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Get ‘Er Done and Increase Productivity with Google Docs

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Get ‘Er Done and Increase Productivity with Google Docs


    Have you struggled with multiple workstations, laptops, mobile devices and having access to a certain document? Do you share documents and spreadsheets with teams of people? Do you ask for feedback on projects from people all over the globe?

    If you do I have solution for you that doesn’t even cost a dime to use.

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    Google Docs

    Okay, okay, I heard the groans even across the Internet. Google Docs hasn’t enjoyed a good reputation as a replacement for Microsoft Office or even Open Office. I am not talking about using Google Docs as your word processing software. I use both MS Office and Open Office to create and edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. If you are a heavy user of office type applications you really have to have some sort of desktop software.

    What I am talking about is using Google Docs as a supplement to your desktop applications. Used in the right way, Google Docs can provide assess to your documents while at home, at the office, traveling, anywhere with an Internet connection. It also is a great way to collaborate with people, sharing items, getting feedback.

    There are other collaboration tools out there.  Dropbox, Syncplicity are some. They are good for techie people who understand what is expected of them. I have found when I want to share with non-techies, they run into problems with tools like these. Also they have a free and professional versions. If you are using them for anything concerning a business, you should consider paying for it so as not to run afoul of the terms and conditions.

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    Getting Started

    Of course you need a Google account to use Google Docs. If you don’t have one already, just go to google.com and sign up. Once you have your account you can access Documents by clicking on the tab on the top of the screen. This will take you to your home screen.

    Collections

    The key to using Google Docs in understanding collections. Collections are the same as file folders in Google Docs. Each collections holds a number of other things. A collection can hold multiple documents, spreadsheets, presentations, or even other collections. A collection can hold multiple types of items, a couple documents, a spreadsheets and a few other collections. This is just like file folders in an operating system.

    I use collections to hold like items so that they are grouped together and I can share them to whoever I want. You will collections on your home Google Docs screen on the left side. There will be a listing of your collections and collections shared with you.

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    Get ‘Er Done Easily

    I discovered that the best way to get your documents into Google Docs is to create folders on your workstation, put in the items you want access to and then upload them as collections to Google Docs. I struggled for a long time trying to upload the documents one at a time, create the collections on  Google Docs and then then put the items into the collections. Don’t do that. It is really clunky. You can do it all on your workstation in a matter of minutes, upload it and then have access to them anywhere you go.

    Sharing and Feedback

    The other cool use for Google Docs is to share things with people. You can either share collections or individual items. The easy way that I use to share is to right click on the item.  This will allow you to select Share and then click Share again. This brings up the Sharing settings box. At this point, you have a couple of choices. You can share directly with people using their email address. Just type in the address in the box “Add people”. They will get an email giving them access to the item. Another way is to use a link. At the top of the Sharing settings box, click Change to change type of access. Select anyone with the link to get access to a link that will take someone to your item. You also have the choice to give them the ability to edit the document.

    By using a link with edit permission, you can share a document on Facebook, Twitter, etc and ask for comments on whatever you are working on. What a great way to get feedback! People can use the insert comments feature to give you all the feedback you want. Just make sure you have a backup copy in case someone changes the document beyond recognition.

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    Housekeeping

    Finally, to keep clutter down, use collections to keep individual items from clogging up your homepage in Google Docs. Select the individual items and then click More at the top. Select Don’t Show in Home to hide them from your home page. You will still find the items in the collections and it keeps your homepage much more manageable.

    Simple, Fast, Free

    Using Google Docs in the way that I have described meets my prerequisites for a top of the line productivity tool – simple, fast, and cheap (free). It is a great tool to have in your tool bag. I only see the use of Gmail and Google Docs growing.

    Why not start using it and benefit from the increased productivity?

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    (Photo credit: Electonic News on the Internet via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on October 21, 2021

    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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