!

Google CalendarUsing my email inboxes as my To-Do-List went so well yesterday I even managed to get through work tasks that I really hate and have a bad habit of delaying for weeks. Which made me think “How could my new skills to ensure I complete these tasks more timely?”

My solution ? Create events for my Google Calendar for the tasks and schedule automatic email notification one day prior to the event to be sent to my gmail inbox.

An alternative would be to use Remember the Milk. As Tom Barrett highlighted using Remember the Milk for your To-Do list with it’s GMail plugin to display your to-do list alongside your Inbox is a good method of managing workload — and Vicki Davis uses it effectively to keep her Inbox zero.

Why do I need assistance? Well I manage online aquaculture students who can enrol in our course any time and their enrolment period is based on when they enrol. With students enrolling on different dates means they each need to be resulted by different dates — considerably harder to remember than standard resulting based on school terms/semesters.

Creating Events in Google Calendar

So now I’ve set up events in my Google Calendar with email notifications to me to organise sending email reminders to students and to remind me to enter results into our system.

Adding Event to Calendar

Switch On Notifications in Google Calendar

I have all my Google Calenders set to notify me by email one day prior to events — really handy for ensuring I don’t miss online PD sessions.

My wish is every one would use Google Calendars for event notifications because my calender automatically converts the time of the event into my time zone.  Means I don’t have to waste time trying to work out what time and day the session is on!  Off course my other wish would be that people didn’t schedule most of the online PD sessions for the middle of my night when I’m asleep 🙁

Email notifications

Image of Google Lego Calendar by Keso.

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Getting Your Gmail Account Under Control And Working For You!

Inbox zeroI’ve never been able to control my email accounts! Regardless of my actions emails flow in leading to major email infestation.

James’s explanation of how he uses his email accounts as his “to-do-list”; archiving emails that have been actioned immediately and keeping those that need follow up labeled in his Inbox has helped me to take gmail from 3000+, home email from 1000+ and my work email account to ZERO!

Let me show you how to do this with gmail (HINT: Follow these steps before deleting or archiving any emails)!

Step 1: Create Labels

Labels in gmail are a bit like folders in Microsoft Outlook except you can add more than one label to an email and keep the email in your inbox (whereas with Outlook the email is move into the folder). Clicking on a label displays all messages in ALL MAIL with that label.

Look at the emails in your inbox and create labels that separates your messages into meaningful categories which you can use for managing your workload. For example I have labels like “To Do” for those I can’t action immediately but to remind me that I need to deal with and labels for conversations on specific topics or people that I need to be able to easily locate.

Don’t stress — you can add more labels at anytime and removing a label doesn’t delete emails.

Creating labels for emails

Step 2: Create Filters

Filters are great for managing incoming emails because you can set up filters that automatically label, archive, delete, star or forward emails based on keywords, email address etc. For example if I needed to keep track of emails from a specific person I set up a filter with their email(s) addresses which automatically labels them.

Creating filters

Make sure you tick Also apply filter to conversations below to apply the action to all existing emails.

Step 3: Archive All Email In Your Inbox

When you archive in gmail it takes the emails from your inbox and moves them into ALL MAIL. This cleans up your inbox without deleting them making messages findable when you search your email with keywords or click on a Label.

Gmail currently provides 7063 MB of storage space — so lots of room for keeping emails.

To archive just click on Select: All which selects the 50 messages currently display and then click on Select all conversations in Inbox. Now just click Archive — any recent messages you don’t want to archive just untick before clicking Archive.

How to Archive

Step 4: Keeping Your Inbox Empty and Using It As A To-Do List

Now that your inbox is empty to use it effectively as a To-Do List you need to keep the messages in your Inbox really low (less than 50). To achieve this you need to:

  1. Once emails have been responded to, label if necessary, and then archive them immediately!
  2. Any emails that you can’t archive (because they require action in a few days) add a label as reminder of what task you need to complete.
  3. Delete, instead of archiving, immediately any emails you don’t need to keep e.g. notifications from twitter, Facebook. Deleting moves messages across to your trash and gmail automatically deletes them after 30 days.
  4. As notifications arrive that you no longer need immediately unsubscribe from their service or set up a filter to automatically delete them.


In case you’re wondering since I always keep my Google Reader account at ZERO I’m sure the new skills I’ve gained will do the same for my email accounts. Shame I can’t say the same about keeping my house and study tidy — solution(s)?

I’ve only covered some of the features of gmail. What other features are you using in gmail to make your life easier?

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Are You Going To Be More Sharing And Caring?

Depending on your love of Google Reader you will either be grateful that Google has given us an early Christmas present or be concerned, like me, that you may need to change your sharing habits. For those who don’t use Google Reader, or who have no idea what I am talking about, Google has linked Reader with Google Talk so now all your shared items will be visible to your friends from Google Talk, and vice versa.

You will have the option to choose which friends you link with and to invite more. Plus the option to clear your shared items.

This is definitely one of the biggest changes that Google Reader has made and it will impact of how we use our Readers. Not everyone in the blogosphere is impressed with this feature with posts warning of further information overload and duplications of posts. from friends.

My thoughts are I will need to seriously rethink how I use the Sharred feature of Google Reader because it is a feature I have totally ignored because I have not been interested in using it. Now I have to make the decision:

  1. Do I want to start caring about my friends and and making sure I share really good posts
  2. Or share nothing using Google Reader instead use blogging to link to posts I really want to share



Refer to my posts on Getting more out of Google reader and Update on Getting more out of Google Reader for information on using Reader effectively.

If you are currently using Google Reader please let me know your thoughts on the integration of Reader with Google Talk — how will it change what you do? Is it a good or bad feature?

Also I am aware that many of my readers don’t use Google Reader — so please tell me more about your Feed Reader because I would be interested in learning how you get the most out of your Reader.

Why you should use Gmail and Google Talk!

When I first started using Gmail and Google Talk, I have to admit I was not really fussed about either. I mean really I already had two email accounts (work and home) – and who needs another account? Have been using Skype for years and love it why would I want to change? Besides I hated the fact that the emails and Google Talk collapsed on top of each other (oops to all those people I sent the wrong chat message to).

Well that has all changed for one reason!


Google in their wisdom has given us the one feature with the applications that makes them stand out from the opposition. The ability to search our mail or chat history and locate emails/chat that contain a particular word.

No longer do I need to remember who said what and on which day because all I need to do is enter the search term and it does all the work for me. And it searches in both my chat and email records so I do not have to switch between them.


Definitely a fickle consumer because Skype and Outlook used to be my preferred options; but this SEARCH feature has changed all this. Google this SEARCH feature is what you should be promoting on your sign up for Gmail account page!

Sign up for a Gmail account today! Then download and install Google Talk!


Sign into Google Talk with your gmail address and password.

Set up your iGoogle Homepage and add gmail gadget so that you can easily access your gmail account. While you are at it add a Google Reader gadget as well.