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With enterprise technology, it’s unlikely that you will ever reach a point where you feel you have nothing more to learn. Software updates roll out so frequently today, and deliver a near-steady drip of new features and changed functionality, that we may soon be forced to revisit the 80/20 rule—that roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes.1

Indeed, there are always other features or tools that can help you improve efficiency and increase productivity—you just need to know what they are and how to use them. To get you started, we’ve included five lesser-known productivity tips. And remember, if you don’t know how to perform any of these tasks, call us for help.

Outlook

When we see things, we process and classify them in terms of their relationships—our brains organize by color, scale, shape, proximity and other attributes to create a hierarchy. Why, then, do we often stick with default views in applications like Outlook? Ditch the soaring wall of gray text—set up Conditional Formatting for your inbox to make specific messages easily identifiable.

Visual heat maps

Customizing views—in Outlook and in other applications—can boost productivity with minimal effort. These visual heatmaps of eyetracking studies show where users looked the most (red and yellow) and the least (blue and gray).
Image: Nielsen Norman Group

Excel

The beauty of tech shortcuts is their simplicity—they enable you to complete tasks in less time and with fewer steps. Some tips can even empower you. For example, if you need to enter the same data or formulas in nonadjacent cells, you don’t need to input it cell by cell, or even with copy and paste. With a simple keyboard combination, you can enter the same data or formulas in multiple cells at once.

SharePoint

Enterprise SharePoint usage may be growing, but the application is still mysterious and complex to the average office worker. Our advice for beginners—start small, but stay steady. For example, before trying to master things like Versioning, Rollups and Aggregations, try creating a Search Alert. It’s simple to set up, and can help you minimize time wasted finding and checking specific folders for any changes.

Skype

It happens far too often—you’re multitasking on mute during a conference call and a colleague asks you to weigh in. Awkward silence follows while you scramble to bring the Skype window to the foreground and unmute your mic. Try utilizing a keyboard shortcut instead to swiftly bring the window forward. It will rescue your reputation, and your productivity.

Windows

Windows’ “GodMode,” while not an entirely new feature, is worth considering because of its immense utility. By creating a new folder in Windows and renaming it with a specific text string at the end, you can access all of your operating system’s control panels from within that single location.


1. The 80/20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, states that, for many events, roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. Examples include:  

  • 20% of the input creates 80% of the result
  • 20% of the workers produce 80% of the result
  • 20% of the customers create 80% of the revenue
  • 20% of the bugs cause 80% of the crashes
  • 20% of the features cause 80% of the usage

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