Take control of your time with Google Calendar’s Focus Time, Insights and Working hours

These Google Calendar instruments may help you and your staff discover a steadiness between conferences and particular person work

Photo of Google Calendar with a new Focus Time event. Time Insights panel displayed on the right side of the screen.

Photograph: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic

Conversations about calendar administration for data staff would possibly greatest start by contemplating two sorts of work—time with others and time to oneself—taken to the acute.

One excessive: Your day consists solely of conferences. Conferences with folks you handle or folks to whom you might be accountable. Conferences with prospects. Conferences with groups. From the time you begin to the time you cease, you are in conversations with folks.

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One other excessive: You haven’t any conferences in your calendar. You spend your day centered on actions you select, interrupted solely by breaks when desired. Your day consists utterly of time to your self. No conferences intrude.

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The will to determine an acceptable steadiness between these two extremes—100% conferences or 100% centered work—drives many conversations about calendar administration in organizations. A mix of time that will work effectively for an individual in a single position could be solely fallacious for one more. For instance, a mix of 85% conferences and 15% centered time would possibly point out peak efficiency for a venture supervisor, whereas the identical ratio might trigger concern for a coder.

Fortuitously, if you happen to use Google Workspace with an organizational account, Google Calendar not solely helps you monitor time spent in conferences and in centered work, but additionally offers detailed time stories. These stories provide you with information concerning the nature of your schedule for a time frame (e.g., sure, you probably did spend 14 hours in conferences with a colleague final month). 

Implement every of the practices under to totally leverage your calendar and make the most of each focus time and time insights. Word that each options are designed to work in an internet browser on a laptop computer or desktop.

Outline and configure Working hours

First, choose and configure working hours in your Google Calendar settings (Determine A). As soon as set, folks might be notified once they try and schedule a gathering with you exterior of your working hours. That is particularly useful when you could have colleagues that work in several time zones. 

Focus on and outline a transparent coverage for the usage of Google Calendar Working hours in your group. The traditionally standard 40-hours every week could not make sense for each group. As an alternative, working hours that complete 30 or 35 hours might be customary. Configure your hours to mirror your repeatedly scheduled work instances.

Determine A

Screenshot of Working hours & Location settings, shows you can set different hours for different days.

To entry Working hours, go to Google Calendar | Settings menu (sprocket within the higher proper) | Settings after which scroll to Working Hours & Location (below the Basic menu). 

Outline and configure Focus Time occasions

Create Focus Time occasions in your Google Calendar to dam time to your self (Determine B). You have all the time been in a position to create calendar occasions to do that, however the Focus Time occasion ensures that the occasion might be displayed in a Time Insights report appropriately. Focus Time occasions might be any time—inside or exterior of working hours—and in addition could also be configured to permit or robotically reject assembly invites throughout the chosen time. You’ll be able to configure a Focus Time occasion as a repeating assembly to order a constant time to your self periodically (e.g., every week, month, and many others.). Set a Focus Time occasion, mark it to reject conferences, then use that point for uninterrupted particular person work.

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Once more, as with working hours, you may seemingly need to focus on and outline clear insurance policies for the suitable use of Focus Time calendar occasions to your staff. Bear in mind, totally different insurance policies would possibly apply to totally different folks (e.g., based mostly on roles and necessities). 

Determine B 

Screenshot of a Focus Time event, set to automatically decline meetings with the default "Declined because I'm in focus time" message.

To create a brand new Focus Time Google Calendar occasion, go to Google Calendar on the net and choose the + Create button (within the higher left), then choose Focus Time. Within the particulars, choose the field subsequent to “Robotically decline conferences” to order the time for particular person work. Add particulars, as desired or mandatory, then Save.

Precisely seize each occasion in your calendar

Ensure that all conferences make it to your calendar and that the period and attendee listing for every assembly is correct. Modify every calendar occasion so as to add/take away attendees based mostly on precise attendance, the place potential. Moreover, regulate calendar occasions to mirror the true assembly time. For instance, if a gathering scheduled for one hour as an alternative lasted 90 minutes, change the occasion to mirror the precise period. I recommend you make this adjustment instantly after every assembly, or, on the newest, by the tip of every day. In my expertise, the extra time that elapses between the tip of an occasion and your adjustment of the period and attendance info, the much less seemingly your adjustment is to be correct.

Evaluation Time Insights periodically

Time Insights offers a abstract of calendar occasions for the chosen calendar and time interval (Determine C). The main points embrace how a lot time you spent in focus time, 1:1 conferences, bigger conferences (three or extra company), after which the remaining time calculated based mostly in your working hours. Moreover, Time Insights suggests a day for potential focus time (e.g., “Attempt scheduling weekly focus time on days with the fewest conferences: Fridays”). Time Insights additionally identifies the folks you met most frequently with throughout the interval. 

Determine C

Screenshot of Calendar set to month view (October 2021) so that the Time Insights displayed to the right reflect my calendar events during that month.

To entry Time Insights, go to Google Calendar and choose the Time Perception icon (on the left aspect of the display) to show the Time Insights aspect panel.

When you’ve got full entry to a coworker’s calendar, it’s possible you’ll entry time insights for his or her calendar, too. Information from Time Insights could assist determine potential challenges, akin to assembly overload or lack of focus time. Bear in mind, although, that Time Insights will solely work effectively when all three of the above practices—working hours, focus time and correct calendar occasion information—are applied.

When first utilizing Time Insights, I recommend you make it a part of your weekly time evaluation routine. After your schedule appears to be working moderately, lower the frequency of your evaluation to as soon as a month and even as soon as 1 / 4.

How do you utilize Google Calendar?

Do you utilize Working hours, Focus time, and Time insights in Google Calendar? How constantly do you regulate your calendar after occasions to mirror precise attendance and period of occasions? What different customary Calendar practices do you suggest? Let me know your time administration practices and proposals, both within the feedback under or on Twitter (@awolber).

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