I will admit it – I am a Google addict. I didn’t want it to happen, and I tried for a long time to use different services for different needs, but I am 100% in bed with Google now…and I could not be happier about it. What am I talking about here? I am talking about the fact that I have completely organized and simplified my online life using most of Google’s services. I used to have Yahoo mail and Gmail, pictures on Flickr and SmugMug, documents stored somewhere else online (that I paid for), and a calendar I could only use if sitting in front of my home machine. But no more, as now Google holds everything I need and use on a daily basis. Let’s take a look at how doing things this way has gotten me more organized than I have ever been…
First of all, my email accounts. I have 10 email accounts. Yep, 10. One each for my main three websites I own and operate, a few personal ones, and ones that I use for random signups/newsletters/etc.. I even have 2 that I don’t use but only signed up for because I could use my full name or some derivative thereof. However, all 10 of them are incredibly easy to manage (I often forget I even have some of them) because I access each of them inside main Gmail account. As an additional help, I also made sure I could send email from any of these accounts from inside Gmail as well, so Gmail acts like a “normal” email program like Outlook, except for one thing – I can access/read/send my email from any computer on earth now. Makes things a lot easier when on the road and I need to take care of some business!
Next up, my calendar. Using Google’s calendar feature enables me not only to access my calendars from anywhere, but it also lets me share it with friends and family. For instance, my wife and I share a single Google calendar that we can both edit from anywhere, meaning we always know what the other has going on in terms of appointments, etc.. This is a lot easier than depending on our old planning books being “synced” with a pen and paper.
I also use Google Docs for all my word processing needs. This includes blog drafts, invoices, income/tax tracking, PDF storage, and anything else that comes in the form of a Word or Excel document. I used to use Word like everyone else, but found that using Docs not only enables me to access any of my documents from anywhere, but also makes sure I am only editing the most up-to-date version of any document. It also keeps document clutter off my computer(s), which helps keep me organized as well.
In addition to those big three reasons above that I use Google to organize my life, there are a few other reasons as well that may not seem like much – until you start using them every day. I use the Tasks feature inside Gmail as my “To-Do” list that I can check out anywhere, and it reduces the amount of paper scraps I find all over my house with things I should be taking care of. I also use Chat for talking to friends/colleagues who are on any of the other instant-messenger programs out there. Chat can hook up to most of them, so I only need to use this single interface. Talk about keeping things simple! *Edit/addition- And lastly, I use Reader for all my RSS needs, which keep me up to date.
In reality, almost my entire online life is being organized by Google. Are there privacy concerns to worry about? Probably – but A. I don’t do anything illegal and B. I bet the engineers at Google have much better things to do than to monitor what I store in my account. And as much as I back up my computers at home once every week or two, I still trust them to keep good care of my stuff way more than I trust myself. While I don’t store personal documents (like tax returns) with them, anything else I can think of is created/stored/accessed online with Google, as it reduces the paper use in my house and the constant searching for different things I know I need. Everything I need is right there, with one company, and I can access it from anywhere. I have never been this organized online, and it certainly has simplified my digital life. If you are not trying something like this but think you should be, don’t be afraid – give it a shot. I don’t think you will be disappointed! If you are already using Google to organize your online life, tell us about what you use and how you use it. Maybe your tips can help me out too!