Make the Most of Your Team’s Time With Google Calendar’s Time Insights

Make every hour in your workweek count with Time Insights.

By Alyssa Zacharias  •   April 19, 2024  •   6 min read

Even the best leaders get overwhelmed by too many meetings and extra work. Google Calendar’s Time Insights feature uses pie charts and color codes to show where you’re allocating your time. Armed with these insights, you can determine how to spend it more effectively. Read on to learn how to add Time Insights to your calendar and use it—alongside Fellow—to improve productivity at work.

What’s Google Calendar’s Time Insights?

Time Insights is a Google Calendar feature that shows time spent in meetings by day, month, or year (depending on the version of the calendar you’re looking at). 

In Google Cal, you’ll find a small Time Insights bar on the screen’s left side—click the “More insights” button for a more comprehensive overview that includes a general time breakdown, time spent in meetings, and which employees you meet with most.

Time Insights isn’t available to everyone, though—you’ll get it with the following Google Workspace plans:

  • Business Plus
  • Enterprise Standard
  • Enterprise Plus
  • Education Standard
  • Education Plus
  • Education Fundamentals
  • Nonprofit

Even if you have an Enterprise or Business account, you’re the calendar’s owner and the only one who can see this information. Your Workspace manager can’t automatically access it, but you can give them permission later in the settings.


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How does Time Insights work?

When you click on “More insights,” you’ll find the following datasets.

1Time breakdown

This pie-chart overview shows time spent on:

  • One-on-ones
  • Meetings with three or more attendees
  • Focus time (a dedicated “do not disturb” mode for time blocking and deep work)
  • Events you haven’t responded to yet

Dragging your cursor over a specific color on the pie chart highlights events related to that color, helping you see where those events are in your schedule. And if you’ve configured your working hours in Google Cal, you’ll see another radio button showing the hours left in your workweek. Worth noting: Time Insights won’t consider meeting metrics where you’re the sole participant, so setting aside time to work independently won’t disturb the pie chart and other Google Calendar analytics.

2Time in meetings

Here, you’ll see the total time spent in meetings, your daily average, and your heaviest meeting day. This graph also shows the balance between one-time events and regular meetings, helping you see how much time you typically spend in sessions during a normal workweek compared to outliers.

3People you meet with

The Insights tab also highlights the colleagues you meet with most. Google Calendar automatically suggests new sessions with your regular contacts using pop-ups. You can also pin up to 10 people, like your direct report or frequently contacted team members, who will always appear under this section. 

To pin someone, click the symbol in the top-right corner (a person with a cog) and find the individual you want recurring calls with. After confirming, you’ll notice a little pin icon next to their name.

Beside each person, a colored bar shows the number of guests in the meetings you share, representing one-on-one sessions and meetings of up to 15 people. If you hover over these bars, relevant meetings stand out on your schedule while other items fade.

Key limitations of Time Insights 

Despite the easy access and streamlined overview, Time Insights has a few drawbacks:

  • It’s only available if you use Google Workspace: Unfortunately, Google Calendar’s standard version doesn’t include Time Insights, meaning you must pay for a Business or Education subscription to use the service.
  • You have to schedule every meeting in Google Calendar: Time Insights draws information from Google Calendar—leaving a lot of scheduling blindspots. If you join a last-minute session without an invite or jump on a Zoom call, you’ll have to go back and manually add it to your Google Calendar for insights.
  • It isn’t a dedicated time tracker: Google Calendar’s time tracking only keeps tabs on meetings and focus time you manually add, so you don’t gain detailed tracking that covers tasks and other events. 
  • It only works with Google Calendar: As a proprietary Google feature, Time Insights isn’t compatible with other calendar tools or available on its own. You can use the feature’s insights alongside a more flexible application like Fellow for comprehensive productivity tracking.
  • It doesn’t directly improve meeting quality: Time Insights doesn’t offer ways to improve sessions, whereas Fellow’s My Week feature lets you filter meetings to see which ones don’t include an agenda—so you can add one, improving the quality and productivity of these calls.

How to use Time Insights in Google Calendar

If you’re a “Google person” and don’t need extensive integration features, Time Insights offers a great meeting-focused breakdown. But before using this feature, set your working hours in Google Calendar so it provides data based on a specified start and end time in your workweek. Here’s how:

  1. Navigate to the settings menu by clicking the gear symbol in the upper-right corner of the Google Calendar screen.
  2. Scroll down and find “Working hours & location.” Then, check the “Enable working hours” box and set your hours.
  3. Return to Google Calendar’s home screen. You’ll see the minimized Time Insights panel on the left, where you can quickly view your average time spent in meetings.
  4. Click “More insights” to expand the panel and access a scrollable view of Time Insights on the screen’s right side.

Now that you’ve set up this at-a-glance tracking tool, use this info to decide whether to pare down your meeting load, auditing your current schedule to see if some calls could be emails. You can always use Fellow’s Meeting Copilot to record missed sessions so you remain in the know.

Tips for improving organization-wide meeting efficacy

Tips for improving organization-wide meeting efficacy:

1Be thoughtful when setting meetings

Avoid common scheduling mistakes like overlapping sessions and back-to-back calls. The research is out on this one—brains need breaks. Instead, consider how each meeting provides value without overwhelming participants.

If it’s a long call, schedule breaks between agenda items for attendees to relax and absorb the content before moving on to the next topic.

You can also use Google Calendar’s suggestions (like ideal meeting slots) or Fellow’s Meeting Guidelines to find the best meeting times based on everyone’s availability and productivity patterns.

2Encourage no meeting days

Look through Time Insights to find times or days when everyone’s productivity dips. You can implement a “no meeting” policy for half or full-days and set clear guidelines for exceptions. This approach avoids sending tired employees into important calls, allowing them to find time in Google Calendar for focused work

Ask managers to avoid going overboard when scheduling sessions. You might set a threshold for the maximum number of weekly meeting hours and add automatic alerts when calls exceed their initial time limit.

3Share a meeting agenda beforehand

Make sure managers send out or link an agenda to event descriptions so everyone has the chance to prepare. Optional attendees can also look over this agenda beforehand to ensure they’re required in the session.

Ask those making the agenda to set specific time limits for discussing each action item. This prevents prolonged meetings and off-topic conversations.

Make meetings increasingly productive with AI

Time Insights is a nice-to-have tool that offers insights into how you spend your meetings—and who you spend them with. But the limitations may leave you wanting more to measure and improve productivity.

With Fellow, you can use AI-powered meeting transcription and management features to turn those insights into actionable strategies. This tool integrates with Time Insights and covers the gaps left by Google Calendar. Plus, Fellow’s Meeting Cost Calculator shows you exactly how expensive your meetings are in real-time so you can make every minute count. And if you don’t have time to attend a call, you can send Fellow’s Copilot in your place!

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