As a federal government employee, any tools available to help you save time, money, and frustration during your busy day may be considered priceless. With approximately $2 billion invested annually in cloud computing, the U.S. government already understands the full value of the cloud. Regardless, many individuals remain confused about the cloud and what benefits it has to offer. Before discovering the best ways to simplify your life using the cloud, take a look at its rapid growth and impact on the future of computing.
Cloud Popularity Soars
Over 50 years ago, J.C.R. Licklider formed the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, with the primary goal of connecting people across the globe by providing access to programs and information from anywhere. In the past five years, the rise in cloud computing adoption seems to have fulfilled Licklider’s mission. Listed as a $150 billion industry, cloud technology has outpaced traditional IT and is projected to sustain its rapid growth rate in years to come. For federal government employees, it’s simply a matter of using this technology to make life a little easier.
Practical Uses for Cloud Computing
Most people are familiar with cloud computing in the workplace. In essence, cloud technology provides security and reliability while enhancing productivity and collaboration among employees. It does this by creating a virtual space in which to share documents, communicate, and monitor projects or tasks. Outside work, however, cloud computing technology is a powerful tool that saves users time and money. For individuals, the use of cloud computing provides access to stored information and time-saving programs from anywhere.
- Storage – As the most common use for the cloud, online storage tops the list of priceless reasons to use cloud technology. Cloud-based storage ensures that sensitive documents, business documents, family pictures, and any other form of media remain safe and secure.
- Programs – From accounting and personal finance tools to automated tasks and note taking, cloud-based programs have become a functionally-rich addition to everyday living. As its popularity grows, cloud computing has inspired the creation of numerous web-based programs and apps designed to simplify life.
- Stay Mobile – Federal government employees benefit immensely from cloud technology, since it provides access to documents and productivity tools from anywhere in the world, on any device. Whether you work from one location or travel the globe, cloud computing acts as a virtual briefcase, planner, and collaboration tool.
10 Ways to Make Life Easier with the Cloud
To get you excited about the use of cloud technology, here are ten ways to utilize the cloud and simplify your life.
- Receipts – If you’re like most people, keeping track of receipts and expenses usually involves a few shoeboxes filled with scraps of paper and a spreadsheet that leaves something to be desired. With cloud-based tools, like Wave, the process of tracking expenses, income, and investments becomes automated. The program even allows users to upload and store receipts – no more shoeboxes!
- Photos – Most people have photos scattered throughout their lives. You may have albums, pictures on your phone, images you like on social media, and your distant cousin may have sent you an email with the latest pictures of her family. Navigating between so many platforms becomes a time consuming, disorganized process. Using a cloud storage solution, like OneDrive or Google Drive, provides you with a secure place to store your most precious moments.
- Simplify Shopping – As a government employee, you’re required to juggle the responsibilities of work, home, and family. For those with large (or generally scatter-brained) families, shopping can become a nightmarish task. Between a lack of communication and time constraints, going to the store may seem like more trouble than it’s worth. Fortunately, cloud programs, like Out of Milk, make it possible to create and share grocery shopping lists from anywhere.
- Documents – It’s easy to accumulate a lot of documents over time and suddenly find yourself with a pile of chaos that seemed to develop out of nowhere. Between bills, work-related documents, business information, and school or health records, there’s more than enough to sort and manage on a daily basis. Cloud-based storage, however, enables users to break free from the mounds of paper and commit everything to the security of the cloud. Many cloud storage programs, including DropBox and Cubby, provide free storage with options to extend their limits.
- Worry-Free Backups – Since technology is relied upon to store information, complete transactions, and communicate with others, it’s crucial to protect against loss by regularly backing up stored information. Many people spend a significant amount of time each month backing up various devices. As an alternative, many cloud-based programs offer automated backups, which simplifies the process.
- Enhance Security – It is one thing to keep documents safe, but it’s another entirely to monitor the security of items spread out in different locations. Recent statistics indicate global cybercrime accounts for about $400 billion a year in damages. As a federal government employee, you may already have a preferred method of securing information. The use of the cloud adds an extra layer of protection, though. Often, cloud storage providers encrypt data utilizing the same rigor as financial institutions, providing you with maximum security.
- Save Money – Thanks to the rise in competition among cloud solutions providers, there are many free programs available to help simplify your life. From the Wave app and Evernote to Google Drive and Box, free cloud programs come stocked with robust functionality and time-saving features. Best of all, it costs zero dollars. Absolutely nothing. Compared to the costs of an accountant, personal assistant, and paid storage solutions, free takes the cake.
- Manage To-Dos – A common struggle for many federal government employees is the management of daily tasks. It can be challenging to keep track of commitments, reminders, and work-related projects when the completion of each requires a different process. Here’s where cloud technology saves the day. Cloud-based programs, like Todoist, make it easy to record, access, and share tasks on any platform. No more missing a meeting or forgetting to schedule a doctor’s appointment. Todoist provides users with reminders, notifications, and automated tools to expertly manage life’s responsibilities.
- Automate Email – Keeping track of emails, sending timely messages, and providing speedy responses is challenging, especially when you’re juggling multiple contacts, each with different demands. When using cloud-based programs, however, sending emails at the right time, and to the right people, becomes simple. While many email assistants exist, Boomerang for Gmail has received rave reviews. This is because it includes email reminders, scheduled responses, and notifications. Since tools like Boomerang practically automate the task of email engagement, you have more time each day to contribute to the more important things in your life.
- Save the Web for Later – You’re probably familiar with how distracting and time consuming conducting research on the internet can be. Whether you’re working on a project for your employer or trying to find the best car repair shop in town, it’s often necessary to save information for later. With cloud-based programs, like Evernote and Pocket, you’re able to “clip” content found on the web and store it for later review. To make recall even easier, these programs include categorization tools to help you quickly find the article or image you’re seeking.
Simplify Life with the Cloud
Before running out to grab the latest cloud program, it’s imperative to your future satisfaction that you evaluate your individual needs. Do you require top-of-the-line security, or are you mostly interested in a productivity tool? What are the leading causes of delay throughout your day? Perhaps your schedule gets interrupted because you need to complete the tasks or make the phone calls you forgot about yesterday? How can these delays be reduced or eliminated? Consider the following before committing to a certain program.
- Security – Prior to signing on for the latest cloud tool, check the program’s level of security. If you will be using a particular program to record or share sensitive information, make sure you’re aware of the protection offered and, if needed, ask if the level of security can be upgraded.
- Operating Systems – This doesn’t apply to everyone, but those using less common operating systems, like Linux, may not have as many cloud-based options as those using Mac or Windows. Ultimately, the use of cloud-based tools is determined by your needs, but it’s important to ensure your devices are compatible.
- Support – For federal government employees, troubleshooting a computing issue needs to occur quickly and efficiently. Before choosing a cloud storage provider or cloud-based program, review the technical support offered by the company in order to determine if it can adequately meet your needs. Unless you’re tech-savvy, successfully troubleshooting a technical problem on your own, or with someone who is ill-equipped, can take time and additional resources.
If you struggle with misplacing documents and receipts, keeping track of to-do lists, or any number of life’s responsibilities, there’s a cloud program designed to make your life easier. Be sure to choose cloud solutions that are capable of satisfying your demands while allowing room to grow if they change in the future. Next time you run into a historically time consuming task, think about the available cloud solutions that will simplify the process for you.