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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

3.35  ·  Rating Details ·  429 Ratings  ·  90 Reviews
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 ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published March 16th 2010 by Crown Business (first published January 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Tamara
Jul 23, 2011 Tamara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The gist: Only remember what you have to. Put things that you can't remember where you'll be able to find them again. Rely heavily on search, repetition and (gasp) email.

(Yes, network administrator, this book suggests you keep all emails ever sent or received that may be of any use to you in the future whatsoever. Ha!)

Didn't love the formatting for this book. Thought it would be easier to skim, but in the end, I was glad I read it so thoroughly.

Got all excited about Things, the task management
...more
Blog on Books
Aug 10, 2010 Blog on Books rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


Man-machine. The paperless office. Information overload. Yes, the time has arrived. The future is now. Yet with all the world’s information at the tip of our fingers, how does one keep this plethora of info from overtaking our daily existence? What if you could hire someone to consult you on organizing all this data into a manageable state?

Enter Douglas C. Merrill. As the top information officer for Google, Merrill knows a thing or two about what he’s talking about, including many key concepts d
...more
Priscilla
Feb 19, 2013 Priscilla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book because it is a right-brain look at a left-brain subject. It is a light, simple, postmodern-like explanation of organization, especially as it relates to technology. Many reviews I have read were disappointed in this book for the same reason I liked it.

While Merrill largely focuses on technology - and Google - this is also a book about organization in general. I enjoyed the opportunity to look at organization from a postmodern perspective while learning many advantages t
...more
Phyllis Searles
Oct 26, 2015 Phyllis Searles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a 5 years old book now...but still good info. I enjoyed it. Learned a few things. Definitely worth the read. You can skip around reading sections and chapters; that was helpful
Jenny M
Apr 03, 2010 Jenny M rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Good at diagnosing the problem, weak on the solution. His prescription: keep everything online and Google as needed, except when there are superior Apple apps. Lotta help there.
Nancy
Jun 17, 2017 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were a couple of things working against this book, but overall it was well written and I enjoyed it. First thing, it was written back in 2010 and I would have gotten a lot more out of it if I read it then, instead of coming to it 7 years later. Most of the tools and innovations lauded in the book are now pretty common-place among services and apps. Google is no longer the only service that offers these wonderful things. But it did get me to think about the available tools and use a few thi ...more
Cat C
Jul 02, 2017 Cat C rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I saw this in a recent recommendation list and thought it would be a handy guide to Google tools; I should have looked at the publication date and realized how long ago (in tech terms) this was published. I quickly skimmed through and realized there was nothing particularly useful or innovative for me (apparently, this was around when Google Docs first came out!). Plus, there was way too much Silicon-Valley-type thinking for me ("who needs 9-to-5, you should work only on a schedule that works fo ...more
Alain Burrese
Aug 02, 2014 Alain Burrese rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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, former Chief Information Officer of Google, is an interesting look at using technology to organize things a bit differently than the traditional way organization has always been taught. The author explains why, and then provides the tools and way to do it. I liked some of the ideas quite a bit, and others I might have to become a little more of a “techi ...more
Jay
Aug 11, 2014 Jay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, audiobook
This one has some good advice, some dated advice, and some interesting bits.

The Good

-- Generally, save everything to the cloud and use search to find. Seems pretty reasonable, except for the safety concerns for information. This is also addressed by saving things like passwords to your email in a kind of code you can interpret. Still seems a bit dangerous to me...
-- Email yourself things. If you can't type, use a service converting phone messages to text which is emailed back to you. Sounds int
...more
Tempest Devyne
I was interested in this book because I'd read somewhere Douglas Merrill has dyslexia and started out working out ways at school to organise and study to work around his difficulties with traditional learning. My youngest is showing difficulties with reading and staying organised and as I'm have dyscalculia I thought this book was worthwhile for any tips I could pick up. In all honestly, there wasn't much I didn't already know from previous jobs I've had over the years. The book also is already ...more
Richard Gombert
Love:
GMail hacks. I need to try more of these.
I still miss Google Health and Google Reader.

Like:
Go with what you know.

Dislike:
Author focuses on trying to off-load too much (I think) from our brains. There is all sorts of information out there that you can not tell if it is relevant or will be relevant. Put more stuff in your brain, get more incites.

Hate:
Too much Apple focus. Yes it is what the author uses the most. Apple products are solid working products, and I recommend them all the tim
...more
Mary
May 18, 2010 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, technology
This is a good book for people who live under a rock and know very little about Google technology products. The author addresses some fairly heavy issues with a light touch--he doesn't get into them very deeply when I think he could have done so. The fact is, his organization tips and opinions will fall on deaf ears to those who are scared of technology. He focused a tad too much on the Google suite, although it made perfect sense since he was the CIO at Google until not that long ago. It's almo ...more
Beverly
A dry subject made more interesting because of the writer's style. Douglas Merrill was the chief information officer for Google and he does push Google as a way of keeping organized. He tells entertaining stories with humor, and he uses song phrases in sidebars to illustrate his points.

He explains what "clouds" are. I think I understand it's a way to keep records on the internet where you can access them from any computer, apple or microsoft. I still don't feel secure with the idea, even though
...more
Nupur Vanderlick
I actually enjoyed reading this book quite a bit. Merrill's casual writing style coupled with organizational challenges in his life make this a very warm and forgiving book to read. He describes how certain tools can be used for certain organizational needs. The main tenet that struck to me was his insistence on NOT maintaining an empty inbox but to search for mail that we needed by placing tags. He offers about 12 organizing principles which challenge the usual assumptions of organization. Havi ...more
Crystal
Nov 22, 2010 Crystal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that I might buy. It's a handbook for using online organizational tools, but more than that. The author has a PhD in cognitive psychology and was the CIO of Google. The first part of the book talks about our brains and how we think and how we want to organize things, which is not in keeping with all the ways we've been forced to organize things. No wonder we have so much difficulty with it. No wonder there are so many books on how to get organized. He doesn't tell the reader what ...more
Scott
Jan 16, 2011 Scott rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Eh...not that good. I was intrigued by his neuroscience background and the promise of insight into how to use digital tools/gadgets productively. The book delivered neither. Just very basic tips combined with a lot of stuff about gmail, etc., I already knew. It could be very useful if you don't know much about gmail or aren't used to using many online tools, but if you're the average young-ish person, you likely won't find many life-altering insights. And as far as the promise of cognitive insig ...more
Bologna_frog
looks cheesy. I expect I will already know a lot this.

Okay, not cheesy. This guy was really successful.

But his suggestions lack good explanations to make them easily applicable. Suggestions are quite general.

His Tips and Tricks are too specific. Technology will make them not useful.

File information so you can retrieve it quickly. Use Gmail and Google Documents.
-use filters in Gmail to sort info

Highlight different categories of information.
-On paper: many highlighters
-Gmail: filters and labels

RE
...more
VerJean
Maybe I could have used the time actually ORGANIZING something instead of reading a lot of words to give tips - some already well-known, a few interesting insights or phrased in a more compelling way, and some that are already outdated by the constant changes in our internet and Google world.
Could have been much more concise and outlined to be, indeed, helpful.
Interesting guy, but wasn't sure if his humor was worth the time it took to read through.
Maybe he as author and me as reader could have s
...more
Lynne Spreen
I didn't like this book at first, and I still think he could have skipped part one, in which he attempts to describe the ways humans behave. The meat of this book is in learning about the new(ish) digital ways to be organized. Some of them are simple, but you might not have thought of them, like using your email as a filing system. I really liked the section in the back of the book where he talks about products he likes, loves, or dislikes, based on function. This was a really good primer on tak ...more
Amanda
Mar 31, 2012 Amanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book, but it just doesn't do it for me. The author's thoughts are not as clearly organized as you'd hope for considering this is a book about organization. The tips for organizing your life digitally are not much help if you already use email, online calendars, searching, and cloud storage for at least some of your organization. It is written with a pleasant, easy-to-read style, so it wasn't a difficult read. I felt it lacked the substance of other organizing books o ...more
Marci
The last 1/3 of this book was the best. How cloud computing is going to make it easier to get better organized and share information. The number one tip is to get it out of your head. Put it on paper store it online, but don't carry around your shopping list in your head. The first 2/3 of the book reminded me a lot of David Allen's Getting Things Done . Great tips on maximizing your Gmail account. Also love the appendix of "Things We Love" software or webware to make life easier. Great book if ...more
Peyton
Douglas Merrill was Google's first CIO, assigned with the task of making Google's technology align with the way our brains work, and of developing it from there. His book is a practical guide to understanding and implementing brain research-based organizational and coping methods in our information overload world.

I should add that, if you are a GTD fan and are already using G-Mail and other high tech organizational tools, such as GTDInbox, Xobni, etc., then you won't find much new in the book.

Kelly Harmon
The opening few chapters of this book are fascinating, telling about how the brain works and why common practices and social norms work against our being organized.

But there's very little meat in this book for anyone looking for "true" solutions. Merrill presents many options, and offers pros and cons, but doesn't offer any concrete advice.

If you're looking for a book to figure out why you might be disorganized, or on setting goals for yourself, this might be it.
Stacy
May 26, 2014 Stacy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book! I'll start by saying that I'm already a big fan of Google and even own a Chromebook laptop which I love, so I use Google Docs and Gmail a lot. I learned a lot about features in Gmail and some great Google search tips. I listened to it on audiobook, read by the author. I do have to say that his pronunciation of some words like project, again, and against with long vowel sounds was irritating.
Brian
Jul 27, 2010 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick read. Briefly covers limitations of mind and personality, and then he goes over different things he has learned through his experience to become better organized. I enjoyed how he broke things down in to quick snippets that you can copy and rewrite to meet your own needs. Not ground breaking, but a good starting point to look at your own life and make decisions regarding your best method of organizing your work and life.
Ron
May 09, 2010 Ron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first and last sections weren't that interesting to me, but the middle section is what makes this book worth it. Even though I've been using most of the techniques anyway, it was good to see an almost systematic way of using the new tools available online for organizing and productivity. And there were a few ideas in there that I knew about but just didn't know how important they were. So overall, good stuff.
Michelle
Sep 21, 2011 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most of the information in this book I already knew and/or use, BUT there was some info that was new and made me think of my digital organization in a different way. This book would be very useful to non-techy people. I don't really agree completely with saving every email that has ever come through my inbox. I prefer to put emails into my google folders, which is still searchable. But using email to keep notes, etc... not so much for me.
Jock Mcclees
I might have rated it higher if I had read it instead of listened to it on CD. You really should read it and stop and try some of the things on the computer. Also, I don't know if there are updates, but at least one of the things suggested is no longer supported. Generally though, he has some good ideas in general for organizing and simplifying your life. He also has good ideas on technology to use to help.
Adam G.
Apr 21, 2014 Adam G. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine a world where information can be gleaned from a text box on a simple web page. Now imagine a world where such a concept is enough for a shitty self-help book. Most of the ideas revolve around "you should put things in the cloud because it's easier to organize" and "search means you don't really need to organize."

If you've never used Google, this may be moderately useful. It sure is a neat website.
Shayne
Dec 14, 2016 Shayne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: real-book
A different kind of organization book, with a lot of focus on search. Also, not a lot of concrete solutions (except for the Google recommendations), but some fair high-level thinking about how to customize your organizational systems for you. Also has some dated tech information, which isn't surprising.
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