Regardless of the size of your business or industry, there are essential office tools and supplies you need to succeed. An office calendar is a must. Most necessary tools list starts with the basics such as a desk and organizational supplies, as the right technology. For most businesses, this includes both hardware and software that handle everything from invoicing, payroll, taxes, and managing your online presence. Sometimes it helps to have an office calendar guide for 2020.

However, if there is one item that your business can not live without, it’s an office calendar. While you could outsource specific tasks, like all of your accounting needs, you need to keep your calendar in-house. Without one, you won’t be able to schedule and track appointments, assign deadlines, monitor everyone’s progress, and prioritize to-do-lists.

An office calendar is essential in tracking and planning everything that goes on within your organization. Most importantly, it ensures that your workplace is running at peak productivity. There’s prime importance fo an office calendar, we’ve put together the following guide. In it, we’ll get more in-depth on why a calendar is essential, how to choose the best calendar, and how it should be properly created and maintained in 2020.

Why you need a shared calendar for work.

Whether you’re working solo, such as a freelancer, or managing a multimillion-dollar company with hundreds of employees, a shared calendar ensures that your office runs like a well-oiled machine. For example, it can be used to find the best time to meet with clients or colleagues. It can also be used to set deadlines for important tasks, along with milestones for larger projects. Additionally, it prevents scheduling conflicts, encourages the office to focus on priorities, and keeps everyone in the loop.

But, let’s dig a little deeper into why your office can benefit from a shared calendar.

Saves time and boosts productivity.

Think about the times that you’ve planned an event — either inside or outside of work. You pick a date and time and ask if that works for invitees. It’s suitable for a couple of people. But some of them may have other commitments. The next thing you know, you’re trapped in an endless communication loop of lengthy group emails, texts, instant messages.

Now, imagine what that’s like during a typical workday. Instead of everyone at the office spending their time working on more critical items, they’re wasting valuable time coordinating schedules. Not only is this frustrating, but it’s also distracting. As a result, productivity drops. It takes 23 minutes to regain focus after getting distracted.

A calendar is almost like a personal assistant. Instead of always going back and forth, a Calendar can determine the best date and time for everyone to meet. And, thanks to machine learning, it can even make suggestions on recurring team events. In other words, a calendar can automate most of your scheduling needs so that you can focus on what’s important.

Keeps everyone on the same page.

With a shared Calendar, the entire team knows what everyone else is working on. What is crucial for this specific project? What direction is the team taking as a whole at this time? Who is in charge of this particular project? What are the individual parts of the project? Who is working on what? The answers matter, and are essential when collaborating on a project together. Collaboration also ensures that everyone hits their deadlines. It also lets the office know if a co-worker is out of town or leaving the office for a lunch meeting.

In other words, you and your teammates are aware of each other’s availability and their progress. Additionally, it provides transparency for situations like when the office will be closed for a holiday or when there’s a meeting or team-building exercise.

A calendar makes meetings more productive.

Meetings are a necessary evil. However, with a shared calendar, they can be more productive and less dreaded with participants. For starters, you can choose to meet when there are open slots in everyone’s schedules. When you check the calendar of each person, you aren’t forcing attendees into a mandatory meeting when they already had other plans. Having meetings placed on the team calendar will let participants know what the purpose of the meeting, and gives them plenty of time to prepare. The time allotment-scheduling guarantees that the meeting will stay on track and not go more than the allotted time.

Balances out assignments.

Like most organizations, your team is juggling multiple responsibilities. By viewing a team calendar, you can quickly see what their availability and capacity is. You’re not overwhelming the team with additional work when they’re already bogged down. Knowing what your team’s workload and schedules are, allows you to evenly distribute tasks so that everyone has the appropriate amount of obligations.

The team calendar maintains a work-life balance.

Schedule flexibility is becoming increasingly important for employees. When there’s a team calendar, everyone can see who is in the office and who is out. For example, if you have a doctor’s appointment, you can block out that time so that no one attempts to schedule a meeting with you.

Also, by knowing the office hours of your colleagues, they aren’t getting bombarded by messages. When your team is relaxing on Saturday, the last thing they want is to get sucked into a work-related email chain.

Improves communication, efficiency, and accountability.

Perhaps the main reason why your office needs a calendar is that it drastically improves communication, efficiency, and accountability. Everyone knows when there’s an important due date or event in advance and will be reminded prior. The reminder ensures no one will forget all about what is expected.

Also, an office calendar lets everyone know what your, and the team’s priorities are so that they’re always working on the right thing at the right time.

Choose the best calendar for your office.

The only way that you’ll reap the benefits of a shared calendar is by picking the right calendar for your workplace. With that in mind, here is what you need to consider during your search for the ideal calendar in 2020.

What features do you need?

Take the time to determine what exactly you need the calendar to do in your office. Major players like Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook pretty much do it all. They can be used to create events and tasks for you and your entire workforce. These calendars can also be easily shared publicly via email or a unique URL.

However, if you need a tool for scheduling meetings and appointments, options like Calendar, Doodle, and Calendly are explicitly designed for this. To create and manage schedules — there is Calendar, TeamUp, and TimeTree. For managing tasks, you could choose Jorte, Any.do, or project management software like Trello or Asana.

Ease of use.

Ideally, your calendar should be easy to navigate and manage. This way, your team can start using the calendar right out of the box. You probably don’t want to devote the time and resources in providing everyone in your organization extensive training to create and edit events in the calendar.

Can the calendar be shared?

For precise work, you’ll want to have a shared calendar. You shouldn’t have to jump through hoops merely to share your schedule or availability with others. As noted above, your team calendar should be able to be shared through email or embedded onto a website. Thankfully, calendars like Outlook Calendar and Google Calendar and Calendar make this as painless as possible. If someone is already in your contacts or group, you can share your calendar with them with just the click of a button.

If people aren’t in your inner circle, you can also grant them access. Or, you can opt to make the calendar public so that anyone can view it.

Are you able to customize the calendar?

Everyone has their own personal preferences when it comes to calendars. For visual people, they want a calendar where they can view to-do-lists or schedules in a glance. Tactical people, however, prefer calendars that are color coordinated or have the ability to add additional notes.

It’s not always easy to please everyone in your organization. But, if a calendar can be customized, you can get darn close to appeasing the entire office.

Does the calendar integrate with existing hardware and software?

You can make life easier for everyone in the office by using a calendar that seamlessly integrates with the devices and systems you already use. For example, if Slack is your primary communication tool, then the calendar needs to be able to sync with the popular messaging service.

If the majority of your colleagues use Android devices — you’ll want a Calendar that shares across both smartphone options. You can also share from a smartphone to a work computer and a separate personal smartphone.

And, if you’re using a tool to more effectively schedule meetings, then it also has to play nice with leading online calendars. Calendar, as an example, works with Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, and Outlook. Since most people already use these calendars, you don’t need to find a new calendar to use Calendar.

Consider the cost and size of your team.

For smaller offices and startups, you may want to rely on a free calendar. Because you’re on a tight budget and working with only a handful of people, there’s no need to pay a monthly fee for a calendar.

At the same time, larger organizations will probably need to use a paid version, such as Outlook. A paid version can usually accommodate your specific needs. These versions are designed for organizational use. Also, paid calendars can generally be shared and accessed by more people than their free counterparts.

Learn how to set up an office calendar.

We’re not going to beat around the bush here. But, there are a lot of online calendars available that could be useful in your work environment. However, your best bet is probably going with the “big three,” which are Outlook Calendar, Google Calendar, and Apple Calendar and Calendar.

The reason you may want to stick with them is that they’re all extremely popular. As such, there’s an excellent probability that your co-workers are least familiar with these calendars. We’d even go as far as to say that they’re already using one of the three.

What’s more, they each come with the features you need. You can create new events, schedule meetings, set reminders, and add a new calendar like holidays and birthdays. They can also be easily shared and integrate with pretty much any other software, such as Calendar, that makes running the office more smoothly.

Now that that’s out of the way let’s go over how you can set your office calendar up.

Microsoft Outlook Calendar

Despite its popularity, it is the default app for PC, Microsoft’s Outlook can be complicated. Maybe it’s because it was initially designed just to handle emails. Or, it could be that Microsoft has a nefarious scheme to make their products so mind blogging that you have no choice to turn to its customer service.

All joking aside, when you do get the hang of Outlook, it can be a fantastic tool for your business. But, first, you have to set the darn thing up.

You’ll need to login using your email address and password, and you’ll login either through your web browser or the Outlook app. FYI, there is no separate app for Outlook Calendar. The calendar is found within the Outlook email app.

You may run into a hiccup if you’re using a different email client. If you’re using your Gmail address, for example, expect to see the Less secure access app page. You’ll have to go into your Google account and select “Less secure apps.” Now you can enter the password, and you’re set.

Once you’re logged in, you’ll find the calendar under the Home tab. The first button allows you to create a “New Appointment,” which is only for you. The second lets you create a “New Meeting” and can be shared with others. As for the third button, that will allow you to create entries like tasks, groups, and contacts.

If you head over “Go to,” you can change how you want to view the calendar, like by day, week, month, or schedule. However, in the proceeding sections, things get much more advanced. For example, you can view multiple calendars side by side. Finally, you’ll want to share the Outlook Calendar with others by emailing them or publishing them online.

Google Calendar

Unlike Outlook Calendar, setting up a Google Calendar is incredibly easy. Just sign in to your Google account, or create one for free, and visit calendar.google.com. That’s it. Google already has a calendar there waiting for you.

For Android users, there should already be a Google Calendar app installed on your device. Don’t you see it? It could be hiding out in your app drawer. But if it’s not installed, or if you have an iPhone, you can download the app for free on Google Play or the App Store.

After that, you can tinker with the calendar. For example, you can import your Outlook calendar:

  • Choose the calendar you want to export and select “Save Calendar” in the File tab.
  • Determine if you want to save the whole calendar or a specific date range.
  • When done, hit “OK” to start downloading a .iCal file.
  • Go into your Google Calendar and select “New Calendar.”
  • Name the calendar, choose “Create Calendar,” and choose import.

For Apple, go into your iCloud account and select “Calendar Sharing.” Check the box to make it public, and you’ll get a URL code. Next, copy and paste it. Remember to change the “webcal://” to “https://” and then hit Enter. Your calendar data is now saved as a .ICS file and can be imported.

With Google Calendar, you can add other calendars, like those that your co-workers. You can then change everything from language, region, time zone, and how you want to receive notifications. The Big G will also let you change the duration of an event. The possibilities are just endless.

And, like with Microsoft Exchange Calendar, Google allows you to share your calendar with a group. Sharing with a small group works excellent, but with a large group, not so much.

G Suite

There’s one caveat with Google Calendar, it’s intended for personal use. While you can still use it to share your availability, invite others to events, and view your colleague’s schedules, your business may need to upgrade to G Suite.

Prices range from $5 to $12 per month, but it has larger file storage and lets you customize your team’s business emails. The calendar feature can be used to schedule meetings, reserve conference rooms, and check guest attendance. You can also create multiple calendars that the entire office can use together.

To get started, you need to pick your plan and create your G Suite account. As the G Suite administrator, you then want to create a group. Creating a group allows everyone in your organization to access shared calendars. However, they can not make any edits unless you permit them.

Apple Calendar

For Mac and iPhone users, there’s a built-in calendar tool called Apple Calendar. As with Google, that means set up is a breeze. Simply login to your iCloud account and open your calendar. When you do, you’ll notice that you’re already in your current month. Now you have to fill the calendar with necessary appointments and tasks.

If you’re on your Mac, the calendar can be found in the dock at the bottom of the screen. On your iPhone, it should be waiting for you on your home screen. As any proud Apple user will let you know, there is no standalone app for PC or desktop. However, as explained above, you can import and export your Apple Calendar to Google or Outlook and vice versa.

You can change your calendar settings by going into the drop-down menu under “Calendar” and choose “Preferences.” From here, you can select your Apple Calendar to be your default calendar. Since it’s a built of the Apple ecosystem, this makes sense. Additionally, Apple Calendar is perfect for tracking meetings and deadlines, as well as your family events.

While you’re here, you can set the number of days to show in a week, when the week starts, and when your day begins. Also, in your preferences, you can choose to receive alerts from your Apple Calendar or any other calendar you use.

There are also some advanced settings features. For instance, you can turn on time zone support, and if you want to include week numbers. Most useful, however, is being to retrieve CalDAV invitations from email automatically.

How to add, edit, and delete office calendar entries.

Now that you’ve got your calendar all set up, it’s time to get down to brass tacks. And, by that, we mean creating, modifying, and deleting items in your respective calendar.

Microsoft Outlook

If you want to create, edit, or delete appointments or requests from your Outlook calendar, then you need to do the following.

  • At the bottom of the page of Outlook, click on the calendar icon.
  • Select the date and time for the event. When the text box appears, enter information like title and location.
  • Outlook also allows for options like an all-day event or if the event is recurring.
  • Another helpful feature is the ability to note in your calendar that you’re busy during the time of the event. You can also choose a category under “Categorize.”
  • To invite others, input their names or email addresses in the “Invite People” option.
  • To receive a reminder, note when you want to be reminded in “Remind Me.”
  • Finally, don’t forget to save the event and “Send” with your officemates.

If you need to change anything, go back into the calendar and choose the event. Select “Edit.” Outlook will let you either make adjustments to a specific event or all of the events you have saved. Again, make sure you save and send the modified event.

Do you need to cancel an event? It’s pretty straightforward. Go back into your calendar and select “Cancel” in the meeting that needs to be ditched. Just be careful not to delete all the events scheduled in your calendar.

You can also delete appointments like you would removing an event. The slight difference is that you would choose “Delete.”

To add other calendar’s in Outlook, go into “Settings” and then “View all Outlook settings.” Tap on Calendar, it’s on the left, and then select the calendar you want to add like birthdays. If you want to delete an event like a birthday, choose the birthday you wish to be removed in the “Birthday calendar.”

Using Tasks.

Outlook also has a nifty feature called Tasks. It’s handy if your office is collaborating on a project together since this lets you track its progress.

If you are using the new version, you can add tasks to “My Day.” You can then note if the job is essential. You can even mark if it’s something that needs to be assigned at another time. Another way to go about this is by installing the To-Do app.

To make life easier, you can also drag tasks from Mail. Just go to, well, Mail and then open “Tasks.” Choose the message you want to convert to a job and drag it over. You can also attach files to tasks.

For the old version, you’ll need to visit your “Tasks” folder. Here you can create, delete, categorize, and mark as completed.

Google Calendar

Whether you’re using the free version or the paid G Suite, adding, editing, and canceling tasks and meetings is almost effortless. Just open your calendar and click “Create” — it’s on the righthand side of your calendar. Here you can set it either as an event or task. Then you can select the date and time, add guests, location or conferencing, and description.

Google Calendar also lets you add events from Gmail. Adding events from Gmail is automatic if you use your Gmail address. For example, if you booked a flight using Gmail, the information will sync with your calendar.

To edit an event, on the web or in the app, open the event and tap the pencil icon. You can then make the new alterations. If it needs to be scrapped, just hit the trash can icon in this same window.

Curious about adding new calendars? Go into Google Calendar and scroll down to “Other Calendars.” Here you can subscribe to a calendar like a coworker. You can also browse another calendar of interests, such as a holiday calendar, and you can create a new calendar.

Apple

Apple also allows you to add calendar entries quickly. Just press the “+” icon at the top. As you add the details, Apple actually will turn it into a calendar entry automatically. If you desire, you’re all done. However, Apple permits you to add a location and start and end times.

To edit an event — double-click the event. Now you can make the adjustments or even delete the event altogether. You can also do this on your iPhone, but there’s it’s just a bit different.

Go into the event and click on “Edit.” Tap, “Edit,” and then make the changes. Or, you can tell Siri what you would like to do.

To add a new calendar, choose “File” and then “New Calendar.” You can then select the calendar you want to add, like your colleagues. To delete a calendar, go into “Edit” and choose “Delete.”

Sharing your calendar with the rest of the office.

Your office will want to get the most out of a calendar, so you’ll want to share it with the rest of your teammates. The good news is that this isn’t an overly complicated process — regardless of the calendar you’re using.

Microsoft Outlook Calendar

Head into your calendar and select “Share.” So far, so good, right? Next, select the calendar you want to share. In this case, because it’s work-related, you would only want to share your calendar with your colleagues.

After this, choose “To” and enter the email address of your teammates. Now determine their level of access and click “Share.” They’ll then receive an email notification — even if though they don’t use Outlook.

Additionally, you can also publish your Outlook calendar for others to view. You can do this by going into your calendar’s “Home” tab and click the “Publish Online” button. Select the calendar you want to publish and determine your permissions. Outlook gives you either “Not Shared,” “Availability Only,” “Limited Details,” and “Full Details.”

Once you’ve set permissions, save your settings, and an HTML or ICS link will appear. You can then copy and paste this link and share it via email or embed it on your site.

Google Calendar

Sharing your Google Calendar is also easy peasy. Go into your calendar and pick the one you want to share. In case you forgot, all of your calendars are on the left side. Click on the three dots, and you’ll see an option for “Settings and sharing.”

Scroll down to “Share with specific people” and enter their email addresses. If they’re already your contact, then you’ll spot a list of the people you can email your calendar to. Or, you could click on “Get shareable link” — it right above this under “Access Permissions.” Go ahead and copy and paste the link and share through email or embed it on a site.

The process is pretty much the same if you’re down on G Suite. The critical difference is that you can delegate your calendar. In other words, this grants others permission to view and manage to share.

Also, if you’ve created a group just for your office, then you can share this calendar with everyone at once. If you don’t want to share with everyone, you can still select specific people within your organization.

It should be noted that if people don’t have access, the calendar can only view it if it’s made public.

Apple Calendar

For all of your Apple users out there, you can either share your calendar privately or publicly. For both, you first need to tap on the “Share button.” The button is on the right side of the calendar you wish to share. What’s cool about this is that you have the power to share multiple calendars.

Next, you can choose if you want the calendar to be private or public. If you decide private — type the individuals’ email address in the “Add person” field. After hitting return, a pop up will appear. It will ask you what type of privileges they have for the calendar.

To make it public, select the “Email link” and enter the email addresses of the people you want to give access to. They’ll receive an email containing the public link of your calendar. They don’t even need to have a cloud account to view the calendar.

And, like Outlook and Google, you can copy and paste the Apple Calendar URL and place it into an email message or website.

Office calendar and schedule management tips.

We hope that this guide has assisted you in understanding the basics of an office calendar. The best way to learn to do your schedule is to get your hands dirty and play around with your calendar. Don’t be shy; you’re not going to break anything.

Additionally, you should also follow these tips and tricks. It will make managing your calendar and scheduling a whole lot easier and efficient.

There can be only one.

We’re not getting all Highlander here; what this means that only one person should be in charge of the office’s calendar. Remember, too many cooks in the kitchen always spoil the broth.

What this means is that you don’t have sole control. For example, if a department head has to schedule a meeting, then they would be in charge of that specific calendar event. Overall, however, there should be just one individual who creates, edits and deletes all calendar entries. Even if someone else has to create a calendar, it still has to go through this individual.

Color code different calendars.

Every online calendar allows you to customize it. In particular, the ability to use different colors for various calendars. For example, you could use grey for meetings and blue for tasks. By color-coding, your team can quickly differentiate different aspects of the calendar without having to click directly in and open-up the calendar.

How you color-code your calendars is totally up to you. One way would be to use chakra color-coding. However, you choose to use color codes; you can set specific colors for specific events. This way, when you create a meeting, for instance, it will always be represented by the same color.

Add other people’s calendars.

Team calendars are great when you’re planning a meeting or working together on a project. But, it can get complicated, adding every office member’s to a master calendar. You would end up having a very obese calendar bursting at the seams.

To keep your office calendar clean, add everyone else’s calendar to it. Now, if you want to know if someone is free or busy, you can quickly view their calendar.

Have calendar management meetings.

Meetings can be a drag. But, you may want to gather your colleagues together now and then to go over the office calendar. Having a 20-minute meeting every week or once a month reduces all of those emails and Slack notifications you’re sending to each other.

Batch all meetings together.

We’re advocates of batching. It’s a great way to save time and remain productive since you’re not always going back and forth between specific actions. For example, you could suggest that everyone check their inbox just twice a day as opposed to every time they receive a notification.

The same is valid for meetings.

People can’t stand meetings because it takes them away from other responsibilities. A compromise would be to hold all office meetings on a Tuesday so that the rest of the week, they can focus on other priorities.

Include time buffers between appointments.

Speaking of meetings, you don’t want to schedule back-to-back meetings. We all need time to take a breather, process what was just learned, and prepare for the next meeting. Also, people may need to grab a snack, use the bathroom, or return an urgent message.

It doesn’t have to be a considerable lag. But, you should at least have 30-minutes in-between meetings.

Know what and what not to share.

Let’s say that you have to dip out of the office for a personal matter. The rest of the office doesn’t need to know why you’re not around. Sometimes this could be an extremely personal or embarrassing situation. Since this is on your own calendar, you don’t want to share that with your co-workers. Instead, you could block that timeframe out as “Busy” or that you’re just out of the office for the day.

As a general rule, only share work-related items in an office calendar. Anything in your personal calendar should be shared with those that need to know, such as your family.

Use reminders wisely.

Each calendar tool allows you to set when you want to receive a reminder. But, to get the most out of notifications, you need to know when it will be most useful. It wouldn’t make sense to remind your team that there’s a meeting in five minutes. Instead, a 24-hour notice would be more useful since it gives them time to prepare.

Print and post your calendar around the office.

One of the best things about online calendars is that they can be accessed from anywhere, anytime. However, it wouldn’t hurt to print out a monthly calendar and place it somewhere the entire office can see. It doesn’t have to include everything. But, it should contain the most critical dates so that there’s never an excuse.

Integrate with other tools.

To give your calendar some extra something extra, connect it with other tools. Please don’t go overboard. But, think about pairing it with a platform like Calendar. This tool connects with your Google, Outlook, or Apple calendar and uses artificial intelligence to schedule more productive meetings.

Another option is Slack — which has become one of the essential productivity tools in an office. The good news is that it can easily be integrated with online calendars like Google. By connecting your calendar with Slack, you’re providing one convenient location when collaborating on a project.

Again, you don’t want to use too many additional tools. But, you should look for solutions that give managing your calendar an assist.

Review. Then review again and again.

There are very few things in life that you can set and forget, and that’s especially true of calendars.

Spend a couple of minutes on a Sunday night to see what meetings are scheduled. Check to see who has responded and who hasn’t RSVPed yet. See what deadlines are due. Checking your calendar and deadlines may sound like a lot of work — and it is. But, by checking your calendar, you’ll always be prepared. Events won’t sneak up on you, and you’ll make fewer errors.

You may also want to review your calendar quickly every morning, as well. There’s always a chance that a meeting or something like an office birthday slipped your mind. You don’t want to be somewhere else when the rest of the office is chowing down on some delicious birthday cake.

Updated January 2020