By in Investing, Personal Finance, Tips | 15 comments

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



  1. I can’t say I’ve really used google docs much, but it sounds like you’re really happy with it. I tend to have various text files for different types of notes. If it’s anything that I need to access from anywhere I actually e-mail it to myself, as inefficient as that sounds. I do need to get more organized though. I tend to put stuff off for a long time as I get caught up in daily tasks. Checking e-mail only twice per day might help, but it seems it would also limit my productivity considering I do so much networking via e-mail. Knowing me I’ll put off the organization steps just like everything else.

    Modest Money

    April 23, 2012

  2. I agree that having control over your life provides greater satisfaction. I still keep a master (manually) list to keep me focused. I supplement it with spreadsheets and other documents to keep me organized. I like the flexibility of carrying my list from room to room.


    April 24, 2012

  3. I love that you seem organized and write on paper. I have all this equipment and love writing on paper with all this different stuff on it.

    Jai Catalano

    April 24, 2012

  4. Organizing your personal investments, along with other financial records, can make filing taxes or conducting specific transactions faster and easier. One of the biggest organizational obstacles is finding a system that is not too complicated but works for you, according to Liz Pulliam Weston of MSN Money..


    April 24, 2012

  5. @Modest-I’ve done the email to myself too. It’s really a challenge to get a system going and to stick with it. I’m working on it, but am definitely not there yet.
    @Krantcents-Glad that works for you…. when I carry something from room to room, I eventually loose track of it 🙂
    @Jai- Paper is really a declining tool these days.
    @Krizza-Couldn’t agree more. And btw, I’m a bit resentful of the time required to maintain order.


    April 25, 2012

  6. Hi Barb.. It is not easy to be organized especially in business.. But with this post, this can help a lot.. Thank you!


    April 26, 2012

  7. Great tips Barb! Is Big G paying you? Terrific endorsement. I need to utilize Google Docs more myself. Also enjoyed your extra tips. Picking up around the house and checking email less, easier said than done!

    Buck Inspire

    April 29, 2012

  8. @Buck-I wish G was paying me :).


    April 29, 2012

  9. I’ve been tracking everything with Microsoft Excel, but I’ll have to check out Google. I’m always open to newer, better products. Perhaps it’ll save me some time too??

    Julie @ Freedom 48

    April 30, 2012

  10. Hi Julie, I love excel, but Google plus offers “cloud” access from anywhere.


    April 30, 2012

  11. Google Docs really helps keep things organized for me, especially when I need a scratchpad or to take some notes.

    Invest It Wisely

    May 2, 2012

  12. @Invest-The only downside to G docs is if you have no internet access and need the notes. Of course the internet is omnipresent these days.


    May 3, 2012

  13. I love to be organized and feel like my world is in order. I too recently discovered Google Docs and I use it all the time, pretty much every single day. I’m glad you shared these tips, because I didn’t realize some of the wonderful features. It’s got some awesome stuff.

    Careful Cents

    May 4, 2012

  14. @Careful, I’m still trying out all the features, but i particularly like having a central location for all my ideas.


    May 5, 2012


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