Until recently, which e-mail provider you chose whether for business or personal use was rather inconsequential. They all had address books. They all had similar customization features. You could attach files, copy other recipients. But as technology has advanced, e-mail has too. All e-mail providers are no longer created equal. Google’s Gmail is one of the most popular among power internet users and for good reason. It’s a robust, multi-dimensional platform for more than just sending and receiving e-mails. Document sharing, collaboration, prioritization, labeling, calendar reminders et al are just some of the ways that Gmail can now function as the equivalent of two or even three personal assistants. It’s that good.
As a small firm or solo practitioner, a vital part of your continued success and ability to remain competitive lies in productivity. Doing things quicker, better, and more personalized than your competitors keeps you in business. Gmail is an amazing way to do all these things with very little effort. But if you’re unfamiliar with all the bells and whistles throughout the e-mail client, using it as a productivity tool can be a nightmare experience. Here are some tips on incorporating the resource into your business.
For years, Microsoft Word has been the default word processing tool. Funny enough it’s also one of those resources that few people seem to enjoy using. It’s just what existed up until innovative products began appearing. Docs is an amazing tool for several reasons.
Perhaps the easiest way to describe it is as Microsoft Word for the cloud. That is to say that you can do most everything in Docs you can do in Word and never have to worry about backing things up to your hard drive. I can’t tell you how many awful experiences I’ve had over the years trying to find or restore lost documents in Word. Docs’ auto-saving features, synching and storage with my Gmail account means those days are gone. Any document I create is automatically saved from the start and accessible anywhere I log into my Gmail account.
Have an important document or contract that needs to be shared? I can easily use Gmail as a platform for this. Plus, it plays nicely with Word. So even if my colleague or client doesn’t use Docs, we’ll still be able to work together. Or if I have existing documents in Word, OpenOffice, RG, HTML, or plain text, I can easily import these into Docs so I have access to all my files from any location. Moreover, I can keep track of who made changes to a document and when. A great resource if I need to reference past iterations. Similar Excel, PowerPoint, and Form documents also exist in docs.
An entire series of posts could be written on everything Docs can do. Suffice to say for now, it’s a resource that can streamline your document creation, sharing, and storing capabilities.
Let’s face it: e-mail can be annoying. Often we are inundated with messages from various companies and individuals biding for our time, attention, and money. As solos, time-wasting is not a luxury you have. Gmail Priority offers a solution to the barrage of garbage that might not fall under the category of spam.
Let’s say you receive e-mails from Client A. Client A is your number one priority right now. As such, any e-mail or communication is vital. Priority lets you sort along these lines. By marking Client A as more important, you’re sure to see communications from him/her first.
It’s even better than that though. Priority monitors your work and prioritizes accordingly. If you’re sending a lot of e-mails to Client A and Client B, they will be both be marked and sorted as more important than the rest of the communications flooding your inbox. If you get 2-3 e-mails a day, big deal right? But the average worker sends/receives approximately 100 e-mails a day – so this can be a game changer.
I used to use Outlook exclusively at the organization where I worked. More has changed in this client since, but at the time, I was having to organize all my folders manually. This was a huge waste of time. Some days whole afternoons would be dedicated to this filing. Gmail’s Labels feature makes staying organized much less time heavy.
Labels allow you to create customized sorting bins for all your Gmail communications. Conversations with clients, colleagues, or anyone else can be automatically placed with assigned Labels. From an organizational standpoint this helps immensely. But it is also a lifesaver when you have to go back and search for important conversations. They are easy to find by Label. Plus, you can archive old projects or cases and sleep well knowing you can access them easily anytime.
The most important category for solos and small firms: cost. Large firms spend sums in the tens of thousands for database support and infrastructure. As luck would have it, Gmail is free. Having worked in the corporate environment I would say that money is misspent. Gmail is far more effective and integrates across platforms more smoothly than any major organizational infrastructure I’ve ever encountered. It does more with less. Kind of like you’re trying to do.
Using Gmail in the workplace will help you become more productive, will save you a ton of money, and will allow you to get back to the business matters that are more important. Hope you enjoyed these Gmail Productivity Tips.