Google Drive is my BFF

gDrive1

So PartyBFF has a lot of bff’s. There are my sisters, Priscilla and Melissa; my niece Vida; my bubbly blonde bestie, Kristin; my smart lawyer friends Angela and Cynthia, my girl who always keeps it real, Alice, and many others. But let’s face it, none of these relationships come close to the ones I have with the tools that get me through my projects and events (ok I’m kidding they do come close ;). Let’s talk about these pals of mine…

1. My Silhouette Cameo – it cuts small shapes to a perfection that I never could (and ask Alice, I am an intricate trimmer!). Hello cake toppers, gift tags, cards, confetti and more!

2. My Macbook Pro – Email, Photoshop, Word and even the software for the Silhouette mentioned above are only available through this portable robotic thinking device.

3. My iPhone – No explanation needed here, Goldie and I go way back.

4. My circle punch – I’ve used this guy SO MUCH!!! For everything from favor tags and straw tags, to cupcake toppers, and mailing labels.

and last but not least…

4. GOOGLE DRIVE (Formerly known as Google Docs)

Ladies, (and any gentlemen if they happen to be here!?) you do not know how these tools can help organize the life of a crafter, event planner, mom, single woman, job seeker or plain person on this fast-paced planet!

I was first introduced to Google docs when I started my current job. At the time, we were still a small company with a startup mindset. No fancy networks needed, we all used Google Docs to share and store the appropriate work documents. I then realized the potential of this amazing tool, used it for my wedding, and have incorporated it into almost every aspect of my life. I use Google drive for everything from budgeting and finances, to photo and file storage and of course, every aspect of event planning.

I’ll focus here on how you can use it to ease the troubles of your party planning adventures.

How do you get access? Well, my friends if you have a gmail account, you already do! If you don’t then simply create one. If you already have a Gmail account, then log in to it, and click on the little square with a bunch of littler squares in it in the upper righthand corner.

GDriveOptions

Upon clicking this you’ll see a ton of different tools that Google provides, but right now, we want that recycle-looking thing that says “Drive” in the middle of the bottom row.

Click on that and you’ll open a new window with a whole new world of organization and sharing. You’ll see two important buttons in the left upper right corner, “Create” and “Upload” (yes, that’s what the line with the up arrow means!).

Create_Upload

Clicking on “create” will provide options to create a slew of document types. It’s basically Google’s version of Microsoft Office. You can do Word-like docs, Powerpoint-like presentations, Excel-like spreadsheets, forms (one of the coolest) and drawings apparently (Yeah, I’ve never used this one!).

Clicking on the “upload” button allows you to upload non-google docs files to “store” in your personal drive. Think photos, event layouts, vendor contracts and more. You can create a folder for your event and throw everything in there that you need. This is a whole lot easier that digging through your email each time you need to look up what time you can enter the venue, AND you can have access to these files anywhere so long as you have internet. When I say anywhere, I do mean anywhere. I have the Google drive app installed on my phone and pull up my finance sheet whenever  I need to remember what bills are due when!

Ok that’s not even the best part. Get ready for it. You can take a Google doc, or a drive folder and SHARE IT so that you can collaborate with others! You simply create the doc, then click on the “share” button in the top right corner. This opens a window and you enter the email address of the person you want to share it with. You can even edit the permission levels of the people you share it with, so that you can edits things, and they can see them, but they can’t change and mess it up.

“Why is this such a great tool?” You might ask.

Ummm, well think about a baby shower. The mama-to-be opens up a google doc and imports the list of people she wants to invite. She shares it with you and you can easily download it into an excel sheet and make labels. Well you could have done this if she’d just emailed you an Excel doc, right? Wait – I’m not finished!  You’ve made your labels, go back into the Google sheet and add another column – RSVP status! Yes, then you and your mama-to-be can both see live results of the RSVP’s you’re getting. “Oh my mom texted me that she’s coming!” Well thanks darling, let’s just put that in the sheet and we both won’t forget!! Need to note whether it’s chicken or steak? Easy peasy, just add another column! After the shower, create another column or tab and write in the gifts. Then mama can track which thank you notes are still to be sent and has the info right in there with the addresses. You’ll have one LIVING document making your life so much easier. From RSVP’s to budgets (planning as a group? everyone write in what they’ve spent and keep a live tally!), the possibilities are endless.

Same with the document function. I love this for notes we take, or ideas to keep-in-mind. Think a group pinboard that doesn’t require the use of a photo. Just drop in the link!

You gals are all smart ladies (and gents, to be safe!) so I won’t go into much more detail on the other doc types, but I do want to go over forms, because this is a cool one!

A form is just that – an online form. I’ve used them at work for information forms that we need filled out from various groups of people, but I’ve received them in the past as RSVP forms. It’s literally your own little survey tool. Create a form to send to your bridal party. You create the questions and pick the answer format (paragraph, multiple choice, etc.). Ask everyone for their measurements and shoe size with one quick email. They click a link and fill it out. DONE! You don’t have to sift through all of your email chains and create your own spreadsheet, the form dumps everything into a spreadsheet that you have access to. I love this for online RSVP’s a la Paperless Post and Evite, but instead of having to log into their system, you have it with all of your other items. The forms even come in pre-designed templates, some of which are obviously wedding-themed. Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t BEAUTIFUL, but they are useful if you need to poll everyone on something quickly. Song suggestions? Need a quick poll on the menu options?

There you have it my friends. Google Drive is PartyBFF’s bff and it will be yours soon. And now I’m off to update my “upcoming blogs” Google spreadsheet; “Published – 4/30/2014”.

Have you used Google’s online tools in the past? Tell me about your triumphs and your frustrations.