No Pun Intended!
Maximising productivity is essential in today’s fast-paced work environment. Not only will it help you, but it will also help your team.
Companies use many different software packages to help you do your job, one of these packages happens to be the Microsoft Office suite which offers a wide range of applications that will help you streamline your workflow and boost your productivity.
But here’s the thing, many productivity creators don’t talk about Microsoft Office instead, they talk about Google Docs and other apps. Which I think is strange because almost every company I worked for used Microsoft Office.
That’s why as someone who’s used Microsoft Office since the very early versions, I wanted to share 6 productivity tips that will help you excel at work…
1. Make Your Life Easier Using Templates
Have you ever heard of that famous quote “Don’t reinvent the wheel”? I certainly have and when it comes to Microsoft Office, it’s packed full of really good purpose-built templates for most types of work, and some of them really do look brilliant!
Using the included templates will not only make your work look professional, but will also help you save time which you can spend on more important things such as completing the document. Some companies, have even created their own in-house templates with their branding to help you get started, so it’s worth looking into that.
If you do repetitive tasks, you can even create your own templates! This is something that has helped me tremendously at work!
One example where I have created my own template is for email. In the past, I used to send manually written emails to people I have set up accounts for including instructions, attached documentation and a few pointers, but I always missed out on something that would be helpful to them.
I’ve since created an email template that ensures all the important points and documentation are included and I don’t have to worry about typing it out, I just double-click the shortcut, address it and send it. Not only has this helped me save time, but the email has been perfected to include all the necessary information. You can do this with most of the mainstream Office apps!
2. Work Together On A Single Document
Surprisingly, this seems to be a feature that not many realise you can do!
If you save your document to OneDrive, you can have multiple team members working on the same document from different computers! Sounds great right? Believe me, it is, especially with today’s hybrid and remote work culture.
Microsoft Office Apps such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint allow you to share a document with your teammates so that you can collaborate on them together at the same time. I find this feature incredibly useful as it allows me to create documentation, and work on spreadsheets and presentations with my colleagues at the same time.
I found this particularly useful with group assignments at University where we were writing a single report as a group.
3. Use OneDrive to AutoSave Your Work
Has your computer ever crashed while you were working on an important document and you haven’t had a chance to save your work? We’ve all been there!
Microsoft includes a very useful feature in many of its programs called AutoSave, and it does exactly that! Instead of having to manually save your work every so often, it automatically saves the document for you in real time.
To enable it, simply save the document to OneDrive and ensure the AutoSave slider is enabled, it will then save your work in real-time without you having to worry about saving your work every so often.
As someone who used to work at a university IT department, I found that many people were working from USB Flash Drives, which is something that you shouldn’t really do as USB Flash Drives have a high failure rate. Anyway, I found that people were pulling their flash drives out, while their work was still saving, without saving the latest version and on some occasions, I just saw flash drives fail.
So as you can imagine, I don’t recommend using them to work from, they’re perfect to use for backing up stuff or for moving files from one device to another, but cloud services such as OneDrive have so much more to offer.
OneDrive even stores multiple versions of a document to allow for close comparisons and to go back to an earlier version of a document. This is another extremely useful feature, especially if something happens to the latest version of a document.
As a whole, the AutoSave feature will save you time and stress if the worse was to happen with your work.
4. Use OneNote To Organise Your Notes
OneNote is a great tool for almost everything, I use it as a personal knowledge base and for taking notes during meetings. I find it to be an ideal tool for taking notes, especially as I can use my iPad along with my Apple Pencil to take handwritten notes.
The app is also available on Windows, the web and even my phone. This means that I can effectively use the app from practically anywhere! I even use the app outside of work as my second brain! If you are unfamiliar with this concept, I highly recommend reading the book “Building a Second Brain” by Tiago Forte. It has helped me a lot at work, with my side hustle and with content creation.
I’ve actually been using OneNote for a very long time, it even helped me get through both of my university degrees! I found it to be the ideal app for making productive notes and for using it as an effective work management system.
5. Use Inbox Zero With Outlook
I’m a huge fan of the Inbox Zero technique and have been using it for a very long time!
For those of you who are new to the concept, it’s basically a technique for managing emails that aim at keeping your inbox empty by regularly processing, organising and prioritising your emails.
I use Inbox Zero by following the following technique:
- Delete: If I find the email not to be important to me and that it doesn’t need me to action anything, the email will go straight to the bin. I usually do this to spam emails and notifications from other apps.
- Catrgorise: I categorise my emails into the following categories; Action Items, Awaiting Reply, Read Later and Others. In Outlook, I do this using categories.
- Archive: After categorising my emails, I tend to archive all of my emails using the selected category or if they don’t fit into any categories, I will archive them into the main archive.
- Do: If the email requires immediate action and can be completed in under two minutes, I do it immediately.
In the past, I used folders instead of categories and it worked very well, especially using the desktop version of Outlook as well as the mobile app. But recently, I started using the web version of Outlook as it better suits my workflow.
As of very recently, I have completely changed my workflow to match the one shown in Jeff Su’s video “Inbox Zero for Outlook (Step-by-step Tutorial)”, which I highly recommend checking out. The only drawback is that it doesn’t seem to work for the Desktop app and the mobile app, but that’s not an issue for me as I use the web version of Outlook in shortcut mode through Chrome.
The other thing I like about Outlook is the ability to snooze emails until a certain time, it proves to be an excellent way of ensuring that I do an email task at a certain time.
6. Use Microsoft To Do To Manage Your Day
Microsoft To Do is fast becoming my favourite To-Do list app both at home and at work. For those of you who are unaware, Microsoft To Do is actually the result of Microsoft buying the legendary Wunderlist app.
I especially like the “My Day” feature which lists all the apps that I have to complete today. The second thing I like about the app is how well it integrates with Outlook. In the web version of Outlook, I can simply right-click an email, go to advanced options and create a task. That will then send it to my To-Do list.
I find this feature extremely useful, particularly with emails detailing tasks I have to complete. For example, if I get sent a handover email, I can easily convert it into a task on my To-Do list and that will ensure that I have completed it.
Microsoft To Do also allows you to organise your tasks in lists, for example on my personal To-Do list, I’ve organised my lists into Personal, House Work, Learning Opportunities, Home Lab, Health & Fitness and Routines. This helps me keep my To-Do list clean and tidy.
Microsoft Office can be a great tool especially if you have created a workflow that works for you. This is actually quite an important thing to think about as just because a certain workflow works for somebody doesn’t mean it will work for you. The same can be said for ways of using apps, features and techniques.
But, with that being said, I hope that this blog post was able to help someone out there!
If you have any Microsoft Office-related productivity tips, feel free to share them in the comments!