Save Time Tip #2: Write, Share, Collaborate Online (Not Via E-mail)

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Only recently have I embraced online tools as a way of creating and collaborating on new documents. Some of these tools have the ability to save you extreme amounts of time, depending on how much of your time is spent in document editing and creation.

Google Documents

what your word processor does. That's the first functionality you can
get in Google Docs. You can upload existing Word, Excel, or PowerPoint
documents, or you can create original documents. All of the information
is stored online, within reach no matter where you go. (FYI, this means
it's a great tool for backing up your work.) See below for my Google Documents page. (I blurred out people I'm sharing with for a semblance of privacy.)

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Once you have documents in the system, you can:

  • Invite others to view or collaborate on your document (very automated process)
  • Export it into a Word or PDF file for use on your machine, among other formats
  • E-mail the documents to others (in variety of ways)
  • Publish the document to the Web (in HTML)

Why can this save you time?

  • If
    you have a document that you need multiple other people to review,
    edit, or comment on, you don't have to waste time e-mailing
    changes/versions back and forth.
  • If you have a document that is
    consistently updated or in-progress, everyone can access the most
    recent version without you distributing it, or others asking for it.
  • You
    can have your documents always available to you, away from home, if you
    have an online connection (this includes mobile devices).

Below is a document-level view (where you edit/write documents). As you can see, if you use any major word-processing software, there's no learning curve here.

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Google Notebook
I love Google Notebook. Unfortunately, Google has decided to stop developing it, and is not allowing new people to start using it. But what Notebook does (or did): Helps you clip/save information from anywhere, and organize it in a lovely way. Below is a screenshot of my Notebook.

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A few other services that have similar functionality:

Adobe Buzzword
This is a new competitor to Google Documents. It has more functionality related to pagination/printing, if that is important to you.

And Another Reading Tool: ReadItLater
I love this tool. It's a plug-in for your browser that allows you to put a virtual checkmark next to web sites or blog posts that you want to visit again. ReadItLater keeps a running list of checkmarked items, which can be accessed from any computer (once you give your unique identifier). You can also create an RSS feed from your ReadItLater list or download the materials to read offline later, or access it from your mobile.

I'm the kind of person who can open up a couple dozen tabs in a browser—all stuff I want to read/review, and ReadItLater has this cool function where you can send every single tab into its list. No more pressure to plow through all that reading—nor do you have to abandon it. Just save it for later!

What online reading, writing, and collaboration tools do you use? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

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