Mobility

Workaholics: Let Google's machine learning tool solve your work-life balance problems

With the new Goals feature, Google Calendar users can leverage machine intelligence to find time to work out more, spend more time with family, or learn a new skill.

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Image: Google

Have trouble achieving a work-life balance? Well, Google Calendar might be able to help.

On Wednesday, Google released Goals, a new feature for Google Calendar that uses machine intelligence to help users find time in their busy schedule to accomplish personal goals, such as exercising, reading more, or learning a new skill.

Goals is on the Google Calendar mobile app, and can be used to tackle specific, categorized goals, or to create and pursue a custom personal goal. The new feature is now available everywhere that Calendar is.

SEE: BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Policy (Tech Pro Research)

For those of us who live and die by what's on our calendars, stating our goals is a good start to achieving them. However, situations like work running late and events that just "come up" out of nowhere can sideline these goals and get us off track. This is where Goals comes in.

To get started with Goals, tap the + in the bottom right corner of your Google Calendar app and select "Goal." You can then choose from the list of goals, like "Exercise," and then answer a series of questions to further customize your goal.

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Image: Google

For example, if you choose Exercise, you'll first be asked what kind of exercise you want to do (e.g., run, walk, yoga). Then, you will set how often you want to exercise, for how long each time, and what time of day you like to exercise, and Goals will find a time and schedule your exercise.

If you add an event that conflicts with a scheduled goal, the app will reschedule the goal for you. Users can also manually change the parameters of their goals and defer them to a later time if needed.

Being that the Goals feature is based on machine learning, it will watch how you respond to the goals it schedules and learn from your actions. It will also track how and when you complete goals as well. The hope is that it will then schedule goals at better times in the future.

SEE: How to search Google Hangouts and Calendar, and other areas where Google's search fails (TechRepublic)

Google Calendar is 10 years old, as of this writing, and Goals is merely the latest feature that Google has added to try and make its most popular apps more intuitive and automated.

Many of the previous updates have been geared toward productivity. In August 2015, Google took steps to make its Calendar more usable for business travelers and, a few months later, it introduced reminders on its Calendar mobile apps for Android and iOS.

Google also has been making updates to its other major apps like Hangouts and Gmail, but is still struggling with making them searchable. However, if Google can truly make its most popular mobile apps more efficient, that could be a big selling point in the enterprise.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Google added a new feature to Calendar called Goals, which uses machine learning to schedule personal time for users.
  2. Users can choose an existing goal category, or create their own. Once they answer a few questions, the tool will intelligently schedule and reschedule time for goals as needed.
  3. Google has been making regular updates to its suite of mobile apps for some time, and getting the right amount of productivity and automation will be a key strategy to winning over enterprise users.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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