21 July 2022
How You Can Use Microsoft to Keep You and Your Team on Track and Motivated
Most of us have times where there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. As we juggle work, family, and home life, keeping track of tasks can easily sap motivation, and we can become overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Our experience shows that a key driver of motivation, both in business and in getting tasks done at home, is productivity. When we feel we have accomplished something worthwhile, our executive skills function better, and we are more likely to get started on the next item on our list.
Digital Task Management
The Microsoft suite has a lot of capability, almost everyone uses their most popular apps, but there are a lot of powerful yet underused features that are designed to make productivity a lot easier. A common habit is to use an email inbox as a task list. It leads to scrolling up and down amidst the mass of incoming messages, and often missing something important. Email is great for some things, but this isn’t one of them.
A combination of Microsoft To Do and Calendar makes it far easier to prioritise tasks without missing anything important. For anything that is time-driven, blocking out some time in calendar means that it will happen on schedule, with the option of setting reminders to keep you on track. Creating a prioritised task list in To Do makes it simple to check everything else off your list in between the calendar items.
Visibility of Data
If you’re going to stay on track and motivated, you need access to live data, so that your decisions are based on the latest information. Where once, organisations relied on end of month reports, this just won’t do in the digital era. Suppose, for example, a salesperson needs to achieve a specific number of meetings to make their end of month target. Access to live via Microsoft Power BI, allows them to make adjustments, pick up the pace, or prioritise the activities that will achieve the right outcome, before it is too late.
When you put it in the context of a team, harnessing this level of visibility creates an even more profound difference. If a team is across the numbers, there is the chance to notice when gaps emerge, and step in. Given the disruption of quarantines and illnesses, as well as more everyday fluctuations in workloads, the team is better equipped to collaborate to meet targets together.
While organisation is often the answer, sometimes there is still just too much to get done. If anyone is doing repetitive and manual tasks, it is likely that Microsoft Power Automate can cut their workload to more manageable levels. A good example is that when we see a customer creating a stock on hand report to share with management and colleagues, often involving a lot of data entry, we know it is a likely candidate for automation. By building in automation to populate the required format, that staff member has time freed up for other tasks. Often, that automation can be set to post in Microsoft Teams, or emailed to specific managers, so that the information they need is at their fingertips. As a good rule of thumb, if someone is printing a lot of documents, or spending time producing regular reports, it is possible to save a lot of time and improve productivity – and avoiding repetitive tasks removes a real motivation drain.
There is absolutely still a place for using email, but for many interactions, there is now a better alternative. When a quick response is needed to a simple question, Microsoft Teams might be the answer, especially when collaborating on a project. It keeps the information together and makes it available for anyone catching up on progress, without spending ages looking for the information in their inbox.
Likewise, when working together on a document, rather than emailing a request to check a specific paragraph, it is faster and more efficient to add a comment directly into Word using @name. This prompts an alert to the right person that guides them directly to the right place in the text. It also has the effect of creating a single source of truth, instead of getting a number of versions being shared around between different people. There’s an added security bonus here: when you share a link instead of emailing a document, you can also stop the link from working, whereas you can’t remove an attachment you have already sent.
A Hybrid World
Over the last couple of years, staff are far more likely to have adopted a hybrid work arrangement. This blurring of the boundaries between work and home can offer enhanced flexibility but it can also make it hard to switch off. The same tools that we use to reduce overwhelm and act more productively in the workplace can also be applied for our personal lives. Family collaboration can make sure the kids are collected from school, we don’t double up on grocery shopping, and that squeaky door gets fixed. Don’t forget to block out your calendar for the activities that are important to you, whether it is a session at the gym or a coffee with friends. Schedule some downtime to recharge, and you’ll stay healthy, and ready to tackle the next task on your list.