Now is probably a good time…
There are many ways in which you can save time by utilising the suite of Office 365 tools. Your efficiency can be increased tenfold by reviewing some of the tools at your disposal within Office. With everything else that you have to worry about during the average work day and week, the last thing you need is technical hitch or roadblock preventing you from getting your best work done. Microsoft Office may not completely solve your worries, but by taking advantage a few simple tools, you can grasp back control over any wasted time by using said tools. With a shallow learning curve to boot, you can rest assured knowing that these tips are available for everybody, regardless of technical experience. Let us delve into what is available in the depths of the Office ecosystem…
Using Outlook rules is an exceptional way to redirect unwanted messages, organise your inbox, and generally automate your Outlook process. Using three simple building blocks: Conditions, Actions & Exceptions, you can create rules with unprecedented variety and scope. To create a rule, head to the “Move” section in the “Home” tab of Outlook. from here you can manage or create rules using either a simple wizard, or a more advanced wizard for those feeling brave. Conditions allow you to specify particular requirements to be met before a rule triggers. An action is then completed (again you choose what happens here). Finally, an exception can be added to stop a rule from running. These three components combine together to provide you with huge scope and control of your automation requirements. Note: If you are using rules in OWA (Outlook on the Web), then creating rules is slightly different and they won’t translate across to the desktop version, as of January 2020).
Microsoft Teams allows for plenty of 3rd Party functionality in the form of Apps. Apps come in many shapes & sizes, including Bots, which you can talk to, with the aim of getting them to complete actions. One example is to get them to remind you to do something, or by sending you a message once a particular trigger or action has been completed. Teams in general is an excellent platform for boosting collaboration and productivity. With the advent of Bots, this helps solidify this functionality twofold. In addition to Bots, you can pull in extra functionality to Teams in many capacities, including personal apps (that are just available to you and your instance of Teams. You can also employ apps within Team channels to bring that extra functionality to your colleagues. There is plenty of choice in terms of what apps you add into Teams, with an ever expanding selection.
Formerly Microsoft Flow, Power Automate bridges the gap between Microsoft apps and a plethora of other services, allowing you to automatically complete a huge array of tasks in a large capacity. Power Automate has a varied learning curve, but once you’ve mastered the basics, Power Automate allows you incredible flexibility that is limited by only your imagination. Once you’ve setup a few flows, you will find that mundane and repetitive tasks can be handled by Power Automate, allowing you to spend value time otherwise. Admittedly Power Automate does take some time to grasp in comparison to the other topics we’ve covered in this article, but it’s potentially the most powerful tool out of the bunch. The constant additions being made to Power Automate are really starting to set it apart as one of the sleeper hits of Office 365.It also ties into the wider Power Platform, which contains both Power Apps & Power Bi, for those that wish to look further into these advanced user tools.
A new addition to the Office 365 ecosystem, MyAnalytics allows you to get an overview of how much time you are spending on particular tasks and who you converse with the most. By harnessing the power of AI, MyAnalytics also provides an inside into what it dubs “Focus Hours” – the time during the day that are usually ideal for you to focus & get things done. MyAnalytics is only available on certain Office licenses, but is valuable in demonstrating where your efforts currently lie, and whether or not you need to refocus your energy. With a dashboard-style overview that provides a breakdown of all the intricacies of your work life, it analyses your data and formulates it into an easy to understand set of visuals and summaries that provide you with meaningful content to work with. If your struggling to maintain a grip on keeping up with everything at work, MyAnalytics may help you in identifying potential areas to adjust.
These are just some of the tools you have available to you to reduce the number of wastage minutes in a working week. They may not all be useful to you, but you would hard-pressed to not take at least some smidgen of time savings from at least one of the above items. We haven’t even begun to delve into the realm of keyboard shortcuts and other methods of condensing your workflow within Microsoft Office, which means there’s even more potential for time savings! To learn more about the wide array of quick tricks you can utilise, head over to BCS Education, our online portal which is your one stop shop for all things Office. Sharing knowledge is also another way to pick up tips and tricks that could save you time, so why not ask a colleague if there’s anything they can recommend? You might also be able to teach them something too! You could always book onto one of our regular Office workshops, where you’ll obtain some of these useful tips first hand (we also have Tea & Biscuits!).
If you feel like there’s never enough time in the day, whilst we can’t promise rainbows and unicorns, it’s most certainly worth taking a look at what Office can do for you, to alleviate some of those lost minutes during the day, and to start making your IT work for you!