Avoid distractions with focus time for Google Calendar

Google Calendar focus time

Our modern world is filled with distractions. Between social media, email, and Slack — it’s a wonder any of us get anything done! If you’re wondering how to use Google Calendar for time management, in a way that goes beyond scheduling, then you’re in the right place. We’ll introduce you to two amazing tools designed specifically to help you focus with more ease.

Here’s what’s on the docket:

  1. You’ll learn everything you need to know about Google Calendar’s new Focus time feature, including what it does, who can use it, and how to use it.
  2. You’ll also learn how to automate your calendar with Clockwise, a smart calendar assistant that creates Focus Time for you and intelligently manages your schedule on Google Calendar.

Ready to get started? Of course you are! Let’s begin with Google Calendar’s built-in focus feature.

Curious about creating more time in your workday? Clockwise optimizes your schedule to create a smarter calendar. You can learn more here. If you’d like to learn how to implement a time management toolkit for your team, we also offer solutions for teams.

Find your flow with Google Calendar’s ‘Focus time’

Digital wellbeing has been a trending topic for many of the tech world’s latest rollouts. Even Amazon’s Alexa is on it, playing classical music to help you focus. And in fall 2021, Google announced a new event type for Google Calendar: Focus time. “With the changes to our working environments in the past year, having more chats and meetings make it more difficult for people to carve out time for their core individual work,” stated this blog from the Google Workspace team. “With the new focus time feature, we hope to make it easier to create dedicated time for thinking and core work.”

This new feature had a gradual rollout, first becoming available for users on the Rapid Release track. But by now, anyone with a school or work account should be able to schedule Focus time in their calendars!

What does Focus time in Google Calendar do?

Let’s get into the good stuff: What this new feature can do for you. Like we mentioned earlier, Focus time is an event type designed to help you carve out time for deep work. (For reference, other event types in Google Calendar include Event, Out of office, Task, and Appointment slots.)

More than showing up as a different color on your calendar, a Focus time event behaves a little differently from the standard Event. For one, it includes the option to automatically decline meetings. That means, if a coworker sends you an invitation for a meeting that’s scheduled during your Focus time, then Google will automatically decline the invitation for you.

And if you often find yourself asking where the day has gone (a common pandemic phenomenon), then you’ll love Google Calendar’s Time insights panel. There, you can get a visual breakdown of how much time you’re spending in meetings versus Focus time.

Who can use it?

Focus time is available for Nonprofits customers and users with Google Workspace Business Standard, Business Plus, Enterprise Standard, Enterprise Plus, Education Fundamentals, Education Teaching & Learning Upgrade, Education Standard, Education Plus.

Focus time isn’t currently available for Business customers or users with Google Workspace Essentials, Business Starter, Enterprise Essentials, Frontline, or G Suite Basic.

As far as device compatibility goes, this feature works best on Google Calendar’s desktop and web apps. If you use Google Calendar primarily on your mobile device, just be aware of limited functionality (more on that below).

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How to use Focus time in Google Calendar

How to add Focus time to Google Calendar:

  1. Open Google Calendar on your computer.
  2. Create a new event in one of two ways:
  • Click anywhere on the calendar.
  • Click the + icon.
  1. Click Focus time.
  2. Enter the details and settings for your Focus time event.
  3. Click Save.

How to edit or delete Focus time from Google Calendar:

  1. Open Google Calendar on your computer.
  2. Click the Focus time event you’d like to edit or delete.
  • The headphones icon makes it easy to spot Focus time entries!
  1. Choose from the following options:
  • To edit the event, click Edit. After making your changes, click Save.
  • To delete the event, click Delete event.

How to use Google Calendar Focus time for Android and Apple iOS:

Note: Android and iOS users can only edit and delete already-existing Focus time events.

  1. On your Android (eg: Samsung Galaxy, Pixel 6) or iOS (eg: iPhone, iPad), open the Google Calendar app.
  2. Tap the Focus time event you’d like to edit or delete.
  • The headphones icon makes it easy to spot Focus time entries!
  1. Choose from the following options:
  • To edit the event, tap Edit. After making your changes, tap Save.
  • To delete the event, tap More options > Delete > Delete.

Bonus tip: Learn how to manage your events from Gmail by clicking here.

Unlock even more Focus Time with Clockwise

As much as we love Google Calendar’s native feature, there’s another way to carve out Focus Time for yourself. One that doesn’t involve micromanaging your calendar or scheduling a time slot every time you want to buckle down and do some work. It’s called Clockwise, and you can use it in conjunction with Google Calendar.

What does Clockwise do?

Clockwise integrates seamlessly with Google Calendar to bring you powerful scheduling features backed by automation, including Focus Time. Clockwise intelligently manages your calendar to create uninterrupted blocks of time (Focus Time), reduce fragmented time, automatically resolve meeting conflicts, and more.

Who can use it?

Clockwise is available for anyone with a Google Workspace account. Just remember to sign up for Clockwise with your work email address and you’ll be good to go. Once your account is set up, you can access the app via web app or with the Clockwise browser extension. The browser extension is available for Google Chrome and Firefox.

Psst, are you a Microsoft 365 user? Sign up to be the first to know when Clockwise becomes available for your platform.

How to use Focus Time in Clockwise

Whether you’re drafting up some magic in Google Docs or crafting brilliant code, Clockwise makes sure you have the time. Learn how it works here.

Interested in implementing a Smarter Schedule for your workday?

  • Clockwise – Get started using Clockwise with Focus Time, Flexible Meetings, Scheduling Links, and Powerful Integrations here.
  • Smart Calendar for Teams – Teams on a paid plan see 44% more Focus Time created on average. Watch a demo of our Shared Calendar App or contact us for a walkthrough.

We built a way to take our time back.

Clockwise optimizes teams' calendars to create more time in everyone’s day. See why more than 10,000 organizations run on Clockwise.