With New Tool, Google Calendar Wants to Be Your New Life Coach

With New Tool, Google Calendar Wants to Be Your New Life Coach
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This story originally appeared on Fortune Magazine

No meeting right now? Not at work? Sounds like a good time to get going on those goals of yours, Google says.

On Wednesday the company released the new Goals tool for its 10-year-old Google Calendar.

It’s a feature that scans daily schedules to find the empty holes and fill them right up with time for self-improvement, like language lessons, reading, or yoga sessions.

For example, if you decide you want to go to the gym more often, Google Calendar will ask how many days a week you want to go and what time of day is generally best for you. Google then runs through your schedule and squeezes in the sessions where it thinks you’ll have downtime.

In other words, it’s harnessing everything a Google Calendar knows about what its users are doing … to fill up more of their time.

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely, who studies human decision making, helped build the new tool at Google. Ariely says there’s a reason it’s best to put goals on your calendar alongside the meetings and the chores: “Empty time where you think you’ll do something loses precedence to things on the calendar that are concrete and specific,” he tells The New York Times.

The tool is also rather persistent: If you push back a session, or schedule something else, Google will automatically reschedule a goal for later (even if it means waking you up just a little earlier, as Google’s new ad suggests). The software is also built to get better at predicting which times are best for you: As you use it, the tool learns more about your habits and tries to find better times to pencil in the goals.

Of course, you can still always put off those goals until tomorrow: Google knows what you’re doing then too.

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