Do you love Google Tools as much as we do? Google has a talent for coming up with features that often cater to the needs of Virtual Assistants and Online Business owners and can even help brick and mortar businesses take more of their activities online. For example, the blog post “Free Google Tools Changing the Way I Do Business” talks about the way Google s suite of tools can streamline people s work in the Real Estate business, providing quick access to email and documents.

If one of your goals for the last part of 2010 is to maximize your business productivity so you can hit the ground running in 2011, Google Tools can help you do that.

So without further ado, here s a list of the ones we d highly recommend:

1. Gmail – Google s web-based email client provides you with 7+ GB of storage, as well as mobile access and a very effective spam filter. With Gmail we re able to access our messages on any computer and on mobile devices when we re on the go. Some other features we like about Gmail are:

- Google Search within Gmail

- Labels, Filters and Stars to help organize messages

- Always-on HTTPS encryption

2. Google Docs – We ve discovered Google Docs are a great way to create documents (also spreadsheets, presentations, forms, and drawings) to share online with colleagues or clients. Here s how you can use them:

- Upload any files from your desktop.

- Edit and view them from any computer or smartphone.

- Invite real-time collaboration on documents.

3. Google Calendar – Our VAClassroom team has just started using this free online calendar to enhance our productivity, and so far it s working really well. Here are some of the things it s allowing us to do

- Share our schedules with each other so we can synchronize our activities.

- Access a mobile version of the calendar.

- Customize reminders so that we re notified by email or text when an upcoming event or task is approaching.

4. Google Reader – It s very important to stay on top of what s happening in your industry, but trying to monitor all your favorite blogs and websites for new content can be frustrating and time-consuming. Google Reader allows you to input the names of your favorite sites, and then it will check them regularly for new content and display it all on one screen. Here s what else you can do with this tool:

- Recommend articles to friends, colleagues or clients by sending them relevant links.

- Add a customizable clip to your website or blog sidebar to display your latest shared articles.

- Access your Google Reader on your mobile phone browser or from any computer.

5. Google Blog Search – This is an invaluable tool to use when writing blog posts for your business. It allows you to research blog posts on particular topics to see what other people are saying and what s been written about before. With the advanced blog search, you can search using several criteria:

- Words or phrases in post or title

- URLs

- Dates (useful when you re looking for the most recent blog posts on a topic)

- Author

6. Google Chrome – The Google Chrome web browser has proven to be faster and more stable for us, especially when viewing our VAClassroom training videos. Often if students are having difficulties viewing videos on other browsers, we recommend Google Chrome. So far it s also offering these benefits:

- Greater speed

- Sophisticated security to allow safe browsing

- Auto-updates

7. Google Alerts – As mentioned before, keeping apprised of certain topics related to your industry can be tricky and time-consuming. In addition to Google Reader, you can also use Google Alerts to keep on top of what people are saying about you, your business, your competitors or your industry in general. When you set up Google Alerts, you receive email updates of the latest relevant Google results according to the topic you chose. You can preview and then customize your alerts based on the following criteria:

- Type of alert (News, Blogs, Updates, Video, Discussions)

- How often you d like to receive alerts

- How many email results you d like to receive

So there you have it – seven must-have business tools for maximizing your business productivity heading into the latter half of 2010. As the Internet landscape changes and evolves, most likely Google will come out with some more cool tools, and all of us involved in the Virtual Assistance business can benefit from anything that helps streamline our work with clients and all our Internet Marketing or Social Marketing activities.

So now we d like to hear your thoughts! What Google Tool has had the biggest impact on your business productivity? Please add any other favorites to our list!