Monday, March 14, 2011

Computer Convenience

I can't really imagine how much more difficult running the business would be without computers. Over the years I built a business plan which is highly dependent upon them and I still see that as a good choice.

I have a good laptop which I keep in the house and it never travels to the studio thus avoiding the grime and other hazards there. In the studio I keep an older, largely out-of-date laptop. Both are internet connected through a wireless hub and both store my currently used files but what really makes this setup work is Google docs.

My older son, introduced me to this powerful tool and I have been using it for some time and find it highly useful. Google docs is reached by opening the Google Home page ( and moving across the title bar where it offers Web, Images ...Gmail, more. Scroll down the "more" menu to Documents and you're there.

I needed to setup a free Gmail account by entering a username and a password to setup my personal documents cyberspace. Under the "Create new" menu it offers Document, Presentation, Spreadsheet, Form, Drawing, etc." I have used the Document, Spreadsheet and Drawing tools - most often the Spreadsheet. After my account was set up I was able to begin creating and also uploading files I had already been using. They can be organized into "Collections" or what I think of as folders. I can choose to keep the files private or I can designate certain other people who have Google docs accounts to share access to designated files. This allows working with a collaborator or an editor.

The really handy aspect of this tool is being able to use the same files whether I am in the house or in the studio. If I am working on a job in the studio and want to add notes to the timesheet I know the changes to the Google docs file will be up to date when I check them later at the house. There will never be two even slightly different versions.

Over time I have uploaded my hanging files database, my current client work files, inventory files, materials pricing files, and other frequently used information. The convenience this organizational change has created is really gratifying. It required some time and work and learning anything new can be frustrating at times but, in this case, it was really worth it.

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