How to Use Google’s Productivity Tools to Maximize Your Time

Until someone puts more hours in the day or days in the week, many of us are stuck with a 40-hour work week. Tackling everything that needs to be done can be quite a struggle. To find the best way to manage your time as well as your productivity, look no further than the tools from Google. While we’ve based our tips on Google’s tools, you can adapt many of the ideas to other productivity tools as well.

Block Time for Emails

Depending on the type of position you hold, business emails might be a huge part of your day. Although you have to create and respond to messages, it can be distracting. For example, you could be working on an business document but constantly stop because those emails are flying into your inbox. Now, that important document takes a back seat and takes you longer to complete with each distraction.

Instead, try blocking a specific time to work on emails each day. Of course, critical or emergency messages should be attended to as a priority. However, those that can wait, should.

Create an Event

You can block time in Google Calendar by creating a recurring event with a reminder. Plus, if you share your calendar with others, they will see your blocked time. Just select the appropriate date and time from Google Calendar, give the event a name, set the reminder, make it repeat, and click Create.

How to Use Google's Productivity Tools to Maximize Your Time GoogleCal RecurringEvent web

Flag Messages for Follow-up

If you use Gmail for your business, you can easily keep track of those messages that you need to handle during your blocked time. A simple way to do this is by flagging emails as you see them. Gmail offers a nice selection of flags called Stars.

To select those that you want to use, click Settings (gear icon) and the General tab. Scroll down to Stars and drag those you want to activate from Not in use to In use. Then when you see an email you want to flag, click the star next to it until the appropriate one appears.

How to Use Google's Productivity Tools to Maximize Your Time GmailStars web

With this combination of Google Calendar and Gmail, you can organize your email time with ease.

Schedule Your Availability

Planning your work week is an essential part of time management. You must be sure that you are making the most of the time that you have available. Google Calendar makes it easy to see your schedule with day, week, month, and work-week views. And, with a handy built-in feature, you can display your availability.

Work With Appointment Slots

A great way to manage your time for coworkers to see is with Google Calendar’s Appointment Slots feature. Keep in mind that you must have a work or school account to access this feature. With Appointment Slots, you do not block your time as with calendar events, but instead provide times when you are available.

For instance, if you are available from 1 PM to 4 PM, here are the steps once you access Google Calendar:

  1. Make sure that your calendar is in Day or Week view.
  2. Click the day and time you will be available.
  3. Select Appointment Slots in the pop-up window.
  4. Add a name for the slot, choose the type, and click Create. In case further details are needed, click Edit Details instead of Create.

How to Use Google's Productivity Tools to Maximize Your Time GoogleCal AppointmentSlots web

If you do not have access to the Appointment Slots feature, you can still display your availability by blocking the times you are busy, as we did above for email time.

Optimize Meeting Time

If you coordinate meetings on a regular basis, let Google Docs and Google Calendar help you make this a smooth process.

Meeting Agenda and Minutes

There is nothing worse than a meeting with no plan, organization, or structure. So, start by creating a meeting agenda that you can attach to the calendar request. Google Docs has a few different templates that combine an agenda with minutes, for an all-in-one document.

After signing into your Google account on Google Docs, click Template Gallery from the top. Scroll down to the Work category and you will see the three Meeting Notes templates. Each option contains the same basic details including attendees, agenda, notes, and action items. They only differ in their look and feel.

How to Use Google's Productivity Tools to Maximize Your Time GoogleDocsMinutesTemplates

Meeting Requests

After you have created the agenda, put together the meeting request with Google Calendar.

Select the appropriate date and time for your meeting in Google Calendar. Then click the Edit Details button. When the page opens, you will see a spot on the right to add Guests. Just pop in the email addresses for your attendees.

To attach the agenda, click Add Attachment beneath the Description box and select your file.

How to Use Google's Productivity Tools to Maximize Your Time GoogleCal MeetingRequest web

Toggle Tasks and Reminders

While Google Tasks is a decent tool for simple to-dos, you will find many advantages to using Google Keep instead. Plus, you can switch between Google Tasks and Google Keep reminders in your calendar quickly.

Add Tasks in Google Keep

With Google Keep you can easily turn notes into tasks and to-do lists. Then, take advantage of the helpful features for managing those tasks. You can set up a reminder, create a checklist, attach an image, add a drawing, and collaborate with a coworker.

How to Use Google's Productivity Tools to Maximize Your Time GoogleKeepExtras web

In addition, you can pin notes to keep them at the top of the list, which is perfect for high-priority items. You can also incorporate tags and color-coding for easy organization.

Switch Between Tasks and Reminders

To switch between the tasks and reminders in Google Calendar, be sure that you are on your main calendar screen. On the left under My calendars, click the arrow next to Tasks. Then select Switch to Reminders. All reminders that you have set up in Google Keep will then be displayed on your calendar.

How to Use Google's Productivity Tools to Maximize Your Time GoogleCal TaskReminderSwitch web

When you want to switch back, simply follow those same steps, ending with Switch to Tasks. Your Google Tasks will then pop open on the right of the screen as normal.

Plan Your Week Ahead of Time

When planning your work week, Google makes it easy for you to do so from anywhere. Whether you are relaxing on the couch or hanging out on the patio, just grab your mobile device and use the Google tools you need.

You do not have to even open your computer. Google Calendar, Google Keep, Google Docs, and Gmail are all available for both Android and iOS devices:

How to Use Google's Productivity Tools to Maximize Your Time iPhoneGoogleCalendar mobile1

Preparing and reviewing your schedule not only gives you a solid work-week plan, but also a head start before you go into the office on Monday morning.