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What Google Needs

What Google Needs

    Google has some insanely useful applications, the top of their field in many cases — and by mastering these tools, you can become a productivity ninja. But these apps — Gmail, Gcal, Google Reader, Google Docs, et al — they aren’t perfect.

    Don’t get me wrong — I love these apps. They are awesome, and I couldn’t bring myself to use anything else. But although they’ve come out with some minor upgrades recently, Google has been a little slow in upgrading their great apps with much-needed features. Perhaps they just need a little nudge.

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    Well here it is. Google, here are just a few of the features you need to add, pronto.

    Gmail

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    1. Sort features. You should be able to sort your inbox (or any folder/label) by date, sender, etc.
    2. Two panes. When you open an email, you shouldn’t have to leave the inbox view if you don’t want to.
    3. Dragging. You should be able to drag emails if you want, to re-arrange them, pop them in a label.
    4. Drag-n-drop and batch uploads. Why should we have to manually select each individual file attachment? Allow us to select a bunch of files, and drag them into an email.
    5. Progress bar. Speaking of uploads, if you’ve got some big files attached, and it takes awhile for Gmail to upload, Gmail should show you a progress bar so you know it’s working.
    6. Better integration with Gcal. This has been improving, but as of right now, you need to add third-party extensions to allow you to schedule stuff from an email into your Google Calendar, or to see your agenda for the day in Gmail. With two great tools like this, integration really should be complete.
    7. Unthread. I love the threaded conversations. It’s ingenius. It took me a couple of days to get used to this, back when Gmail first came out, but now it’s indispensable. Except when you don’t want emails to be threaded (if you email something to 50 people, for example). Give us a choice.
    8. Notification. I’m actually not a big fan of email notification, as they’re horribly distracting. But I know that others want it. You could use a third-party extension for this, but you shouldn’t need to.
    9. Open emails in new tab. Self explanatory. Firefox made me addicted to tabs. Why can’t I use them in Gmail?
    10. Read receipt. I wouldn’t use this much, but I think a lot of people find it useful.
    11. Message size. I should be able to see how big a message is, and sort by size. Would make deleting emails easier.
    12. Off-line reading. I love Gmail being online all the time, but what if my Internet connection is down, or I’m away from a wi-fi spot? How will I get my Gmail fix?

    Gcal

    Gcal
      1. To-do list. C’mon. This is pretty basic.
      2. Pop-up notifications. Yes, they have this already, except when Gcal isn’t open. I’d like to be notified at all times.
      3. Quick-add. There’s an extension for this, but it should be built in. Do a simple key combination, and enter an event. Voila.
      4. Off-line usage. Same complaint as Gmail — you should be able to save stuff and view your calendar even when you’re not connected to the Internet. I’m sure this is coming, but it should come sooner.
      5. Drag an event to another week. I love being able to drag an event to another day when I’m in “week” view … but what if it’s next week, or the next month? What then, Google?
      6. Icons. OK, this isn’t that necessary. But darn it, I’d like a little birthday cake next to the birthdays, and a little Christmas tree …

      Google Reader

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      1. Nothing much. This feed reader is pretty much perfect.
      2. Except. Off-line reading.
      3. And search! How is it that the king of search companies doesn’t have search in Reader?
      4. Also: someday/maybe list. If I unsubscribe to a feed, I might want to save it on a list to check out at a later date.

      Google Docs & Spreadsheets

      Google Docs
      1. Sharing with non-Google users. As far as I know, if you want to share a Google doc with someone, they’ll need to log in with a Google account to access it. Well, they shouldn’t have to.
      2. Drag-n-drop. When I’m looking at my list of docs, I should be able to re-sort them, put them into folders, drag them to my desktop, and drag documents from the desktop to Google Docs.
      3. Selecting text. I should be able to use the keyboard to select a paragraph of text, like you can in other word processors. Control-Shift-Up Arrow. It’s frustrating not to be able to do that.
      4. Spreadsheets. This app needs a lot of work. It’s so behind other spreadsheet programs it’s almost not usable. I can make some very basic spreadsheets, but it’s a lot more time consuming. Simple things, like being able to quickly do a Sum formula without having to click on the Formulas tab first. Keyboard shortcuts. Things like that.
      5. Off-line working. Same as above. This would be killer.

      Other apps Google needs

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      1. Glist. Instead of just adding a to-do list into Gcal, Google should come up with a really cool to-do list program, with multiple lists, project view, drag-n-drop, reminders, etc. Basically a Google GTD program, integrated tightly with Gmail, Gcal, and Google Docs & Spreadsheets.
      2. GMoney. There are a lot of personal finance programs out there, but Google needs one, integrated with its other features. I’m sure it will do this one day.
      3. GDrive. This has been discussed, but really, Google should put your hard drive online. Drag and drop files, sort them, put them in folders.
      4. GContacts. I like how Gmail automatically adds email address to your contact list. I barely even think about my contacts anymore. Until I want to look up a phone number. Then I have to go to Contacts, do a search, click on the contact … using the contact manager is one of the worst features in Gmail. Google should have a separate Contact manager, integrated with Gmail and Gcal. And make it really cool, kay?

      What features or apps would you like to see Google add? Let us know in the comments.

      More by this author

      Leo Babauta

      Founder of Zen Habits and expert in habits building and goals achieving.

      Simple Productivity: 10 Ways to Do More by Focusing on the Essentials How to Find Your Passion and Live a Fulfilling Life What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time The Gentle Art of Saying No How to Pare Your To-do List Down to the Essentials

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      Last Updated on November 5, 2019

      How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

      How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

      Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

      “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

      But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

      Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

      1. Always Have a Book

      It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

      Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

      2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

      We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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      Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

      3. Get More Intellectual Friends

      Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

      Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

      4. Guided Thinking

      Albert Einstein once said,

      “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

      Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

      5. Put it Into Practice

      Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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      If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

      In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

      6. Teach Others

      You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

      Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

      7. Clean Your Input

      Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

      I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

      Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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      8. Learn in Groups

      Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

      Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

      9. Unlearn Assumptions

      You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

      Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

      Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

      10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

      Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

      Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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      11. Start a Project

      Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

      If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

      12. Follow Your Intuition

      Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

      Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

      13. The Morning Fifteen

      Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

      If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

      14. Reap the Rewards

      Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

      15. Make Learning a Priority

      Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

      More About Continuous Learning

      Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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