By in Investing, Personal Finance, Tips

Google Can Help You Out; For Free

When my world is organized and in control, I am happy. When things are in chaos, not so much. I just got caught in one of my periodic urges to create organization in my world. Read about my light bulb moment to create order out of chaos.

In reality, a sense of wealth has very little to do with money and everything to do with intangibles. No matter your stage in life, wealth is obtainable. For me, organization creates feelings of contentment and control. Actually, research has shown that feelings of control lead to greater life satisfaction.

I’m trying to create “systems” that simplify my life and keep me from going off on hours long trips into the mania of focus on the unimportant.

Have you ever found yourself sitting down for  a quick email check only to look up 2 hours later and wonder where the time has gone? That’s exactly what I am trying to avoid!


I’ve heard folks talk about evernote. I probably even have an account there. I also tried other online organization systems. At home, I have so many notebooks and scraps of paper floating around, I could wallpaper a room. Then of course there are the numerous folders, binders, stand up files, and stackable files. You would think that with all these cool tools, I would have the organization thing totally under control. Not really.

This morning I had a brainstorm.

What about GOOGLE DOCS?

Before you run away screaming, “I already have Google docs.” Check out the depth of functionality of this application.

According to the Google Docs page here are a few benefits ;

“Faster, real-time collaboration
Edit documents with others and see changes as they type.

Import from the desktop
Easily move documents between desktop applications and Google Docs.

Online word processing
Margins, indentations, tables, footnotes, comments and much more.”

This morning as I was trying to clean up the house, as usual I came upon a bunch of notes written on scraps of paper. The topics varied from blog building ideas, blog article ideas, names and phone numbers, and tips on how to refinish furniture. That’s when the light bulb went off! Create documents for each of the general types of information. I already had a “contacts” spreadsheet going in google docs, so I just input the names and phone numbers there. Next I started a doc for home repair and decorating projects for the furniture refinishing idea. The blog stuff was added to existing “blog building” and “blog post” ideas docs.

No, Google is not paying me for this article. In fact, I’m not even sure if Google likes me or not.

In addition to the documents feature, they offer spreadsheets, presentations, drawings and forms.


I use the spreadsheets a lot. They are a bit tricky at first, especially if you are accustomed to Excel, but after awhile, they become easier to navigate. What I really like is collaborating with others and access from anywhere. I work everywhere these days; library, coffee shop, laptop on the patio, and even desktop (yea, I’m one of those dinosaurs).

Since I maintain my personal and corporate financial records on a secure desktop in my home office, it’s nice to upload non-sensitive financial spreadsheets to Google docs. For example, all of our personal investments as well as our family asset allocation are on Google spreadsheets. That way, if I want to complete a quick Morningstar analysis on a stock or fund, or view our asset allocation, I can do it from anywhere. I keep notes on my latest fund and stock research as well.

But I didn’t stop there. My list of google docs was getting long and unwieldy.  That’s when I figured they must have a way to categorize, kind of like a file cabinet for all of my varied information.


Setting up a collection is Google-speak for organizing your information into files. Instead of writing my take on this organizing topic, I stole Google’s explanation verbatim;

 “Create a collection

 Collections are a combination of the best features of labels and folders. A file can have multiple collections, much like the labels in Gmail. Collections can also be stored hierarchically, like folders on your desktop. In addition, collections can be shared.

Creating a collection

To create a collection, follow these steps:

  1. Click the red Create button at the top left of your Documents List.
  2. Select Collection from the drop-down menu.
  3. In the screen that appears, place your cursor over the field labeled New Collections and enter a name.

The collection you created now appears in both the My collections section on your left, and in your Documents List. If you want to create a second collection inside the first, then use the drop-down arrow to the right of your collection and select New – Collection

Add color to your collections

Brighten up your Documents List by adding some color to your collections. Select the collection and choose Change color.”


For tips on making the most of the features in Google Docs, follow these links;

Finally, a few more organization tips culled from recent magazine reading in the doctor’s office;

  • Spend 5 minutes in the morning and at night picking up around the house. (Tried it for 2 days and it makes a big difference).
  • Make a daily “to do” list and then STICK TO IT. My problem is that I’m inconsistent with the list, occasionally can’t find it, and frequently don’t stick to it. (During the past few days, I stuck to the list and it helped me avoid wasting excess time).
  • Only check email twice per day. (I’m working on this one, it’s not so easy).

Wealth in life and money consists of spending your time and cash on what matters. Organization helps you avoid the time wasters and maximize your wealth building priorities.

What are your best organization tips?

image credit; google