Four Easy Ways to Simplify Your Digital Life

Our devices can overwhelm us some days

One key to being a successful grassroots organizer is simplification. With little funds, many tasks fall into the hands of only a few people. Sometimes it can feel like organizing is like treading water: constantly working and yet always more to do. Here are a couple of tools that work to make grassroots organizing a little easier.

Dropbox

Dropbox is an online filing cabinet. Take all your digital material – press releases, logos, photos, memos – and put them into folders that can easily be shared. This is a great tool because these digital folders can be accessed by multiple people, both online and offline by either logging into the site or downloading the “dropbox” folder onto your computer for immediate access. Any time a new document is added to the folder, it will be automatically synced with the online version.

Google Docs

Instead of emailing documents back and forth between colleagues, edit the document as a team. Using Google Docs allows all members of the team to work on a document simultaneously and instantaneously see the changes.  After all the revisions have been made, the document can be download it to your computer as a word or PDF file to make final formatting changes. This tool saves you time searching your email Inbox for the latest version of your document.

Google Groups

Google Groups can send emails or meeting invites as well as share documents automatically. Group your email contacts into one group name and begin a conversation. If you use Google Calendar, you can share your Work calendar with the group so you have each group member’s availability integrated into your calendar. Remember, you can make multiple calendars with different privacy settings, so you don’t have to share your personal appointments with everyone!

Email Integration

While it’s common to have multiple email addresses, having all of your emails in one place can save you a lot of time, eliminating the need to check each account. Microsoft Outlook and Gmail both offer solutions.

Outlook:

Microsoft Outlook allows you to add multiple email accounts onto your computer so you automatically get all of your emails in one place. Some accounts may require you to connect to the email server in order to set up the account and others automatically connect when you provide your username and password. Either way, the process is very simple and quick. Most major email accounts – like Gmail, and Hotmail – provide simple directions for connecting to the email server.

Gmail:

You can easily set up email forwarding from all your accounts using Gmail. Just go to forwarding settings in your Gmail account and add the email account you want to forward mail from.

by Alexis Hancock

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5 Comments

  1. C. Cummings

     /  October 6, 2012

    Right now, I live for Google docs! It has great organization features. I have folders for my different classes and I can easily download my open documents as pdf, word, or html. It’s also great for group projects because documents can be shared amongst everybody. Just keep in mind that there is a feature that allows others to edit the document.

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  2. Steffany Ballas

     /  October 15, 2012

    This is great and incredibly useful information! Dropbox+Google Docs has helped me organize in the past, and I can see how useful it would be for grassroots organizations. I would love to see a companion piece that pulls in social media and how it can be used for grassroots organizing as well (the Twitter use in the #OWS movement as an example). Though I recognize that once you bring in social media, it becomes much harder to simplify things!

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  3. Deasy Putri

     /  October 17, 2012

    I want to add up that the intensive use of live streaming media recently may also potentially become part of significant tool in community organizing in the future. Last week, I remember watching a video streaming about the “Unoccupy the War” protest, broadcasted live by the protest organizer from Washington DC. It’s amazing how these digital tools are designed in such user friendly wise yet relatively affordable and accessible for everyone, even for the grassroots.

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  4. Nicolas

     /  October 23, 2012

    In addition to those, grass-root organizers on a budget can also use the following to reach out to their communities, at little or no cost, and with a low learning curve.

    Qualtrics
    https://www.qualtrics.com/
    The free account can be used to create surveys and will let you reach your organization.

    JotForm
    http://www.jotform.com/
    The free version of the account will let you create simple forms, to let your community provide information etc.

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  5. I agree that these new technologies combined with twitter and other social media, have really increased the power of grass-root organizing. I also recently used google+ Hangout with my boss at UNICEF to discuss child marriage and promote the UN’s International Day of the Girl Child. We got a bunch of different NGOs involved and it was a really great way to get a panel discussion going without needing an event space. Anyone could join and watch the google hangout.You can also record these google+ hangouts and then share them on youtube. I also suggest google+ hangout for conference calls or meetings, it is like a big skype meeting where everyone can see each other.

    Emilie

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