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Two Tools to Help You Collaborate More Efficiently

We’ve all been there over the last two years during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re trying to accomplish something with our team(s) or coworkers, and the emails and things just start to get confusing. Back and forth, back and forth. Oops. Forgot the attachment on that one… It’s cumbersome when you’re trying to share documents directly with other people to send it or upload it somewhere for review or additions.

Well, I have a solution. It’s two you probably already have access to, and when I show you the power of each one, you’ll be picking your jaw up off the floor. That is, of course, unless you already know. And if you know, you know. You can quit reading right now. Grab your favorite beverage, settle in for a read, and let’s get going.

First up, we have Google Drive. I know you’re thinking you already understand that sharing a document on there is easier than emailing it, but you can do so much more than simply share.

You can:

  • Track editing changes.
  • Revert to an earlier edition.
  • Assign questions to specific people you’ve shared the doc with about verbiage.
  • Mass edit (more than one editor at a time can work simultaneously).
  • Share with several people at once via a link.
  • Provide feedback in the form of notated comments.
  • Collaboratively write/create.
  • Chat with anyone with access, live.
  • See exactly what each person is doing because of colors assigned.
  • Control what ability each person shared with has as far as editing or viewing.
  • Add apps to help with a ton of things (like mathematical equations or images).
  • Compare a document from another source against one in your Drive.

And SO much more.

I once wrote a section of a novel, in tandem with four other people, which produced over 20k words in one hour. We’d used Drive throughout our process to collaborate and share what we were doing, and it cut down on our emails and other crazy chatter by a ton. It was efficient, and it was all before the pandemic, so this isn’t new technology.

Second, I give you Microsoft Word in the Office 365 suite of tools. Is it important that the version of Word be part of the Office 365 suite? Yes. So many new features were rolled out with the update, it’ll make you jump for joy once you understand the exact power of what you subscribed to. You may not know your Word comes with this many tools.

You can:

  • Track editing changes.
  • Revert to an earlier edition.
  • Assign questions to specific people you’ve shared the doc with about verbiage.
  • Mass edit (more than one editor at a time can work simultaneously).
  • Share with several people at once via an email.
  • Provide feedback in the form of notated comments.
  • Collaboratively write/create.
  • Chat with anyone with access, live.
  • See exactly what each person is doing because of colors assigned.
  • Control what ability each person shared with has as far as editing or viewing.
  • Compare a document from another source against one you already have.
  • Get an email every time someone you shared with makes changes.
  • Dictate your document rather than type it.

And SO much more.

Though MS Word doesn’t have apps to help you navigate the cruel world of creating mathematical equations easily, it does have features that help you do that (no app needed). You just have to know how to use the Insert tab.

There’s a couple of limits to each of these things, and one is that you have to save the document to the web. With Drive, you create it right on the web, so there’s no uploading, but with Word, you have to upload/save it to your OneDrive (somewhere everyone can access it). When you open the document again, you have to ensure you’re doing it from the OneDrive file or you’ll have to save, share, and set limits again.

That becomes a little cumbersome if you’re new to the process.

Also, there aren’t previous versions of the document stored with Word, and if you lose something, you’re probably out of luck. With Drive, you can contact Google, and they’re pretty adept at retrieving something you accidentally deleted (if you’re quick on the draw).

Drive doesn’t allow dictation (yet), but Word does.

Both allow you to translate to other languages, but the results are less than stellar (do not recommend). Both also have robust help sections if you get stuck.

These two programs can take your collaboration and productivity to the next level, so dive on in there and give them a try. It can’t hurt.

I hope this helps you in some small way during this difficult time and beyond.

Contributor

Lekshmi Devi

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