Staying On Top Using Google Tools
Do you find yourself saying things like "I have too many things to do to worry about being productive!" In this article, I’ll show how I use a few online tools to stay ahead of the curve. A combination of resources like Gmail, Google calendar and other apps keep me on track, even in a sea of responsibilities. Managing your time is easier than you think - it will change your day-to-day experience, and impact your bottom line.
Let’s start with some of my favorite tools:
- Google Chrome
- Gmail (with Right Inbox & Inbox Pause extensions)
- Google Calendar
- Google Drive (formerly called Google Docs)
- Google Apps for Business
The Chrome browser from Google is fast and built to work with all of the Google products. You can create multiple users for the same browser (one for Personal, and one for Business, for example), and then sync your bookmarks, passwords and extensions by user! This is a huge time saver, as you can go to any Chrome browser on in any computer, sign in, and all of your data is available to you immediately, just like your “regular” computer! Also, your history, settings and bookmarks can even sync to your mobile device!
Much of what I will say here may apply to other email systems as well, but in my opinion, Gmail’s tools make it so much easier to you, as you have the power of Google search for your email! You can also use Gmail to send and receive email from other system’s (work, personal, etc). All of your email is saved online, and Gmail gives you up to 25 gigs of storage for free!
If you are like me and receive lots of emails every day, I would advise having one account for work and one for personal messages - and you can create a gmail account for each! If you using Google Apps for Business (more on this later), then your work email will be hosted through Gmail. If not, just create a gmail account, and set it up to check your work email. Gmail also has lots of neat features that you can enable. Just go into settings and click the link for “Labs”. Read through them, and enable only those that you want to use!
The first rule of thumb is that we MUST reduce the amount of email in our primary inbox. MANY people have hundreds or even THOUSANDS of emails in their inbox! This creates clutter and distraction, and too many opportunities for things to be lost in the pile.
So go to Unroll.me and sign up for their free service. Unroll.me will search through your email and find all of the people who send you email, and then allow you to unsubscribe, leave them alone, or “roll” them up into one email per day! I would encourage you to be ruthless on the unsubscribing - it really will make your life simpler and less complicated.
On this is done, go to inboxpause.com and install their app. This program will pause all incoming email so that you can work through your inbox without being distracted by new incoming messages!
After you have paused, unsubscribed and rolled up your emails, then click the down arrow next to the Gmail inbox and select “Starred First”. This will put emails that you have starred to show up first in your inbox, above all other emails. Then, start sorting! Go through each email and use the following rules:
- If you don’t need it, unsubscribe and/or delete.
- If you can’t do it, delegate it.
- If you can do it in 2 minutes or less, then do it now.
- Longer than 2 minutes, star it.
- Anything else - either Archive it or Label it.
Tip: if you have tons of email in your inbox, go to www.emailga.me - this site makes a game out of handling/sorting your email, taking the drudgery out of this task.
Now that this is done you should have a more manageable inbox!
Right Inbox: https://www.rightinbox.com/
One of my FAVORITE tools that has drastically improved my ability to follow through is a simple browser add-on for Gmail called Right Inbox. Essentially, Right Inbox allows you to schedule messages to “pop back” into your inbox at some predetermined time or date. This is great for messages that you need to act on at some point in the future, but not right now. It also allows you to schedule these messages you are sending - you can even select to only have messages return to your inbox if you didn’t receive a reply!
You can also use Right Inbox to schedule messages that you compose now, but want them to be actually sent at some future time. You can even make these messages recur - great for those birthday greetings or staff meeting reminders!
For more info on Right Inbox for Gmail, go to https://www.rightinbox.com/. They also have a great video demonstrating these features.
Bonus Tip! Sometimes you need to send an email, but don’t want to open Gmail and get distracted. Copy this link to your bookmarks, and then click it every time you need to send an email, all without opening Gmail!
Google Hangouts allows for group video (or audio only) conferencing - for free! Up to 15 people can participate in the video hangout, and you can even share your screen (really handy for training).
I like to create multiple calendar’s based on various aspects of my work life and business life. I have personal calendars, a calendar for my kid’s activities, my wife’s activities, a private work calendar, and then multiple calendar’s for various aspects of our business (one for office personnel, one for sales and promotions, one for floor staff, etc). The beauty of Google Calendars is you can see multiple calendars all in one screen:
When I have a time sensitive, important, or recurring task, I then schedule it on the appropriate calendar (if it’s a recurring task, I set the recurrence schedule when creating the event). Then I select the option to have the Calendar email me at a custom time period before the event (can be 1 minute to years in advance - it’s up to you):
The great folks at Boomerang have also created an app called Boomerang Calendar. It allows you to schedule meetings right from your email inbox! Check out their site for a video that better explains exactly how it works. http://boomerangcalendar.com/
Google Drive is a great tool to use to share documents, spreadsheets, presentations and other files amongst your team. You can adjust the privacy levels as needed. It can be set so that only you view it, only certain people you designate, or your entire staff. This is a great way to create, modify and share documents so that you and all of your people remain on the same page. You can also install Google Drive on your computer and mobile device for easier use.
Google Apps for Business
Google Apps for Business is VERY handy for medium-sized stores and larger. First of all, it allows you to host your domain email directly via Gmail (email@example.com). You can then create users through Google Apps, and they would all instantly have their own gmail, calendar and drive accounts! This make collaboration an file sharing instant and easier.
You get 30GB of online storage for each user, and all kinds of security controls, plus the ability to make simple intranet sites for internal use (employee training, etc). It’s only $5 per user per month, and I think if you will commit to using Drive, you will see that it is well worth it!
In conclusion, using these tools have helped me manage my business much more effectively. If you’d like to see a video demonstrating how I use these tools, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5prgdEYpEQg (this video was created for my own internal use, so please pardon the production quality).
Using these tools have helped me increase my productivity while restoring what is left of my sanity. I hope they will do the same for you!
Remember, if you need my help, I'm only an email away.
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