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.

Tricia Santos

After 18 years of providing computer consulting, training and speaking, I fell into a "real" job (managing a dental specialist practice). So, I gave up my business in 2007. However, I still love learning about computers and sharing what I know. This really is my favorite hobby. Hope you find it useful.

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