Stay on Top of Your To-Do List (and Never Pay a Parking Ticket)

Stay Synced With Outlook

Google Calendar by itself is fine and dandy if you're comfortable living your life in your browser, but if you prefer to keep your data local and accessible when you're offline, you can take advantage of most of the great things Google Calendar has to offer without giving up your desktop calendar.

If you use Microsoft Outlook, just download Google Calendar Sync. Enter your Google Calendar username and password, and it will take care of syncing your calendar data back and forth between Google Calendar and Outlook.

Google Calendar Sync integrates Outlook with Google Calendar in perfect, bidirectional harmony.
The nice thing about syncing your calendar between Google Calendar and Outlook is that you get the best of both worlds. If you're away from your main PC, you can access your calendar from any Web browser, on any computer through Google Calendar; if you're on your main computer, you can stick to scheduling with the Outlook you know and love, whether you have an active Internet connection or not.

Connect Your Calendar to Your Cell Phone

Since you're not always sitting in front of a computer, being able to access your calendar only when you're at a computer isn't all that useful. Imagine that you parked your car in the morning, but you have to move it by 5 p.m. to make way for street cleaning or you'll get a ticket. It's easy to forget to add an item like "Move my car by 5pm" to your calendar if you have to wait until you get to a computer to add it. The solution to this problem: Hook your phone into your calendar.

There are several ways to do this, whether you own a cutting-edge smartphone or a bare-bones (but functional) "dumb" phone. Let's start with the smartphones and work our way down.

Sync With Smartphones

If you use an Android phone, this is a no-brainer. Android works seamlessly with Google Calendar (both are Google products, after all); you merely log in to your Google account on your Android device, and it will automatically set up your phone's calendar to sync with GCal. Any events you add from your phone will automatically sync with Google Calendar wirelessly.

If you have an iPhone, BlackBerry, Nokia S60, or Windows Mobile phone, syncing your phone's calendar with GCal is similarly easy when you use the free Google Mobile Sync tool for your particular phone. Head over to the Google Sync page and follow the setup instructions for your device.

Check Your Calendar and Add Events Via SMS

Don't have a fancy smartphone? No problem. You can still receive event notifications, check your calendar, and even add events to your calendar from any phone that supports SMS messages.

Set up Google Calendar on your normal cell phone.
First, head into your Google Calendar settings and associate your cellphone with Google Calendar. (To do so, select Settings, Calendar Settings, Mobile Setup, and follow Google's instructions for validating your phone.) Once you've validated your phone number, Google Calendar can send you event notifications via e-mail or SMS.

You can even add an SMS reminder as one of your default notification methods, in which case you'll always receive notifications for upcoming events, regardless of where you are, as long as you have your phone on hand.

Now for the really cool part: After you've associated your cell phone's number with your Google Calendar account, you can check your itinerary and create new events by sending text messages to Google Calendar's GVENT (48368) number. Want today's schedule? Just text "day" to GVENT.

Even better: You can create new events by texting GVENT, and it supports the same plain-language input that GCal's Quick Add button does. So if you text GVENT "Move my car at 4:30pm," GCal will translate that into a new event on your calendar. For complete details on GVENT commands, check out this Google Calendar help page.

Conclusion

The system described above isn't the only calendaring method possible under the silicon sun, but Google Calendar is the best free way to create a fast-syncing schedule minder that you can access from virtually anywhere. And with all your reminders correctly set up, you'll never forget to move your car or pay a bill again.

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