Have you ever wanted to gain quick access to a stopwatch or a timer for your writing sessions? Many of you, especially if you’re a novelist or hobbyist writer, will know of the Pomodoro technique. This method of time management dictates that you think in tomatoes instead of hours (Pomodoro means tomato in Italian, by the way!). Pick a task, set a 25-minute timer, work on that one specific task until that timer expires, take a five minute break and then do it all over again. Once you’ve used up four pomodoros, you take a slightly longer break of 15 minutes to a half an hour.
The benefits to this are that you break down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks and hyper focus on them to increase productivity. Today, I’m going to show you how to set a timer or a stopwatch in Google Docs using the new Smart Canvas chips so you can crank out those creative novels, work-based documents and more with less distractions.
Now, before we get started, I want to mention that these features are still rolling out to different Google Workspace account license types at different paces. Because they will be available before long, let’s go ahead and speak about the tools as though they’re widely available. Open a new Google Document by visiting the website or by typing docs.new into your Chrome browser’s address bar and hitting enter.
From there, familiarize yourself with the “Smart Canvas” tools Google is modernizing its productivity suite with. By inserting the ‘@’ symbol in a document, you’ll call up the special Smart Canvas menu that contains things like headers, file chips for inserting other Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and more, people chips for inserting your Google Contacts, dropdown menus, date chips, Google Tasks, Gmail drafts, meeting notes, Calendar events and more.
Okay, go ahead and type “@timer” or “@stopwatch” and click the corresponding smart chip from the popup menu. Now, you should see the appropriate smart chip inserted into your document! For a timer, I like to place it at the top of the document and aligned to the right, perhaps alongside a dropdown for the status of my draft. I’ve been having so much fun exploring the Smart Canvas capabilities, and will be writing a lot more on the topic, so stay tuned!
Once you’re happy with your setup, hover over the stopwatch or timer and click the ‘Play’ button. It’s the shape of a right-facing triangle as you’d see on music players. Now, you should see a countdown in the case of a timer, and a count up if you’ve inserted a stopwatch. For the former, you have the ability to set a specific amount of time, which is super handy, and you can even place hours on the clock!
As previously mentioned, a timer is a great tool for those looking to hunker down and focus on their writing. If you want to use a stopwatch, a good use case for it is if you’re reading a speech out loud and you have it written out – you can start the stopwatch to see how long it takes you as you practice the cadence and pitch to prepare for an upcoming presentation.
Are you using Smart Canvas in Google Docs and Sheets? I’m excited to get more smart chips, and Google has openly stated there are a ton more on the way throughout the rest of the year. I nearly switched my entire novel series bible to Notion or Microsoft Loop, but now that Smart Canvas is in full swing, I’ve never been happier to use Docs and Sheets to manage characters, plot points, and more in my fictional universe. Drop a comment below to let me know how you intend to use these tools in your own work or organization!