By ALLIE MYSZKA

I don’t know about you, but when I set a goal for myself, I often fall into the trap of, “Ugh, I don’t have time to keep up with this,” after a week or two of working at it. I told myself at the beginning of this year that I would read more fiction books this year, I’d journal more, I’d be better about calling my family… the list goes on and on.

How Google Calendar Surprised Me (and Helped Me Stay on Track)

I was slated to fall right back into that “don’t have time” trap at the end of January, but a recent discovery inside my Google Calendar app has gotten me back on track—and maybe even changed my life! Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but nonetheless, it has definitely kicked my butt back into gear on my New Year’s goals. So what is this feature??

It’s called Goals.

I stumbled on it completely by accident. For reasons I won’t get into, I was frustrated with my iPhone’s built-in calendar app. I’ve been using Google Calendar on my computer for years now, so I finally decided to download Google’s Calendar app to my phone (in hopes it would solve the problems I was having with the default one on my phone). As it turns out, Goals is a feature that’s only available on the mobile version of the app, so I never would’ve discovered it unless I ditched my old calendar app—I think we call that “type A fate.”

How Does the Goals Feature Work?

When you use Goals, you enter what it is you’d like to do—whether it’s meditate once a day, call your grandmother every week, or clean out your refrigerator every two weeks. Then, the Google Calendar app looks at the existing obligations on your calendar and schedules time blocks for your goals automatically.

When you add a goal, Google offers the following predetermined categories:

  • Exercise
  • Build a skill
  • Friends & family
  • Me time
  • Organize my life

Once you choose one, Google offers even more options for specific goals. Truthfully, though, you can customize a goal in any of these categories to suit what your goal is. You’ll walk through what I would call a “setup wizard” that asks you how frequently you’d like to complete your chosen task or activity, what duration you want it to be, and the best time of day.

From there, Google Calendar will add your goal time blocks to your calendar. If needed, you have the flexibility to adjust them. So, if Google schedules you to go for a walk at 8 AM on a Tuesday, but you know you have carpool duty that day, you can easily reschedule the goal for a different time or day.

Why It Works for Me (and Hopefully You, Too)

I’ll admit, I was skeptical when I first discovered this feature. I’ve tried to pencil in times myself to read, organize my closet, or call a friend. More often than not, I would break those commitments to myself and not think twice about it.

Nonetheless, I tried it. As I mentioned before, one of my goals this year is to read more nonfiction books. I added a goal to read three times a week for 30 minutes in the evenings, and to my surprise, I’ve stuck to it for almost a full month now.

Personally, I think part of the reason it works is because Google Calendar reminds me that my time block is coming up. This isn’t uncommon, of course, and most calendar apps send you notifications. But the extra part of Goals that has helped me even more than notifications and reminders is progress tracking. Every time Google Calendar asks me if I’ve completed my time block, it shows me a progress graph, and tells me how many sessions I’ve done that week and how far I am from completion for the week. You can look back at past weeks and compare your “stats,” so to speak, and over time, you’ll start to see how far you’ve come toward reaching your big-picture goal.

For all the times that I’ve said, “I don’t have time,” Goals is showing me that I do have time. We make time for what’s important to us, and with a feature like this, I’m incredibly grateful for the help of technology in getting my priorities in order.

 

**To use Goals, install the Google Calendar mobile app on your iPhone or Android, then click the plus sign and choose the “goal” option. To read more about the Goals feature, check out this blog post by Google.**

 

 

Allie was born and raised in Georgia, and moved to Nashville after graduating from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!). She’s a freelance writer, an old soul, and a chronic DIY-er. Connect with Allie at alliemyszka.com.