Thursday, May 24, 2012

Work Hacks Wednesdays: 7 Time Savers

For today, I thought I would list a few time savers that add a LOT of value to my life. I fully recognize that everyone working for larger corporations (or BigCo folks) has administrator blocks on stuff that can be installed and hopefully, these will cover those issues too.

I also recognize that this makes a few big assumptions (eg: around Outlook, scheduling conference calls etc). Even if it doesn’t directly apply to you, I trust you’ll find the principles useful. And if it really doesn’t apply at all, please accept my apologies and I hope to see you back tomorrow! :)

1. LastPass. The nicest thing about LastPass is that you should have no issues getting this on your work computer. Install Google Chrome (yes, shift required from your IE6 BigCo folks! :)) and then install the LastPass extension. Both these steps should work with no hassles.

LastPass can, of course, be synced with your personal laptop so you will have no needless passwords to be entered. Ever.

2. Text Replacements. Text replacements save me a LOT of time. There are 2 ways to do this - if you have no administrator issues on your computer, install Texter or any other such software.

For BigCo folks, go to Outlook Tools -> Options -> Spelling -> Spelling and Autocorrection -> Autocorrect Options and voila!

I use shortcuts for all phrases/sentences that I use in emails eg: Different kinds of greetings like ‘Thank you, and best regards’ or ‘thanks and best’ or 'Looking forward to your feedback’, ‘Please let me know if I can help in any way.’

Extremely useful. Save my fingers pain and save a ton of time.

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3. Outlook Macros. I have done a detailed post on macros. The folder sort macro is worth thousands of dollars of saved time, and hence, gained productivity.

4. Scheduling Calendar Events. A couple of small things that I find help greatly when scheduling calendar events -

a. Doodle or Google Docs. If you are looking to find a common time between people whose schedules you cannot see, either use a scheduling system like Doodle or simply a Google Spreadsheet to map out availabilities. (For Google Spreadsheets, set privacy settings as below

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b. Enter Dial in Code in the Location field. If you are scheduling conference calls, ALWAYS put in the dial in code in the location field. For those who know the local dial in number by heart, this saves a LOT of pain as they don’t need to open the invite every instance.

c. Create a table of dial in numbers of participating countries in the invite. It’s very annoying when all you have is a US number with a message asking others to go to a link. If you know it’s participants from a few countries/locations, please take the extra effort of creating a table. You can use it in future invites as well!

5. Portable Apps. For BigCo folks, check out Portable Apps and find your favorite apps in exe versions that don’t need installation. There are many such great sites out there.

6. Luxury Item - Dropbox. I use dropbox extensively. And I love it. This is, of course, dependent on your usage.

7. For Windows XP users: Two links I always find useful if I find myself on a Windows XP laptop - Lifehackers top 10 awesome utilities and how to make a ’show desktop’ button for my quick launch section on my task bar.

That’s it! I hope these help..

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