Getting Organized in the Google Era: How to Get Stuff Out of Your Head, Find It When You Need It, and Get It Done Right by Douglas C. Merrill and James A. Martin.

I’ve always been a paper and pencil kind of guy. I usually do all my planning by hand and store it in a notebook. My daily planner is paper. All of my note taking is generally done on a piece of paper of some sort.

But after reading this book, I am finally moving into the digital age and organizing all my stuff electronically. Well, maybe not all of it. The nice thing that Doug does for folks like me in this book is, to tell us that it is perfectly okay to use paper for some things. After reading the book and implementing some of his suggestions I am discovering that managing most of my stuff electronically is going to make my life a whole lot easier.

The first few chapters of the book are devoted to explaining how our brains work to process and retain – or not – information. Because all of us are pretty overloaded with information these days and feeling guilty about not being able to process all of it, Doug lets us off the hook by explaining why it is not our fault that we can’t keep up with it all. Our brains just aren’t made to do it.

My favorite chapter is Chapter 13 where he discusses how to integrate our work with our personal life since having a balance between the two is impossible these days. His take on this is that we have the opportunity to work and play whenever we want (especially those of us who are self-employed).

He says (and I agree) that having a “work-life-balance” is certainly a desire that most of us have, but that what we really want is to “work less.”

Being connected allows us to still work a bit if we need to while playing or doing other things. He gives several examples of this. An example from my own life is found in the way we live – full-time in an RV.

On days when we are traveling from one place to the next I still usually have work to get done, so I can do that when I’m not the one driving. If I want to be a tourist in the afternoon, I can work in the morning, go enjoy being a tourist in the afternoon, and then work some more if I need to in the evening. I can be at the fair watching my nieces and nephews show their animals and if I need to respond to an email from my phone I can do that if I want. The point is that we no longer have to be tethered to an office to still get things done.

My other favorite two chapters in the book are Chapters 9 and 10 where you talks about using gMail and a Google Calendar for creating a searchable history of everything we’ve done, received or downloaded. He says that if we always know we can search for something, we never have a need to know where it really is. Hence, we don’t need a paper filing cabinet either.

He gives lots of tips for setting these things up so that you can always find what you’re looking for no matter where you are or what device you are working on. Pretty cool, I think.

This is a great book if your brain stays on overload most of the time trying to absorb and hold in all the information that we’re bombarded with on a daily basis. And if you’re a paper and pencil kind of person like I am, then you may likely find a reasonable compromise in this book that will help you move into the digital world of the 21st Century.

I read my copy on my iPad using the Kindle app. Did you know you can get a Kindle app for all your devices – Mac, PC, Phone, iPad — and can buy, download, and read Kindle books without having to own a Kindle? Pretty cool. Check out the Amazon website to learn more about that.

And if you’d like to learn more about and possibly order this book, you can do that at this link: Getting Organized in the Google Era.

Here’s the description from the back of the book:

Whether it’s a faulty memory, a tendency to multitask, or difficulty managing our time, every one of us has limitations conspiring to keep us from being organized. But, as organizational guru and former Google CIO Douglas C. Merrill points out, it isn’t our fault. Our brains simply aren’t designed to deal with the pressures and competing demands on our attention in today’s fast-paced, information-saturated, digital world. What’s more, he says, many of the ways in which our society is structured are outdated, imposing additional chaos that makes us feel stressed, scattered, and disorganized.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Luckily, we have a myriad of amazing new digital tools and technologies at our fingertips to help us manage the strains on our brains and on our lives; the trick is knowing when and how to use them. This is why Merrill, who helped spearhead Google’s effort to “organize the world’s information,” offers a wealth of tips and strategies for how to use these new tools to become more organized, efficient, and successful than ever.

But if you’re looking for traditional, rigid, one-size-fits-all strategies for organization, this isn’t the book for you. Instead, Merrill draws on his intimate knowledge of how the brain works to help us develop fresh, innovative, and flexible systems of organization tailored to our individual goals, constraints, and lifestyles.

From how to harness the amazing power of search, to how to get the most out of cloud computing, to techniques for filtering through the enormous avalanche of information that assaults us at every turn, to tips for minimizing distractions and better integrating work and life, Getting Organized in the Google Era is chock-full of practical, invaluable, and often counterintuitive advice for anyone who wants to be more organized and productive-and less stressed–in our 21st-century world.