If you are a virtual assistant or you find yourself working with multiple clients remotely, you may find that sometimes emailing documents back and forth becomes confusing and tiresome. Additionally, it is difficult to keep track of different versions of documents or to work on the same document while someone else does.
Luckily there are some good tools that make this sort of work easier to deal with. Google Docs and Google Drive are my favourites. Not only are they free with a Google account, but if you pay a small yearly sum for a Google apps subscription you can brand them with your own domain name and custom email address.
Google Docs allows you to create and edit text documents and spreadsheets, and Google Drive allows you to securely store and share them with other Google account holders. Try it for yourself. Head over to http://drive.google.com, sign in using your Gmail username and click ‘Create’.
You will be presented with a dialog box where you can choose from among a variety of document types. Click ‘Document’ and a new text editor with a familiar interface will open in a new tab. Set the document title in the top left corner and create the document in the same way you would on a desktop-based editor. You won’t need to save it, as this happens automatically every time you add something. As long as you gave your document a meaningful title, you will always find it in Google Drive.
Now for the magic. To share your document, click File>Share. You will be presented with a form where you can add people whom you wish to share the document with. You can give them permission to view or collaborate/edit the document. They will be notified via email, and once they have the document open, they can begin editing the document alongside you. If you have colleagues working on the same document as you, their changes will be highlighted in the document as they work; likewise your changes will be highlighted to them, ensuring you are not editing the same thing at the same time.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. In future articles I will be detailing more advanced uses of these collaborative tools.
Enjoy and happy collaborating.