How to organize your family with Google calendar

Some years back, my wife was looking at possible business opportunities related to wireless and home networking. Though nothing came of it, one of the suggested applications was a family calendar. Now there are many online ways to set one up for free. I recently responded to an email list question on how to set up a family Google calendar.  Here is that advice with some additions:

In my family, everyone has a Google account and their own individual calendar. From their Google calendar Settings, they can share any calendars they own with specific people (eg other family members). When you share your calendar with person Y (a subscriber), Y gets an email invitation to share your calendar. If they accept, your calendar is available to their Google calendar display (you can hide it or display it).

The owner of a calendar sets permissions for the subscribers ranging from complete control, subscribers can add or edit events, view the calendar, or just see busy/not busy. These permissions can vary for each subscriber so your spouse can change/manage your calendar, but your kids can only view it.

All of ours are set so others can add or edit events. So, I can see my kids’ class schedules, if they post them, and any other events they put on their calendars. I can also add events such as their next flight home ! We also have a family calendar, a husband and wife calendar, and I have a work calendar. You can set the color of each calendar so you easily distinguish events by calendar.

You can make your calendar public (good for teachers sharing their workday with their students ?) if you so desire. I subscribe to two public calendars – Jewish holidays and US holidays.

You can sync your calendar with mobile devices . With my (Google) Android phone, I have a calendar app that is equivalent to having a browser pointed to your Google calendar.You can also sync with desktop applications (eg Outlook), but I am not sure how that works. Some years back I tried to sync with the Palm Desktop application without success. I think all major mobile devices have an app, but the functionality varies.

One neat thing about the Google calendar is that you can add notifications to an event that will send an email or an SMS text message a certain time before the event. You have to link your cell phone to receive the text message. I can’t tell you how many times I set notifications to remind me to call the kids to help them wake up !

On feature of Google calendar I have not used is that you can send  invitations to an event and track RSVPs. I am sure that is probably very useful for things like meetings. A related tool that my stock club uses to help schedule meetings is Doodle, where invitees can indicate which of several possible times they can attend.

These are great organizational tools that can help ease our busy, complicated lives. Enjoy !


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