Project management can be a manageable challenge or a budget-busting proposition. Although very large and complex projects do require the help of specific software and services, some projects lend themselves to other options for their care and feeding.
SEE: Hiring kit: Project manager (TechRepublic Premium)
For example, did you know that Google Calendar is a fine option to help you manage those projects? I know it sounds crazy, especially given that Google Calendar is free and isn’t actually made specifically for project management, but anyone who uses technology enough understands that so much can be used beyond its stated purpose. That includes the tools found in Google Workspace.
How do you incorporate Google Calendar into your project management workflow? Let me give you a few pointers so you can start right away.
What you’ll need to use Google Calendar for project management
The only thing you’ll need for this is a Google Workspace account. You can do this with the free version, which is great news if you’re working with a tight budget or startups just getting off the ground.
How to turn your Google Calendar into a project management tool
Create a project-specific calendar for your project
When you use Google Workspace, you can create as many calendars as you need. Many users forget this option and simply work with the default calendar. That’s not a good idea. Instead of opting for that default calendar, you must create a project-specific calendar for every project. By doing this, you have more control over who can see what and how each user can interact with each calendar.
Here’s how to create a new calendar in Google Workspace:
- Log in to your Google Workspace account.
- Open the Calendar app.
- Locate Other Calendars in the left navigation.
- Click +.
- Click Create New Calendar from the pop-up.
- In the resulting window (Figure A), give the calendar a name and a description and change the timezone if necessary.
- Click Create Calendar.
Once the calendar is created, you’ll then need to share it with your team. Here’s how:
- Locate and click the new calendar in the left navigation.
- In the resulting window, look for the Share With Specific People section.
- Click Add People.
- Type the names or email addresses of those who need access to the calendar.
- As you add a new name, make sure to edit their permissions accordingly (Figure B).
- Set the permissions as needed from the Permissions drop-down.
- Click Send.
It’s important that you take care with the permissions. You might have team members who only need read permissions, whereas other members might need read and write permissions, while others might need read, write and manage permissions. If you choose those permissions wisely, your team calendar will serve you well.
Add your calendar to the company site
Instead of pointing your team to Google Calendar directly, you can add that calendar to your company website. This will probably have to be done by your web designer, but if you use a tool like WordPress, it’s actually quite simple.
Near the bottom of the new Calendar options page, you will find an embed link. You can use this to add it to your internal website so your team members don’t have to leave the company site to view the calendar. Just make sure you use the embed code for this and not the public URL or address.
Place that embed link wisely and your teams won’t have to bookmark or hunt for their project calendar.
Use the built-in Tasks feature
Google Calendar has an included Task option. Instead of creating everything on the calendar as an event, you should make use of Tasks. With Task creation, you can assign a task to a category. Even better, when you add a task to your new Google Calendar, it shows up as a Task, which you can access from the right sidebar (Figure C).
Use marketplace integrations
If you find Google Calendar alone isn’t enough, you can always add integrations. You’ll find plenty of project management-specific integrations in the marketplace, such as those for:
And many, many more. Each of these integrations offers a different feature set, but most of them will populate your calendar with tasks and cards from the third-party service, which makes it an outstanding addition.
Four tips for Google Calendar
There you have it: Four tips to help you turn Google Calendar into a viable project management tool. Who knows — you might find this fits perfectly into your workflow and can save you some cash along the way.
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