Change this Google Calendar feature so you’re never late for a meeting

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It’s 11:50 a.m. and your phone rings: “Team meeting in 10 minutes.” But then 12 o’clock rolls around and you’ve forgotten all about the helpful warning. You look up and it’s 12:03 PM. So you have to open the video conference link and try to quietly enter the virtual meeting. Late.

Fortunately, there are some quick fixes for Google Calendar users. You can change the notification time or add a second notification closer to the start of the meeting. Instead of being notified 10 minutes before, you can set the alert to go off two minutes before. Usually the default warning is 30, 15, or 10 minutes before an event, but you can change it at any time.

To change your notification settings for specific events, click on each event on your calendar and edit the “Event Details”. Then go to the bell icon to change the notification information. This only changes notifications for that one event. For a big interview or important phone call, I’ll give a 30-minute warning in addition to a 10-minute and then a 2-minute warning.

However, if you want to change your default heads up time for all meetings and events, you can go to Settings. To set it to two minutes (or seven or five minutes, or any length of time) in a desktop browser:

  1. Click the gear icon at the top of calendar.google.com and click Settings in the pull-down menu.

  2. Find My Calendar Settings on the left and click the calendar you want to change.

  3. Once you are in that calendar’s settings, look for “event notifications”.

  4. From there, you can change the timing of the notifications or add a second, third, or even fourth reminder.

Image: Screenshot: Google Calendar

Personally, I need the 10 minute warning to take notes or set up my screen for a video call. That usually gives me enough time to take a toilet break and a quick refill of the water bottle. A second notification is useful here. Before I can lose sight of my prep time, another notification tells me to start the video so I’m already signed in when noon is over.

If an event is an all day event, I’ll be notified at 11:30 PM the night before. But that’s just me: you can choose how many days or weeks before the event you want to be notified. Go to the settings for “All day event notifications” directly under “Event notifications”.

Notifications aren’t just available minutes before a meeting. You can set off an alarm two days in advance or even a week in advance. For flights, I always set a notification 24 hours (or one day) before take-off. This is the earliest time you can check-in for a flight online. I will set an additional reminder a week in advance for an event that requires grocery shopping or other preparations.

For the lucky few who don’t need a reminder, you can always remove all notifications – or send the reminder to your email inbox.

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