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I Used Google for Everything for 30 Days, and Here’s What Happened

I Used Google for Everything for 30 Days, and Here’s What Happened

So as a long-form experiment regarding online life, I decided to cut myself off of online services and products that aren’t Google-owned or operated for a month. I was hoping to see just how far their reach was online and whether they could potentially gain a monopoly on the online marketplace. They clearly are the most popular search engine, but what about other services?

I had to find out. So I signed up or activated nearly every Google service under the sun, minimized all the others and started my journey. By the end, I hoped to answer the following questions. Here are my resulting thoughts:

Did I Miss Out on Essential Services?

My initial fears going into this project were mostly related to the services I thought essential. I used Amazon a lot. Would I be missing out in terms of being able to get products I needed? I used other tools for scheduling and planning my day-to-day activities. Would Google Calendar be able to suit all of my needs? Would my video calls be impossible?

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After 30 days, I felt partially inconvenienced, but there were no major issues in my life. On occasion, I was left out of certain events or told about certain information later than others. Many of my issues weren’t necessarily related to the inferiority of Google services and products, but the unpopularity of those services. Google Docs and Google Drive were mostly sufficient for my career needs. It was possible to take care of most of my shopping needs through searching with Google, even if it wasn’t as convenient.

I also imagine others having a completely different result depending on their lifestyle and profession. Google doesn’t have total dominance yet, and it shows. Google might not be enough if special needs are taken into consideration.

Could I Communicate?

It was a tad more difficult to reach people I don’t talk with too often, but after mentioning on social media platforms that I would be taking a month-long respite, people were quite understanding. Anyone who was concerned about contacting me got either my Gmail address or my phone number. Even Google admits that its social media platforms aren’t doing all that well in comparison with the industry leaders, so while I got more involved with Google Plus, it wasn’t all that useful. A social network requires people to network on it.

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While it was nice at the end of the month to scroll back and see what happened, I didn’t feel like I was missing all that much. Maybe I missed out on a sale that wasn’t communicated to me through a Google product or service, but I considered the opportunity costs of my time. Using only Google limited my communications to an extent, but they weren’t cut off. Instead, in my experience, they were filtered down to what truly mattered.

What About Entertainment?

So I didn’t have Netflix or Hulu for a month. It wasn’t too big a deal. YouTube is owned and controlled by Google, so nearly all of my video needs were met. While it is reliant upon content creators and licensing, there wasn’t too much of a concern when I needed something to do online. I even signed up for YouTube Red and got a pass for Google Music as part of the deal. While the services might not have been my first choice when it comes to streaming services, they proved sufficient enough. YouTube Red’s original content, however, was positively terrible.

I learned by the end that there is always something to watch on a platform given enough searching, minimizing the importance of a particular service. I still don’t have my Netflix account back, and more often do I actively search for content that fits my needs, not what I’m told I’d like. I feel simultaneously more trusting of Google and dismissive of its results.

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How Did You Deal with Smartphone Use?

Fortunately, I already had a phone running Android when I started the project, so in those terms, it was relatively easy to use my smartphone for browsing and online services just like my computer. Other than neglecting a few social networks and services I rarely used anyway, such as the freeware that came on my phone, I didn’t really pay much attention to the differences.

As far as keeping touch with friends and family to clarify plans or send quick messages, I found that the standard of texting and calling remained true. Google dominates the internet, but the internet doesn’t completely dominate our lives just yet. Its reach hasn’t become one with the air around us.

How Did I Feel by the End?

To be perfectly honest, I felt concerned with the ability of Google to do just about everything. One wonders about the ability of the market to control such a beast. While Google does some things (searching and email) better than others (Google Plus), there remains the fact that it has the infrastructure to dominate should another tech giant go under. Combine that with the visions the company has for the future and what could come out of their experiments, we can feel excited toward new technology yet cautious about how it’ll get used.

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On a smaller scale, I felt mildly inconvenienced, yet fine. The truth remains that while we do need the internet to work and communicate, a lot of other needs are manufactured and our time would be better spent reading books and growing gardens than checking new messages. Checking my Gmail served a purpose, but what was the purpose of checking Payton Manning’s Twitter every day? By the nature of the experiment, I was connected just a little less with technology, and it had a positive effect on my mind and spirit.

Do you have any thoughts on Google’s growing presence online? Are you afraid that they might become too powerful and form a monopoly on online life? Do you think there are any legitimate alternatives? Please leave a comment below and tell us what you think, and then get your friends in on the conversation.

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Google I Used Google for Everything for 30 Days, and Here’s What Happened

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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