3 Google Docs Tips That Will Improve Your Productivity

Google Docs  |   Minute Read  

Despite its introduction over a decade ago as an online word processor, Google Docs has many capabilities that make it far more useful than just producing written documents. In my article, How to use Google Docs for Note-taking, I listed attributes of Google Docs that make it a great addition to your productivity toolset.

Over time, Google has added many productivity features to its class-leading collaboration to make Docs a productivity tool approaching the utility of Evernote or OneNote, especially for those already within the Google ecosystem.

In this post, we’ll share three Google Docs productivity tips that will level up your ability to get things done.

1. Use Google Docs Checklists

Although many may have missed it, Google quietly replaced a static checkbox image for bulleted lists with an interactive checkbox list allowing you to mark items complete. As a result, instead of simply identifying an item as a task, you can mark it complete which is reflected in the text.

The Basics

Using this interactive feature evokes the visual feel of scratching completed items off of a list, giving users a sense of accomplishment.  Features like this that spark a bit of emotion provide the momentum and confidence to proceed with the remaining tasks.

To use this Google Docs checklists with a strikethrough, all you have to do is:

  1. 1
    Type your list in a new or existing Google Doc
  2. 2
    Highlight all the items on your list and click the Checklists icon in the toolbar
  3. 3
    Click on any item’s checkbox to “cross it off” the list automatically adding a checkmark to the checkbox  and strikethrough to the text.
Google Docs Checklist

If you don’t like strikethroughs, you can use a table to separate the text from the checkbox.  Here's how:

  1. 1
    Insert a two-column table into your document using the Insert menu
  2. 2
    Type in one item on every cell of the right column
  3. 3
    Once you’re done, highlight every cell on the left and use the checklist icon from the toolbar to a checkbox in all those cells
Google Docs Checklist Table

Add to this a bit of formatting to remove border lines and highlight the header row and you’ll have a neat checklist like below.

Google Docs Checklists in table

Advanced Productivity

As you can see, both checklist types can be useful to keep track of action items as part of a larger document or standalone. However, if you want to automatically copy these tasks to a dedicated task management app, Google Docs also integrates with TaskClone which can automatically copy these tasks to 40+ task apps including Google Tasks, Todoist, Trello and OmniFocus. Indeed, you can enjoy the real-time collaboration Google Docs offers and use the advanced task management features of apps dedicated to that purpose.

While the tip of adding checklists can be extremely useful itself, it appears Google is set to make it even better. Some Google work accounts recently got access to the ability to assign these tasks within their organization. We can expect this ability will eventually reach all users of Google Docs.

Google Docs Checklists assigned

2. Leverage the @ Menu to Add Items

If you haven’t followed Google’s updates closely, you probably missed the introduction of what Google affectionately calls the “@” or “At menu”. Simply type the “@” symbol anywhere in a Google Doc and you open a menu allowing you to insert many useful items to your document.

At menu in Google Docs

It’s Google, so of course there is a search feature for available items to add. We couldn’t list them all, but productivity enthusiasts should take note of adding:

  • Meeting Notes tied to meetings already list on Google Calendar
  • Email Drafts that can be directly sent through Gmail
  • Checklists that can be used as we explain in tip #1
  • Link to events on the user’s Google Calendar
  • Link to people that can automatically share the document
  • Interactive dates that can then be used to schedule a meeting
  • Link to files on Google Drive
  • Locations on Google maps
  • Tasks that can be assigned to members of the same organization

Regardless of your use case, this Google Docs feature can help you work smarter and faster, improving your overall productivity and getting more done in less time. Using the @ menu is a smart way to boost productivity as it centralizes relevant information within your Google Doc and makes it easily available to yourself or others.

As shown above, open a new or existing Docs file and type “@” to use the feature. You should then see a list of suggestions you can narrow down by beginning to type whatever you want to insert (e.g. @filename).

3. Assign and Manage Tasks

One of the biggest strengths of using Google Docs is collaboration. This collaboration applies across Google Workspace and allows easy collaboration across Docs, Slides, Sheets, and others with features such as commenting and editing.

While assigning checklist tasks is currently limited to business accounts, you can use the Comment feature to assign and track tasks associated with a Google Doc.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. 1
    Open a Google Doc and highlight text for the task you want to assign
  2. 2
    Click the Comments icon in the toolbar or use  “Ctrl + Alt + M”
  3. 3
    Add whatever comments you want and use @ + a collaborator’s email ID
  4. 4
    Click on the checkbox to assign the comment to the collaborator
Assign Google Comment

You can only assign one person to a comment, but you can add several collaborators with the @ + collaborator method. You can then have a back and forth conversation about the task or comment as each person adds comments. Features like this demonstrate Google Docs has far broader productivity benefits than simply creating documents.


So, there you have it – 3 Google Docs tips that will improve your productivity. Google Docs is rapidly becoming the go-to word processing AND note-taking tool due to its immense popularity, features, and familiarity. Subscribe to TaskClone blog so we can keep you updated on Google’s ongoing improvements to Docs and other tools to help you be your best.



About the author 

Troy Christmas

Founder Productivity Apps TaskClone.com & TaskCam.com | Recovered Attorney | Learner/Teacher | Helping leaders lead productively

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