Organize your life with multiple Google calendars

Updated to Productivity on January 3, 2023.

I was in a car the other day with a radiologist and a neurosurgeon talking about hypertension. 

This conversation is actually not as unusual as it might sound. I volunteer for a local society that does trail clearing in a popular hiking and mountain bike park and many of the volunteers happen to be recently retired doctors. 

Back in the car, one of the doctors happened to mention that recently his medical partner, who is in his early 60’s, had a mild stroke. As we wound our way further up the dirt road to our work site my education continued. 

I learned that strokes are the second biggest cause of mortality worldwide and the third most common cause of disability. The scary statistics get worse. As you age your chance of a stroke doubles every 10 years after 55

There’s a checklist of health conditions that make you more susceptible to a stroke, like obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes. But the biggest culprit – six times out of ten – is hypertension or high blood pressure. In my books, that’s worth paying attention to.

What’s interesting is that stress, in itself, is not the direct cause of high blood pressure. It’s what we do when under stress that leads to nasty results. We eat too much, drink too much, and move too little. Basically, we deal with stress by making unhealthy choices.

For me, stress starts with worry.

Ngoc Son Temple, Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam

I’ve had a lot of worries

There is a world of problems you can worry about – take your pick. You can worry that Ukraine will be pummeled into a tiny province of rubble, or that we’ve passed the tipping point with global warming, or the tiny spot on your chin is cancer. 

Or not.

“I’ve had a lot of worries,” quipped Mark Twain “most of which never happened.” Our mind loves a good worry. Like a dog chewing a bone, we want to turn our worry around, looking from all angles, poking and prodding until it swells up into something bigger than it really is.

I used to worry incessantly before every keynote speech. I’d worry I’d miss my flight or wasn’t prepared enough, or I would be greeted by the “audience from hell.” Trust me, when you have 60 minutes to educate, entertain, inspire, motivate, and get laughs from an audience you’ve never met before, any sane person would invent a long list of worries.

It was at one of those events when a fellow speaker opened an exit door for my worries. He suggested that audiences don’t want you to fail – in fact, they want you to succeed. “They want to see you having fun—enjoying yourself. That way,” he explained, “they can enjoy the ride with you.”

When I accepted the long list of what I could never control – my flights, the audience, the speaker before me going overtime – I was free to focus on what I could control.

Enjoying the moment. 

What your life will have been

In her book, Comfortable with Uncertainty, Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön tells the story of delighting in the preciousness of every single moment.

A woman is running from lions. She runs and she runs, and the lions are getting closer. She comes to the edge of a cliff. She sees a vine there, so she climbs down and holds onto it. Then she looks down and sees that there are lions below her as well. At the same time, she notices a little mouse gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries emerging from a nearby clump of grass. She looks up, she looks down, and she looks a the mouse. Then she picks a strawberry, pops it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly.

Learning what to focus on, and what to ignore, seems to be the ultimate secret to living a healthy, stress-free life. “Whatever compelled your attention from moment to moment,” writes Oliver Burkeman in Four Thousand Weeks (a must-read for anyone over 50), “is simply what your life will have been.”

So, what are you focussing on?

What to focus on

You can learn a lot when you’re the dumbest one in a car full of doctors. I learned that strokes are a silent pandemic. And that hypertension is the leading cause of that pandemic. And I learned the leading cause of hypertension is stress. 

I was also reminded that stress is a choice.

We all have lions and tigers in our life. Maybe even a mouse or two gnawing away at something we value. Meanwhile, we have the moment.

Choosing what to focus on (and what not to) might just be the healthiest choice you can make.

Got this far? You might also like these posts:

Photo of eggs by Nik on Unsplash
Photo of Ngoc Son Temple by author
Photo of tigers by author

Do you ever miss family appointments? Or maybe you want to see your major projects on your calendar, but not all the time.

I took a few minutes this week to discover how to layer Google calendars and they do all that (and more).

Earlier this year I wrote about the importance of Campaign Calendars. And that’s great when the calendar is on the wall, as I suggested. The trick is to handle all those dates and campaigns once they’re on you little 13” screen. That’s where Google calendars comes in.

If you’ve been using Outlook or Mac’s Calendar then this will be a switch for you and, depending on your job, might not even be possible. But if you have some flexibility, I strongly suggest you look at using Google calendar as your main planning tool for appointments. I’ve been using it exclusively now for about four months and wouldn’t go back.

Why use Google calendars?

Here are 134 (just kidding), nine reasons why Google calendars are brilliant:

  • you can easily share all or parts of your calendar with family, co-workers, and even sub-contractors.
  • a number of free scheduling tools, like (that we use and love) sync beautifully with Google calendars making booking appointments a breeze.
  • you can access them anywhere you can get on-line with just your gmail log-in.
  • the gmail app and Google calendar work beautifully together as your main planning tools (if you have your emails show up in the gmail app).
  • you can easily attach documents (including spreadsheets), or invites to Google+ Hangouts (like Skype, but better) to calendar events.
  • you can add a location to the calendar event and have a Google Map attached to it.
  • you can use the “Find a time” feature to coordinate meetings with other colleagues who are using Google Calendar.
  • if you are using the gmail email app you can easily add appointments to your calendar right from your email (it even pre-populates the event with the content of the email).
  • it has a fast search feature for finding, say client meetings you want to prepare for (and wedding anniversaries).

What calendars to create?

The trick is to add multiple calendars that represent “layers” in your planning. For example, I have a calendar that shows all of our campaigns, including not just the launch dates, but the full length of the preparation and marketing, and wrap up (which could easily stretch over four weeks). We don’t need to see these long campaign launches all the time, so I have created a separate calendar just for them.

I have a calendar for my family so I can see where my wife and kids are scheduled for in the week. This is really great for events that repeat, like soccer practice, volunteer work, and part-time jobs. Now that I have one daughter in university, this also helps me see when she is home for reading breaks.

I have another calendar for statutory holidays. In my work, a four-day week impacts how I plan my campaigns. Now, with one click I can check for those conflicts.

I also added a “competitor” calendar this year. This shows most of the “A” lister’s conferences in the US that attract my market (speakers, trainers, authors, and on-line marketers). This gives me a sense of when the “hot” zones are for attracting delegates. If I was to host a conference (I think having wisdom teeth pulled is more fun) I’d want to avoid some of these dates because I might be after the same presenters.

And all of these calendars are colour coded and can be turned on or off. Neat right?

How to set up calendars

The steps to setting up your calendar are easy:

1) Open Gmail and select Calendars. On the left, click on the small arrow beside “My Calendars”

2) Click on “Create new calendar”

add calendar

Enter the calendar name, Description. Choose if you want it to be public. And enter the email address of anyone you want it shared with. There are two of us in the office, so I share my calendars with Sarah. But we can also share some calendars with people we outsource to.

3) Click “Create calendar”

Once a calendar is created, you can choose to share all, or some of your calendars. I share my planning calendar (with all my appointments) with Sarah in my office and some of our contracts. Here’s how I do it:

go to settings1) Beside the gear symbol (top right corner of screen), click on the small down arrow.

2) Click on “Settings”

2) Click on “Calendars” (top left)




3) Click on “Shared: Edit settings” and then enter the email address of the person you are sharing with.

4) Click “save”

2. share calendar




I’m hooked on Google calendars (it syncs with my MAC calendar as well).