Google Docs vs. Traditional Organization 1/20/2010

Google Docs is my favorite and most used web app. I have 68 documents under just one of my Google accounts. I use them to keep track of debts between my housemate and me, my internet login credentials at 32 different sites, everything needed to maintain my 42 domains and hosting accounts, prospective band members to try out, entrepreneurship ideas, a couple of to-do lists, comparison shopping for furniture and other interesting stuff on Craigslist and eBay, potential job leads, real estate clients’ tenant ledgers, earnings and payments collected as an independent contractor for tax filing and invoicing, and a lot of other things.

In the past I collected lists such as these in far less efficient ways. I organized credits and debts between housemates on paper, whose data I could not reorganize and which I frequently could not locate when needed. I kept my internet credentials stored in an Excel file on my home PC so I was powerless and anonymous on the internet when I was away from home. And I had to save receipts and keep paper trails when invoicing clients, tracking tax deductions and receiving business payments.

Spreadsheet and document organization is enough of a reason to abandon my old methods but another revolutionary advancement is my ability to collaborate. My housemate can add debts to the same Debt Log when I owe him money and we can both view and edit the document simultaneously, which allows us to see exactly what’s owed without worrying about any revisions we haven’t seen yet. My bandmates add prospects to the list when they find a new musician and we can all see our progress in real time, which motivates us all to put in work ourselves. And my real estate clients can update themselves on when and how much their tenants have paid, which saves me a lot of phone calls and headaches.

Google Docs is an all-in-one solution to my paperwork organization struggles and many other issues I never would have known existed before I used it. Because it updates on the fly I never have to worry about losing my work in a power outage or computer crash. Because of its live collaboration feature and flexible permissions settings I know that my intended collaborators and I always have secure access to perfectly current data. Because of its Microsoft Office similarity and compatibility the apps are completely intuitive and make it easy to migrate data across platforms. Because the processing power and data storage is remote I don’t have to worry about my system specs and stability. And like all well designed websites I get a consistent usability experience in spite of varying hardware, operating systems and browsers.

I do many things to organize my life now that I would have never considered doing before Google Apps made it possible. I consider it an invaluable resource and I always try to help my friends, colleagues and clients learn to make Google Apps work for them like I have.