Use “Add Reminder” to Track Certification Expiration Dates


Campus Recreation Departments must do their best to maintain a safe environment for their facility users. One step in this process is to monitor required staff safety certifications and keep them up-to-date. Employees may be required to have CPR/AED and First Aid certifications (good for 2 years), bloodborne pathogens certs (good for 1 year), personal training and group fitness certs (expirations vary), and possibly other certifications with random expiration dates. Keeping up with certifications can be a daunting task, depending on the size of your staff, and the types of certifications required. Fortunately, Google sheets has a free add-on, called “Add Reminders,” that will email you a reminder when a certification is getting ready to expire.

Add Reminders can track dates in a spreadsheet column, and send you an email days, months, or even years before a certification will expire. You can set up multiple reminders for the same spreadsheet so you can keep track of different certifications. Here’s how to use the Add Reminders add-on:

  1. Set up a Google spreadsheet that contains the certifications you need to track. Make sure that you have separate columns containing each expiration date that you want to track. All column headers must be in the first row of the spreadsheet. Below is a sample of how your spreadsheet could look.


  1. On the top menu bar, click “Add-ons”, and select “Get Add-ons.”


  1. A pop-up screen will appear with a search box in the upper right-hand corner. Type “Add Reminders” in the box and hit the “return” key on your keyboard.


  1. Add Reminders should appear at the top of the search return list. Select “Free” to access the add-on.


  1. A box will pop up asking for you to allow the app to access your Google account. You will need to grant access in order to use the add-on.


  1. You will now see the Add Reminders add-on when you select the “Add-ons” menu item. Go ahead and select “Add Reminders,” then “Set up/ edit reminders.”


  1. A window will open on the right side of your spreadsheet. Select “Add Reminders.” If your spreadsheet contains more than one sheet, select the sheet where the reminder should be added.


  1. You can only add one reminder at a time. Select one column that contains the expiration dates that you would like to track. In this case, I am tracking CPR/AED expiration dates. I want to be notified one month before expiration, and I also want the student to be notified that their certification is getting ready to expire.

*Note: when setting up column headers, be more descriptive than just naming a column “expires.” Include the certification name as well, so you will be able to select the correct column when you get to this step.


Once you set up one Add Reminder, select “Done.” You can then add additional reminders for every certification you want to track by selecting “Add reminders” again.

  1. I have added three reminders to this spreadsheet: one for CPR/AED, one for First Aid, and one for Bloodborne Pathogens. You can see them all listed in the “Add Reminders” box.


  1. The “Add Reminders” add-on will track each date in the column(s) specified, and when the date is one month before the certification expires, an email is sent to the email associated with the Google account, as well as to the email associated with the date in the specified row. Once the reminder email is generated, a note is placed on the date indicating that a reminder was sent. The note is indicted by a black triangle in the corner of the cell.


  1. The Google sheet owner, and the employee associated with the expiration date, will both receive an email indicating which certification is one month away from expiring.
  2. NOTE: Once you update the certification that was getting ready to expire, you will need to delete the comment, noted by the black triangle in the cell (see number 10. above). This resets the cell so that Add Reminder can continue to track it.

Add Reminders will track and send emails, regardless of whether you have your Google sheets account open.

Disclaimer: As of March 10, 2016, the steps listed above are, to the best of my knowledge, the ones needed to set the reminders on your spreadsheet. Google occasionally updates their Google Drive, Sheets, Forms, etc., and sometimes when this happens, old add-ons don’t work the same way with the new products. Hopefully, if that happens, the Add-ons will also be updated.

I would be interested in hearing about how other Google Add-ons, or additional free technology tools, are being used in day-to-day campus recreation operations. Just make a comment below!