Time is a resource just as important as money. With only a few hours in the day dedicated to work, how you spend them can impact your overall bottom line.
Business owners and entrepreneurs should strive to find new ways of saving and managing time. A great starting point is finding a robust collaborative calendar app that encourages communication and teamwork.
When to Use a Collaborative Calendar
Collaborative calendars are particularly useful for certain projects and processes. For example, distributed teams or remote teams may have individuals working from home, or at the office, or in a different timezone altogether. Use a collaborative calendar to schedule important meetings with clients or team members, so everyone knows when it starts and can block off their calendar accordingly. It can also be used to set deadlines for certain deliverables, ensuring a sense of accountability for all parties involved. Collaborative calendars can also be utilized to estimate a project timeline and an individual’s workload, making it easier to manage and delegate accordingly. Finally, a collaborative calendar can come in handy when celebrating a team member’s birthday/work anniversary, or for scheduling happy hours and fun events.
Why You Should Use a Collaborative Calendar
Better time management – To-do lists aren’t enough. If you really want to get things done, block out a time during your day to work on that project or task. Seeing your task as a part of your day will motivate you to better plan the rest of your week.
Reminders – Forget to return a call? Showed up late for a meeting? Planning a big event? Next time set an alert by scheduling it on your calendar. No matter what you’re doing, a quick notification on your phone will make sure you’re on time.
Clearer team communication – Stop worrying about time zones or conflicts- sending someone a calendar invite ensures they have the event in their calendar as well. Better yet, sharing a whole calendar with your team allows them to see your weekly agenda.
Want some tips for better managing your time? Check out our previous post on time management hacks.
Top Ten Collaborative Calendar Apps
For many businesses, Google Calendar and the rest of the Google Suite has become the de-facto cloud setup. It’s easy to use, has a sleek interface, and best of all, is free. No wonder it’s become so popular. Inviting others to view your calendar through a unique URL can be convenient for setting deadlines for colleagues or checking the workplace productivity. Best of all, it’s already integrated into your Gmail account, so you can easily schedule meeting requests or calls. There are even a few schedule apps available that integrate with both Google Calendar and Gmail. Google Calendar might be the most popular free team calendar, and some might say even the best online calendar period.
If your organization uses Apple hardware, Apple Calendar will already be installed. Make no mistake, Apple Calendar is a sleek app. The interface is as simple as it gets, echoing the same visual design seen in other Apple apps. While Apple Calendar may lack flashy extensions and is limited to Apple and iOS devices, the company’s apps have always centered on simplicity and user experience. As some people say: “It just works.”
Apple uses Calendar, and Microsoft relies on Outlook. Many businesses with desktops continue to use Outlook for its Microsoft Office integration- allowing them to manage emails, contacts, tasks, events in a unified setup. Features include team calendar sharing, side-by-side timetable comparisons, and sending meeting requests straight from email or the calendar. Unlike Apple Calendar, Outlook can be used on both Windows and Apple devices. Subscriptions start at $6.99/month or $69.99/year. You can also purchase Office 2016 completely at $149.99 (for the Home & Student version). Fortunately, the mobile versions are free.
Looking for a more casual, social-oriented calendar set up? Try UpTo. Unlike other calendars on this list, UpTo resembles more of an enclosed social network for planning events- allowing you to view your colleague’s activities in real-time, with options for liking and commenting. The app also allows you to follow other calendars, like the schedule of your favorite TV show, or your favorite sports team. You can even set up groups for work, family, projects, and more. Best of all, UpTo integrates with your existing calendars, including Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, and Facebook Events. This free team calendar is arguably the strongest Google Calendar alternative, in terms of features available at no cost.
Maybe you just want people to view upcoming events or projects neatly without all the trouble of setting up accounts and permissions. That’s what TeamUp is for. Designed with a colorful interface, TeamUp works to simplify team collaboration. The calendar is so dynamic and customizable, it has been used by everyone from the education industry to technology, including Harvard University, NASA, HPE, Philips, Red Bull and more. Visit their website for a deeper look into real use cases.
Do you get annoyed by the constant back and forth in scheduling a meeting? Then Calendly is the solution for you. All you have to do is set your availability preferences, share your Calendly link to your client or teammates, and then Calendly will present the correct time and dates for them to select from. It’s simple, smart, and has a ton of integrations with third-party calendars. The basic version is free, or you can choose the premium or pro plans for $8 and $12 respectively, with added features and capabilities.
Available as a web app.
Asana is more of a project management app with strong calendar features than it is a standalone calendar app. But its calendar remains intuitive, flexible, and easy to use. Calendar events can be grouped according to project or initiative, and can also be assigned to individual team members. The result is a colorful approach to tackling day-to-day tasks. Asana comes in three plans: Free, Premium ($10.99), and Business ($24.99), with options for enterprise as well.
Available on iOS, Android, and as a web app.
8. Toggl Plan
Toggl Plan has two main priorities: ease of use and project clarity. Used by major companies like Airbnb, Netflix, Stripe, Amazon, NYT and Spotify, Toggl Plan is designed for keeping track of what each member of the team is working on while providing flexibility to adjust dates and times on the fly. Toggl Plan has three tiers: Free (up to five users), Standard for $8 per user per month, and Business for $13.35 per user per month.
Available on iOS, Android, as a web app, and as a Google Chrome extension.
Dubbed the 2020 Mac App of the Year, Fantastical repeatedly appears among the best iOS and Mac App Store apps. That’s because it packs so much power and functionality, sports a streamlined, Apple-inspired design, and is cross-platform to boot. If you want something to replace the built-in calendar on MacBook or iPhone/iPad, you can’t do better than Fantastical. Try it for free then get it yearly ($3.33 per month) or monthly ($4.99 per month). The free version, while still useful as a calendar, lacks some of the collaboration and integrations in the paid versions.
Available on macOS, iOS, iPadOS and watchOS.
Woven is a great calendar option for teams, startups, or individuals that want to balance their work and personal life on their calendar. Woven has a couple of interesting features you won’t find elsewhere, like smart templates for easy event creation, built-in group polls, time management analytics, and supporting multiple calendar integrations. Its basic plan is free but won’t have the useful video conferencing integration features, smart templates, or multiple calendars syncing. Woven Premium comes with all the features for $15 per month (with an early access pricing option for $10 per month at the time of writing).
Available for iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and as a web app.
As with most tools, a calendar is just a means to an end. You shouldn’t expect your organization to radically change overnight. Collaborative organizational values and practices have to be instilled over time, but having a calendar is a great place to start. When businesses can internally communicate more clearly about what they’re working on, and when client meetings have reminders before they start, operations become almost automatic.
Get the right tools to complement your online toolkit. Explore our virtual office offerings today.
Are digital tools getting in the way of your productivity and organization? Try an analog method with the bullet journal.