How to Maximize your Productivity with Google Apps

Google is a fantastic productivity source for getting work done all in one Google account. With Google Drive, Calendar, Sites, and other apps, keeping track of what you need to do can be easy if you know how to maximize your experience.

1. Make a personal homepage for keeping track of daily plans
Homepages aren't as popular as they once were, with most people just using a search engine for their homepage, like... Bing I guess. If you need to keep track of what's due every day, you might want to consider making your own personal homepage with Google Sites. Google Sites can be used to make websites for the whole world to visit, but you can also set it up so only you can view it. You can put specific Google Calendars on the page, a Google Presentation slideshow of a to-do list, or whatever helps you be the most productive.

2. Create multiple calendars for specific tasks
We all have different categories for events that have due dates, or appointments to keep track of, so instead of throwing all that into one calendar, you can make different calendars inside one account for the different tasks in your life. One for bills, work tasks, school tasks, and whatever goes on in life. That way you can turn off one calendar and focus on what needs to be focused.

3. Organize your Google Drive into multiple folders
Back in 2009 when I first discovered Google Drive, then called Docs, it was only for documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. You could upload some files, but the storage limit was tiny. Today, with a base free plan at 15 GB, many people use Drive to store their entire digital life. You should keep that life organized. Sure, there's a search box to help, but just being able to click on a folder to find exactly what you're looking for is much better. It takes a bit to organize, but you'll be happy once you do.

4. Create shortcuts to your Google Drive folders
Speaking of folders, there are some folders you use daily, but their buried in folder after folder, because you organized it all to stay focused. Instead of clicking into multiple folders every day to get to that daily folder, just make a shortcut to the folder. The great part about Google Drive is the links in the address bar to the specific folder are static, they never change, or at least I haven't noticed that in the four months of use. You can place the shortcuts in your bookmarks bar, or on your desktop to get right into the folder without opening your browser. Just drag the URL from your address bar to your bookmarks bar, or desktop.

5. Use Google Voice to organize phone calls
Google Voice is a Google App that is not as well known. The service gives you a real phone number, and gives you the ability to send free calls and texts to anyone in the USA and Canada. Why would you want another phone number? It's great for small businesses or anyone that want to give out a number they can field. The service allows the user to screen calls by asking for the caller's name, record calls, start conference calls, and the ability to use the service across numerous devices, not just your phone, including setting a Do Not Disturb when you need it.

Bonus: Integrate your Google Apps with IFTTT
IFTTT.com, or If This Then That allows you to fully automate your life. You can set up different recipes for if something specific happens, then it creates something. For example, when a calendar event happens, it will put it in a spreadsheet, or whatever would best help your life go smoother. There are many examples in the website that have helped others, they might help you as well.

Google Apps are very powerful, and knowing how to use them to your advantage can help you in your every day work. If you have any better ideas that you use, email me at anthony@geekonin.com or post it in the comments below.

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