Use these two Google apps to reclaim productive time

“Time is On My Side” was one of the Rolling Stones’ first mega-hits back in 1964.

I wonder if anyone could have a hit song with that theme today; if there is one universal dilemma in modern life – and especially in business – it’s that we’re always trying to find enough time to get things done.

That makes fertile ground for developing productivity enhancing apps and services, and Google has two that are practical and could help you accomplish more with just a few clicks of your mouse or taps of your index finger: Smart Reply and Find a Time.

Smart Reply

I don’t think anyone would be surprised by how much time we spend just checking our email (it’s something like 30 hours a week). Geoffrey James did a good job outlining that problem in his Inc. article. But that doesn’t even include the time we spend responding – and that’s where Google’s Smart Reply feature comes in.

If you use Inbox by Gmail or Allo on your iOS or Android device, you’ll see that the built-in Smart Reply feature suggests three responses based on the email that you’re reading. Further, the software uses “machine learning” to fine tune its suggested responses over time, so as you enter your own responses you’re teaching the software what to do the next time you receive a similar email.

The one downside to this, is that the feature isn’t yet available if you use Gmail’s web browser interface on your desktop or laptop computer. But, as we move to greater dependency on our mobile devices, I suppose we’ll be answering more of our email from our smaller screens.

Find a Time

There are a variety of apps and services designed to make scheduling meeting times more convenient, such as Doodle. Google’s Find a Time falls into that category and if you work in an environment where people use Google Calendar for their schedules, it could be your best bet.

You create or open an event in Google Calendar, edit the event to add guests, select their email addresses, and then click the “Find a Time” tab. If your guests have shared their calendars, you can see their schedules and find a time when you’re all available. If you have people in a variety of time zones, I think you’ll find this feature especially useful.

I don’t see the war on our available time ending (ever), so any tool or strategy we can use to win back a few minutes here or there are always welcome. What are some of your favorite time “reclaimers”?