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10 Productivity Tips

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Maybe you can relate to this scenario. An invitation to a webinar appears in my e-mail inbox at least once each day. After a brief skim, most of the time these invites go straight to my Outlook trash bin. Maybe the time of day is wrong, or the topic isn’t a good fit. But the other day, one piqued my interest. The topic was how to be more productive with Microsoft Office applications. Am I missing out on some new tricks and tips? Could I make my work life easier with some streamlining? I decided to register.

The webinar covered tips for PowerPoint, Word, Excel and Outlook, versions 2016 and 2013. The speaker shared some of his best tips for getting the most out of these applications. Below, here's a breakdown:

PowerPoint – Animations

The Animations tab is located at the top of the PowerPoint window. Use the Animations feature in PowerPoint to control your viewer’s attention. It works especially well for lists, outlines and bulleted points. If you show the entire list at once, viewers get distracted. Their minds start wandering down the list to all points you’re not ready to cover. Several Animations options are available. One example is the “Appear” animation that you may want to use in the situation described above. This will allow you to select part of your list to appear with each click of your mouse. Finally, highlight the section you want to animate, and then select your effects option.

PowerPoint – SmartArt

SmartArt is found in the Home tab and is useful for making any list more visually appealing. Many graphics options are available. You can convert lists into shaded boxes, circles, arrows, etc. Likewise, many colors are also available. To use the function, highlight your text for your slide and then click on the Convert to SmartArt function. Note: Animations and SmartArt can be combined in one slide. Produce a graphically pleasing list with SmartArt and then sequence it to appear on the slide with Animations.

Excel – Flash Fill

Flash Fill automatically fills your data when it senses a pattern. For example, you can use Flash Fill to separate first and last names from a single column or combine first and last names from two different columns. When Excel senses a pattern, it will show a preview and if you want to use the function, select Enter. If a preview doesn’t show up, you may have to manually turn on the function. Tools>Options>Advanced>Editing Options>check the Automatically Flash Fill option

Excel – Fill Handle

You can quickly copy formulas into adjacent cells by dragging the fill handle. (It’s a black box that will show up if you move the cursor to the bottom right of the cell.) Select the cell that has the formula you want to fill into adjacent cells. Drag the fill handle (the black box mentioned above) across the cells you want to fill.

Outlook – Conversations

Organizing emails by clicking the Conversations function allows you to keep all messages (inbox, sent, etc.) in one view so you don’t have to hunt for messages across different folders.

Outlook/Word – Templates

In Outlook, if you find yourself sending similarly worded emails on a regular basis, save it as a template. This will save time in retyping each time. To create a new email template, Go to the Message tab in the Outlook window. Click the View Templates button. Then select the +Template option, type the text you want and give it a name.

The same Template function is available in Word. If you find yourself writing similar documents, save it as a template.

Outlook/Word – AutoText

Auto Text entries are stored as building blocks. To create a new entry, use the Create New Building Block dialog box. In your document, select the text you want to add to your gallery of AutoText entries. On the Insert Tab, in the Text group, click Quick Parts, point to AutoText, and then click Save Selection to AutoText Gallery.

All 4 Apps – Styles

You can use Styles to quickly apply a set of formatting choices consistently throughout your document. If you want formatting choices that are not available from the built-in styles and themes available in Word, you can modify an existing style and customize it to suit your needs. You can change the formatting (font size, color, etc.) in styles for titles, headings, paragraphs, lists, etc.

All 4 Apps – Format Painter

The Format Painter on the Home tab quickly applies the same formatting, such as color, font style, size, etc. to multiple pieces of text or graphics. The format painter lets you copy all the formatting from one object and apply it to another one – it’s like copying and pasting for formatting.

All 4 Apps – Tell Me What You Want to Do Feature

This is found at the top of every software window. Type in what you want help with, and it will show you info. It’s like a new “help” option. For example, if you want to create a table in Word, type “create a table” in the Tell Me What You Want to Do window and it will show options.

With the webinar information in my pocket, I’ve found some tips I could implement immediately – particularly Templates and AutoText. I send several emails (have you received an Authorization to Release form?) and copy and paste certain text blocks (hello, company boilerplates!) regularly. Using these functions will streamline my processes. And I’m looking forward to my next presentation when I can use SmartArt and Animations.

 

 

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