Friday, January 8, 2016

Five ways Google helps me be a better work-at-home mom

I'm a Google girl, through and through.

They didn't sponsor this post and I actually pay them money every month (for extra Drive storage, see below) because I am obsessed with them. They make it SO much easier for me to work from home, and I can't imagine life without them. *faints at the thought*

I'm going to try to be brief as not to sicken you with my gushing, so here are my personal Top 5 reasons Google makes it easier for me to be a work-at-home mom:


1. Never lose your files with Google Drive. 

There is not a single document on any of my computers -- they all live in my Google Drive. Every story I write, every invoice I send (to clients who need an Excel file instead of my usual FreshBooks invoices), every presentation or seminar I've prepared. They're all there.

This is really important for me, as someone who works either downstairs in my tiny basement office (on a desktop computer) OR up on our main level on my Chromebook OR at a coffee shop (rarely) OR at a client's office (also rarely) OR in the middle of a freaking playdate because I need to do an interview at a time when I wouldn't normally be working.

Because I take tons of photos for my DIY projects and need access to them at all times, all of my photos live in my Google Drive, too. I pay less than $10 a month for a TERABYTE of storage and I'm only at 19% which is saying something. I don't have to worry about either of my computers (or an external hard drive) crashing and losing my work. If both of my computers spontaneously die when I'm on deadline, I could run next-door and pull up my story on ANY computer and it would be there exactly as I left it.

2. Save money with Docs, Sheets, Slides.

If you're a freelancer, you don't have access to an IT department that's going to load up your machines with software. Have you priced Microsoft Office lately? $$$! Google cleverly created their own versions of Word (Google Docs), Excel (Google Sheets), and PowerPoint (Google Slides). You don't download anything -- it's all created and stored in your Google Drive -- and it has just about every single feature of the "real" versions.

(Let me simplify for the less tech-savvy folks who may have stumbled to this page: You don't need to buy Microsoft Office! This is free! It's awesome!)

Need to email a doc or spreadsheet to a client? I do, every single day. You can send things directly through Docs, Sheets, or Slides, OR you can download the file to your computer and attach it just like you'd attach a regular Word doc, Excel sheet, or PowerPoint presentation.

3. Tame that wild, wild email account with Inbox by Gmail.

We all know Gmail is awesome, of course. Just about everybody (and their infant) has a Gmail account. But did you Inbox by Gmail (a different site/app for accessing your regular Gmail account) is especially awesome for work?

You can snooze emails that need your attention but only after X, Y and Z has happened, or until a later date, or until you actually need to look at them again. It automatically groups emails into categories so you're never looking at one massive list.

(This is especially helpful if you're a journalist or blogger who gets a zillion PR emails that may or may not have anything to do with what you write. It's easier to go through them all at once, rather than having them mixed through your *real* emails.)

4. Don't be a hermit with Google Hangouts.

Even when you're all alone in your basement office (hi) you can easily chat with clients or colleagues all over the world, for free, without even opening another window.

I use Google Hangouts to chat with the great people at Scratch or Sniff (where I'm a contributing writer). I chat this way with several corporate clients, too, because it's more immediate than email but not as OMGPRESSURE as a phone call.

5. Organize your whole damn life with Google Calendar.

I've raved about my deep, abiding love for Google Calendar before. There is colour-coding and it's a thing of beauty.

On a personal level, I use it to schedule our bills and automatic payments so I know what's up financially. I schedule Darling Husband's work (including his sleeping-during-the-day times and naps related to doing shiftwork). I schedule what I'm cooking for dinner and when we're buying groceries. I schedule the kids' school drop-offs/pick-ups and playdates and ballet and Scouts and cheerleading. I schedule my own Zumba classes and volunteer commitments and even Power Hours when I need to zoom around the house like a madwoman. I've made a New Year's resolution to schedule more time to do things I enjoy, too.

But Google Calendar reaaaaaaaally saves my ass when it comes to my work. I schedule WHEN I'm going to assignments so I make sure to leave myself enough time to get everything done (doesn't always work out that way, of course). I schedule deadlines for work projects. I schedule interviews and -- here's the critical part -- set TIMERS to go off 15 minutes before and then again two minutes before, to make sure I'm ready and have that headset on. I have entries when I need to make calls and entries when I need to harass people for interviews (literally, my calendar says "harass" way more than it should).

I'm not sure how some people use a pen-and-paper dayplanner for this stuff because a paper dayplanner isn't going to BEEP LOUDLY AND REMIND YOU OF AN INTERVIEW, IS IT? True story: I was once driving home from a playdate and my phone chimed to remind me of an interview in 10 minutes and I had TOTALLY forgotten about it. Because of that chime, I was able to zoom home in time and make the call. Whew.

***

TLDR; I am close to adding a charm to my necklace with the kids' names. It will say "Google" and probably have a twee hand-stamped heart.

Tell me! What technology do you use to stay organized when you work at home?

No comments: