While time blocking is a really useful way to make sure you actually get the important stuff done, it can also be tricky if you're the kind of person who has a lot of inbound meetings. If your calendar is too full and unavailable, you might find yourself spending a lot of time negotiating with your colleagues for available times.

Reclaim helps you to balance this out by leveraging a concept that most people don't use in Google Calendar: free and busy events. Here's a short guide that walks you through what free and busy events are in Google Calendar, as well as how Reclaim uses them.

Understanding free and busy events in Google Calendar

In Google Calendar, events can be designated as either free or busy. By default, the vast majority of events you create in Google Calendar (with the exception of all-day events) are created as busy by default.

  • Free events are shown as available times to others when they book time with you. They are visible to you when viewing your calendar, but not to others.

  • Busy events are shown as unavailable times to others when they book time with you. They are visible to you and to others as blocked.

When creating an event in Google Calendar, you can see (and set) whether an event is free or busy:

How does Reclaim use free and busy events?

Reclaim uses free and busy events on the calendar in order to give you the power of time blocking while still keeping your schedule flexible and available for meetings. Every day, millions of simulations are run against your calendar to determine how much "wiggle room" Reclaim has to block time for your Habits, Tasks, and Smart 1:1s.

If Reclaim sees that your schedule has some flexibility and room to get something done, it will put the time on the calendar but mark it as free time. You can clearly see which events are marked as free time from the 🆓 emoji that is added in front of the title. This is an indicator that the event is visible to you, but shown as available to others.

As Reclaim starts to detect that you're running out of time to get your time blocks done, it will flip the events to busy automatically and add a 🛡️ emoji in front of the title. This indicates that the time is now shown as unavailable to others.

The purpose of this feature is to give you the best of both worlds: you get to focus on the stuff that matters without losing control over your availability.

Examples of how Reclaim uses free and busy events

Free and busy events are a concept that threads across many different features in Reclaim. Here are some examples of where and how it is used.

  • Habits: Reclaim will look at the time window for the Habit and try to determine how many opportunities you have to reschedule it for that day before you run out of time. As you start to run out of flexibility, Reclaim will flip the event from free to busy time.

  • Tasks: Reclaim will look ahead to the due date for the Task and determine how many possibilities exist for scheduling the Task before its due date. If it starts to see that you're running up against the due date, it will flip the events for that Task from free to busy time.

  • Smart 1:1s: In similar form to Habits, Reclaim will look at the time range for the Smart 1:1 and try to determine how many opportunities it has for rescheduling that day. As you run out of flexibility, Reclaim will flip the 1:1 event from free to busy.

  • Calendar Sync: If you're invited to events that are synced via Calendar Sync, Reclaim will show as free time if you haven't RSVP'd to them yet. Once you RSVP "Yes" or "Maybe" to those events, they will be marked as busy.

Locked events always show as busy

Reclaim can automatically "lock" events to prevent them from moving automatically. This is helpful if you want to make your schedule more predictable, especially as the time horizon grows nearer on the calendar. You can learn more about locking here.

Locked events, in addition to no longer moving automatically, are always marked as busy time.

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