If your home is like mine, there are a few computers lying about. Nothing fancy, of course. But with school-aged kids, a mobile phone or three, set-top boxes and iPods it's enough to make a Luddite like me go spare. I rely on one extremely dog-eared paper calendar to stay organised. The great blessing of digital equipment in the house is that it offers mums some easy tricks to tackle home organisation black holes. I am actually a techno-spaz but here are some easy ways to make computers, life and the land of Google hum along more smoothly for mums.

Part 1


Divert all emails to Gmail

How good is that Gmail system? OK, so some people out there have the Google conspiracy theory going on about Google reading all your emails, but this FREE service has changed my life. My poor ability to delete old emails constantly left my Outlook account in dire straits. No such problems on Gmail - you have masses of storage and the autoforward means I now have four different accounts all going to one little window. It's brilliant. And the search function in Gmail means you can always find your old emails.


Meal Plan with Google Calendar

If you have Gmail and a Google account, you also have Google Calendar in which you can create different sub-calendars and label one of 'em "menus". In a separate tab, I open Kidspot's food section and copy the URL of the recipes I want to cook. Back in my Calendar, I click on a day, enter the name of the meal, set it on the Menu Plan, and go to “edit event details.” I paste the recipe URL in the description, in case I want to find it when I'm in my Calendar - this is helpful if I'm making several recipes for one meal.

Under “Repeats,” you can choose “Repeat every 2 weeks.” This will automatically plug in this recipe on this day, every other week, until you change it. Under “Reminder,” I choose to have an e-mail reminder sent to my Gmail account three hours before dinner time. Easy! Who would guess that Google could help at home?


Sync baby, sync

There's no reason to have a set of files on the home computer and a different lot at work - just put both sets on each computer. There are some services you can use for this, like Dropbox, which you install on your computer after opening an account. You simply place files you want to sync into the same account and, boom, all documents are running at the same speed - regardless of the location of the computer.


Make your Google search better

To find specific things like  PDFs, Excel spreadsheets, or PowerPoint Presentations, enter filetype:pdf, filetype:xls, or filetype:ppt in the search field. This can help if you want to know, for example, the instructions for medication (which are usually PDF files). IF you google "medication dosage paracetamol filetype:pdf" you will only get the super detailed info. Or if you're looking for some great examples of powerpoint to copy for a whizz bang presentation, just Google it. To narrow down the information, you can use a hyphen. For 
example:you might want lasagne recipes without the fattening sauce so you might enter "lasagne -bechemel" so you exclude all recipes with the thing you don't want. Placing a hyphen before terms you want to exclude will omit pages with those words. Type a space before the hyphen, but not after.


To find those products you want to buy but can't remember

Use: intitle, for example Googling "
intitle:“Oilily boots” 
will search the words in the title bar of web pages and can be particularly helpful if you remember the name of an item you liked but not where you found it. Just be sure not to put a space after the colon and to use quotation marks around the phrase.


Exciting things you can do in a Google search box

Google is also its own calculator. To figure out what 25 percent off that $78 shirt amounts to, just enter “78 x .25” into the search field, click “Search,” and the answer will show up at the top of the results page. No clicking on a second link required. You can also convert measurements like metres to miles. How many New Zealand dollars to the Australian dollar? To Google conversions simply enter it in quotation markets, for example “15 dollars in New Zealand dollars”).


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