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Outlook Hacks for Efficiency and Organization

Posted on May 08 2017 | Author: Laura Millson

As a project coordinator for many specialized tasks, managing and tracking emails is an interesting challenge, especially when coordinating multiple inboxes.  I receive emails with varying subject content from all facets of our organization and beyond. 

I would like to share a few functions that simplify my day. Give them a try to see if they work for you and share your feedback.

Often email conversations mask important references and attachments, but most importantly the “true subject” gets buried and is no longer part of the email subject line. Emails that you have been copied on, or forwarded can also become time wasters – having to open every email because the subject or focus is submerged.  It can all become confusing!

I routinely use a feature to edit subject lines.  This allows me to search more accurately and efficiently and makes filing precise and clear for others.

All emails with prefaces “ FW: or RE:” and all lengthy long subject lines do not add to the email …it becomes clutter.  In our busy days, we don’t have the time to read through multiple emails to find content.  You want the purpose…the point, the jist!

As a project coordinator, keeping track of emails can challenging, but there are a few tools I use that help me manage my “clutter”.  Let me begin by clarifying that my mouse is set up with a secondary click on the right side to give me quick access to features within Outlook 2011.

Here are my top Go-To’s….5 features to test out for yourself…

1. Edit the Subject Line.

Help manage your inbox and avoid inbox overload.

Click on an email and go to Message> Edit Message Edit Subject

Edit the subject line, close the window and it will update automatically in your inbox. This allows you to change the email subject line…try it once and you will use it every day!

 

2. Move Emails.

Store emails in folders directly from the inbox without dragging and dropping them in the wrong folder.

Click on an email and go to Message > Move

A list of recent folders or the option to choose a folder will appear. Alternatively, you could set up a rule for instant filing.

 

3. Flags and Reminders.

Flagging emails reminds me to check on action items by date – this creates a task list and is helpful for time sensitive reminders.

Your task list is generated as separate activity located under Calendar in your Outlook Navigation menu.

Click on an email and go to Message > Follow - Up

 

4. Forward an Email.

Quickly send an email as an attachment without the search, drag and drop delay.

Right click on the Message > Forward as an attachment

I use this in conjunction with ‘Editing the Subject Line’.

 

5. Create a Rule.

Set up a protocol for auto-delete of recurring emails or set unique criteria for filing, this is useful for subscription and industry references, newsletters or repetitive emails.

Click on an email and go to Message > Rules

At the end of the day, it’s about finding something helpful that works for you, makes your day productive, and gives you the confidence that everything is in its place. I hope you find value in my tried and true tricks for controlling, tracking and organizing.

 

Sources:

http://logonoid.com/images/outlook-logo.png

https://unsplash.com/collections/794479/do-more?photo=KE0nC8-58MQ

 

Laura Millson
Special Projects Coordinator






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“Rome wasn’t built in a Day”…

Posted on January 14 2016 | Author: Laura Millson

The ancient Roman Empire is renowned for its architectural and visual splendor.   It took the patience and commitment of many and attests to the fact that we simply cannot hope to achieve anything great within a short period of time.

We experience daily how our lives and work can be simplified if we were able to consolidate information in one place.  It is an intimidating task to research and model a database.   Patience, persistence and planning are key elements before you even get to the bricks and mortar.  This is the foundation of database development.

The challenge...

Perhaps the most important rule and phase to designing a database is the initial design and brainstorming phase.  A good database starts with a good plan.  Determine the purpose, the scope and the functionality of what you want the database to store, what you need out of it and how it will help you work.  This gives a developer all of the information upfront to begin a design.  Spending time on the planning process ensures you have a clear idea of the type of database your organization needs, can afford and support.  Only with all of the necessary information available can a great database “empire” design be created with proper linkages and best practices intact.

The goal…

The goal of any database is to be efficient and scalable.  Data is always edited, added and deleted so it is important to keep it organized in order to maintain this constant changing set of data.  Identify your organizations overall objectives, what data needs to be collected, what reports are required, user needs and overall benefits of the database and what it will offer.

The design…

The core of the database design can be complex and the process of planning can vary greatly.  Start with a general and complete view or “wish list” Be realistic about the planning process and collect the information about the needs of those who will be using the database.  It can often be more difficult to add in items later rather than get it right the first time. Decide what you want, prepare a timetable and scope of the project.  It can be streamlined as you progress.  An excellent feature worth investigating is the option of an administrative module to manage data, permissions, and security.

Creating a plan will serve as a guide when implementing the database and as a functional specification for the database after it is implemented.

Think outside the database.

  • Consider search features, uploads, messaging links to web browser and email functionality.
  • Decide what fields and tables your database will contain and the content and layout requirement of those tables  - be specific.
  • Define how data in one table is related to data in another table.
  • Do tables need to be linked together; or does data within each table require sorting.

Assess...

  • Who will lead the project?
  • Who will use the database?
  • Who will maintain the database and what experience do they have, in hardware and software requirements?
  • Are there any limits created by your current setup such as the age of computers or whether they are PC or MAC and their varying operating systems?
  • Do you have a network, require remote access; is there a budget for upgrades?
  • What staff will be trained in the use of the system?
  • How will it be delivered?
  • What support do you require?  (i.e. upgrades, potential new features, troubleshooting)

Plan your time…

No matter who is leading the project, the amount of time taken for planning is often under estimated.  Before the technical details, think through the commitment and ensure you have the budget and support needed.

  • Staff time to develop the database plan.
  • The cost of buying or building the database.
  • Staff time to test/data entry.
  • Training of staff to use the database.
  • Time to manage, maintain and use the database.

The budget…

  • Your estimate of time and budget will become more and more accurate as the planning process continues
  • Identify the problems that need to be solved and the benefits it will bring
  • Staff time, streamlining productivity and efficiency
  • Improved quality of service or delivery of information
  • The value of these potential benefits will help set up an initial budget which can be modified as you talk to suppliers and contractors.

The Key to Success…

Ensure you have the clear support and involvement of senior management.  Developing a new database cannot be seen as a technical issue – it is likely to affect the entire organization and it needs senior level support.  Which is vital once the development process becomes more technically driven.

Now that the foundation blocks have been assembled you can begin the intricate architectural build of your database project.

Laura Milson
Special Projects Coordinator






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“Your Office in your Pocket”

Posted on November 25 2014 | Author: Laura Millson

Benefits of having an Exchange Server

Many of us work on the run, -- no I will rephrase that – we all work on the run whether we admit to it or not.  With Internet access just a touch away we all love to be able to check “the status” of projects or just catch up with the office emails.   

Then there are those of us that are required to be in meetings; attend conferences and speaking engagements; to be travelling and away from the office for extended periods or have the opportunity to work from home and still need to be connected to the daily office “activity”. 

Email is a tool of today’s working society.  We all use it.  It gives us the satisfaction of making contact, a contribution and sense of productivity.  However in order to achieve that seamless automatic response we seek, you need to have access to an Exchange server to experience having what I refer to as your  “office in your pocket”.

Exchange can accommodate both PC and Mac platforms with the ability to synchronize with mobile devices to access email contacts and calendars from blackberry, iphone and android.  It allows you to access email anywhere  (in the world) with security and backup features that are seamless. It gives you massive amounts of storage space, control of your email client  (Outlook) with access to sharing features (like folders, notes and calendars), adding and deleting accounts, size of attachments and the comfort of backup.  Yes, backup!  So when your hard drive fails (and they do!), or your email account is corrupted, restoring your information is as simple as connecting to the Exchange server.  An administrators dream!

You can also access your mailbox using OWA (Outlook Web App) a browser based email client, which allows you to access your Microsoft Exchange Server mailbox from almost any web browser.

So What Exactly is an Exchange Server?
The Microsoft Exchange server application feeds data to a client application (in most cases Microsoft Outlook) which then allows you to use the features of  email, contact management and calendars simple and trouble-free.

Primarily designed for businesses Exchange is also suited for individuals who want flexibility from their mail platform that is not provided by other webmail clients or POP3 email accounts are capable of providing.

So what are the benefits of using Microsoft Exchange Server?

  • Security – confidentiality without compromise by outside sources
  • Backup – knowing that an email account is never lost and can always be retrieved
  • Accessibility – anywhere in the world with access to all the features of MS Outlook
  • Efficiency – easy to find and fix issues with monitoring capabilities to detect issues quickly before it disrupts business. 

Many tasks required to keep MS Exchange operating properly are automated allowing administrators more time to deal with more pressing issues.

There are many benefits to using Microsoft Exchange Server and many businesses are discovering that this is a program that they cannot do without.  Its worth looking into.

Laura Millson
Entrepreneur Services and Office Operations Coordinator

 

Microsoft Exchange Top Features

 






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Office Administration Start up 101: “Quick and Dirty”

Posted on June 05 2014 | Author: Laura Millson

Administration responsibilities tend to be viewed as boring or monotonous, but without the effective completion of administrative tasks, any business would struggle to succeed.  There are various business administration roles you may need to take on as an entrepreneur.

When you are starting up it is very possible that you, as the business owner, will need to take on the responsibilities of;

  • finances – tracking financial records and transactions, taxes, expenses, payroll, and other money-related tasks
  • business paperwork - registering your business, opening a business bank account, business insurance, personnel related reviews/assessments (if any), general record keeping of meetings, deadlines, projects, and client/customer service.
  • sourcing and purchasing resources from office equipment, supplies, computer hardware, software, office space and ultimately personnel.

Now these do not need daily attention but they are part of startup tasks that become routine once a business starts. Routine tasks need routine procedures to stay organized and keep things running smoothly.  Set up routines for handling paperwork and office systems.

Depending on the size of your business it may be possible for you as the owner to take on these responsibilities, but as your business grows you may need to take on an administrative assistant to help deal with them and any day-to-day responsibilities that come up and expand with your business.

Day-to-day functions of any business can include:

  • responding to email inquiries, telephone contacts, handling mail/courier, shipping and receiving
  • managing marketing and communications, newsletters, social media presence, a customer/client database
  • scheduling meetings, organizing travel and keeping track of appointments; and
  • maintaining office records.

As your start up grows the admin duties can become overwhelming and can often hinder business growth if not handled effectively.  Being aware of when an administrative assistant is needed could be the difference between your company’s success and demise. 

Don’t let administrative duties take up time that should be spent refining business vision and leading your company to success.

Laura Millson
Entrepreneur Services and Office Operations Coordinator

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TEAM = Together Everyone Achieves More!

Posted on May 07 2013 | Author: Laura Millson

It is one thing to create a team, but quite another to create teamwork.
Although there are several ways to define teamwork I prefer the French term “esprit de corps” which means “a sense of unity, of enthusiasm for common interests and responsibilities.”  It captures not only the idea of working together, but doing so in a way that everyone is inspired and supported by those around them.

“A team, it’s not just a group of individuals who work at the same location or have the same logo on their business card. A real team is made up of people who may be unequal in experience, talent or education, but who are equal in their commitment to working together to achieve the goals and good of the organization, each other and their customers.” (Or in the case of Bioenterprise our “entrepreneurs)                 ~Patricia Fripp, The Genius of Teamwork

This motivated me to focus my blog on complimenting the creative and insightful team that surround and inspire me on a daily basis here at Bioenterprise.

I have had the pleasure to contribute in various business environments where teamwork is a proven and essential part of the company’s success. In each case a team comes together when individual strengths and skills are combined focusing on a common goal or direction. It has been said that teamwork is the “glue” that keeps employees together by promoting strength, reliability and support. It is also the “oil” that allows a team to work smoothly towards targets, maintain momentum and overcome obstacles.
At Bioenterprise, we thrive to support entrepreneurs to excel as they commercialize their agri-tech innovations and take pride in the work we do providing counsel and support, guiding them towards successful beginnings and working collaboratively with them.

Through our experience ideas are better implemented with a support team in place. It should include people to help you engineer your idea, a mentor to coach you along the way and a business partner with complimentary skill sets.

I read a brilliant book we recommend to entrepreneurs “The Art of the Start”, by Guy Kawasaki. www.artofthestart.com.

Kawasaki says, “Successful companies are started and made successful by at least two, and usually more “soul mates”. After the fact, one person may be recognized as the innovator, but it always takes a team of good people to make any venture work.”

To help a team be effective here are some suggested guidelines:

  • Set and communicate goals - this gets everyone on the same page and provides a guide of what is to be done.
  • Measure progress - goals only work if the progress is measured.
  • Establish a single point of accountability - good people accept accountability; great people ask for it, so establish it a person held accountable is motivated to succeed.
  • Reward achievers - they are the ones that deliver.

But there is more -- teamwork suggests that people work in an atmosphere of mutual support and trust.   It should also foster an increasing maturity of relationship, where people are free to disagree constructively, and where both support and challenge are a part of helping teams work.

When teamwork is in place you tend to see:

  • everybody pulling their weight;
  • everyone pulling in the same direction;
  • depending on your colleagues to deliver what they said;
  • getting help when it’s needed;
  • sharing an exciting vision of the future; and
  • co-operation and blending of each others strengths.

So I think it is safe to say that teamwork is a group of people working together, creating a great spirit and working atmosphere, and supporting each other so that their strengths combine to enhance what they do. That is what I enjoy everyday!

Laura Millson
Entrepreneur Services and Office Operations Coordinator






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The Importance of Communication

Posted on November 22 2011 | Author: Laura Millson

"Keep in Touch"...

It’s a phrase we use loosely but an important invitation in both our business and personal relationships.

Communication can bring opportunity, connection and success to entrepreneurs who stay connected to sources such as Bioenterprise, which has a vast and varied network of resources.

I have come in contact with many entrepreneurs here. Some have sent a brief email inquiry or arrived in person for establishing meetings. Others are contracted clients who have moved on.

“Keep in Touch” is just that: an open invitation to communicate with us and stay connected to Bioenterprise by sharing updates, changes and developments, media coverage, product development, or design changes or just letting us know how you are doing. This is news we like to hear and would like to promote.

We have recently redesigned our website (bioenterprise.ca) and incorporated social networking tools that will allow us to tell your story to a greater network. The benefit to you, of course, is the greater awareness of your innovative company. So stay in touch. Your success is our success, and we are here to help you.

Stay in touch. Stay networked.

Laura Millson
Entrepreneur Services and Office Operations Coordinator






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