google_docs_logoYou should have expected this from me, right? At times I’m still puzzled when I encounter people who haven’t yet used Google docs. I know it’s not the only or the first online/collaborative tool for documents, but its probably the most pervasive.

First of all, you don’t have to have gmail to use Google Docs. That’s a misnomer. Literally you can go to and set up an account using any of your email addresses to create an account. From this account you’ll have access to spreadsheets, documents and presentations which all come with Google Docs. If you already have a gmail account, you won’t need to register for Docs, you can simply log in with your gmail credentials and have full access to docs. If at some point you decide that you want to make the move toward a gmail address, you can convert your account to gmail. That means you can log in at instead of This way you can access all Google services from one account. Brilliant.

I know some people really don’t like Google Docs. You say, “why would I use Google Docs when I’ve got Microsoft Office?” Or you say, “Google Docs doesn’t have all the features I have in word or excel.” Those are really good points. At this point, I wouldn’t be satisfied with Google Docs as an office replacement. It’s not as feature rich as Microsoft. There are things that I do in excel and word that I can’t do in Google. So, I still use excel and word. However, every time I’m working on a project, spreadsheet or document that multiple people will have input with, I use Google Docs and share it. It may have started off as a word or excel document or it may end up as a word or excel document, but while it’s in the collaborative stage, it lives in Google Docs. Edits happen in real time, revision history is kept and it saves so much TIME!

I’d say that Google’s openness is what makes this work. I can easily import my word or excel files into Google Docs. When I’m done with the collaborative part, I can export very easily as well. If Google tried to lock everything down into a Google proprietary format, this wouldn’t have worked.

So, if you haven’t really played much with Google Docs, log in and play around with it. Unlike gmail, you can actually put things in folders.  Organize away and know that every word in every document is easy accessible through a Google search (don’t worry, others can’t search and find our documents). The applications are endless. I use them with my staff and volutneer teams all the time, especially since my volunteer teams don’t have access to files that may reside on the server. I have a spreadsheet that tracks my weight loss (it even has all the formulas to calculate percentages), I have a word doc for my bucket list, Sara and I have a simple budget in a Google spreadsheet and I sometimes draft blog posts or articles in google docs so they’re always accessible.

This week I’m going to share a few tricks with Google Docs that have made my life better. If your not already using them, perhaps you will after this week.