Episode 34: Executive Functioning and Google Apps

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Executive Functioning and Google Apps

The Personal Brain Trainer Podcast Episode 34




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    Erica : Welcome to the personal brain trainer podcast. I'm Dr. Erica Warren.

    Darius: And I'm Darius Namdaran, and we're your hosts. Join us on an adventure to translate scientific jargon and brain research into simple metaphors and explanations for everyday life. We explore executive function and learning strategies that help turbocharge the mind.

    Erica : Come learn to steer around the invisible barriers so that you can achieve your goals. This podcast is ideal for parents, educators, and learners of all ages. This podcast is brought to you by Goodsensorylearning.com, where you can find educational and occupational therapy lessons and remedial materials that bring delight to learning. Finally, you can find Dr. Warren's many courses at, learning Specialistcourses.com. Come check out our newest course on developing executive functions and study strategies.

    Darius: This podcast is sponsored by Dyslexia Productivitycoaching.com which helps you organize yourself creatively with a productivity system for Apple devices.

    Hey, Erica good to have you here today. Last week we were talking about my love of using Apple Notes and Apple apps and Reminders and Apple Calendar and so on. And I know that you're a, uh, real Google Calendar fan, and so am I. And I thought you mentioned in the last episode that it might be nice to just talk about the Google side of things, because in many ways, in the last episode, we were talking about executive function and Apple apps. And the advantage of Apple apps are so often that they're much simpler, but they're very highly integrated into your devices. The phone, the iPad, Mac watch, all of that is a seamless integration in there. But the cost of that is that they are much simpler than other tools that are out there, and there's other people listening that might be really interested in yeah, but I like to have options, and Google really gives you options. So why don't we go into a big, deep dive into Google and how it gives you lots of options?

    Erica : I think that's a great idea. I think looking at the different Google tools could be very, very helpful. I teach a lot of my students all sorts of tips and tricks on using the various Google tools. And I think today, why don't we focus on a combination of Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Keep, and then we'll just lightly introduce a few other ones, which are slide sheets and forms. They do have other things as well, but we're just going to focus our discussion on these, really? The drive, Docs, and keep yes.

    Darius: There's a bit of an overlap here, and I'm looking forward to comparing Google Keep to Apple Notes because they're very similar kind of apps as well. So if you've watched the last episode, I'm looking forward to that part where we talk about Google Keep, too. Yeah, let's kick it off with Drive then.

    Erica : Okay, well, Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization service that was developed by Google. And for a long time, I struggled with. All right, why aren't Drive and Google Docs the same thing? But I think that what Google Drive offers is a lot of other features and ways of organizing your files, which is really quite lovely because it really becomes an organizational tool, and they have it kind of separate from Google Docs. But all of your Google Docs can be organized within Google Drive. But even if you had something that wasn't a Google Doc, like a video or a song or photographs, those can also be organized in Google Drive. So it's not just documents.

    Darius: Yeah, I remember how it felt too. Why are you creating another thing to just make things more complicated? But you can see the sense in it when you can actually upload everything that is on your hard drive up to Google Drive, can't you?

    Erica : You can. And I found that I did end up running out of space, but the cost for adding more space was so minimal that it was absolutely worth it as far as I was concerned. But yeah, it offers some very cool features, too, because you can share your files and folders with other users, which is really useful because if you have a very large document that you need to send somebody and you can't send it across email or you don't want to because it's not safe. You can always throw it onto Google and then share it. And it really allows really huge files, and then that other person, if they choose to, can either view, download, or even collaborate on that file, which is really useful. The other thing that I really like about it is that you can access Google Drive from many devices. So you can use your smartphone, you can use tablets, you can use personal computers. So it's kind of at your fingertips at any time, I would imagine. It also works on the Apple Watch, but it's very accessible. I guess as long as you're using Google Chrome, you can access Google Drive. And as we said, it can store images, videos, recordings, but also stories, designs, drawings, whatever you can think of that's digital, it can store.

    Darius: So why do you think this is important within executive function? Any tech podcast could be talking about the features of Google. Why do you think Drive is useful for someone with regard to executive function?

    Erica : Well, I think you can quickly find something just by searching for a single word. It will look across all of these devices and look across all your documents, all your images, and can find whatever you're looking for very quickly, which is really helpful. And my understanding is that even if the image has words in it, it can find it. Is that your understanding as well?

    Darius: I'm not sure. I know that Apple is doing that. Uh, and, um, Apple is normally a little bit behind Google in terms of this kind of stuff. So I'm guessing Google will be doing that as well.

    Erica : The other thing that's really cool is it's compatible with many devices. So if you do have a PC, or you do have an Android, you can still use Google Docs. So that's really helpful. So when I have students, they might be using a computer. And then there's the Surface, which is like a PC related one. And then there are those that are on Apple computers. Now. You can kind of communicate seamlessly across whatever kind of computer you're on, which is really helpful, because then you're all in the same boat, so to speak. Which I really love, because when people are PC people, they're PC people, and people that are Mac people are Mac people. But now they can collaborate pretty seamlessly. I do really love that quick file search feature too, because, uh, it saves me an enormous amount of time when I try to do that on Microsoft Word, I still have great difficulty finding things, but I can find things very quickly. And it's lovely if I just put in, like, the Word games. Any file I've ever created that has the Word games in it pops up in the list.

    Darius: Yes.

    Erica : So it's just super helpful. But they also claim that they can open up to 30 types of files, so that really gives you an idea. So things like even like PDFs, you can drag a PDF in there as well. And then finally they have that optical character recognition that allows you to extract text, and it does allow you to extract text from images and or PDFs, which is super exciting. So do you have any thoughts about Google?

    Darius: Well, I, uh, don't find Google Drive that exciting. Really? It just feels like just you've covered them all. I think the Google Apps that sit on top of Google Drive start to make things a lot more interesting in terms of executive functions, uh, in terms of staying organized, focusing on important things, and getting things done.

    Erica : It's funny that you say that, because I have recently fallen in love with Google Drive because I have started to use it as an executive functioning tool. So I've gone into Google Drive, I've created folders. For example, I'll take all of my students for this year and put them into one folder. So when you start to organize all of your documents into folders, then it creates this kind of schema that makes it really easy to navigate and keep things organized. I just like it when things are visually organized. So even though I can find things really easily by doing a search, I just like to see things visually organized.

    Darius: I, um, see that official tree.

    Erica : That tree. But also, if I wanted just to find all of my students and have them all in one place, or all of my games, or all of my handouts, I can just create a folder of handouts. So, for example, if I'm in an online session doing executive Functioning Coaching. I can have all of my coaching handouts available, because I guess whenever I do a coaching with a student or with an adult, I create their own Google Doc. But it's nice because I have this kind of folder where I can then access this other information that I can drop into their document so that I'm really tailoring the Executive Functioning training for them. But it's kind of serving as a, uh, really nice pool of resources. But everything's super organized, and when things are organized for me, then my cognition becomes more organized. So if you're organizing externally, you become internally organized because you have that schema to hold on to. So I've been using it more and more lately, and the more I use it, the more I love it. There are other little things where you can star something. There are little ways of finding things a little bit faster, which is really lovely. You can also find things by whether you created it or somebody else created it. So if someone shared something with you, sometimes it gets lost. But you can search in Google Drive for any document that's been shared with you. And so that's really helpful. But yeah, I think the more you dive into it and you start to play with it, and you start to take your documents and organize them, the more you'll love it.

    Darius: Yeah, I have to say that I think I'm a little bit allergic to doing all that sort of folder organization, I have to be honest. And I've very much relied on search in Google Docs and on my computer for finding things. But I totally agree with what you're saying is that recently I've started to be much more intentional about just organizing the, um, important things in my life. I've just accepted that at least just organized my Notes in Apple Notes, and I've started to organize them a little bit into a folder structure, and really starting to love it, because one of the challenges is you start off with the folder structure you think is going to work, but actually it doesn't work in your life. But then gradually, as you're using it, you rearrange it and it fits it. It becomes like a piece of clothing that properly fits your work life, and that is satisfying. One thing I've been doing that is a bit off the wall is I've been using emojis in my file names.

    Erica : That's fine.

    Darius: It might seem a bit cute, but actually I don't read comfortably. Dyslexia and so on. I can read fine. It's just not my natural language. My natural native language is visual. My second language is words. Other people, their natural language is words and visuals. They can do it, but it's kind of like, yeah, okay, if people need it, fine. We'll put a few pictures in there. Like my wife, she hates the emojis in the folders I create, but I actually end up putting three emojis on a top level folder that symbolizes three visual aspects of what's in it. And then the second level folder gets two emojis and then a uh, one level note gets one emoji. And so I can actually navigate through a folder structure just by looking at the emojis. Have uh, you ever done that?

    Erica : Hilarious. Actually in the courses that I create, I put emojis for each of the kind of subtitles just because yeah, again, it gives you that quick image where you, oh, that's what I want. Or what it does is all the handouts have a hand and all the videos have like a little video thing, so you can find videos or handouts really quickly. So yeah, that is a nice way of organizing for some people, for sure. But I think some people really find organization very important for processing and some people are simultaneous processors, which mean they like to see the big picture and they want to see the whole schema, whereas other people are sequential processors and they like to see things in a specific order. But what I've found is that the trick to really using Google Drive is any time you create a Google Doc, you can then move that to a folder in Google Drive. So when you go to File, it's under File and then it says Move and you can move it. And if you hit move, then it comes up with all of the folders that you have and then you just pop it in a folder. If you don't have one, then create one. And if you get in the habit of always doing that, then everything will be organized from day one. So it is a pain to go back and try to organize everything. However, if you do it from the get go, then it takes up no time and then it gets you to be mindful of, okay, where do I want to keep this?

    Darius: Have you ever read the book Getting Things Done? I think it's Dave Allen.

    Erica : I have not.

    Darius: It's one of these iconic productivity books over the last 20 years and you'll see this acronym written all over the place. Like if you get a to do list app, it would say Gtd friendly or Gtt et cetera. And it's all about the getting things done process. And it's super simple. But one of the tips he made was when you're filing, don't start filing stuff from history. If you're going to start a new filing system, just start from um, today forwards and ignore what was there from before. Unless it starts to pop up and you go, oh, I'm using that document, then put it into your new system. And what happens is it cuts through all the overwhelm. You just say, I'm going to start from today as day one and work forwards and not feel that burden of oh my goodness, I've got 5000 emails to organize, or I've got 350 documents to reorganize, et cetera. Just leave them there and then carry on from now.

    Erica : Yeah. So why don't we go ahead and talk about Google Docs now? I am such a huge fan of Google Docs and there are so many cool things that you can do with Google Docs. And of course, again like Google Drive, it can help you to access your documents from anywhere. So it doesn't matter what type of computer you're using, as long as you can use Google Chrome, you can use all of the Google Docs and so forth. It also is really great for education because they have Google Classroom, which works seamlessly with Google Docs as well. So there are all sorts of really cool features there. Again, it allows that real time collaboration. One really cool feature is that anytime you change a document or say you collaborate with someone and they change it, you can always revert back to a previous version. Say someone changes it and you're like, oh, I don't like it. You can always revert back, which is really nice. It always saves automatically. They also have a feature where you can use it offline, which is very cool. So in a way, it's almost like you're downloading it, but you're not using space on your computer, I don't believe. Have you ever used the offline?

    Darius: I've used the offline. I'm not quite sure how it works behind the scenes, but what it does is it stops conflicts happening. Like if you end up opening the dock and you're on the Internet, it's sort of given priority to what's being done previously offline. So it sort of reminds the computer of this is what's changed while it was offline, et cetera, so that you don't override some of the work you've done while you're offline, et cetera. So I don't know how they do it, but it works.

    Erica : Well, the nice thing is I live in a place where sometimes I'll lose my electricity for a day or even, uh, as much as a week, and that could be a game changer for me. If I can just pull it down and get it offline, then I can continue to do my work, which is really nice. It also has a really powerful editing tool, which is really cool. I find that it works just as well as Microsoft Word. It's not better. What are some of the other features? Oh, the voice typing, I love the voice typing, so if you go under tools, it's about two thirds of the way down and it says Voice typing. And what Voice Typing allows you to do is it enables you to just speak and it types for you. What I find is that you want to speak really clearly and quite slowly and then the accuracy is almost 100%. And you do have to speak your commas and periods. Although I know that is changing pretty rapidly across. All of these voice to text tools where they're starting to actually put the commas and periods in there for you, which is really interesting. But I think the voice typing is really wonderful because if you, for example, maybe I'm reading a book and I want to share a quote with somebody, I can just speak it right into my phone or into the document. Or if you're in school and you have to rewrite the questions, while you no longer have to type it, you can just speak it. Or even if you have to pull out you're doing some history notes, you can literally just pull out of the text, the text that you want, that you're essentially highlighting, and pull it right into a document, which is really, really helpful. I find that a lot of my students, when they're just super tired after a long day of school, they just don't have the stamina to be typing out a lot. So the voice to text is really helpful.

    Darius: Voice typing is a really powerful tool for executive functions for a number of reasons. A lot of people with Dyslexia use voice to text, but it's not just useful for Dyslexia, it's useful for your working memory. Because sometimes if you're holding something in your M mind temporarily and then having to write it out or type it out and think about where the letters are, maybe you're not so manual on the automatic typing. Maybe you're thinking about, how do I spell that? And all of these sort of quiet thoughts that are going on. These can all fill up your working memory. Now, if your working memory is like five to seven units and you're just thinking about a couple of words you're going to type up, you've got a bit of capacity. There three or four units to five units worth of other things to think about, what word to type in, et cetera. But if your working memory is like three, and you got to think about two other things, like, oh, I'm going to put it there, I'm going to type this, I'm going to move that, I'm going to do a comma, then you maybe lost one of the words you're thinking about because it's dropped off the tray of your working memory. Whereas if you just hold that thought and speak it out, you're just emptying it straight on to the text. And so it means you can continually empty your working memory and keep your working memory available to capture more and more information. And it's quite staggering what happens to people when they've got a smaller working memory and they start using voice to text compared to typing out. They can get work done, um, exactly the same kind of work done in like a quarter of the time, sometimes in a 10th of the time.

    Erica : Yeah, there's a learning curve. I mean, I remember when we went from handwriting to typing, a lot of us were really uncomfortable with that transition and uh, at first I couldn't really think without writing and so I'd handwrite it, then I would type it. But it's the same thing with voice typing. The more you use it, the easier it gets. And once you learn all the commands, there are certain commands for the different things that you want to do, then it becomes very streamlined. But you're right, I think, uh, when you are writing know, when I'm writing and I think of a word and I want to use this word and I don't know how to spell it, and then I have to stop and I have to think about how to spell the word or I have to look it up. And you're right, I've lost the train of thought. And your speed of processing has slowed down significantly when you're having to think about all of these things. So no longer are you having to really think about sentence structure unless you want to. I mean, you can just do kind of a stream of thought and not say all the commands and just get all the ideas down and then go back and add in the commas and the periods. Or I find that I'm now used to speaking with the commas and the periods and it's hilarious. It was the other day, I was sending my brother just a voice note and I kept saying period and comma.

    Darius: I know it was just a voice recording, but it was recording.

    Erica : I'm so used to doing that, it kind of made me laugh in the moment. I'm m like oops. Sorry. But you do you get used to doing all those things. But yes, the speed of processing is sped up so much and it's learning something new to automaticity. But you're not like having to learn three or four things to automaticity. For example, when you are learning to write, you have to learn sentence structure, you have to learn spelling, you have to learn typing. And if you're not automatic with any of those, it's going to get in the way of the process. So it's lovely for little kids in particular.

    Darius: Yeah. Uh, here, all you need to do is talk. And we all know how to talk. Now, one of the things that's interesting is this kind of power that Google's got in the voice to typing is also there in Microsoft and is also there on Pages and Apple, uh, products across every kind of desktop. There should be a voice to text if you go look for it. This used to cost like £125 a year in subscription if you were going to buy like, Dragon Dictate or something equivalent to it now. And Drag and Dictate was, uh, industry leader in voice to text for people with Dyslexia and other learning differences and different difficulties. What's fascinating is that I have a doctor who uses dragging dictates medical and she actually prefers Dictating to Apple than dragging dictates. And it's the same for Google. She would prefer Google, because while you're dictating no, sorry, wrong, uh, it's the other way around. You can also get it to read out your words to you. So once you've written a document, you can select the text and get it to speak the words out to you. Okay. And a lot of programs can do this for you, and it can be quite expensive, but it's a very helpful way of processing what you've written because you can spot obvious mispronunciations and things you've put in the wrong way, and you can feel the awkwardness, et cetera. But the beauty of it is that you can actually, while you're listening, go in and edit it and keep listening. And that's incredibly useful. So you're not stopping a starter, you're still in the flow. Yeah, that sounds right. I'll go and put in that period, oh, uh, I'll go do this, I'll go do that, and you can spot it. And it's very useful to have it the other way around. Instead of speaking to text, the text gets spoken to you. Now, I don't think Google does that at the moment. I've tried very hard to make Google do that for me, but never managed to make it work. I can get Apple to do it for me. I think Microsoft does it. Have you ever found a way of getting Google to speak out the text to you?

    Erica : Well, I use a Mac, so I just highlight it and use my Mac to do that. But there are all sorts of add ons yes, that you can use. So, yeah, there are tons of add ons that you can use when you're in a Google Doc. I think they haven't created it because it already exists through add ons that you can use with either. Now they have an extension tool that.

    Darius: Is one of the best things about Google Docs and so on, is that they allow extension. Extension.

    Erica : So the extension enables you to do new things. They do have an extension. They have it probably quite a few extensions. They're always adding extensions. So if you click on extensions and then you type in text to voice, I know that they have one called Reader, so they do. They have it because it's all but it's all done through an extension, and that will enable you to read it, and then you can pick the different voices, you can pick the speed, or if you prefer, you could just use your operating system like Apple, and it will read it. So I think they haven't created it because they don't need to, because they have the extensions, and people can do it with other various apps as well. There's so many of them, it's kind of overkill.

    Darius: What are your favorite extensions, Erica?

    Erica : For Google Docs, our favorite ones are Bib Citation Bibliography and Citation Generator, which is phenomenal, because what you can do is once you have entered or, uh, once you've downloaded that extension, you can access it at any time. And I can pop in a URL and it will do the bibliography for me. It enables me to pick what type I want, whether it's APA or MLA, and they've got hundreds of different varieties. And then it creates the bibliography for you. So you can pick either a URL from a website, you could pick a book title, or you use an Isbn number. They have what other options? They have a number of different options. It's super easy to use, easy to navigate, and makes a bibliography a joy to create, which used to be so difficult. The other ones I like, my favorite, they have a number of thesaurus, and the one that I like the most is One Look thesaurus. And basically when you open that extension, it just opens up another in the margin, which is what it does with bib citation as well. In the right hand margin, it just creates a little area where you can access the information. So if I have a word in my document and I want to find a synonym for it, I just double click on it, go to Extensions, go to One Look at the source, and then it comes up with all the synonyms on the side and I can pick whichever one and it changes it in my document. But the nice thing about One Look The Source is it has other things too. So if you're trying to find Rhyming words, if you're doing a poem, it gives you lots of different options. So it's not just a thesaurus, it could find other types of words that you're looking for. And there's so many extensions that I really like, but, uh, there's one that will help you with if you're doing Spanish translations or you need the accents, it provides the accents for you. But the one that is my favorite of all time is called Scribble. Now, it gets terrible ratings because I think a lot of people don't realize that you need a Scribble account. So you have to get in a Scribble account by going to Scribble.com. Please note that it's spelled with one B, so it's really pronounced Scribble or should be pronounced Scribble, but the company calls it Scribble but spells it with one B. So Scribble is a phenomenal tool. So you can get a free account, but it's not worth getting a free account because it doesn't work the way it is. Such an outstanding tool funded by the National Science Foundation. It helps you to do research, it helps you to you can highlight documents in real time, you can pull your highlights into documents. Basically, in a nutshell, we could do a whole podcast on Scribble. But if you have to do a research paper, the old way of doing it that we were taught in school is you print the document, you highlight it in one color, or all the. Documents, you highlight them in one color. Then you take all those, you put them onto index cards, you rearrange your index cards, and then you type your paper. This enables you and I get my students to color code their ideas so that they're already placed into main ideas. Then when you highlight, you highlighted the color of, uh, the main idea that that information would fit under. And then Scribble, when you use it in a Google document, will pull up all of your highlights in the margin. And you can just drag the sentences into your document. And then it adds the quotes, it adds the in text citation for you. So if you're doing a research paper, really almost none of it should be your ideas. Just the introduction and the conclusion shouldn't be what somebody else said. And so this way, you can just literally collect all your stuff very quickly. You're highlighting once, and you're just dragging in, so you don't even have to type your paper. Again, uh, it's a little complicated to explain, and I'm doing it very quickly because this is just one little tool within the extensions that I love. But Scribble is such an outstanding tool. I think it's something around $35 a year to use it. But I just love it because anytime I go to a site and I open Scribble, it saves it, and I can save it into folders, and it's really nice. So, if I'm doing research on Executive Functioning, uh, which I have in my Scribble account, any site that I've ever gone to or article that I've ever had is saved right into my Scribble account. Under Executive Functioning, I have it right there at the press of a button. I can create a bibliography. It's just wonderful. It makes writing, uh, and doing research a breeze. So that's probably my favorite extension. But, uh, some other features that Google Docs offers are special characters, which are really fun. So I believe that's under insert. Yes, it is. And then if you're looking for a special character, meaning like, maybe you want like an arrow or whatever, it, ah, allows you to draw the symbol that you want, and then it will come up with whatever symbol you want. And then you can just drop it in. So it makes it really quick and easy to find symbols.

    Darius: Very clever. So you don't have to look through it. I'm just doing that just now. So, like, if you're trying to do the omega symbol or something, I'm just doing oh my God. Uh, it will try and find yes. Got you.

    Erica : So, uh, you can either type in what it is, like a dot, or you can just draw it, and then it finds all the dots, or it finds the maybe you want an infinity sign. You can just draw an infinity sign and it will come up with an infinity sign. Really lovely.

    Darius: It has come up with the omega right, I see. So it comes up with like four, uh, or five options. It thinks you're drawing. It thought I might have been drawing a deciduous tree or the omega sign. I've got you right.

    Erica : Another outstanding feature which I believe you turned me onto, which is the styles and headings.

    Darius: Yes.

    Erica : So since you turned me onto it, and I'm so in love with it, why don't you share a little bit about the styles and headings feature?

    Darius: Well, here's where when you do an outline of a document, you've got the main heading, you've got some subheadings, you've got some sub subheadings, and you've got some topics and so on. Well, those are there in your menu bar as normal text title, heading one, heading two, heading three, heading four, subtitles. You've also got footnotes, et cetera. And so you can just designate any piece of text as a heading three or a heading four or a footnote or whatever, and it will change its properties to bold text or certain size of font or color and things like that. And the good thing about that is that once you start organizing your text like this has lots of benefits, you can do this in other programs as well. The benefits are that if you want to change the formatting a little bit, you can go into the heading and just change that format of that one heading and it will apply it to all the ones that are similar. So if you want them to be red or purple or slightly bigger font, or a bigger splitting after it's a bit bigger, et cetera, you can start refining all of that and it does it across the whole document. So I find that really helpful. It also instructs your document how to create a table of contents. So once you've got all the headings in place and you create table of contents, it knows which headings you want in. And if you created a heading one, two and a three, obviously heading one is bigger and more important, heading two is medium importance and heading three is lower importance. You can adjust your table of contents accordingly to only include heading ones and twos, or just heading ones. Or if you want a really detailed table of contents, you could include heading threes as well.

    Erica : And what I love is that there's a little arrow on the side, and if you click it, it will open up a little area on the left hand side of your document and the margin which enables you to then click on any one of those headings and then you can get to that part of your document very quickly. I love that feature.

    Darius: Yeah, it creates an index to the left. Absolutely. It's brilliant.

    Erica : Yeah. So that's a really amazing feature to keeping your writing organized and also being able to move around your text very quickly and seamlessly.

    Darius: One thing that shouldn't be overlooked is collaboration is major within Google Docs. I mean, the ability for a whole team to collaborate on one doc is incredible, and it's way ahead of its time. Google Docs on that in other Apple have just come to the party on collaborating on Pages documents in the last few months. Really? The last six months. But Google have been doing it and are real pros at it. It's great.

    Erica : I also think that they also have accessibility tools that are worth investigating. They're really specifically for people with disabilities, but other people might enjoy them too. They have a screen reader where it will read the screen for you, and then they also have a screen magnifier, which can be very useful if you need to make something bigger. But you can also explore all their accessibility tools because they're always shifting and changing as well. But I really do like Google Docs. I find it to be the most reliable of all the word processing programs out there. I've only ever lost a document once, only once, and I'm not sure how that happened, but trust, uh, it I.

    Darius: Have to say, I use Google Docs, and I've used it for work for the last five years, intensively, every single day, and it's a core to the business. But I really do love using pages on my Mac. I do find this tension sometimes with tech like that. The practical functionality, the nuts and bolts of it is just so good in Google Docs. But then the refinement that there is in Pages, uh, it's just such a refined, pleasurable experience. It's not on Pages, it's just incredible. So, I have to admit, actually quite looking forward to prospectively the hope of Pages being as interactive and collaborative as Google Docs are. Although with Pages, you can't collaborate with someone on Word, and so there it's immediately restricted and you're confined to that ecosystem.

    Erica : And it's funny, I do go back and forth, I go back and forth with Microsoft Word because there are certain things that I do like to create on Microsoft Word.

    Darius: Really? What are they?

    Erica : I know Microsoft Word really, really well. A lot of my students I shouldn't say most, because most at this point, I think, use Google Docs, but I go back and forth between the two. And there are times where I'll create something on Microsoft Word and then I'll upload it into Google Docs yes. Which is a beautiful thing. And you can download something from Google Docs into Microsoft Word.

    Darius: Yes.

    Erica : So you can kind of use them together if you want. Well, so sometimes I do that. So, Darius, I think now let's talk about one of my favorite Google tools, which is Google Keep. And Google Keep is typically noted to be a product that can help you to take personal notes.

    Darius: Yeah, I think before we get into the nitty gritty of the technical benefits of Google Keep, I think it would be useful to just kind of integrate this, uh, into what we've been learning, why Google Keep is useful within an executive function, um, environment. What are your thoughts, Erica?

    Erica : Yeah, I think that it's such a great tool that can help you to organize your ideas, to capture your ideas. And I know you have some thoughts on how it supports working memory. So tell us a little bit about that.

    Darius: Yeah, I mean, if we think about executive function, in shorthand, as how you get important things done, okay. There's lots of things in your life that you just get done because you're automatic at it. But with executive function, it's where you're intentionally deciding, this is something important. I'm going to gather the information for it. I'm going to focus on it. I'm going to get it done and deliver it and achieve it. And I'm going to make sure I'm adapting to the reality of this world to get it across the line. So I've just described working memory to capture the information inhibitory control to focus in on it, control your emotions, control your focus, and then cognitive flexibility adapt to the world. Round about you. Now, I think tech, when we're choosing tech in our lives, I think it's helpful to think about how it fits into that workflow and the way we think. And working memory is the first step in that or an ongoing step in that. And Google keep is Apple notes Whatever notetaking thing you have, whether you're Richard Branson with a spiral bound notepad or a yellow legal notepad or something, it becomes a visual spatial sketch pad. We've got one in our brain, which is our working memory. And then you get a literal visual spatial sketch pad in front of you, paper and pen, or Google Keep digital or Apple Notes. So this is something that supports our working memory. And I think that's so important that we empty our working memory as rapidly and as regularly as possible. It's like good internal hygiene. It, uh, clean the mind out as information comes in. But don't just lose it. Put it somewhere where you can find it again.

    Erica : Yeah, I think that's really important. And Google Keep is a great tool for that. So why don't we step into some of the features that I like so much?

    Darius: Yes. And, um, I have to say, I've played with Google Keep before. I used it for a good year. Well, actually, we should also talk about just some other things that are in the environment like this. You've got Evernote, which is absolutely fantastic for capturing notes of information. You've got Google Keep, you've got Apple Notes. You've got things like Notion, Obsidian, all sorts of different tools out there to capture notes and then use them productively afterwards. Google Keep and Apple Notes, I think, are kind of neck and neck for me in terms of ease of use and functionality, especially on your mobile phone. I think it's that sort of being able to use it on your mobile phone rather than, oh, I'll go to my computer or my tablet or something. But you can just use it on your mobile phone is super useful.

    Erica : Yeah, and Microsoft actually just came out with one.

    Darius: Oh, really? What was that?

    Erica : I just saw it yesterday. I don't remember what they called it, but it was funny. Someone had sent me an email indicating that a link of mine to Wonder List was no longer active and sent me another link. And when I went to it, it was the new Microsoft Notetaking program. So they're going to be promoting that pretty heavily, I'm sure, but it looked very similar. I didn't go deeply into it, but that's just another option. I think there's a lot of competition of the different companies to get the customers and to have the best Notetaking app.

    Darius: Well, I think it's useful to understand the difference between a Notetaking app and a document app. And Google Keep really does that quite well. Because there's Google Docs and then there's Google Keep. And the relationship between Google Keep and Google Docs is quite interesting too. But that area of your working memory is that capture that information, put it somewhere short term or long term, but more often it's short term until you figure out how it all fits together and then you lump it into long term. So it's kind of like working memory fits different parts together into your short term memory and you've got something usable then. And then you say, right, I'm going to put this in a proper place long term because this is valuable. So that's kind of in slow motion what's going on in our mind. We kind of need to follow that process when it comes to our tools as well. Otherwise we're undermining the way our brains are working and we're trying to shoehorn technology into our way of thinking and it should be the other way round. Our way of thinking should take priority and then the technology should fit round. It like a tailored piece of clothing rather than awkward pair of shoes that we've shoved our feet into. That's beautiful, but it just hurts us. And I think sometimes tech is a bit like that. So let's go into Google Keep and see how it fits as a pair of shoes for your mind.

    Erica : Erica yeah, I really like it and uh, I'm finding that I often recommend it to my students because you can adjust it to different ways of processing. So when I have students that are very sequential, I get them to organize keep in a sequential way. And in fact, it allows you to kind of pick, do you want to organize things sequentially or do you want to organize things simultaneously? What I mean by that is sequentially is if you want to see something in a sequence of time or just in a sequence, a list form, almost like an outline versus being able to see the big picture. So you can see it in that sequence, or you can press a button and you can see the big picture, and it turns everything into these kind of sticky notes. So I love the idea that it allows you to adapt the app to your way of processing. And it's a very simple and easy and clean app. There's just not too much noise. There are just a few places to go, and that's why I really like it. But yes, it gives you the ability, we'll go into some of these features to create notes, to create lists. And I love the checkboxes. The checkboxes I'm in love with, because when you check off the box, you just click on the box, it draws a line through it and puts it to the bottom. And for those people that have some executive functioning problems and they forget whether they've done it or whether they've turned it in, that can be a real game changer because they can go to the bottom and say, oh, I already did that excellent. And for some people, that's really great. And the other thing is, not only can you check off the items, but if you've got a lot of items on the bottom of your list and that are checked off and you're like, okay, I really don't need to see those anymore. You can archive them. Meaning that it places it into another folder where you can still access it if you choose to. But you don't have to see it on the board in front of you, so to speak. And some other cool features that it offers is assigning colors or backgrounds. So, for example, if you have sticky notes that you like that feature, but even if you have it in a sequence, it will still keep that color background. And I personally love to color code things. To me, it's a very quick, no brainer way of organizing things. So if I see the yellow sticky note, I know exactly what that means versus the red sticky note. But they have these really fun backgrounds, too, that you can choose that have maybe flowers or other images in the background. And some people just love that, just kind of gives them that little happy feeling.

    Darius: That's a very powerful feature that's not in Apple notes. You've just got your white background and that's it. You're kind of stuck with that very word based. I remember using Google Peep and really liking that it allows you to chunk the information as well. When you're in that sort of bigger picture view, you can see things. And I think you can even filter your view by the color of background and so on. So it shows you all of the red ones and, um, hides the others and things like that. So there's some powerful sorting features there too, right?

    Erica : And we'll definitely talk about that. So, yes, and you can organize your notes as lists, as images, and as recordings. So you can see them all together or you can separate them apart.

    Darius: What do you mean by recordings? What's the recording?

    Erica : I'm glad that you said that. So one of the most amazing things is it works across so many different types of technology. So it can work on any mobile phone, it can work on any processing program, it can work on Safari, it can work on Google Chrome. It just works across everything. So if I have Google Keep Open on my phone, it automatically updates it everywhere else, and it's very, very, very quick.

    Darius: So when I say recordings, does that mean you've taken a record or does it mean you've recorded a video or an audio or something?

    Erica : Well, that's the thing, is when you're on a computer, it has different features than when you're on a phone. So when you're on a phone, you can do a voice recording. And when you do a voice recording on the phone, then it automatically drops it in as a voice recording, but also transcribes it so you get the transcription as well as the voice recording. And then that makes it really easy to be able to search for something. Wow, I love that feature. And for kids that are running out of class and the teacher says, oh, by the way, don't forget blah, blah, blah, they can just pull out their phone, say Open Google Keep, and then just do a voice recording and it drops it right in to whatever folder that they want to place it into.

    Darius: That's good.

    Erica : Uh, yeah, I love that feature. So that really, really appeals to me because it gives you a way of being able to drop a note quickly. But they're all in the same place.

    Darius: My clients, for the workplace strategy coaching, I'm, um, focusing in on teaching them how to use Apple products to be productive. And one of the key things is to take notes in Apple notes, and at the end of a meeting is to use the dictation feature to just brain dump, um, dictate some of your thoughts straight away into the text of the note so that you've got those fresh minds. And again, I think that's sort of using your working memory. I'm not quite sure it's working memory, though, because you know that moment at the end of a meeting, okay, child is at the end of a class. They've really been focusing in on something, or you've been in a meeting and you've been focusing in on something, and there's certain things that just seem so obvious to you. You know that feeling in your memory where you're kind of like, well, obviously we were talking about this key discussion point and that key discussion, it's obvious, we've got to do this and that. I don't really need to take a note about that because that's obvious. But that's the weird feeling of our memory, it seems like so permanent when we're looking at it. Of course you're going to remember it, but then you walk away half an hour ago, it's just fading away. And what was obvious to you before is starting to disappear, which is why we take notes. And so I don't know what you would call that sort of moment where there's this clarity and there's this obviousness view of everything. Well at that moment. That's the moment to get out your speech to text and just describe what is obvious to you right now and leave a memo to yourself for the future. Whether it's a student leaving a memo for themselves to remember something from the geography class or you meeting with a client saying, gosh, I've got to remember this, this and this. This is obvious. But by the time we meet again, many of these things will have faded and I'm not quite sure what's going to fade and what isn't. So I'm just going to state the obvious here and leave that as a quick summary. What are your thoughts on that, Erica? What would you call that state where it's obvious?

    Erica : Well, I think you're talking about a summary of the key points, a summary of the ideas that popped up for you. And that's a key feature of two column notes, or some people call it Harvard Notes or Cornell notes, where you do a little summary. And what it does is it gets you to pull all the pieces together and come up with a general idea of what your thoughts were or what summarized the main message. And that is a really important cognitive tool. It's a higher level executive functioning tool where you're tapping into long term memory and you're making connections. So it is a part of working memory because long term memory is essentially a tool that we use in working memory, where we attach the new information to old information and we're constantly pulling stuff out of long term memory to make sense of what we're processing in the moment. And then we're also encoding information into those long term memory banks. But it is really a higher level executive functioning piece because it also integrates attention and cognitive flexibility as well.

    Darius: Yes. So our notes are not just a place. These kind of notetaking, shorthand note taking tools like Google, Keep, Apple Notes, whatever you're using are not just for capturing little bits of information. They're also for reflecting on what's just happened and capturing those reflections and putting them straight somewhere so that you can come back to them.

    Erica : Yeah, you're organizing your cognition. So I often think of the brain as a room. Now, we could just throw all of our stuff, all of our memories, into the room and it's going to be a mess and we may not be able to access them, but if we organize this information by attaching it to prior knowledge, it's going to make it more memorable because they're going to be hooked together. But it keeps the information more organized so that your memory is organized like a filing cabinet, right? And some people like to organize sequentially, other people like to organize more simultaneously. But the more organized we encode the information, the easier it's going to be for us to retrieve that information when we need it. So those people that have memory problems, I often work with them on being more mindful of encoding information in an organized fashion so that it's easier to retrieve.

    Darius: So an interesting feature that I've been using in Apple Notes that's kind of been educating me a little bit, that relates a little bit to this sort of room of your memory idea. So you've got your filing cabinet, but then you've maybe got some coat hooks on the wall where certain coats go there, and you've got clothes rail, and you've got books, and you decide to organize your books by color or by size or by whatever. But they're organized in a way by subject, whatever you want. And one of the things I've noticed and does Google Keep do this is when I have an idea and I want to take a note, I don't just create a new note for it, I add it to the bottom of a previous note. So let's say I've got a project on stoves, for example. I want to put in a wood burning stove in my house, and it's just sort of trundling along in the back of my mind and I come across something and I think, oh, that's really interesting. And instead of creating a whole new note on a particular website for that stove, I add it to the bottom of that. Does Google keep do that?

    Erica : Yeah, it does. And actually, you can add URLs too, and they're live links so that there are these other little websites that you want to attach to that information. I just copy the URL, drop it into Google Keep, but it's a matter of then placing it into essentially that sticky note, whatever color you want it to be. And then that gives it a little and I always add the little checkboxes so that it enables you to keep track of what you've completed and what you haven't completed.

    Darius: Great.

    Erica : But it also offers those live links so that you can, uh, access the content at a different time, which is really cool and going back to some other ways that some other features that I really like. And also allows you to pin items. So you can pin items on your list or even sticky notes to a particular place if you're doing it sequentially, you can pin things to the top. And then within each of these sticky note ideas with all the little checkboxes, you can easily rearrange. To me, that's the game changer. I don't know of any other one that allows you to do that. But if you click on the item with the checkbox, six little dots open up. And if you can then maneuver over to those six little dots. If you click there, you can then move the order of the checkboxes. You can also nest checkboxes, in other words, if you're like, oh, I have to get this done. But there are three things that have to do with me getting that task done that are almost micro tasks. Then what you can do is you can indent them under that main idea. So then you can put details. And I love that feature because it just helps the brain to organize everything and keep everything straight. So I often will have my students make that list within a sticky note using the checkboxes. And then we organize them so that they can place them and prioritize them, which are the most important ones to do first. And then we even organize them and say, let's say, oh well, let's look at this task well, this task actually fits under this task well. Now we can not only put it under it, but we can indent it. So it really helps to keep things, tasks, ideas, all organized in a really nice format. The other thing which we touched on is you can view the content either sequentially or simultaneously. So say you were showing your Google Notes to somebody and they just didn't like the sequence, because they're like but I can't see the big picture. You literally can just press the button and it just toggles back and forth between those two formats. And then some people, of course, like bright colors. Then they can pick the white background with the bright colors, or they can also pick the black background with more muted colors. And uh, the other thing that I really like about it is you can add they call them labels. You can add labels, but really the labels are folders, in essence. So they're like folders that allow you to organize your content under headings. And that's really, really nice, because then you can separate things and say, uh, okay, everything that has to do with groceries goes here, everything that has to do with school work goes here. Everything that has to do with appointments goes here. And then of course, like most of these kinds of apps, it has a search bar. But not only can it find your actual words, but it looks across your notes and it looks across images so that you can find things very, very quickly. Another thing that I really like about Google Keep is that you can convert your Google Keep into Google Docs. Now you can do that as a whole. You can just convert it over. And you can do that for editing in Google Drive or when you're in Google Docs. You'll see in the right hand margin, you'll see the little icon for Google Keep. And if you select that, it will open up. In the right hand margin, Google Keep. So everything that you have in Google Keep is right there. So what I love about that is, if, for example, you're a student and you have homework, you can just open your homework right there, and you can see what it is. Now, another thing that I love to use it for is I will get students actually to use Google Keep to write essays. So what we do is we make each paragraph of each essay a, uh, different color, essentially sticky note. Each sentence is a checkbox. But then you can rearrange your sentences really, really easily, which you can't do in any word processing program. And then, of course, if you do that, even if someone's doing a research project, for example, and say every paragraph is a different color box sticky note, in essence. Then, when they are doing the research, I get them to highlight in the color of the sticky box note, for example. So if your introduction was yellow, and your body paragraph number one was pink, and you find something under that body paragraph one, which is pink, then that's the color highlighter you use. So you instead of just highlighting in one color, I call it smart highlighting, because you decide already, what are the main ideas across your paper. And the first time you read the article, you highlight and say, oh, it goes in paragraph three. Oh, that would be green. So you have to organize your ideas. So say you were doing a paper on otters and the habitat. Oh, I would probably make that green, right, and reproduction pink. So when you're reading through the article and you're like, oh, reproduction, oh, I highlight that in pink. And then, of course, you can then take those highlights and throw them right into Google Keep in that pink sticky note. Then you can reorganize your ideas. Then, of course, when you're in Google Docs, then you can open up Google Keep on the side, and you can literally drag that information into your document and the essays written. But I like the kids to organize their ideas in Google Keep because it gives you that wonderful feature of being able to move your sentences around quickly and easily, and to have each paragraph as separate colors, which then helps them to really conceptualize when doing the research, okay, where does this information go? And it's such a lovely way of writing an essay. So I use it for so many different things, and a lot of my students really love that. So, uh, I'll even have a five paragraph template, for example, that I've written in Google Keep, and I just share it with my students so that they can just take the five paragraph template and write over it. And then it gives them that template of organization so that the five paragraph essay isn't so overwhelming. Because now they're not having to think about organization. They just look at each little bullet and they fill in the information.

    Darius: What about the whole visual side of things? I like doodling. I like pictures. How does keep work with all that?

    Erica : Well, Keep is really helpful because it allows you to doodle. I mean, granted, they're smaller little doodles, but if you want to that is another feature that you can do on your phone or on an iPad. You can't do it on the computer. So it's interesting. They have different features depending on what device you're on. So you can add doodles on, um, an iPad or on your phone, but you can't on a computer, just like with the voice. The voice to text is also just on the phone or an iPad. But I just love how you can rearrange and nest everything and then you can use it for other things, like writing. But, uh, let's see, what else. Okay, here's another feature. You can share and you can collaborate. So this is a really cool tool. And I love, too, that all the little things that you can do, they have like, little icons that help you remember. So, uh, even for the collaborating, it has two little people. So you're like, oh, that's right. And if you click on that, then you can collaborate with somebody else so that they can see that part of your Google Keep. So, say you were working in a group and you had to write an essay, a research essay. Then you could share all that information and everybody in the group could be dropping information into those different colored sticky notes. And it just keeps everything super organized. So that's a really nice thing. And then finally, the final thing that I really love about Google Keep is that you can create reminders by time or location. And the location thing is a mind boggling or, um, actually, I should say is a mind blowing feature. So, for example, if I had a grocery list, I could put a little reminder on the bottom of it that says, when I'm close to the grocery store, remind me to pick up the groceries. Or maybe even something specific like potatoes. And then when I'm driving anywhere near to the grocery store, I get a pop up that says, don't forget to pick up the groceries. And here they are. Yeah, that's really helpful because there are times where we're so lost and thought that we might go near somewhere that we needed to get something, but we forget to go there, and this helps us to remember to be really efficient. Oh, wow, I haven't thought of that. I am pretty close to the grocery store. I might as well pick up the groceries now.

    Darius: Yeah, it's great.

    Erica : It is great.

    Darius: It's great. I keep referring back to Apple Notes because that's what I'm using all the time now instead of Keep. But they've got the collaboration option, too. And my wife and I have started using it a lot more, and me and my clients have been using it as well. So, for example, we'll have a, uh, joint Google Keep note about our meetings. And so if the clients got, oh, I've got a question for the next time we meet for our workplace strategy coaching, she'll just write the question in there, and therefore, when we meet, and I might look at it in between times, or I might look at it just before we arrive. But what's key is keeping everything in one place? And I think there's something super important about keeping everything necessary for a project in one place. And one of the things that I'm really working on personally with clients is to try and avoid the scattered brain, the scattered digital brain that you've got with information all over the place, and you see it the most. With a practical project, it's easy to trick yourself into thinking everything's okay if you spend most of your time at your desk, sitting in front of the computer with a keyboard and a phone, and, oh, where is that document? Oh, it's just here, or you've got a shelf with your notebook in it and so on. But the moment you go remote working, or you're on site doing a job, or you're doing something practical, I'll give you an example. Let's say you're a, uh, tradesman, and I've been working with a tradesman and a surveyor recently. They're always on site, okay? But if you're a tradesman, you need to remember the phone number of the person you're working with, the email. You need to have a record of your hours that you've worked. You need a record of some of the research you've done from maybe some materials or whatever. You need to take some before and after photos. You need to have a checklist of things you're doing. You need a place to keep all your receipts. You need a place where you'll put your invoice that you send them, because they might phone you up and ask you about that invoice. And you know what? It's probably in six or seven different places, but you can put all of those into an Apple note or into Google Keep. So, for example, I teach people to say, right moment you have that phone call, you've got a new note that you open up, and it's got a few check marks, which are have you asked them their name? Have you asked them their address, their zip code, their postcode, their phone number, and their email? Yes. Yes. Write it down quickly. Or you might just hand write it on a quick note on paper. And so what you do is you take a quick scan of it, and you scan it into your notes or photograph, but you can scan it as well. And then you go to the site the next day, the appointment, and you see it, and then you talk to the client, and then you hit dictate and you just dictate a quick summary of what you're thinking about to just remind you. You maybe say, oh, I did agree that it would be this many hour pounds an hour, or this rate or whatever. Take a quick voice note of it, put it in there, take a photograph, put it straight into there from your notes of what the situation is like before you can even take a video of the place and add it into your notes as well. And then when you're going out and you're buying some materials and you've got, uh, a receipt, you take a quick scan of that receipt, pop it straight into that note, and, um, then when the job is done, you've got the dates of when you've done it, how many hours you've done, and it comes time for invoicing or whatever. You've just got everything necessary in one place. And I just can't explain how much confidence, peace and joy this can give you. Because first of all, it gives you the confidence that you've got everything you need, where you need it, you can find it. That's a huge amount of confidence. Rather than, oh my goodness, where is it? My notepad, is it in my photos? Is it a year? Is it there? Is it my laptop? Where is it? Oh gosh. And that creates so much unnecessary stress, anxiety, et cetera. So you got confidence then the piece comes from, okay, I've got this under control. Everything's there. I've got my task list in there as well. If I have a quick idea in the shower or whatever, oh, quickly open it up, uh, put it in there, drop the thought, maybe take it in voice to text. And then when it comes to doing something, the thing that is the joy of it is you can actually enjoy doing what you're good at, which is the project, and not all the ancillary stuff that can get in the way of sort of making it a grind. And the best thing I've found with clients of keeping everything in one note like this is when it comes to doing an invoice, because I've got some clients who have done like a, uh, $300 job, which is, I don't know, twelve hour job over a couple of days and then they've got to do the invoice. It can take them another 8 hours to do the invoice. I mean, seriously, another four to 8 hours to do the invoice because they're like, all right, where are the receipts? How many hours did I do? I wrote those down on a bit of paper and they're in the car and oh, I better go out to the van. And I'll get that, oh, I've missed this bit, and I've missed that bit and oh gosh. And have I missed something? I'm not sure. I'll just leave it, ah, a wee while until I figure out if I've missed something. And it just procrastination gets in, and so on, and then you're spending so many hours just getting across the line. Whereas if you've got it all in one place, you can literally just go copy paste, copy paste, copy paste, and the invoice is done in 15 minutes. That's the advantage of having a note taking system that is digital on your phone, on your tablet, on your mobile, on your laptop, everywhere, at, uh, arm's length. Keep writing things by hand in notebook, but take a scan of it, put it into the one note. So that was my rant on how valuable this has been for me, to increase my sense of control, the confidence that comes from the peace and the joy of doing a project.

    Erica : Right. And I think what I'm going to stress is that the Google operating system, mhm, doesn't require you to have Apple products.

    Darius: No, that's true.

    Erica : And that if you have to collaborate with a lot of people, then it's probably worth going with Google Keep because you can collaborate with anybody. Whereas if you're using the Apple products, they have to have Apple products.

    Darius: Absolutely.

    Erica : Um, so that's something to keep in mind. But, uh, yeah, I think that's the real issue is whether you're going to have to collaborate with people that don't have Apple products. Then I would definitely use the Google suite of apps, and of course they are all free, which is really nice. But I think they are with Apple as well.

    Darius: Yes. So, I mean, there's pros and cons to both. I think the Google ecosystem is very powerful for children in school. I think it's really important that children have a proper Gmail account that will last them for 2030 years. So their name at Google not like pick in the forest or whatever crazy name you put in@gmail.com, or fairylite princess@gmail.com. You might choose that when you're nine. But actually what's going to happen is you're going to end up having that email associated, uh, with your Gmail account and so on until they're 16, and then they're thinking, right, I'm applying for a job, and I'm that pink fairy princess@gmail.com doesn't quite look so great on your CV or whatever, compared to Mary Jo 1216 at Uh@gmail.com or whatever. And I think it's really important that children have a really solid email address with a Gmail, a, uh, Google Doc account. A Gmail account. Know how to use Google docs know how to use Google Sheets. Know how to use Google Keep, and use that ecosystem because they'll inevitably using it at school in one way or another, because it's ubiquitous now when it comes to being a professional. And you're maybe starting to find that speed and simplicity is so much more important to you, because sometimes there's a little bit of friction involved. Google sometimes involves an extra little click here or there. One of the things that Apple does extremely well is remove friction. If, uh, you're staying in the apple ecosystem. If you're out with the ecosystem, there is just as much friction as Google or whatever. But there's something about it, and I haven't quite put my finger on it. It's all about that user experience, user interface, and there's a fluidity to it that often very busy professionals or executives gravitate towards, because it's like, is it done? Yeah, it just gets it done. And that's it. And it's simple. I don't need to go out into settings or figure out linking something or whatever, or tweaking something. It just gets it done that attracts people to the apple. So there's pros and cons.

    Erica : Yeah, I think at this point, I'm a little bit more on the Google side.

    Darius: Yeah, I am, um, 100% in the Apple ecosystem now. It's crazy. It's actually all happened in iOS 16.

    Erica : I'm using both right now. I'm trying to decide which I like better. So I'm using Apple Notes and I'm also using Google Keep, but I'm not excited about the idea that I've got a leg in bowl, so I'm feeling very split and I want to choose one side, but I haven't really decided quite yet. But just to wrap up this whole podcast, I also just want to give a shout out to a few other Google tools that I think are worth noting. There are three that I think are very, very powerful. One is slides. And Slides is an online presentation app that lets you create and collaborate on presentations. And of course, this is pretty much key for students. And then we have sheets. And Sheets is, uh, making an editing spreadsheet program that you can use in a web browser. I don't use it that much. I think you use those types of programs more than I do, don't you?

    Darius: I use sheets a lot. Yeah, I use sheets quite a bit.

    Erica : What do you use it for?

    Darius: Well, it's an excel replacement, isn't it? I actually really do love numbers, which is the Apple equivalent. And one of the reasons why is that it allows you to have different spreadsheets on the one page at the same time. So that there's some interesting dynamics with that. And I've seen some people with working memory difficulties with Dyslexia really love the fact that they don't have to toggle between different sheets and the tabs. Click from here, click from there. They can actually have two simultaneous but separate tables, but they can be connected to one another, so you don't have to line up all the things and so on, columns and rows together, et cetera. But there's another really fascinating sort of spreadsheet type tool that I use a lot more. That's called air table, which is powerful. It's amazing. So in terms of spreadsheets, I've started to go away from Google Sheets.

    Erica : Interesting. But of course, if you want a free spreadsheet maker, google Sheets is really good and really strong. And then finally there's Google Forms. And Google Forms can help you manage event registrations, and it can help you to create online forums, tests, surveys, opinion polls, questionnaires, and there are multiple question types that they have available. And what's also nice is it allows you to analyze results in real time and from any device. So the bottom line is there are all these big companies competing for our time and our attention, and there's Apple, there's Google, and then, of course, there are all these other companies creating apps all over the place. But I think the conclusion I think we will both agree on, um, is that finding the tool that works best for you is very important. But if you can find a suite where these tools can communicate with each other, and stick to one suite will help to make your executive functioning skills better, because everything's going to be in one place and accessible, um, in one place and searchable in one place.

    Darius: Can I throw a spanner in the works here, please? Erica it comes down to privacy, okay? It's free because you're selling all your data to Google, and everything you put into a Google Doc, Google Search Indexes and sells you accordingly. Everything. Everything in Google Sheets, google Docs, in your notes, everything. Google is profiling you and then selling to you through Google Ads on the other end. None of that's happening with Apple. Apple is like, no one gets to know this data, and it's locked within your private, even encrypted within your cloud, so Apple can't even see it. So that's the difference. That's why you're paying about 500 to £1000 a year to Apple for their various upgrades of their accounts and so on, versus it's free to Google. So if you're professional and you are dealing with sensitive you're an executive and you've got sensitive information and things like that, et cetera, many of them will go for the privacy and that lock on information, okay? They might not be releasing the contents of your documents to other people. Google aren't doing that at all, but they are releasing the statistics and the sort of profile of what you've got in there to advertisers. Hey, look, this is a really big executive. He deals with huge amounts of money. This is a good prospect. It's going to cost you £220 a click to click through to this executive rather than this other person who's £2.50 a click. That's what's happening in the background. That's why it's free. Bottom line, right? So I think long term, as we start creating more of a digital brain in delegating all this information into our digital world and creating this kind of digital brain that mimics our working memory, our cognitive inhibitory control and our cognitive flexibility and various higher level meta skills that tie in with AI in the future, et cetera. The arms race is towards what platform we will inhabit and put all our data into, because then that's the value to the big corporation. Now, apple has made the play where it's saying we're not going to sell this data, no one's ever going to see it. We are 100% privacy, et cetera. We're safety personified. That's why you're paying the big bucks to us. Google's going down the route of, hey, we're free, we've got lots more functionality, et cetera. But, yeah, we make a few bucks on the back by knowing a bit about you, sort of thing. So we've got to be, uh, mindful of what route we're going down. And it's not simple and straightforward, right?

    Erica : And some people might be okay with Google sending them opportunities, and some people might not.

    Darius: Yes. And I think the younger you are, the more okay you are, like children, et cetera, young people. And then the older you get, the more resources and value and the more responsibilities you have and the more value there is in the data.

    Erica : Well, this is a super interesting conversation, and this will be one of our probably actually this will be our longest podcast.

    Darius: Yes, it is. Next week. Shall we talk about AI and, uh, executive function? Is that on the cards or is.

    Erica : That artificial intelligence improves productivity and creativity is our next podcast.

    Darius: I'm looking forward to that. And that will tie into some of what we've been talking about here and more talking about the higher level sort of assistance side of things. Great. Looking forward to it, especially chat GPT to Biggie.

    Erica : Sounds good.

    Darius: Till next time, Erica.

    Erica : Bye bye. Thank you for joining our conversation here at the Personal Brain Trainer podcast.

    Darius: This is Dr. Erica Warren and Darius Namdaran. Check out the show notes for links to resources mentioned in the podcast, and please leave us a review and share us on social media. Until next time. Bye.