Tools We Use: Google Docs

I previously posted about LibreOffice, the free office suite. Today I am going to talk about Google Docs, the free online “office” service offered by Google.

Up-front I want you to understand that I still use my desktop office apps. Google Docs does not replace them in my work-flow. But, Google Docs is integral to that work-flow just the same. I really can’t imagine trying to manage our church without Google Docs. Here’s how I use it.

(Note, I include Gmail and GoogleCalendar because of Microsoft Office’s Outlook.)

1. Gmail. I do not use Microsoft Outlook except at my tent-making gig, and that’s because that is what they put on our machines. I have tried several times to get them to move to Google Apps business email system to no avail – oh well. Google’s online email client is way faster and more productive than Outlook’s clunky and bloated web interface. Plus, I sync my Gmail (and contacts) to my iPhone with GoogleSync’s exchange-based push service, so I get my emails immediately and my inbox is always in sync.

2. Calendar. Since I don’t use Outlook, I need a calendar app – tada – Google Calendar. The calendar app is really central. We manage all of our scheduling through various custom calendars. We have a calendar for kids, teens, and adult ministries. We have a calendar for my sermon planning. We also have calendars for the youth leader team and the worship team. We allow team leaders to manage their calendars and I have them all combined in my calendar view. I also sync my tent-making gig’s Outlook calendar as it’s own Google calendar, so I can prevent day-job and ministry job conflicts. Did I mention how productive Google’s online applications are? Like Gmail, I also sync my calendars to my iPhone.

3. Docs. Google offers word-processing, spreadsheet, and slide-show apps. We use Google Docs for: staff meeting agendas and notes, leadership team meeting agenda and notes, member directory, event planning outlines and notes, sermon series creative discussions and notes, attendance tracking, feedback and contact forms from our websites, event information (shared publicly), listing facility and grounds issues, and a ton of other stuff. We use Google Docs for information management rather than document creation. That’s why it does not replace Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on the desktop.

Conclusion: You can use Google Docs for content creation too, but we don’t. However, Google Docs is absolutely essential to managing information and then sharing that information between all the members on our team of tent-makers.

Treat: Here is a video showing off what three creative guys can do with Google Docs.

Do you use Google Docs? If so, how?

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