Office 2010 Released

It’s out. It’s nice. If you’re using Office 2003 or earlier, it’s time to upgrade.

Office 2010 uses the same kind of ribbons that Office 2007 users have grown accustomed to. The new “ribbon” that you’ll find in Word 2010 is the one that 2007 should have had. It’s called file. The file ribbon gives you all the options and information about the particular file that you’re working on that you could possibly want to know.

For example, as I type this blog entry in Word 2010, when I click the file tab, I have lots of nifty choices like Open, Save, Save as, and Print but the option that is highlighted is Info. Under Info I can Set Permissions (protect the document so that only those who should see it can), Prepare for Sharing (basically let’s me easily strip hidden information that other’s shouldn’t see but that is useful to have for an in house document) and work with different Versions of the document.

I can also see useful information such as how long I’ve been editing this document, add or view the Title and any Tags, see who the creator is, and lots of other information. It is also from the file tab that I can open recent or other documents and do many of the tasks from the old File menu.

As is usually the case, the biggest change comes with Outlook. As the way people communicate continues to change, Microsoft tries to make Outlook the tool to help you do this. Outlook now has its own ribbons (for some reason Outlook 2007 didn’t get the ribbon makeover).

The newest feature here is the Quick Steps box. Basically what this box does is let you create macros or rules on what do with certain messages. Once that rule is created, you can run it by clicking the appropriate button in the Quick Steps box. I’m still experimenting with this but this feature holds potential in helping to tame the email beast.

Access has some nice new features, one that we’re taking a very close look at right now is the Project template. What is nice is that Access is now really designed from the get go to be interactive. I opened the Project template and the first thing I had to do was create a user (myself) and then log in. Then I was off to the races creating and entering information on the project.

The downside is I wanted to watch the video which required SilverLight which I had already installed which Access didn’t recognize as being installed. Still a few issues, it would appear but all in all I like this latest version and could see moving some of our folks to it even before the first service pack.

Other tools that come with the complete version of Office 2010 include OneNote (great for taking quick notes or for having a notebook on a particular task or subject) and InfoPath – the tool for forms – now comes with a Designer part and a Filler part. For business users (those with lots of computers and users), there’s also a new program called SharePoint Workspace. I’m still investigating these but they look to be pretty nifty tools for improved work flow.

The full version “Professional” retails for around $500 but as a productivity tool is well worth it.

 

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Outlook Follow Up

A couple of months ago I wrote about the overwhelming feeling I had every day when my inbox was over-stuffed. I was pushing 2000 messages just in my inbox – and I was doing a lot of filing of messages then. Well I am happy to report that I have stuck with the program. Back then I whittled my inbox down to 6 messages.

Right now my inbox is bloated up to 38 messages. 15 of those will be removed as soon as I take care of the small tasks associated with them. Now don’t get me wrong. Other than spam, I don’t throw anything away. I’ve got emails dating back to 1999. But instead of letting them fill up my inbox, I regularly file the messages away to where they belong.

Even if there is a “to do” associated with an email, I can flag it or categorize it and then file it. With Outlook 2007’s powerful search tools, the flag or category let’s me know I need to follow up with it. And it feels so good to turn off a due flag on an email and watch the “For Follow Up” search category go down by one.

So if you are sinking in your inbox, set aside the time to clean it out. Once its clean, be ruthless. Make sure you come back to it each day or each week and whittle it down. Do I need this email? Does this email represent a to-do for me? Where can I file this email? Does it belong to a specific category? All of these questions can help you figure out where to put the email.

One final confession: I have learned to delete messages as well.  Yes, I had to face it – some emails, like a single word “yes” in reply to a question I asked, might not be worth keeping.ikoni

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Stay Organized and Stay Productive

We’ve been giving and receiving Outlook training this week and it hit me how important it is to stay focused with productivity tools of which Outlook continues to be one of our most important. In an office environment, using Outlook as the front end to an exchange server gives lots of opportunities for sharing schedules, assigning tasks, sharing calendars, and storing emails in public folders so that others in the company can easily access the same information.

Outlook 2007 is a powerful tool whether in a business environment with Exchange server or as a standalone program. The search component in particular is powerful. I have on my Outlook Favorites the search folders Unread Mail and For Followup. You can also add particular category searches that help you to stay connected and keep moving forward. The To-Do bar on the right side of the screen is a handy tool that you can expand or hide to meet your needs but when expanded shows your upcoming schedule and flagged emails.

Another productivity tool that I use in conjunction with Outlook is Jott. I’ve written about Jott previously but it is a great time saver if you’re out and about a lot. I can call Jott to send myself emails, ask for reminders that will come to my phone and email, or send an email to anyone in my address book. Yes, from my phone. So when I’m driving down the road and remember that I need to confirm an appointment via email, I can call (using my hands free bluetooth device of course) and tell Jott to send an email to Ted, letting him know that I’ll be at the breakfast meeting on Friday and Ted will get the email.

Between Outlook, Exchange and Jott, I manage to stay organized and on top of my schedule and keep my productivity high.

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Taming the Inbox: Managing Volumes of Email

I’ve done it! I’ve taken a huge step towards taming my inbox. For years it has had no fewer than 300 messages in it and when busy-ness hits, it regularly balloons to over 1500 messages.

Until now. What is the secret to taming your email? you may ask. The answer is so simple (once you know the answer it always seems simple): Right now, as I write, I have 13 emails in my inbox. Each of them is something that will be dealt with within the next business day and then filed away.

When there were 300+ emails in there, it was so easy to let it balloon up to 400 or 600 or more. With 0 to 20 in there, its very easy to identify what needs to be done, do it and then file it. The biggest thing that worked for me was opening a Word document so that when I started through the laborious process of whittling down 1100 emails to 5, I could jot a note about something that needed to be done.

So, it worked like this: file, file, file, delete, file, delete, delete, oh, I need to call Frank about this one. Hmm should I quit working on filing which isn’t fun or should I call Frank? This time I mastered the urge to bail and made a note to call Frank in the Word Document. Then back to file, delete, file, file, delete, delete, delete.

It took six to eight hours to do this but I finished over the weekend and this has been one of the most productive weeks I’ve ever had and its only Thursday!

So if you are stuck in email purgatory, set aside the time, ignore every distraction, and file, categorize and make notes until you’re down to 0. Right now I’ve got 9 items in my inbox, the oldest of which dates back to 5:20 PM on Tuesday. Ohh, that feels good

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