It’s that time of the year when you start discarding your old calendars in the hope that someone will gift you another wall hanging with pretty pictures, each with 28/30/31 boxes, labelled with numbers, important festivals, dates and events. But if you are tired of these, try online calendars: they come in myriad shapes, sizes, and even functionalities. What gives them the edge over their older analog paper counterparts is that you can update them on the go and share them with virtually anybody.
There are a lot of dependable “schedulers”, as calendars 2.0 are known, including some very well-known ones such as Yahoo Calendar, Scrybe, Remember the Milk, 30 boxes, Kiko, Backpack and Spongecell. Most of these can be used for free, synched to your mobile device, and help you share your schedule with family, friends and co-workers.
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One scheduler that has become popular over the years is Google’s Calendar application. Thanks to the search engine’s all-pervasiveness, this calendar can be added to almost any Web application that you use.
Here is a simple guide to set up, use and then share your calendar:
1. Log on to www.calendar.google.com. If you already have a Gmail account, you can use the same username and password to go to your calendar, saving you the trouble of setting up yet another account. Otherwise, opening an account is a very easy process.
2. The scheduler sticks to the simple week and time matrix, letting you view one week at time. This can be changed via five tabs on the top right hand side, which give you other viewing options such as week, month, four-day and agenda.
3. Making an entry is as simple as clicking on the scheduler. A pop-up asks you to fill the name of the entry, the time, venue and description. You can also set up a reminder here, so if you’re online 10 minutes before the entry, the scheduler will send you a message. Common entries can also be directly shared from here. From the same pop-up, with a single click you can email all your colleagues, informing them about a meeting with relevant details.
4. “Quick add”, an option on the left hand corner, also lets you do the same, except without expecting you to fill in more details. This is immensely helpful when you have to update your scheduler on the run.
5. One of the biggest advantages of online calendars is that they can be synchronized with other devices. This scheduler lets you sync with your work email (Microsoft Outlook), BlackBerry, Apple’s iCal and Mozilla’s Sunbird email client. Clicking on the “sync” tab on the right corner launches a menu that explains and runs you through all the steps that are needed to connect your online scheduler with your device of choice.
6. Another advantage is that your calendar can be shared with as many people as you want. Click on “My Calendars” and distribute it. The scheduler gives you the option of either making it public, which means anyone can see it through an online search, or lets you email specific people, giving access to your schedule to only them.
7. You can also determine the degree to which everyone can access your schedule. For group work, your calendar can be shared so that specific people can manage and change events, while others can only view events. This feature is handy when different parties need to decide on specific times, and work together.
8. Finally, for the more forgetful, this scheduler also makes life simpler by sending you a message before every event or sending you an amalgamated schedule at 5am every day.