Students and professionals are typically challenged to manage five work realms: 1) Time; 2) Information; 3) Documents; 4) Files; and 5) Information Sharing. I have listed the technology resources I use to manage these realms. All of these resources are free, easy to use, accessible on any Internet connected device (including smartphones), and provide online back-up of all information. By using these resources, I have become more efficient, organized, and completely paperless in my work. To become paperless, you should have access to a scanner or one of the many apps that enable smartphones to function as scanners. The Google resources require that you sign-up for a free Google account. Because it is fast, powerful, continually updated, and designed to work with Google applications, I use Google Chrome as my web browser.
My primary tools are Google applications and Evernote. I have divided the tools according to the primary realm in which I use them.
Time management systems rely on at least two tools: a calendar and a task (to-do) list.
- For my calendar, I use Google Calendar. Google Calendar is an easy to use and extremely powerful tool that keeps track of your schedule, syncs with your smartphone, and allows you to share calendars. To learn more about Google Calendar, visit the Google Calendar support page.
- I use Google Tasks for my task lists. Google Tasks is available on the Gmail page. With Google Tasks, you can create multiple task lists, tie tasks to emails, and sort tasks by due date. Visit the Google Tasks support page to learn more.
My primary information management tool is Evernote. I use it as an extension of my memory to record and save numerous types of information. Evernote is essentially a note taking application. Notes can consist of text and any type of file. Notes are synced across computers and mobile devices. Evernote is an invaluable tool for organizing all kinds of information, such as class notes and course materials. To learn more about Evernote, visit the Getting Started with Evernote site. Sign up for a free Evernote account
I use Google Drive/Docs to create, edit, and manage all of my documents (i.e., documents, spreadsheets, presentations). Google Drive is an online file storage service that includes Google Docs. Google Docs consists of an online word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation application. These applications are similar to Microsoft Office except that documents are created, edited, and saved on the web in your Google Drive account, thereby making them accessible on any Internet connected device. I no longer use Microsoft Office – I use Google Drive/Docs for all of my document needs. Google Drive also has powerful sharing and collaborative editing features. To learn more about these services, take a tour of Google Docs and visit the Google Drive support resources.
Ideally, all of your files should be backed-up, synchronized to your various computers, and available on any Internet connected device (including smartphones). I use the following two applications to accomplish these tasks:
- SugarSync is an outstanding service that automatically backs up your files online and synchronizes them across your Internet connected devices. To get started, click on this referral link (we will both get extra storage space if you use this referral link instead of signing up at the website), sign-up for the service, and download the program. To learn more about SugarSync, visit the SugarSync tutorials.
- Dropbox also backs up your files online and synchronizes them across your Internet connected devices. It is easier to set-up than SugarSync, but offers less free space and has fewer features. To get started, click on this referral link (you will get extra storage space if you use this referral link instead of signing up at the website), sign-up for the service, and download the program. To learn more about Dropbox, go to the overview and tour of Dropbox.
5) Information Sharing
I use the following applications to share information with others:
- For quick and brief information sharing, I use Gmail as my default email client. Gmail is arguably the best and most full-featured email application available. Even if you already have an email address, you can use that same address to send and receive email with Gmail. Sign-up for a free Gmail account.
- To share documents, I use the sharing features in Google Drive/Docs. With Google Drive/Docs, any document can be shared with another person, a group of people, or the entire web. When you share a document, you can specify whether to allow people to edit or just view the document.
- For more complex information that has links, images, etc., I create a website using Google Sites. It is easy to create rich and informative websites with Google Sites. This website was created with Google Sites. I have created websites for each of my courses, the Mental Health Specialization, and my CNS 687 elective course. To learn more about Google Sites, visit the Google Sites help page.
In addition to the resources listed above, I also use applications for bookmarking web pages, music, photos and videos, contact management, and keeping track of my books. Feel free to contact me if you would like information about any of these resources.
An Internet connected computer (desktop or laptop) is all that you need to use the above resources. I use a Microsoft Window’s desktop at work and home. I also own a Window’s laptop, but rarely use it (it has been replaced by a Chromebook – see below). My favorite, most highly used technology devices are listed below:
- When I am not at a desktop computer, I use a Chromebook for virtually all of my work. Chromebooks do not contain any software applications. Chromebooks simply take you directly to the web – when you turn on a Chromebook, it immediately starts the Google Chrome browser. I virtually never use computer based software programs (even on a desktop computer). I do all of my work inside an Internet browser using the web-based resources listed above. Therefore, a speedy machine that instantly provides access to the web is ideal for me. Chromebooks have multiple advantages over traditional laptops, including a 5-second start time, immediate web access, eight hour battery life, and no need for maintenance or software updates.
- I use a Galaxy Nexus (android) smartphone. Although any modern smartphone is capable of accessing most of the above resources, android smartphones are designed to be used with Google products. The Galaxy Nexus is Google’s sponsored smartphone. It has some advantages over other android phones (e.g., it receives immediate updates to the android operating system). I have been extremely pleased with the Galaxy Nexus.
- For reading (books, articles, news), watching videos, listening to music, and other activities that require consumption (not production) of content, I use a Nexus 7 tablet. The Nexus 7 tablet is Google’s sponsored tablet. It is an outstanding product.