We all have those days when work just starts piling up and it feels like everything is falling apart. You lose your ability to plan and prioritise, which can make it hard to know how to get back on top of everythingThis latest blog will explore how you can control the situation and keep on top of your work with, technology like Microsoft 365. We will be covering tools and features to help with project management, task management and storing information.  

Let’s start with an interesting statistic on the topic. The National Association of Professional Organisers conducted a survey and found that 70% of what we keep, we never use. So, think about the data stored on your computer and the cloud. Do you really need it? Can the content be recycled? If not, archive itWe believe the quickest way to organise is to remove files from your everyday working space that you don’t need, are outdated and unrecyclable. Once you have done that, we can dig deeper into the Microsoft 365 apps designed to help you stay on track.  

Plan

How to plan a project with Planner  

This application is specially designed for project management. The design of the software is to make it easy for everyone to stay organised, because it’s easy to update. It can help project managers monitor progress of team members through visual analytics and team members can see if they are on track. Projects failure is often due to miscommunication, so Planner can really make a difference. It makes it clear who is doing what and when deadlines are to help ensure good planning, great teamwork, frequent communication and successful execution. 

So now we know what it is and the benefits of the tool, let’s delve into how you would use it. We thought we’d show you a sneak peak of how we use Planner internally and that it works for us. This is just our way of using Planner, but the great thing about this tool is it’s super adaptable and you can make up your own rules! 

In Planner, there are buckets. Buckets are columns where you can insert task cards underneath. What you name the bucket is completely up to you, you can name it after different projects or the status of the projects. We find this easy for our team because we can see what hasn’t been startedis in progress and completed. All we do is drag task cards across to the relevant bucket. Simple and easy. 

Plan

Task cards can be marked ‘completed’ and will be archived the bucket. Task cards not only allow users to add the task name, but users can colour label the task, add lists, notes, attachments, links and much more. This is useful for the user who is assigned to the task as they have all the information, they need in one place, and it gives the project managers visibility about the task. Users will also be notified when a new task has been set for them. This is benefital for project managers, as they don’t need to over communicate – Planner does that for them.

Plan

Here you can see the tasks in calendar mode, this enables users to see the tasks over the next couple of weeks. This can help users understand the time period they have to complete the task by. A little pressure is always good. If a task hasn’t been completed by the deadline set, it will be highlighted in red.

Plan

Charts in Planner is a visual representation of everyone’s progress. It includes a bar chat, pie chart showing what tasks haven’t been started, if any are in progress, late and complete. It shows the individual progress of each members; this is designed for project managers as they can clearly see who is behind and on schedule; taking control of the project.

Plan

PLANNING TIP: Remember the goal when you’re planning. Why do you need to do this? What’s the end goal? What results will come out of this? This can help to motivate users and project managers to complete tasks. With the right motivation and the right tool, it can make a huge difference in the success of a project whether it be internal, external, big or small.

How to prioritise your tasks with OneNote

How do you know what to prioritise? It’s different for everyone but the best way to prioritise is to think about the business. What task is going to bring the most value to the business?

In OneNote, this can be done easily. Think about all the tasks you have today. Draft the list on OneNote and add a checklist tag next to it so when it’s complete you can tick it off. Organise your tasks by days. If it’s simple, it will be easy for you to organise. Now out of all those tasks can you think of the one that will bring the most value to the business. Can you also think of the task that needs to be done today, again bringing value to the business?

OneNote comes with some great built in features that can really help with prioritisation. You can tag your top priority tasks as ‘Important’, which will give them a star so you know it must be done. There are loads of other tags you can use such as ‘priority 1’ or ‘priority 2’, ‘Discuss with Manager’ and ‘Remember for later’. This can make a huge difference when planning your day – try your best to get the priority tasks out the way first, then work your way through the difficult ‘non priority’ tasks, ending the day with the quick and easy tasks. Sounds like a productive day, right? Thanks to OneNote, you can really plan your day this way.

Plan

What do you do when you have a new unexpected task from your line manager or college? Decide whether it’s a priority or not, if it can be done in 2mins then we recommend getting it out the way first. However, if it’s a task that needs more time, just add it to the bottom of the list. Attempt to complete it and if it rolls over then be sure to add it to the list on the next day. This is a great way to organise your tasks and ensuring you meet deadlines.

Lastly, users can access meeting details in OneNote, they can insert file attachments, videos and pictures, links, audio and a table. This is great for those complex planners that need information within OneNote to reference. Overall, OneNote is a fantastic note taking tool, but we also love it for making to do lists. It’s easy to use and a great way to stay organised with your daily tasks.

Storing and Organising Files in SharePoint

SharePoint is the ideal location to store and collaborate on documents in the cloud. However, we find that working with organisations they struggle with a file structure that is simple and easy for their users. It’s important to have a file structure that works for everyone. Luckily with SharePoint you can have different sites for different departments. Admins can add members to each site, for example, a marketing manager won’t have access to the technical SharePoint site because they won’t have a reason to need or access their documents. This also helps to control and restrict information to the right people.

We recommend the first set of folders should be done by department of the organisation. The second set of folders should be done by main tasks the department would do for example. Finance would have this set of this documents eg Invoices, accounts, expenses, refunds, subscriptions.

Plan

Users can set alerts on documents so other members will be notified if any changes have been made to documents they are collaborating on. This is great because everyone is in the loop with all the recent changes in the document.

SharePoint is the best location for storing communal information in the cloud, so team members can access the documents wherever and collaborate. The latest changes will be updated and backed up automatically, so you don’t have a million versions of the same document. Keeping everything, neat and tidy!

Organising your Outlook folders.

Managing e-mails is a very tedious task however it’s important to manage; it’s great to reference information so making sure it has its own filing system can make a huge difference. The best and simple way to organise your Outlook is yearly. The most recent e-mails are probably the one you should have the most access to, they can be easily managed; Any old e-mails can go into the yearly folders. If you wish to organise it by people, tasks, companies whichever helps you and will save you the most amount of time, you can do so by creating folders.

Plan

Outlook has a feature where you can set up rules, it’s almost like a work flow. You can set up rules for future e-mail relating to a subject or coming from a specific user to go to the folder you want it to go to. This means your Outlook manages itself. So, you don’t have to spend time organising your e-mail, it does it for you.

Overall, if you manage your e-mails you won’t have to spend half an hour looking for that e-mail your boss is asking for. With a proper filing system, it would take you a matter of a few clicks to find it. Saving you precious time. We recommend users spend 15mins a week to organise their e-mails; making sure everything is in the right folder. It will make a huge difference.

Benefits of Staying Organised

Nothing beats the feeling of being on top of your work, meeting deadlines and having neat and tidy folders. Whether you’re working in a fast pace environment or remotely, having these applications can make a difference.

All the above features and applications are available with Microsoft 365. It’s designed for everyone, for every business and can make a huge difference in your motivation and success in the organisation. Owners of business will spend less time micro managing users because these systems are designed to help users manage themselves. Microsoft 365 have the applications every user needs to project plan, organise and prioritise – and best of all, it’s available for only few pounds per user per month.

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