Earlier this week, I discussed how enabling Google Assistant’s Workday Reminders was a decision that I sorely regret, and while I stick with everything I said regarding how frustrating and overwhelming they were to use, I wanted to avoid complaining about it without providing a solution. Through my experience with this feature, I’ve compiled a few tips and tricks for how you can make Assistant’s Workday Reminders work for you rather than against you.
While it may be tempting to set a ton of reminders in a routine because the tool is interesting, I would caution against this. My biggest gripe was self-inflicted. I set up 14 actions throughout the day that fired off incrementally, and I realized before long that it was just too much. Being that most of us are working from home, you have to keep in mind that Assistant, in this case, is meant to replace those constant accountability nudges you’d get in a real workplace. My best advice is to set up only a few reminders for things that really matter and delete the rest, no matter how interesting it may be to set up more.
This brings me to my next tip – only set reminders for things you don’t do naturally. This may seem obvious, but yes, setting reminders for drinking water, getting up to stretch, or going for a walk can be helpful, but if you’re thirsty, groggy, or restless, you’re probably going to get up and take care of those things autonomously, right? I think in our modern productivity-obsessed culture, we tend to overschedule and over plan the minutiae out of a desire to get our lives in order, but instead, it ends up adding extra friction and causing analysis paralysis. This goes for all Google services, but particularly for audible reminders – less is more and intentionality is key.
I would also recommend that you periodically tweak your Workday Reminder times. Initially, I got frustrated each time one fired off in my quiet, focused office and scared the living Bejesus out of me, shattering any hope I had of concentration, but after some additional effort, I managed to make them more useful and less disruptive. There are several points throughout my day when I’ve naturally come to be in a flow state and the default times that Assistant recommended for Reminders just so happened to be planted smack dab in the middle of those crucial moments.
It’s almost like an annoying co-worker burst into your office and failed to read the room before firing off a bunch of nonsense. Basically, Google Assistant had no social awareness, but ultimately, this was my fault. If you need to take a week to identify times when you’re more likely to be in the groove creatively so you can properly adjust reminders to be less abrupt, you should.
Lastly, I want to encourage you to prevent reminder stacking for each time that your Nest Hub or speaker fires one off. When you’re focused and Google barges in to tell you what’s on your calendar, what reminders you have for the day, a bit of custom text, that you should get a glass of water, and that it’s lunchtime, you quickly find yourself waiting impatiently for it to shut up. Creating reminders that offer short bursts of information is ideal, as it reflects the same experience you’d get with ‘At a glance’ devices like a smartwatch, only audibly. There’s no need to hear long, drawn-out speeches about your day when you could instead consume smaller chunked information that you’re more likely to retain since your focus is on something else at that moment.
With all of that said and done, I hope that you can make Google Assistant’s Workday Reminders work better for you than they did for me. I am using them again with these modifications, and I will be faster to adjust things in the future than I am to give up on them and throw my hands in the air in frustration. I avoided mentioning other tips such as adjusting the sensitivity of your device’s speakers for Assistant activation, and such because I’ve seen those elsewhere. I wanted instead to focus on the psychology of what and how these reminders work so you can get a more full understanding of how they can and should be used as a part of your day. I hope this helps!