SkedPal needs to be aware of your busy times according to your Google calendar so it won’t schedule tasks when you’re in a meeting. But, before connecting your Google calendar to SkedPal, let’s review what you have on your Google calendar:
- Fixed Appointments – If you’re using your Google calendar to book meetings with others, SkedPal will read your busy times to avoid scheduling tasks over them.
- Reminders – If you use full-day events on your Google calendar as reminders (e.g. Birthdays), make sure they are set as ‘Available’. You can see this option in Google calendar’s edit event under ‘Show me as Available/Busy’ button.
- Shared Calendars – If others in your work or family/friends are sharing their calendar with you, you’ll see the option to select those calendars for syncing with SkedPal. If you do decide to connect shared calendars, their busy times will also be your busy times, and SkedPal will avoid scheduling tasks over those busy times. So, during the Google calendar connection process, make sure you select the right calendars.
- Holidays – Google offers standard holiday calendars such as United States Holidays. You can use this calendar to avoid scheduling tasks on holidays. You will be able to select which Time Maps will be affected by holidays. See below for more details.
- Time Blocks – You need to think about using time blocks on your Google calendar when starting to use SkedPal. If the activity for which you’re blocking time is at fixed times, then keep them as time blocks in Google calendar. You won’t need to add these as tasks to SkedPal. For example, if you’re going to a weekly community activity every Saturday from 10 AM to 12 PM, keep this as a recurring weekly time block on your Google calendar. However, if your activity does not occur at a fixed time, you’re better off removing your time block from Google calendar and add this task to SkedPal for more flexible scheduling. Remember, that you can’t have the same activity as both a fixed time block on your Google calendar and a task in SkedPal.
How SkedPal calendar blends in: Once you connect your Google calendar to SkedPal, you’ll see a new calendar named ‘SkedPal’ on the list of calendars in Google. Your tasks from SkedPal will be scheduled in this calendar. Your own calendars in Google will never be altered by SkedPal. SkedPal only reads them to understand your busy times. SkedPal schedules your tasks around your busy times in Google calendar.
A copy of your Google calendar’s busy times will also be displayed on your SkedPal calendar. They will remain synced at all times. So, when you add a new appointment to your Google calendar or alter an existing appointment, SkedPal calendar will instantly be updated in the background. Once you make changes to your Google calendar, you want to re-schedule your tasks in SkedPal to align with your new appointment times.
Please note that SkedPal syncs the next 21 days of events on your Google calendar only. The past events will not sync. And, the events over 21 days away will not sync either. As you get closer to the events, they will automatically sync.
How to Connect to your Google Calendar:
- Click on the menu on the top right of the screen (profile image) and select setting
- Your default browser should now open and load SkedPal settings page.
- If you’re not logged in already, use your SkedPal credentials to log into the website.
- From the left menu, select calendar account, and connect to your Google account. Please note that you can connect multiple Google or Office 365 accounts. And, within each Google account, there are several calendars including shared calendars. You’ll be able to select the right calendars.
- Go to calendar-select, and select the right calendars you want to sync. Make sure you include your holiday calendars too.
- Go to calendar-setting, and set the right options. See below for more details.
Sidelining Google Appointments in SkedPal:
You might have some appointments added to your Google calendar that do not really stand for busy times. In other words, you are still available to schedule your tasks during the Google appointment times. Examples include all-day reminders (e.g. birthday reminders), or a multi-day event in Google calendar denoting a certain context or travel time. In order to instruct SkedPal to use the event/appointment times as an available time, you have two options:
- Make the appointment as available in Google (not Busy)
- Sideline the appointment in SkedPal
Please note that all-day appointments from Google are set as side-lined by default. This is true even if you set the appointment as available.
Holidays have a varied impact on different tasks. For example, you probably want to complete personal tasks on a holiday, while not scheduling any work-related task. To do this, make sure you select your holiday calendar in step 5 above. If you do not have a holiday calendar by default, you can create your own Google calendar in your account and add your holidays to it. This will sync all holidays with SkedPal. Then, for each Time Map, you can indicate if you’d like to block your time or ignore it.
Your Tasks on Google Calendar
SkedPal syncs with Google calendar in both directions, that is it reads your appointments from Google calendar and writes your tasks to it. The SkedPal calendar in your Google calendar account displays your scheduled tasks. You can decide NOT to sync your tasks to Google calendar. You will find this option at the top of the calendar setting page. In addition, you may choose to sync your tasks as BUSY or as AVAILABLE (or FREE) time on your Google calendar.
Buffer Time Before And After Appointments
You’ve probably noticed that if you have a fixed appointment on your Google calendar from 10:00 to 11:00 AM, SkedPal assumes that you are available the minute after (or before) this event. But, what if you need to commute to the next activity? Or just need some time to switch contexts before you can get started with your next task? You can set a fixed buffer time before and/or after all fixed appointments. This can be set at the calendar level. In other words, if you have more than one calendar, you can set these buffers differently for each calendar. You will find the right options in step 5 above (How to connect to your Google calendar).