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The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

September 10, 2007 • Issue 07:09:01


Take the easy way

We've all heard the advice to work smarter, not harder. One way to accomplish this is to find shortcuts, such as automated tools. Many times we're aware of such conveniences, but we neglect to take the time to learn about them or set them up.

Here are some ways you can work smarter.

Your keyboard

Do you use any shortcuts while at your computer? For example, pressing Ctrl+A to select all the text in a document or, everyone's favorite, Ctrl+Z to undo the last change you made.

If you're like most people, you probably haven't bothered to learn more than a few keyboard shortcuts. However, it doesn't take much effort to commit them to memory. Why not learn more of them?

It may feel like an inconvenience now, but over time a few minutes saved here and there can really add up.

Your templates

Once you've mastered the keyboard, move on to templates. How many times a week, or even a day, do you create the same type of document? If you have a template handy, you can begin with it instead of creating a new document from scratch.

This will save time and increase productivity and accuracy.

On a related note, if you frequently compose the same kind of e-mails, such as announcements of earnings or requests to attend monthly meetings, have a generic version saved in your e-mail drafts file.

When it's time to broadcast news or announce an event, simply copy the template from your draft e-mail file into a new outgoing message, tweak it to suit the current need, and send it off.

Your Web

Also, have you saved Web pages to your "favorites" folder, but then had a difficult time identifying pages when you needed them later? Many times, the name a browser gives a page is not one an intelligent person could intuitively assume to be the page's name.

For example, if you visited ABC Company's Web site and saved its contact information page, your browser might entitle the page "Contact Information." ABC might not even appear in the name.

To remedy this, read the name given to the file when you're in the process of saving a page, and change it if necessary. Also, create a new folder with a name that makes sense, and save a copy of the favorite there.

Otherwise, even if you select appropriate names for your pages, you will end up scrolling through a long, disorganized list every time you want to see one of your favorites.

Your calendar

How are you with remembering important dates, such as birthdays or anniversaries? Even if you've never missed an important event, you've probably had one or two sneak up on you.

If you used a tool to remind you of such events, you could probably keep track of a larger number of important dates.

For example, rather than just focusing on your family and close friends, you could also acknowledge dates that are special to your clients and merchants.

Programs such as Microsoft Outlook include reminders in the calendar section. There are also free programs on the Web that send e-mail reminders about dates that you've specified are important.

Some allow you to compose e-mails and schedule them to be sent at a later date. If you used one of these tools to remind you about a merchant's upcoming anniversary or other important milestone, you could send a note or e-mail to help celebrate the event.

This is a small but powerful way to make your clients feel special and let them know that you are on their team. When it comes time to renew agreements or add services, they will remember you.

Your life

There are a variety of free or very inexpensive ways to reduce the chaos in your life. In fact, you probably already have many tools right on your PC but you've barely used them.

Invest a little time now and learn how to use them. These tools can help you become more organized and professional. With the daily details taken care of, you can handle the bigger issues, such as what to do with all of your free time.

Go ahead. Take the easy way. end of article

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