How Google Alerts Can Make You A Friendlier, Lazier, More Productive Person

Can’t keep up with those you care most about? Google it.

How Google Alerts Can Make You A Friendlier, Lazier, More Productive Person
[Image: Flickr user Graham Campbell]

The only thing harder than keeping up with your Twitter feed is keeping up with real human beings.


You know, people that you care about and have some vested interest in?

And if you’re a super social person, the kind of girl or guy who finds ideas in the people you encounter–à la GE CMO Beth Comstock–then your garden of friendships, colleagues, and others may be massively unruly, and tough to tend to regularly.

But just as a clever app can help you keep your inbox disciplined or translate your lifelong dreams into daily tasks, software that you might already be using can keep you abreast of your network’s accomplishments–without making you feel too much like an overtly ambitious, network-friendly kinda person.

The answer, of course, is Google Alerts.

Google Alerts is awesome for keeping on top of the most important topics: royal gossip, political scandals, gadget releases. But it’s also a tool for keeping up with your most important people.

As Daily Dot cofounder Nicholas White explains at Open Forum:

I’m fairly extroverted, so I enjoy meeting people and developing relationships, but my problem is the time it takes to do so. For me, that’s the beauty of social networks. They allow you to connect with the people you want to keep up with, and have small interactions with them regularly, again, often from your phone.

But you can help yourself out: I set up Google alerts for people so I get notified when they’ve done something online and I have a reason to catch up.

The big benefit

If you get 1,000 emails a day, then the 400 that begin with “I trust you are well” aren’t super exciting–in fact, they’ll probably be avoided.


Instead, we need to recognize the fact that any relationship–even those over email–operate on a sense of reciprocity, or so the psychologists tell us. So if we want them to take a personal interest in us, then we need to show that we’re personally interested in them–for example, by mentioning their newest feat. But that doesn’t mean Google can’t help us.

Hat tip: Open Forum

About the author

Drake Baer was a contributing writer at Fast Company, where he covered work culture. He's the co-author of Everything Connects, a book about how intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational psychology shape innovation.