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Get ‘Er Done and Increase Productivity with Google Docs

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?

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

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    Last Updated on August 6, 2020

    Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

    Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

    Bristol is the most congested city in England. Whenever I have to work at the office, I ride there, like most of us do. Furthermore, I always make sure to go at off hours; otherwise, the roads are jam-packed with cars, buses, bikes, even pedestrians. Why is that? Because everyone is working a traditional 9 to 5 work day.

    Where did the “9 to 5” Come From?

    It all started back in 1946. The United States government implemented the 40 hour work week for all federal employees, and all companies adopted the practice afterwards. That’s 67 years with the same schedule. Let’s think about all the things that have changed in the 67 years:

    • We went to the moon, and astronauts now live in space on the ISS.

    • Computers used to take up entire rooms and took hours to make a single calculation. Now we have more powerful computers in our purses and back pockets with our smartphones.

    • Lots of employees can now telecommute to the office from hundreds, and even thousands of miles away.

    In 1946 a 9-5 job made sense because we had time after 5pm for a social life, a family life. Now we’re constantly connected to other people and the office, with the Internet, email on our smartphones, and hashtags in our movies and television shows. There is no downtime anymore.

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    Different Folks, Different Strokes

    Enjoying your downtime is an important part of life. It recharges your batteries and lets you be more productive. Allowing people to balance life and work can provide them with much needed perspective and motivation to see the bigger picture of what they are trying to achieve.

    Some people are just more productive when they’re working at their optimal time of day, after feeling well rested and personally fulfilled.  For some that can be  from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m; for others, it could be  2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

    People have their own rhythms and routines. It would be great if we could sync our work schedule to match. Simply put, the imposed 8-hour work day can be a creativity and morale killer for the average person in today’s world.

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    Productivity and Trust Killer

    Fostering creativity among employees is not always an easy endeavor, but perhaps a good place to start is by simply not tying their tasks and goals to a fixed time period. Let them work on their to-do list at their own pace, and chances are, you’ll get the best out of your employee who feels empowered instead of babysat.

    That’s not to say that you should  allow your team to run wild and do whatever they want, but restricting them to a 9 to 5 time frame can quickly demoralize people. Set parameters and deadlines, and let them work at their own creative best with the understanding that their work is crucial to the functioning of the entire team.

    Margaret Heffernan, an entrepreneur who previously worked in broadcasting, noted to Inc that from her experience, “treating employees like grown-ups made it more likely that they would behave the same way.” The principle here is to have your employees work to get things done, not to just follow the hands on the clock.

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    A Flexible Remote Working Policy

    Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously recalled all her remote workers, saying she wanted to improve innovation and collaboration, but was that the right decision? We’ve all said that we’re often more productive in a half day working from home than a full day working in the office, right? So why not let your employees work remotely from home?

    There are definitely varying schools of thought on remote working. Some believe that innovation and collaboration can only happen in a boardroom with markers, whiteboards and post-it notes and of course, this can be true for some. But do a few great brainstorms trump a team that feels a little less stressed and a little more free?

    Those who champion remote working often note that these employees are not counting the clock, worried about getting home, cooking dinner or rushing through errands post-work. No one works their 9-5 straight without breaks here and there.  Allowing some time for remote working means employees can handle some non-work related tasks and feel more accomplished throughout the day. Also, sometimes we all need to have a taste of working in our pajamas, right?

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    It’ll be interesting to see how many traditional companies and industries start giving their employees more freedom with their work schedule. And how many end up rescinding their policies like Yahoo did.

    What are your thoughts of the traditional 9-5 schedule and what are you doing to help foster your team’s productivity and creativity? Hit the comments and let us know.

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