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Using Google Docs to Collaborate & Get Organized

comments (4) January 30th, 2012 in blogs

CustomMade CustomMade Staff, contributor
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An informative  article written by CustomMade guest blogger Doug Turner of Turner Custom Furniture. Doug is a very talented woodworker as-well- as a savvy businessman. Doug likes to share his business and marketing tips with other craftspeople in order to help them run efficient, successful businesses.

Think of Google Docs as an online version of Microsoft Office, but simpler to use, and best of all, free. It doesn’t have many of the great formatting features Word or Excel has, and I wouldn’t recommend it for writing your next novel, but it does have a few features Office doesn’t have. Chief among them is the fact that it’s web based.  As the author of a document, you’ll be able to access it anywhere you have internet access, on a variety of devices, without saving it to a flash drive or emailing it. Best of all, several people can collaborate on a document at the same or different times. As the author, you’ll be able to share documents, and specify who has rights to edit.

Google Docs is an expanding suite of applications, which allows the creation of:

  • Documents
  • Spreadsheets
  • Tables
  • Forms
  • Presentations
  • Drawings

None of these applications is extremely complex – for instance, the drawing program is not Sketchup. It’s sort of like Microsoft Paint, but again, it is web based, meaning you can sketch in real time while someone watches and sketches on the same drawing at the same time, which is very useful.

For the most part, I use the document and spreadsheet applications to create:

  • Day, week and month plans to share with employees, business partners and subcontractors.
  • Cut lists
  • Rough accounting spreadsheets, meaning a quick view of who is getting paid what and when for each job, sales tax liabilities, subcontractor payments etc. I don’t recommend it for full fledged accounting, but it’s nice to be able to have a quick view of job income, sort of like a web based dry erase board.
  • Employee manuals
  • Vendor contact information spreadsheets
  • Contracts
  • Presentations
  • Fabrication standards
  • Project drawings and notes
Google Docs enables authors to organize documents into collections, which can of course be shared. You can also print and create multi page PDF files, as well as a variety of other document types. This feature is found in an odd place – don’t look for Save As.  Click on File – Download As.

Getting Started


  1. If you don’t have one, create a Google account, here:
  2. Navigate to the Google docs home page, here:
  3. Start playing. Google Docs will save automatically, and you can always delete docs you don’t want.
One of my favorite things about Google Docs is that I never lose anything I create (either from a total system crash or simply because my computer filing system is close to nonexistent).  Google Docs is part of a new trend in computing called the Cloud. Cloud computing refers to a system wherein individuals use stripped down terminals, and access programs and file storage through the internet. There are pros and cons to this, but that is another story altogether.


posted in: blogs, custom, custommade, Doug Turner, Turner Custom Furniture, Google Docs, organization tools, PDF files, Cloud, collaboration, documents

Comments (4)

KristiRiley KristiRiley writes: I found this article to be very informative. I have never really got into Google Docs much, but I feel that I should give it a try after reading this. Thank you :)
Posted: 5:58 pm on July 1st

Crabapple Crabapple writes: FYI, Office 365 is cloud-based. It includes all of the usual suspects in the Office Suite, including Exchange Online-based email, calendars and contacts. It's not free but the $6 a month for individual plan is cheap compared to the up-front costs for the desktop Office. And no advertising dollars to support it, sort of the PBS vs commercial TV model.
Posted: 12:42 pm on January 31st

ammar969 ammar969 writes: Google "docs" is a great tool and its free. Recently I am starting to doubt the privacy policy of googles. Free is a term google and others love to use.Google use every single key stroke to make money off of you (direct advetisments)companies pay google top dollar for this. From a markeeting stand point and in a free market world we should market our info and even get paid for using google !!
Posted: 7:21 pm on January 30th

JeffB JeffB writes: I ran a series of "give-aways" on my blog. I embedded a Google Docs form which saved the submissions in an Excel style spreadsheet. Google even sent me an email everytime someone submitted an entry. And as you say, it is free.
Posted: 2:27 pm on January 30th

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