The way you use your time is the way you live your life.
As a venue for working and sharing information with your team Google Docs has the significant advantages of being available on the web and being free.
Google Docs is a feature-rich resource and a further advantage it offers is that developers are constantly creating add-ons … and users are exploring and finding new tweaks and capacities for this widely-used tool.
In a recent post on lifehacker titled “The Best Google Docs Features You’re Probably Not Using” Eric Ravenscraft solicited and compiled responses from the lifehacker community about the Google Docs features that users most appreciate and use.
Conditional formatting was intriguing, from a time management perspective. It allows you to set up cells to behave in a certain way, depending on parameters that you predetermine. Here’s a video that demonstrates how one person uses conditional formatting in a spreadsheet:
I am interested in the ways that this functionality could be used for something like project management. For example, you might set up the formatting so that, as a due date approaches, the color of the cell changes. This helps you see, at a glance, what needs to be a top priority.
Another time-saver offered by Google Docs is the ability to stay within your document while, say, looking up the definition of a word. You don’t need to go to the web and then return to the screen you were working on. As noted by one user:
Getting definitions of words is pretty easy already since Google built dictionary results into search. Why should you have to open up a new tab for that, though, if Google’s the one making your document editor? The answer is you don’t. Highlight a word, hit Ctrl+Shift+Y, and Google will open up a panel on the side with the definition of that word. Handy!
And the time-saving is significant whenever you can cut down on the number of ‘clicks’ needed to complete a task.
Another powerful feature of Google Docs – and one that I think is especially helpful if work is being shared on a project – is the Revision History. It’s easy to access, and powerful, enabling you to recapture changes that you’d otherwise lose.
Press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+G to open up the revision explorer. Major revisions will be shown by default, but if you want to see the minor changes, click “Show more detailed revisions” at the bottom. The feature is enabled by default so you can even check this out on any documents you’ve already created.
If you find all of this a bit overwhelming, perhaps it would be helpful to take a step back from Google Docs and learn, first, about Google Drive. This is where you’ll find your Google Docs, as well as other things you add – making them accessible to you on the web.
This video gives you a quick overview:
And the best way to make yourself familiar with Google Docs and their many capacities is to start exploring. Set aside some time (make sure you give yourself an endpoint, so you don’t get caught up and spend more time than intended) and dig in! I think you may find some excellent time saving ideas.
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