Archive: September 16, 2020


Have the right tool for the job

In an earlier post I wrote about information management and the tools I use. This is an expansion of that. Simply put, have the right tool for what you’re trying to do. However, there’s a balancing act between having the appropriate tool and having so many programs you never really get good at any of them. For me, I have found the balance is easier if I find a program that can do multiple routine tasks.

First up, is Microsoft (Office) 365. Outlook obviously handles email. But it does so much more. And, most features like color coding, flag for follow-up, insert files, and more work in all modules. So, you can spend time learning all the ways you can flag for follow-up and it will work with email messages, contact records, calendar items, and tasks (and yes, I agree all those reminders do get annoying). You can link a calendar item to a contact record. Your flagged email messages show up in your tasks list. I’m sure I’ll have more posts that expand on this application.

So take some time and explore those features. I’m sure you’ll find useful ideas. The good news is since the different parts of the program all work alike (color-coding, flags, prioritize, etc.) so time learning a feature pays off in a big way. And that’s the balance I mentioned. One program you learn really well can do multiple things.

Just about everyone uses Word and Excel. While Word is pretty straight-forward, Excel offers some versatility to accomplish a few different things. I’ve written about some of the ways I use Excel in the last post. Time learning these applications is well spent. And, since many of the features are in all of the applications, you get extra value learning them.

Also part of the Microsoft (Office) 365 suite is OneNote. I use it extensively. I have my task lists (ongoing, project-focused, brain dump, etc.), information I need to keep (style sheets, resources, and notes on a topic like COVID-19), and reference material (notes I’ve taken in webinars and articles I’ve found). So, lots of information, one tool to manage it.

Next up is Snag-It by TechSmith. They call it a screen capture tool and it certainly is that. It has plenty of features that take screen capture as far as you could want it to go. And, they constantly improve it. The part that makes me happiest is the Editor software that comes with it. While I have high-end graphics programs, this Editor is my go-to for 95% of what I need to do with images. Not just the screen captures, but any image. I use it to add borders and shading to photos, change colors on graphics, and a few other things. Every image I’ve used in these posts was edited in Snag-It. It’s so easy to learn and use. With the broad selection of features in this duo, it is right behind Outlook for most bang for the buck ($49.99 with a 30-day free trial period). The image on this post is the Snag-It program.

The last program that gets opened every morning when I start my day is The Brain. I use it for so many things I don’t know where to begin. My suggestion is go to their website and explore. It’s so much fun!

That’s my list of go-to applications. Look at the tasks you have and find your balance.

Spreadsheet worksheets

Fewer spreadsheets, more worksheets

A friend of mine is a professional organizer (who would be appalled at my office!) and she once told me that no more files than will fit on a screen is the ideal number to have in any given folder.

With that thought in mind, I found it so much easier to find spreadsheets if there are a limited number to search through. So I use fewer spreadsheets with more worksheets in each. For example, I have one file with lots of sheets for miscellaneous financial information. This includes credit card processing costs, insurance policies and their costs, business loans, staff pay rates and benefits, and just about anything else that needs just one or two sheets. This came in handy when I needed to create a sheet for our COVID-19 PPP loan information. I just added it to my miscellaneous financial spreadsheet. No muss, no fuss.

I have another spreadsheet for all of our clinical supplies. One sheet is a form the assistant can give me when she needs me to place an order. One sheet has all of the vendors we use along with websites, phone numbers, account numbers, etc. Another sheet has information on our handpieces with serial numbers, date purchased, repair history, etc.

You get the idea. Fewer files to find (or pin to my File Open list). And, while much of the information is number-oriented, not all of it is. And, it doesn’t have to be. It’s not information I need to format extensively or is even likely to be printed. And, what isn’t numbers is typically some kind of list or checklist so keeping like information together has the greatest value for me.

There’s plenty you can do to make those worksheets more usable for you. As you can see from the above image, you can color code them. You can also reorder them, rename them, insert new ones, move or copy one to the existing spreadsheet or to a different spreadsheet, and more. And, how are you going to find out all you can do, you may ask. Just remember, when in doubt, right-click.