Become a G Suite Productivity expert with these hacks

By Ganesh Mukundan

Keeping aside the side effects of technology, there’s no denying that it has made our lives a lot easier. Thanks to a whole slew of apps, you’re just a few taps away from ordering from your favourite sushi restaurant, booking a cab, or sharing a doc with your colleague.

That would mean we’re becoming more productive, right? Apparently not!

An average American’s overall productivity has only grown 1-2% every year during the technology boom, suggests U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If technology is making things more accessible, why is human productivity not growing at a promising rate? Why aren’t we getting more things done in less time?

Let’s admit it - we’ve become really vulnerable to distractions. And the proof is in the numbers!

According to a Udemy survey, nearly 3 out of 4 workers (70%) admit they feel distracted when they’re on the job, with 16% asserting that they’re almost always distracted. The problem is biggest for Millennials and Gen Zs, with 74% reportedly feeling distracted.

How do you negate these everyday disturbances? Is there a way to make use of existing apps and tools to work faster, better and smarter?

Mastering important hacks around using everyday tools like Gmail, Sheets, Docs and Calendar can make a world of difference. I’m listing down a bunch of G Suite productivity tips that will help you stay focused and organised, and get things done quicker. Let’s take a look!

Making the most out of Gmail 

An over-flooded and messy inbox never helps. Although Gmail is an intuitive and easy to use platform, there's just so much email clutter that can inhibit your daily productivity. These tips make your Gmail work faster and help you adopt a more methodological approach to managing emails.

1. Disable Chat

If people have forgotten anything about Gmail, it’s the Hangouts feature. It was quite useful when it first came out but there are just so many messaging apps out there today that users are spoilt for choice.

So, why not just disable it?! In case you didn’t know, Hangouts does slow down your Gmail.

2. Disable the Labs Feature

Most of us haven’t even heard of it. But, Labs is a feature that allows users to try out experimental functionalities that have not become a native part of Gmail yet.

It’s enabled by default, playing its part in making your Gmail slower. To disable it, head to Settings > Labs. You can either disable the things you are not using or disable Labs altogether. 

3. Audit connected apps and services

Being the app-friendly people that we are, granting apps and tools access to our Google accounts is something we do in a heartbeat. All of these apps compete for your account’s data resources and play a huge role in making Gmail sluggish.

Visit the IssuedAppSubTokens page to manage the list of apps connected to your Google Account. Revoke access to any service you no longer need or have forgotten allowing access to.

4. Do away with Filters you don't need

While Gmail filters are the good guys helping you manage emails like nothing else, they come with a trade-off: they slow down your Gmail to a good extent.

How? Over a period of time, you accumulate an unwieldy collection of filters, most of which you don’t even need.

What you want to do: run a careful analysis of all the filters you have and remove the ones that are no longer relevant. You’d be surprised by the number of filters that have become irrelevant! All you have to do is head to Settings and then Filters and you have a list of filters to review.

5. Always use the Default Theme

There is no shortage of glitzy themes on Gmail. Who wouldn’t make to make their inbox look cool? But, the sad part is that all these themes do more damage than you’d expect. Owing to the additional graphics associated with these themes, your Gmail takes more time to load. Which is why it’s always better to stick to the default theme.

6. Choose the right Display Density

Choosing the right display density is key to sifting through emails quicker. Gmail’s default display density shows you a lot of information about your emails, including the attachments. This can turn chaotic when you receive emails everyday.

Here’s what you can do: head to the gear icon at the top right corner of your inbox and try out Comfortable - it takes away the information about attachments and keeps more spacing between messages.

7. Bring Priority Emails to the Top

Gmail displays emails in chronological order by default. But, we know that not all emails are the same. Sifting through a handful of marketing mailers just to arrive at that one highly critical and urgent email from your boss isn’t helping your productivity.

Try out Gmail’s priority inbox - a feature that filters emails based on what needs your attention the most. Once you activate this, your emails are automatically split into three sections:

  1. Important and unread
  2. Starred
  3. And everything else

 8. Bring back the neat Outlook View

It’s quite a hassle to click on every email to view it, and then the back button to view the inbox list. You’d be surprised to know how much time this takes up!

Now, if you’re a fan of the classic Outlook view, you can have that on your Gmail. Enable it from your Settings tab. This is how it looks (talk about seamless navigation!).

9. Have Gmail tell you what’s important

Based on the type of Emails you open, Gmail can tell what’s important to you and what isn’t. So, here’s what you have to do:

→ Head to Settings > Inbox

→ Select the Use my Past Actions button

This will get Gmail analyzing your past behavior to figure out what type of mails are priority.

Then,

→ Choose the Show Markers and the Override filters buttons

→ Set the inbox type to Important first

10. Merge your non-Google accounts

It’s a common thing to have email accounts across services. Everyone has at least one personal and one professional account. That said, the back-and-forth between these IDs can get arduous. But the good news is that Gmail has a way to bring all your emails inside a single window - letting you manage all your conversations holistically, from one place.

The best part is that you can respond using any of your email addresses - keeping the necessary separation intact. To enable this, open the Gmail App on your Android phone or tablet. Tap Menu on the top right and click Add Account.

If you’re looking for more tips on optimizing your Gmail, you can refer to this comprehensive G Suite Productivity Handbook.

Work Faster with Google Docs

Getting productive on G Suite isn’t just about bringing order to your Gmail. Google Docs is a huge favourite for most G Suite users, be it for writing, collaborating, or just copy editing.

So, how do you use it efficiently? Here are a list of hacks that will help you derive the most out of Google Docs.

1. Reveal the Hidden Shortcuts Menu

Docs contains a whole list of keyboard shortcuts that the Microsoft Word lover inside you is going to find absolutely thrilling. To open a list of keyboard shortcuts in Google Docs, press Ctrl + / (Windows, Chrome OS) or + / (Mac).

2. Browse the web without leaving Docs

If you want to look up the web for some information while working on Google Docs, you’d normally open a new tab, and then shuffle between multiple tabs, right?

You no longer have to do this time consuming chore. Docs comes with this super cool Explore tool that helps you search, insert, and cite information without having to leave the document.


3. Bulk edit words and phrases

How do you correct multiple errors in a word document? If you’ve used the ‘Find abd Replace’ option in MS Word, there’s good news. Google Docs has that too. You can access this under the Edit tab.

4. Voice Typing

Why go through all the hassle of typing something out when you could just talk about it? The voice feature works brilliantly on Google Docs. You’ll need a microphone (obviously) before you head to Tools > Voice Typing to enable it. And when you’re ready, click the microphone icon and start talking.


5. Image Editing Inside Docs

Did you know that you don’t have to step outside Docs for doing simple image edits? Doc has a really easy-to-use tool that can help save a lot of time when it comes to reworking images. After you insert an image into a doc, click on it, and the toolbar at the top starts to look like a clipboard. You get to apply borders, do other small edits, and give your image a classy look.

Saving time on Google Sheets

When it comes to running calculations, organizing information, or merging data on spreadsheets, there's so much you can do. And do it a lot quicker.

I’ll take you through a few handy tips that will help you save time on everyday tasks that you run on Sheets.

1. Use Macros to automate repetitive tasks

If you’re using sheets to create those quarterly and annual reports, let me reveal a faster way of doing it. Where you get to skip the grunt work.

You can program Sheets to take care of your repetitive tasks - record a series of steps you perform, and have Sheets do the same for you in just a single click. This can be done by accessing the Record Macro option under Tools.

2. Learn Formulas right inside sheets

While using formulas is certainly one of the USPs of Sheets, remembering them can be a task in itself. But, you’ve got some help there.

Sheets helps you navigate the learning curve while you use the app. When you start typing out a function, Sheets provides the right syntax usage along with examples on how to use it.

Just start writing a formula by typing the equals sign and the formula name. Right when you open the parenthesis, a pop-up comes up explaining what that function does.


3. Clean up your text in a jiffy

Don’t you hate it when you copy text from a document or the clipboard and are forced to spend the next few minutes removing extra spaces around it?

This is where the Trim function comes in handy. Whenever you have cells or columns filled with text entries full of leading and trailing spaces, you can use Trim to get rid of them. It can also be used to fix excess spacing in text.

If you use Sheets for a lot of text-based work, try this add-on called Power Tools. It’s a set of tools that help you clean up data, remove duplicates, among many other things.

If you want to get Power Tools, head over here. Once you have Power Tools on your side, select a cell, head to Add-ons > Power Tools, and you’ll have access to numerous editing options:

4. Clone Formatting in just a couple of clicks

We’ve already talked about how macros can automate repetitive tasks. But when you have a new format in every single sheet, you cannot keep recording macros for everything.

That’s when the Format Painter becomes useful. It allows you to take cells that are already formatted and replicate the exact same style to new cells. You’ll find the Format Painter on the left-hand side of the toolbar at the top.

5. Sync Data across Sheets

Do you spend a lot of time consolidating spreadsheets replete with copy and paste processes? Do you want to share only critical data at times minus all the calculations and go about copying and pasting again?

If yes, you’ll appreciate the data syncing capability across spreadsheets. This is done with the IMPORTRANGE function.

Identify the spreadsheet you’d want to import the data from, and copy its URL. In the sheet, you want to import the information, use the syntax: IMPORTRANGE("Url of Sheet to link to", "Sheet and cell references").

Get Organized with Google Calendar

Using the Google Calendar the right way can really help you tick more things off that to-do list with confidence. There are some really cool ways in which you can make the most out of Calendar. Let’s dive in and check out these hacks!

1. Have Calendar send you the Daily Agenda

Nobody wants to go to a meeting under-prepared. But it still happens, doesn’t it? Such as the times when you receive a notification just ten minutes before the meeting. And it’s too little time to get your thoughts in order for it. The same goes for tasks. There’s just too much happening at work that you forget or lose track of what’s most important.

So, what’s the solution here? You can get your calendar to send you a list of tasks and meetings as an email digest first thing in the morning! This can be done by enabling Daily Notifications under Settings.

2. Bring your To-Dos to Calendar

It's kind of annoying to keep your third party to-do app synced with your calendar. But fret not, Google has a great integration between Tasks and Calendar.

How to launch Google Tasks:
1. Open Google Calendar
2. Click Tasks from the sidebar icon

How to create a task:
1. Click on 'Add a Task' and give it a name
2. Click the pencil icon to edit the task and give it a due date
3. Hit 'Save'

3. Add Attachment to Events

Would you go to a recruitment meeting without looking at the applications? Or would you go meet a customer without taking a look at the latest churn report? Attachments aren’t just for emails - in fact, in emails, there’s a chance you might skip past them.

Calendar allows you to attach files to events the minute you create them. This ensures that you are always aware of what to review before an important meeting and have complete context on the discussions that happen.

4. Get Integrated Search to work for you

In the old Google Calendar, you could only scan through events. That’s changed now, and for good. Now, when you click on the search icon and type in something, you’ll get search results that are related to events, documents, attachments, and contacts across any date range.

5. Create events without opening the calendar

As much as we strive to become more productive, procrastination is in our DNA. And here’s some really good news: You can now create calendar events without opening the app or the website - right from Google search!

This works both on phone and computer. On your desktop, start a search with ‘schedule’ or ‘make an appointment’ and Google pops up an option to create a calendar event right from the search results page. On your phone, you can use Google Assistant to do the same thing.

Necessary Gmail Add-ons that will skyrocket Productivity

While I’m sure all the above G suite productivity hacks will go a long way in making you work smarter, I’d suggest you also install and try out some add-ons. To become the absolute productivity monster!

IssudAppSubTokens

Get notifications, read, listen to or delete emails without opening Gmail and easily manage multiple accounts.

Webtime Tracker

Webtime Tracker tracks how you spend time on the web and presents the stats in a graphically useful manner.

KeyRocket

If you’re looking to learn keyboard shortcuts for Gmail and Google Apps email accounts, KeyRocket is the best guide. It shows keyboard shortcut recommendations while you work, where it matters the most. It informs you, via a subtle notification, when you could have used a keyboard shortcut instead of a series of mouse clicks.

Hiver

We had to slip in our brand for 2 reasons. Firstly, it's because we make email collaboration extremely simple and fun. Secondly, we're sure you'd fall in love with our product.

Hiver looks at emails as individual tasks and helps you assign them to different team members, track their status, share email templates with colleagues, and also view real-time insights on team performance and productivity.

Inbox when ready

This Chrome extension will help you check your inbox with reasonable frequency, batch process your email on a regular schedule and minimise the total time you spend in your inbox.

Sortd

Effortlessly organise emails and tasks in Gmail. This add-on enhances your Gmail experience, providing a seamless, intuitive way to plan and prioritise emails & tasks in a single Gmail workspace.

Most of these tips are very simple for you to action right away. I'm sure they'll help you streamline your tasks better, tick more things off your to-do list, and ultimately, be a lot more efficient at work.

Finding it hard to remember it all? You can always refer to our G Suite productivity handbook below!

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About the author

SaaS enthusiast who also happens to rap, play football, binge watch Nordic TV shows, and indulge in conversations about burgers and existentialism.

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