We have been using Google Docs in my office recently, particularly because my staff and I all write a gazillion profiles of individuals retiring from our organization, in preparation for our annual Retirement Reception. It’s a great tool because it keeps me up-to-date on everyone’s progress, and permits me to easily go in at any time to edit or write profiles. My secretary, the hard-working and intelligent Doreen, also can keep track.
Creating and storing your documents (this includes docs that work and look just like MS Word, Powerpoint and Excel files) on Google Docs means they’re stored online. That also means they can’t be deleted from your hard drive and that you can open them from any computer. No more flash drives, CDs for storage, or losing all your documents when you get a computer virus or when your computer goes kaput. Everything in Google Docs is secure and password-protected, but you also can invite “collaborators” (people who can edit and open your documents) or “viewers” (those who can only read them).
Here’s what Melinda Miller of Willard, Mo., an elementary school principal and author of The Principal Blog, says about her use of Google Docs:
* I started downloading everything that came as an attachment into google docs first and then save it also in whatever file I needed to. Other principals in my district and I send official documents back and forth for editing but they haven’t bought into google docs yet.
* PTO Notes – I type up monthly PTO notes for my PTO meetings regardless of whether I can be there or not. Instead of posting these in the teachers lounge or making a copy for each teacher, I “publish” the notes and then send a link to the teachers to read. I could still post one copy in the work room but I forget.
* End of the year checklist – Instead of giving all the teachers a copy of the end of the year checklist to lose, I just downloaded it to google docs, “published” it, and then sent them a link. I really just want them to have a copy to refer to and then I will give them a final copy but this is better than copying a lot of times. They can just refer to it until closer to the end of the year.
* End of year info – The end of the year comes at us so fast that I thought I would also type up some “helpful info” and send it as a document as well. This one is a work in progress and I told them that I would be adding to it and not to make a bunch of copies but to just save the link and refer back to it. (I don’t think they have even explored delicious yet.)
Try using Google Docs. Go to docs.google.com and open a free account and just start. It’s worth it and I can almost guarantee that it will save your sanity. Once you’ve mastered using it, sign up your colleagues. It’s an efficient way to share and communicate. If you’re still a bit reluctant, take the Google Docs tour first.