Google Productivity Tools for Everyone

At The Fletcher School, we use G Suite for Education and associated apps. Our teachers and students use Google Classroom, Google Drive with Docs and Slides, and Google Calendar on a daily basis. Hopefully,  you are also using Google apps in your personal digital life. BUT IF you are NOT I urge you to give it a try. Many individuals use Gmail with a Google account but are not accessing the other tools that are associated with the account. You can sign up for a Google Account here if you don’t already have one. If you are a parent, this will give you a window into the digital interface used by your child.

As we become more mobile with phones and tablets and move away from a traditional (I can’t believe I said that about a computer!) desktop computer and file storage we need to be aware of the tools available to replace how we worked on a desktop. And with a Google Account, many of the same tools that we use with G Suite for Education are also available to everyone else.

But are you using these tools? What are they? Are you still storing files on your home computer? Are there items you could access from other devices?  What if you could share files and allow edit rights to other collaborators? With a Google account, you have the resources of all the associated apps.  For this post, I will focus on Google Drive but don’t overlook the possibilities of other apps such as Calendar, Photos and Sites. 

From the Google search screen, log into your account and check out the ‘waffle’ on the right side of the screen. Here you will see the Google tool icons that are associated with your account. Select the Drive icon and see what might already be in there. 

If other people have shared documents with you, you will see those files under Shared with me. Check out Google Drive Help to get oriented and start to create documents, share them or upload files from a computer. Google Drive gives you 15 gigs of storage for free.

How can Google Drive work for you? With family activities, clubs and projects, sharing documents with others gives everyone access to information and duties and spreads ownership around. (Yes, they too would need to create a Google account.) Make a Christmas shopping list doc and add a new list each year. Now you can track gifts year to year and watch for patterns. Use a Google Doc to keep track of family login information and share the doc with all family members. When an account needs to be changed, update the document and everyone can find the new information. Use Google Sheets to maintain a family budget with a sheet for each month.

When my parents transitioned into assisted living and left a big house for us to empty and sell I made a spreadsheet keeping track of plans, furniture, repairs. As a family, it has been wonderful to be able to have all the information and details (and there are so many details) in one place where everyone can see it and add their own notes and stay informed about what is going on without sending countless emails redistributing the latest news. As my sister said, “A lot of people aren’t aware of all the apps they can use and to be able to all contribute to the same document in real time and add their own thoughts is a powerful tool.”

The reason for using technology has to relate to your interests and needs. Think about what you are doing that can be expedited with Google Apps. Do you have a babysitting Co-op, Book Club, or Carpool Schedule to keep track of with others?

When my daughters got married, I created a spreadsheet that could be shared with the bride, groom and bride and groom’s families to enter guestlist members and address information simultaneously. Right after their engagements, I set it up, shared it with them and the new in-laws and watched the invitation count grow. As you can see my son-in-law had the most friends! I shared my Wedding Guest List template with Google and over 2000 other people have used it and you can too.

I have highlighted the capabilities of Drive but that is only one component of Google’s apps. I created a website for my Supper Club to archive our events. That gave me experience in a personal way with websites and improved how I would use a website as an educator. You, too, could host your own website using Google Sites. The new interface is drag and drop and is a great place to start building a website for a club or activity. Using Google Photos as a way to archive photos, view across devices and keep your phone’s camera roll to a minimum is another valuable tool.

These and other Google Apps are available on any mobile device, IOS or Android. They can be shared with others which can allow everyone access to edit the same file in real-time. Hopefully, you are finding ways to leverage these Apps to your own advantage to enhance the many activities and interests you have.

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