Calendar PlanningMany of us have come to rely on Google for so much of our digital lives. We back up all of our contacts to Google, for example, so that they can be automatically restored and synchronized whenever we get a new smartphone. But as great as the mighty Google may be, its solutions are still missing some useful features. That’s where the Labs can come into play, as would be the case with Google Calendar add-ons.

The fundamentally same idea applies with tracking your appointments and meetings as it does with Gmail Labs features to extend and improve your email experience. If you want to get the most of your schedule, these Google Calendar add-ons are a good place to start. To access the Labs, click on the Gear icon in the top-right corner of Google Calendar and select Labs from the resulting list of options.

Next Meeting

Sure, it might be easy enough to fire up your Google Calendar and look at your full list of meetings, appointments and other scheduled events. That’s what it’s there for. But what’s missing here is keeping tabs on how much time you have left until you have your obligation. The suitably named Next Meeting gives you a countdown to, you guessed it, your next meeting. This way, you’ll know that you have exactly 2 hours and 24 minutes before those TPS reports must be ready for the presentation.

Year View

See a whole year at a glance

See a whole year at a glance

By default, Google Calendar offers you the choice between five different views. You can see a single day, a week, a month, a period of four days, or an agenda listing for all your appointments. What if you want to get a bigger view so you’ll know how many Tuesdays there are in May or what date is the Wednesday exactly nine weeks from now? This might one of the more superfluous Google Calendar add-ons, but Year View can actually be quite useful if you need to see a whole year at a time. I’d say it beats printing them out.

Automatically Declining Events

One of the handier features in Google Calendar is the integrated ability to invite other people to the events you create. It’s a little passive-aggressive, but it’s really convenient and it ensures that everyone is on the same page for the location and other details. But if already know that you aren’t available for meetings during certain times on certain days? Rather than wade through all of those invitations manually, you can save time by declining these events automatically with this add-on.

Jump to Date

An instant time travel machine for Google Calendar

An instant time travel machine for Google Calendar

Google Calendar is designed to be sequential in nature. Even if you expand out into the month view, you still have to go through each month in order if you want to jump ahead to some date in the future. The Jump to Date add-on makes this process far more efficient, because you can jump ahead to any specific date you want without having to go through the regular sequence. This is great when you need to leap ahead a few years into the future.

Chrome Extension

In the strictest sense, this shouldn’t be included in a list of Google Calendar add-ons since it’s not technically an add-on through the Labs. Even so, the invaluable utility and convenience of the Google Calendar Chrome extension cannot be understated. Rather than having to open up a whole new browser window or tab, you can get at your calendar at any time, including the ability to “quick add” new events. Depending on the site you are visiting, you might even be able to highlight event details, right click, and choose to add to Google Calendar that way.

Image credit: photosteve101 / Flickr

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