How to Best Utilize Google Calendar

A list of features every college students should use to get the most out of Google Calendar

Calendars are something that almost everyone is familiar with. They’ve been around for thousands of years and will probably be here for thousands more. Whether you were counting the days until summer vacation or counting down till your next day off, calendars are an integral part of many of our lives. There’s only one problem though. Many of us are still using paper calendars that hang on walls, and most of the ones that have switched to digital aren’t making use of many useful features.

In this article, we’ll go over some useful tips and tools to utilize your google calendar effectively. To better illustrate this, we’ve also included pictures to show where you can find these tools. If you really want optimize your time management, we have an article dedicated to time management apps that can help.

This article will mainly focus on features that will make your scheduling more efficient and help you keep yourself organized in college. Consequently, this won’t be comprehensive guide to ALL of the features and tools. It will also focus on the website and not the mobile app, although most, if not all of the features will be available on mobile.

With that out of the way, let’s get started!

The home screen

As the name might suggest, this is the screen you should see upon opening your google calendar. This is also the screen you’ll likely schedule most of your events. By clicking on any date, you can create or edit events. And if you double click, you can access more options for an event. The home screen has been designed to make most of the most used tools and options easily accessible. Honestly, from this screen alone, you can already access many useful tools and menus. For instance, the Calendars menu.


This menu allows you to hide/show all of your current calendars by clicking the checked boxes. When you have multiple classes or other important matters outside of college, your google calendar can get pretty cluttered. Hiding calendars that aren’t necessary in the moment can make it less of an overload when you’re scheduling things.

By clicking the + next to Other Calendars, you can add or create calendars for any recurring activities that you feel need a designated calendar. There is also the option to subscribe to calendars that you don’t own, which lets you view but not modify them. You can also import calendars from other software if you’re looking to switch to google calendar.

Many colleges have begun switching to Canvas for course management and that entails class and assignment scheduling as well. For college students, having the ability to subscribe to external calendars means you can subscribe to your Canvas calendar. Importing your Canvas calendar from a URL makes it so you don’t have to juggle multiple calendars at once.

The ability to have multiple overlapping calendars is an incredibly useful tool for staying organized and up to date. Additionally if you want to further condense (or enlarge) your view, you can also view different spans of time.

google calendars how to make a calendar
calendar tips and tricks

Time Span Viewer

This tool may be rather basic, but many people neglect to use it. If you need to summarize of all of your scheduled activities for a week or day, you can click the drop down menu located on the upper right-hand part of the window. This allows you to dictate what section of time is being shown. The options for this include: a day, a week, a month, a year, schedule, and 4 days. While most of these are self explanatory, “schedule” is a bit different. This option allows you to see only days that have and event or appointment scheduled on them. It hides any days without anything scheduled on them to condense your calendar and make it more manageable.

When you click on the day or week view, you may notice that it also breaks down each day into hours. This allows you to use your google calendar as a sort of day planner if you have multiple events on the same day that take place at specific times and the next feature further expands on this.

your google calendar


This feature (which you can access this set of features by clicking on the gear icon in the upper right hand corner of the home screen) is where the differences between the desktop and mobile versions really start to show. On desktop you can set your calendars to send you email reminders or desktop notifications for upcoming events. However on mobile, you can set it to send you regular phone notifications.

These settings can also be tweaked for each of your calendars individually. You can set it to notify you if an event is altered or canceled. For college students, this can be useful if you have a professor that tends to cancel classes unexpectedly. If you want to avoid professors like that, then you should read our guide on Rate My Professor.

You can also set it to send you a daily agenda if constantly receiving notifications isn’t your style. It contains all of you events for the day and what time (if scheduled) they are supposed to take place.

calendar settings
how to turn on notifications in google calendar
calendar notifications

Setting Up Defaults

While in the settings menu, you can also save yourself some time in the future by tweaking some of the default settings. This includes some of the basics like your time zone, region, language, and offline settings, but also includes a few things that can save you plenty of time in the future.

Under the “Event Settings” settings, you can set the default duration of events you create. This can save you a lot of time if you tend to have events or meetings that last for similar amounts of time. You can also make it so email invitations to events automatically appear on your calendar. By doing this you can centralize your upcoming events so you don’t have to check your email constantly. The “Events From Email” further expands on this with things like flights and hotel bookings.

The “View Options” is mostly self explanatory and can be useful if your google calendar is looking a bit cluttered or confusing. I recommend messing about with these settings to see what works best for you.

And last but not least are the “Keyboard Shortcuts” settings. By checking this box, you enable the use of keyboard shortcuts. It’s well known that the use of keyboard shortcuts greatly improves productivity, but with google calendar, you can create and update events with just a few clicks of a keyboard. This is made only faster by setting up all of the other default settings. You can look at the full list of keyboard shortcuts available in google calendar by typing SHIFT + ? .

And if you want to know more, then you can look to the next feature on this guide.

google calendar event settings


Once you’ve exited the settings menu, click on the circled ? icon in the upper right hand corner. A drop down menu should appear with the words “Help”, “Training”, and “Updates”.

Clicking Help drops down an additional menu that has a search bar and suggested searches. If at any point you don’t know how to do something within google calendar, you can simply type what you want to do in and it should give you results and guides for you query.

Training is a bit different to any of the other options. Clicking it opens a new tab that contains a number of training courses on how to use google workspace and all associated apps. If this guide didn’t cover something you wanted to know about, then I recommend searching there.

The Updates menu is simple. It only contains recent updates to google calendar and is something to check on every once in a while if there’s a feature that you wished existed.

google calendar help


college calendar

For college students, calendars fill an essential role in your day to day life, and google calendar fills the role better than any other. Google Calendar is a powerful tool in the hands of those who know how to use it. That group (hopefully) now includes you. So use these tools and features to make the most out of this application.

If you’re looking for more useful apps read this list!

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