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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?

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

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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