Time Insights in Google Workspace
In a clip from the movie Office Space, Peter Gibbons explains his typical workday involves showing up late for work, hours of staring, and approximately 15 minutes of “real, actual work.” (Queue laughter, and perhaps, somedays a little bit of relatability).
While Peter struggles with motivation, this clip does a great job portraying what it might feel like without a system and metrics for understanding where the time in your workday goes. If you’ve ever reached the end of a workday only to feel like you didn’t accomplish anything and aren’t exactly sure where your time went, you probably aren’t alone.
Fortunately, some incredible tools are available to give us more visibility and insight into the (hopefully) more than 15 minutes of real, actual work we do each day. This post will take you through the Time Insight features in Google Calendar and Clockwise’s Team Analytics functionality. You’ll learn the following:
- What Google Calendar Time Insights is
- How to use Time Insights (and Team Analytics via Clockwise)
- How to turn Google Calendar Time Insights on and off (hint: you’ll need some assistance from your Google Workspace admin)
What is Google Calendar Time Insights?
Time Insights is a feature for Business Plus, Enterprise, Education Standard, Education Plus, Education Fundamentals, and Nonprofit Google Workspace accounts. When Google Workspace administrators enable this feature, users can access a Time Insights dashboard in Google Calendar.
The dashboard shows high-level metrics so users can quickly see how they spend their time during the workweek. A quick snippet of the dashboard is viewable in the left panel of Google Calendar, which you can further expand to view more details under the Time Insights panel.
Clockwise Team Analytics
Before diving into Google Calendar Time Insights, let me introduce you to Clockwise’s Team Analytics —a deeper view of how much Focus Time and meeting time teams have. Team Analytics is a feature on the Teams, Business, and Enterprise plans. It’s available through the Clockwise Chrome extension.
Like Google Calendar Time Insights, Clockwise divides work time into a few different categories, including:
- Meetings (calendar events with other attendees or algorithm-identified meeting events)
- Focus Time (2 or more hours of free time)
- Fragmented Time (<2 hours of free time)
- Other (algorithm-identified non-meeting events such as no meeting days and personal holds)
Clockwise automatically excludes out-of-office days (pulled from your calendar).
Team Insights shows the total number of hours teams have meetings and Focus Time (no fragmented time or other calendar holds) for the selected period. Choosing a new week from the drop-down menu makes changing the period easy.
The best part? With Clockwise’s analytics, you can get a better view of how the entire team spends their time, making prioritizing how to work better together easier. Now let’s take a look at Google Calendar Time Insights.
What 3 sections appear in Google Calendar Time Insights?
The “Time breakdown” section allows you to see how much time you are spending during the workweek in the following categories:
- Focus time
- Meetings with 3+ guests
- Events you still need to respond to
- The remaining time you have left
*You will only be able to get a glimpse at how much time you have left in your workweek if you set your working hours in Google Calendar. To do that, click “Settings” in the top right-hand corner of Google Calendar and scroll down to the “Working hours & location” section.
Below the “Time breakdown” section is a “Time in meetings” overview. As the name implies, this section allows you to visualize how much time you spend in meetings for the current week and on a week-over-week basis. You can also see which day is your busiest meeting day on average and whether recurring or one-time meetings are your biggest culprit.
You might be wondering, what does Time Insights consider as a meeting as it relates to this section? To appear in the “Time in meetings” breakdown, an event must:
- Have a “Yes” response from you
- Include one or more guests (so focus time doesn’t count)
- Be less than eight hours long (so all-day time blocks don’t count)
- Be marked as “Busy” and not “Free”
And finally, the last section of Time Insights is a peek at “People you meet with.” Google Calendar automatically pulls the names of people you spend the most time with during the week. You can also “pin” people in this section to ensure they always show up here, which can be particularly helpful to see:
- How many hours you’re spending with team members on a high-priority project (assuming all of your meetings are about the same project)
- The time you spend with your team members
- How much time you spend with each of your direct reports as a manager
Hover over the settings icon in the top-right corner to pin a colleague. It will read, “Manage pinned people.” Click the icon and then search for the name of the person you want to pin. Click the small pin button to the right of their name, and you’re all set!
How to use Google Calendar Time Insights
Using Time Insights with Google Calendar is simple. Follow these steps to get set up in no time. But first, make sure you are on one of the following types of plans (otherwise, Time Insights won’t be available for use):
- Business Plus
- Education Standard
- Education Plus
- Education Fundamentals
If you’re on one of the plans listed above, keep reading to continue getting set up.
1. Set your working hours for a complete picture of your workweek.
Time Insights works best when you tell Google Calendar what your workweek looks like. Before diving into the Time Insights panel, let’s enable working hours.
With Google Calendar open on a computer, click the “Settings” button in the upper right-hand corner and scroll down until you see the “Working hours & location” section. Click the checkbox next to “Enable working hours” and set your preferences.
2. Navigate to the Google Calendar home screen and view Time Insights in the left sidebar.
You can quickly see how much time you’re spending in meetings this week. The calendar in the screenshot below is currently empty, with only one and a half hours of meetings scheduled this week thus far. (How lucky!)
3. Click the “More insights” button to view the entire panel.
Take a good look at your Focus time, meeting time, need to respond, and remaining time based on your working hours. Scroll down to see your time in meetings and the people you frequently meet with (or have pinned to this section).
How do I get Google Calendar Time Insights?
There could be several reasons you don’t see Time Insights on your Google Calendar.
First, you need to check which type of Google Workspace plan you are on, as this feature isn’t available for some Google Workspace editions like Essentials.
If you are part of a Google Workspace account that offers the Time Insights feature and don’t see it, you may need to contact your Workspace administrator. Your administrator may need to turn the feature on (or may have opted to turn it off for the organization). If you are the administrator and want to turn Time Insights on, follow these steps:
- Sign in to the Google Admin console
- Go to “Menu”
- Click “Apps”
- Select “Google Workspace” and then “Calendar”
- Click the “Advanced settings” option and customize your preferred settings for the Time Insights section
- Save your changes and keep an eye out, as the Time Insights sections should appear in 24 hours or less
And finally, if you’re trying to access Time Insights from the Google Calendar iOS or Android app, you won’t find the Time Insights panel. You can only view your Time Insights information on a computer.
How do I turn off Google Calendar Time Insights?
Using the steps above, Google Workspace admins can turn off the Time Insights feature in the Google Admin console. Users can’t turn off this feature individually. Admins can apply settings to the top organizational unit or child organizational units based on the setup of the Workspace.
Don’t be like Peter Gibbons. Understand where your workday goes, and spend your time wisely! Try using Google Calendar Time Insights to understand your time allocation throughout your workweek better. Or, try Clockwise and take advantage of our Team Analytics settings so you can get a complete picture of how much Focus Time and meeting time you and your teammates have.