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How to Use Reminders in Google Calendar {and get it all done}

By March 7, 2016 7 Comments

Let’s take a quiz:

Question #1: You’re away from your calendar and someone asks you to do something that requires action on your part.

Do you….

A. Say “Sure!” and promptly forget the conversation.

B. Say “Sure! Maybe?….email me so I can check my calendar!”

C. Scramble for a piece of paper to write it down and end up with an illegible message on your hand.

D. Just say No. It’s easier that way.

I’ve tried out all the answers. Saying No definitely has its place. I like option B; you don’t have to remember until the person emails you what they want (and hope they don’t 🙂 )

I don’t think our brains are meant to hold all this STUFF we’re trying to make it hold. Like the awesome David Allen says, “Your brain is for having ideas, not for holding them.”

But how to keep those ideas from getting lost in the depths of your purse, diaper bag, or the coat that goes through the wash?

Cue Reminders in Google Calendar!

You’re going to need a couple things:

  1. A gmail address (free)
  2. Download or open Google calendar app (free)
  3. USE the Google calendar

I’m still a paper calendar girl, BUT, am slowly, slowly becoming a Google Calendar fanatic. It has major advantages. My husband and I each have our own digital calendars. They’re synced so that I can spy on him all day long!

My older kids’s school calendar is synced so I know when every class meets, what sports team is playing, and when the SAT is. More spying!

Just today I was at the orthodontist. Usually, it’s: “I’ll call you later and set up an appointment – I don’t have my calendar.” What a pain.

No longer! Now you look at your handy dandy Google calendar on your smart phone and schedule it RIGHT THEN. Done.

Now, let’s add the Reminder feature and you’ll never forget anything again! Here is what your calendar looks like  (screen shot of my phone. don’t you like the pretty colors?):


See that red circle with the + sign? Hit it! (and YES, I’ve started scheduling reoccurring chores, like “dust house.”)After you hit the + sign, your screen looks like this:unnamed-7 Do you want to schedule a Reminder or an Event? For me, Reminders are things I can check off, they’re a REMINDER I need to do something, versus an Event is some place I need to go (appointments, etc.)

Click Reminder.unnamed-6

Type in your reminder: (like write this post!)unnamed-5

Choose when you want this to happen:unnamed-4 Press “Save.”

You can schedule something for once, once a week, once a month, once a year…it makes life easier!

For instance, I my kids have youth group every Tuesday at 6:30. It’s on the calendar for life.

Our pellet stove needs servicing every July for the $50 discount. I created a Reminder for July 20th. I scheduled it to remind me every July until I die…done! Are you as excited as I am?

The annual piano tuning? Water boiler service? Use the Reminder feature! You can even have it send you an email or Reminder bell if you really don’t want to forget.

unnamed-1 This was when I was away from the house and remembered I needed to call the pediatrician and schedule four well-child visits for the year. Rather than scrawling it on a piece of paper, stuffing it in my purse, and forgetting about it, I wrote a Reminder!

Once you’ve scheduled your Reminder, it carries over to the next day until you “Mark as Done. Sometimes my brain goes berserk and spits out a zillion things…unnamed Now I have a place for all those thoughts and ideas.

What I’d advise: check your Reminders at the end of the day and have a plan to do something with them. Keep your phone as uncluttered as possible.

If you have no intention of actually doing something, don’t create the Reminder. Or schedule it in a month when you have time to do it. Scheduling without intention is just something to feel guilty about. You will feel overwhelmed, then discouraged, and dread checking your calendar all together.

Now, here’s my favorite feature: the “Mark as Done” button.

After calling the pediatrician, click on the Reminder.

At the bottom of the screen it says “Mark as Done.” It gets crossed out right then and there so that the Reminder looks like this:unnamed-8“Mark as Done” is a happy endorphin boost!

There are many many electronic Reminder apps, but I need reeeaaaalllly easy. Reminders in Google Calendar is easy.

And full confession here: sometimes I see “Dust House” and have no intention of dusting that day. I click “Mark as Done” anyway because I don’t want it carried over to the next day. I know, I’m such a rebel. But it’s almost as satisfying as actually dusting.

Good luck and let me know how it goes!



  • The Google Calendar is the only reason my family works at all. Without it, we’d be lost. We expect our girls to enter and share their events to the family calendar. If they surprise us with an unexpected event, the response is: IS IT ON THE GOOGLE CALENDAR?!?! WHY NOT????!!?

    The only problem is my Android phone periodically purges events with no reason.

    It’s enough to drive me to an iPhone. Oh No!

  • Peter Nelson says:

    Thanks Amy. I’ve been doing this for years and tell everyone about it that will listen. Thanks for the post!

  • Dana says:

    I don’t use Google calendar, but I often put reminders on my phone. I need alarms to remind me too!

  • Julia Tomiak says:

    I LOVE Google calendar, for all the reasons you mentioned. I can put all our events in, and husband should have access to them too. Unfortunately, he doesn’t always check the calendar…
    I use the reminders/ tasks app that comes with the iPhone. I also set alerts on the calendar. Is there a separate Google Calendar app that you use?

  • Nina says:

    i use Siri to remind me of stuff all day long. But I do worry I depend on it so much that my brain doesn’t expect itself to remember anything.

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