Affiliate links may be used in this post. I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my affiliate link. Read my full disclosure policy here.
How to create a shared Google Calendar and why it matters.
“What dates are our Colorado trip again?” my husband texted me while we were both at work.
I scrolled up in our text message conversation to the last time I had sent him the dates, took a screenshot, and sent the photo with the dates to him. While this may seem slightly passive-aggressive, I really was just planning ahead. I stopped counting, but I’m certain I sent him the same photo at least two more times.
I am 100% the planner in the family, so it made sense that I was the keeper of our travel schedule. But the reverse situation happens frequently to us as well. My husband is a singer and I am often guilty of asking him over and over again for his rehearsal and performance schedule. We both work full-time and are involved in a number of activities, so our schedules vary from week to week and can get a bit hectic.
Every Sunday night we go over our plans for the upcoming week, which has worked pretty well for us. But when talking about plans that are further out, or in especially busy times, this method falls short and often leaves us asking each other the same questions over and over or double booking ourselves.
Clearly this is not an efficient system. And as a lover of efficiency and systems, I decided there had to be a better way. I started asking around how other people coordinate their schedules with their significant other and the answer emerged:
While there are a number of other apps set up specifically to help couples share calendars and there are some folks who prefer analog calendars, overwhelmingly Google Calendar has been mentioned to me as the favorite method of choice for coordinating calendars with significant others. I’m smart enough to notice a trend, so I decided to dig in deeper into why shared Google Calendars work and how to use them. Read on to find out what I learned.
Why You Should Have a Shared Google Calendar
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s talk about the why of having a shared calendar. At its core, a shared Google Calendar helps you to improve communication and align your schedule with your partner. Other key reasons for a shared calendar include:
- Keeping track of each other’s schedule
- Planning for shared events
- Preventing arguments that come from double booking or forgetting previous commitments
- Planning for vacations or special events
In my case, I see having a shared calendar as serving a couple of different purposes. One is to keep track of events further in the future that we might forget about otherwise. Another reason is to facilitate shared goals. My husband and I like going to the gym together, so we can put that on our shared calendar to help hold each other accountable. And finally, a shared calendar would help memorialize decisions or conversations we had about our schedules in real life. Each week when we talk about our upcoming plans, we can add an event into our shared calendar. That extra step helps us both remember what the other is up to and minimize miscommunication.
How to Set up a Shared Google Calendar
Setting up a Google Calendar is pretty simple. The basic steps include:
- Set up a free Google account if you don’t have one already. You could set up one account to share or set up individual accounts that will both be members of the shared calendar.
- Go to calendar.google.com and log into your account
- Click on the “+” sign by “Other Calendars” and then click on “Create New Calendar”.
- Give your calendar a name (preferably something to indicate that is a shared calendar)
- Woohoo! – you’ve created your new calendar! Now it is time to share it.
- Go into the settings for your calendar
- Under the “Share with Specific People” section, click the “+Add People” button
- Enter the Gmail address for your partner and give them the appropriate permissions (most likely “Make Changes and Manage Sharing).
- The final step is for the other person to accept the calendar, and you officially have created a shared Google Calendar!
How to Use a Shared Google Calendar on a regular basis
Once you have your calendar in place, the next thing to think about is how you want to use it on a regular basis. There are a couple of different approaches here:
- Add events together as they come up or get booked
- Go over your calendar together on a weekly or monthly basis and add in items during your review
- Add in your own individual activities as they come up for informational purposes
The key here is to find a rhythm that works for you both. Especially when you are first getting started it can be helpful to start small and piggyback calendaring on any planning processes you already have in place.
Warnings and Advice
A shared Google Calendar is meant to help improve communication, not replace it. A study on shared calendars between significant others found that they could actually cause conflict if one partner feels that events are being “imposed” onto them through the shared calendar. A simple shared code such as a question mark added for events that are being proposed by one party can help to resolve these conflicts. Or you could agree that you will only add mutual events to the calendar that you have discussed in person.
Also, it can be useful to discuss what types of events get added to the calendar. If you have fairly regular routine events, do they need to be added every time? Or is the calendar just meant for things out of the ordinary? There isn’t one right answer to these questions but discussing them can help the process to be more useful for your unique situation.
If you, like me, are the planner in your relationship, you might be thinking, okay this is all sounds great, but I will never be able to get my partner on board. The really great thing about shared Google Calendars is that the barrier for minimal participation is really very low. It is very simple to accept the calendar invitation and add it to your phone. From there, even if all your partner does is look at the calendar on a somewhat regular basis, this can still be really helpful.
And if you are feeling overwhelmed about all this, remember a little bit of time investment to set up a solid system upfront almost always pays off down the line. I, for one, can’t wait till the next time my husband and I have a trip planned. Instead of scrolling through emails and messages and sending screenshots as I’ve done in the past, all the information will be right there in our shared Google Calendar. And for me, that’s reason enough to jump on board!
Do you use a shared calendar with your significant other? Are you on the Google Calendar train or have you found another system that works great? Any brilliant ways you’ve used shared calendars to improve communication and planning in your relationship? Let us know in the comments below!