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Google continues to wow us and make our online lives better — despite its detractors. Whether you’re using Google’s latest features or learning productivity tips from the company, you interact with Google dozens of times per day.
If you use Google a lot, you should cultivate some useful habits to make your experience more pleasant. Here are some of the little Google tricks you can follow to improve your personal and professional experiences.
1. Make Time for Your Goals With Google Calendar
Are you struggling to meet goals you’ve set for yourself? Maybe you’re trying to work on your book for an hour per day, find the time to work out, or learn a new language. If the days end without any progress towards your goals, time blocking could be the solution for you. Google Calendar can help with that.
Jump onto Google Calendar and take a zoomed-in look at your day. Schedule time for everything you have to do first. It might sound ridiculous, but add even the everyday life bits you do automatically. Block out time for sleep, breakfast, your commute, and whatever other non-negotiables your day holds. You can use the color-coding feature to help you distinguish between types of tasks.
After this, look at the time you have remaining and figure out where you can fit time in for your goals. If you kill an hour after getting home from work before you eat dinner, is that time better spent at the gym? Or perhaps you have a block of empty time in the evenings that would be perfect for practicing your Spanish.
It’s easy to “feel like you don’t have any time.” But when you take a hard look at where you’re spending it, it becomes a lot simpler to plan for the most efficient use of it.
2. Keep Your Account Security Tight
With so many services tied to Google (like Drive, YouTube, Photos, and more), it’s wise to make sure your account isn’t a vulnerable target. For that, you can pay a visit to the Google Account Settings page. Log in if needed, then you’ll see the variety of options available.
A great place to start is the Security Checkup. This runs through some of the most important options related to your account. Follow the steps to make sure your recovery phone and email are current, and make sure no strange devices/apps are using your Google account. The last step checks your two-factor authentication (2FA) settings, which is the best way to add more security to your account.
With this enabled, you need a code from your phone in addition to your password to log into your account on a new device. If you don’t use 2FA, take a moment now to set it up. Head to the Sign-in & Security header, then scroll down to the Signing in to Google area. Click 2-Step Verification to add a method — we recommend using Authy.
Make sure you’re using a strong password on your account as well, and your account security will be in top shape. Read our guide to your Google Account settings to make use of the other useful tools on this page.
3. Show Friends How Google Works
Ever see someone who doesn’t know how to search for something on Google?
Especially on social media, you’ll regularly find people who don’t bother to Google basic information. Instead, they ask other people to find it for them. Of course, we’re not talking about recommendations, advice, or other types of requests that do better with a personal touch. But when someone asks a question that’s answered by the first result on Google, it’s frustrating for users who know better.
That’s where Let Me Google That For You (LMGTFY) comes in. This simple site lets you type a query in and get a link to a little animation that shows the person how to use Google. It tells them to visit Google, type their question, and then click Search to find information. For convenience, the site even drops them off at the Google results page for that query.
For the extreme novice, you can also check a box to include an “internet explainer.” This adds a few bits to explain that search engines let you search the internet for information. LMGTFY was once more condescending, as it included a “Was that so hard?” message after searching. Thankfully, it’s now intended as an educational resource and you can use it to show people how to use the internet for themselves.
4. Use Etiquette When Collaborating on Google Docs
Google Docs is a dead-simple way to create awesome documents without downloading any software. Even better, you can collaborate with others in real-time while doing so. However, you should observe a few pieces of basic etiquette to avoid stressing others out:
- Use the commenting and suggest edits features. If someone asks you to read through their work and suggest changes, you shouldn’t just start marking up the document like crazy. That makes it harder to track what you changed, and they might not want to take your suggestions anyway.Instead, use the commenting feature to add a note on something that they can review later. Change the Editing box in the top-right to Suggest Changes so you can type out a revision without removing their original version.
- Be courteous when editing documents with others. In the above scenario, you’re free to work at your own pace and suggest changes to a static document. But if you have three people in a doc all working on different sections at the same time, you should be cautious not to mess up what they’re doing. Don’t enter a dozen line breaks because this will bump down the work of everyone below you. Avoid typing right next to someone else or applying formatting changes to a lot of text at once. If you need to make a change that will affect the others, use the chat at the top of the screen to get ahold of everyone.
- Don’t share with the wrong people. Since you’re collaborating on a document, it’s probably set up with some sharing settings. Make sure you respect the document owner’s privacy if you have the option to make changes to it. Don’t share the link with anyone unless you get their approval.
If you’re having trouble collaborating in Google Docs alone, check out some of the other great free online meeting tools.
5. Use Google Calendar’s Time Zone Options
Time zones are a hassle when you’re traveling. If you set an event and don’t realize it’s in a different zone, you could end up missing it. Thankfully, Google Calendar makes it easy to explicitly check the time zones of events. By default, whenever you create an event, you see it in your time zone. Anyone you invite will see it in their local times zones.
To change the time zone for all your calendars, open Google Calendar, click the gear icon, and choose Settings. Where it says Your current time zone, simply change the drop-down to whatever zone you’re in.
You can also click Show an additional time zone to help you keep track if you often schedule events that affect people in another zone. Adding UTC here so you have a universal reference is a great idea — you’ll have to tick the Display all time zones box for it to show up.
6. Master Gmail
If you haven’t changed any of the Gmail defaults since you started using it, you’re doing email wrong. You should certainly use the best tricks for making Gmail better and apply its underused tweaks, but there’s more to it than that. Don’t let email rule your life.
You should limit the amount of time you spend in it so you don’t waste precious time. Filter out or unsubscribe from junk you don’t even read. Move tasks and appointments to other apps so opening your email doesn’t stress you out. If you dread opening your email every day, you should take a step back and see what’s important. After some hard time filtering, deleting, and pruning, your email anxiety will disappear. And that’s a healthy lifelong habit.
7. Utilize the Wealth of Tips and Tricks Available
Google has so many tips and tricks that we’ve written dozens of articles about them all. Check them out to grow your mastery of Google and build great habits:
- Advanced Search — If you’re not getting the right results by typing queries into Google, try using Advanced Search. Using the various operators or the Advanced Search page lets you search by site, exclude words, and more.
- Search by date — When you need to find information from a specific time, use these methods to get exactly what you need.
- Google Maps — Maps can do a lot more than it seems. Check out the best tricks for Android and on iPhone.
- Google Drive — We’ve come up with the ultimate guide to Google Drive for all your storage and collaboration needs.
- A bit of everything — Check out our tips and tricks for the biggest Google tools, including Search, Drive, and Keep.
What Google Habits Help You?
We’ve covered seven habits that will lead you to a more productive Google workflow. Whether you’re using built-in tools that you didn’t know about or helping friends learn without relying on others, these will give you a boost over others who don’t know about them. Make these routine, and there’ll be no stopping you.
Can’t commit to making good habits like these? Check out how to use micro habits to conquer them a bit at a time.
Which of these Google tips will you start using? Are there other habits you think fellow users should cultivate? Share them with us in the comments!
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