Offices filled to the brim with technology are now the norm, and every office admin these days is expected to have a pretty high level of computer literacy. Knowing your way around a desktop, understanding the roles of apps and other software in your day-to-day business, and using tech to streamline your workload are now a basic part of the job description, and a necessity for any great administrative assistant. In our ongoing quest to track down the best resources for administrative assistants, we’re doing everything we can to help you do just that.
The mysteries of Microsoft Office
The workhorse of most workplaces, the Microsoft Office Suite is something most admins deal with constantly. Almost anyone can muddle through with a basic competency in Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook, but you can completely raise your game by digging a little deeper. Here are a few of our top tips:
- Customize your Quick Access Toolbar in Word: Everyone has their own set of favorite functions and tools in Word, so why spend time hunting them down every time you need them? Put your favorite commands at your fingertips with these easy instructions.
- Make Word’s Autosave your BFF: the preset Autosave frequency is 10 minutes. When you’re working hard, that’s an enormous amount of time. If Word crashes in between, you’re doomed to lose all that effort. It doesn’t have to be that way! Go to File – Options – Save and turn the default Save AutoRecover information down to 1 or 2 minutes.
- Leave the formatting out when you paste in Word: Nothing messes up your carefully formatted document more than pasting in a bunch of foreign formatting. Right click where you want to paste and select “Paste Text Only”.
- Learn to make and love templates: This works in Word, Excel and Powerpoint. Click Save As and then choose the option “Template”. All your structure, layout, formatting, font choices, styles and margins will be saved, and all you need to do next time is fill in your new text.
Get cozy With keyboard shortcuts
Many conscientious admins take pride in never resorting to shortcuts in their work. There’s no excuse for cutting corners, but keyboard shortcuts are a completely different animal. Each one might save you only a few seconds, but those seconds add up in ways you wouldn’t believe. They are underused, which is a terrible shame. Many people never go beyond Ctrl + C to copy and Ctrl + V to paste. There are reams of shortcuts available. It’s a worthy investment of your time to start committing some to memory. Here are some of the best resources we’ve found on the subject:
Get the apps going
Mobile workforces and Bring Your Own Device programs at many companies mean that you’re likely to be working from a smartphone or tablet on a regular basis. There truly is an app for almost everything these days, with new programs popping up all the time. They offer so many ways to simplify, automate, and refine tasks. To get the full benefits, you need to track down the best app for the job. Choosing your favorite apps for office managers will be a personal process, but here are a bunch of top contenders which can change everything. If you’re not using Google Calendar and Dropbox yet, start there. If you’re ready for the next level, try these:
- Asana and Templana: Asana is an easy-to-use project management app, and Templana is a set of brilliant templates which make it work even better.
- Rescuetime: When you’re up to your ears in tasks it can sometimes be difficult to figure out where the day went. Rescuetime tracks all your activity and gives you detailed reports so that you can figure out the parts of your day to tweak for maximum productivity.
- IFTTT: If This Then That is a very simple app which has almost endless potential to help you automate all kinds of workflows by creating “recipes.” Absolutely worth exploring.
- Evernote: There’s a bit of a learning curve, but this app is hugely popular for a reason: it can absolutely function as a whole separate brain, helping you retain and organize all kinds of information so that nothing falls through the cracks.
You don’t need to be a member of the IT Department to make a difference for your business with administrative office technology. Simply staying on top of developments and unlocking the true potential of the office admin tools you work with every day can become your secret superpower.
We hope these quick tech tips help make your day more efficient, giving you more time to do what you love and find ways to get better at it.