Friday, 2 July 2004

Newsletter Issue 81, July 2004

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 81, July 2004
Hi guys,
Not managing your time as well as you should be? Things starting to slip as the nights are drawing in? Then check out Seven Time Management Secrets for a brush-up below.
To better organise our busy lives, we take a look at Setting Up Email Folders to group our incoming email. 
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

Seven Time Management Secrets

How would you like to get 86,400 things each day? You have to use each one as you can't keep them, save them or bank them; they will have vanished each midnight. Sound nice?
Of course, by now you have all worked out that I am talking about how many seconds there are in a day. But we can very easily forget how to use our time productively and it is often worth going back to remind yourself about the basics.
  1. Determine Your Goals
    What do you WANT to do with your day? Write down your goals for each day - ie 6 hours of billable time, 2 hours of administration, 4 hours of family time, 2 hours on personal improvement.
  2. Plan Daily
    Start your day with a To Do list of tasks. Keep your goals clearly in mind, then determine what tasks matching your goals must be done today, which can be rescheduled or dropped and what can be delegated or out-sourced. Write down deadlines beside each task. Break large projects into smaller items. Prioritise them into As, Bs and Cs. Do the As first.
  3. Hourly Rate
    Work out your hourly rate based on your salary (or your desired projected annual earnings). If your time is worth $90 per hour, you might be better to outsource typing at $20 so you can earn another $90 additional profit during that hour. Knowing how much your time is worth will help you make clearer financial decisions - remember, time is money.
  4. Measure Your Time
    Now create a log of your daily activities starting with the time you get up, have breakfast, get to work, deal with personal emails, time on each client etc etc. Run it for a couple of weeks and then analyse your major categories. Once you know where you are spending your time, you can check if you are spending it wisely - and whether you are likely to achieve your goals.
  5. Eliminate Black Holes
    Now you will know your black holes because you have measured them. They are those activities that eat up your time, like unnecessary meetings, spam, jokes, interruptions, relatives and telemarketers. They can be eliminated by asking why you need to attend this meeting, sorting your inwards email into mailboxes and only check work email during work hours, adding new tasks to your "to do" list and dealing with them later, closing your door & putting the phone on no rings, getting caller ID so you can differentiate between important clients and "the rest" and asking family members to call back after work
  6. Say "No"
    If your To Do list is getting out of control, learn to say "No, I don't have time". Or at least, if it fits in with your goals "What do you want me to NOT do?". Workplace stress is becoming a serious illness for staff and employers. Don't put yourself at risk.
  7. Use Your Strengths
    Work to your individual strengths and do those tasks taking the most concentration when you are at your prime - ie if you are a morning person, organise your day to do your hardest tasks first off.
By taking time to plan, measure, and manage your time you will be able to spend your 86,400 seconds of daily time by focusing on those activities that match your goals. By being the master of your own time, you will accomplish much more with less effort.
Good luck!

Setting Up Email Folders

In the last issue I mentioned that a good organisational tool was to set up folders to sort our inwards emails. So here's how to do it;
  1. Open Outlook
  2. On the File menu, select Folders | New Folder
  3. In the "Name" field, type a short name (NB: folders are sorted in Alpha-Numeric order, so if you want the folder to be at the end of your list, have the first letter well down the alphabet; at the beginning, start with a number, early letter or diacritical mark) eg "Private"
  4. Ignore the "Folder Contains" field. This will have defaulted to "Mail and Post Items" which means folders contained within your Outlook.pst file which is exactly where we need to be
  5. In the "Select where to place the folder" field, highlight "Personal Folders". You will probably be able to select either that or your "Archive Folders".
  6. Click OK.
  7. In your Outlook Folders structure there is now a folder named "Private"
To have your email sort automatically as it arrives;
  1. Click on your Inbox folder
  2. Go to Tools | Organise
  3. Click "Rules and Alerts" at the top right-hand side of the Organise pane
  4. On the "Email Rules" tab (default) click the "New Rule" button on the top left
  5. Ensure "Start creating rule from a template" is ticked at the top. Select "Move messages from someone to a folder" in the "Select a template" field. Click Next
  6. In the "Select conditions" box, click the "people or distribution list" hyperlink. This brings up all your contacts. Select as many of those (by clicking on them) who are private contacts. Click OK to add them to the rule. Click the "Next" button
  7. In the "Select Actions" box, select the "Private" folder from the list. Click the "Next" button
  8. In the "Add any exceptions" box, tick "Except if the subject contains any words" from the list, and click on the "Specific words" hyperlink at the bottom
  9. In the "Search Text" box, add the following words; "Read: ", "Read Receipt: ", "Out of Office", "Notification: ", "Autoreply", clicking Add after each one and click OK. Click the "Next" button
  10. On the "Finish Rule Setup" page, enter a sensible name for your rule like "Move Inbox to Private", tick the "run this rule now on messages already in Inbox" box and click "Finish"
You can amend your rule at any time by going to Tools | Organise and selecting your "Move Inbox to Private" rule from the list, selecting edit and adding names, removing names etc.

Checking Comma Usage

Because our punctuation has fallen off so much in the past forty years (tomorrow's schools, hah!), we often end up with an "it's" where we need "its" or "its' ". Unfortunately, Word's spell & grammar check isn't that sophisticated either, and often compounds the problem - you put in "its" and - whizz - Word changes your entry automatically to "it's". Ouch.
In one of TechRepublic's ( recent newsletters, they had a guide on how to proof your comma use in a Word documents. The tip was so useful that I thought it would benefit all of us.
To be sure there aren't any misplaced commas in your doc, we review all the commas by;
  • Open the Word doc you want to check
  • Key Ctrl & H. The Find & Replace dialogue box will open
  • In the "Find What" field, key a comma ('). Leave the "Replace With" field empty. Click the "Find Next" button
  • Word will find and highlight the first occurrence. Read the text carefully to make sure you've used the comma correctly. If the comma usage is incorrect, click the "Replace" button (comma will be replaced with "nothing")
  • Click the "Find Next" button
If you haven't put commas in where you should have done, you could search for all words ending in "s " (tick "Use wildcards" on the Find & Replace box and enter "s" followed by a space). It will take you to while to work through all entries though! It almost might be better to just proof read :-)

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs for you;
  • BHAG, Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal. A term used usually about meeting agendas and strategic plans!

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Short+Hot Keys... and now tips
Access data entry hot keys for you this time;
  • Add a new record: Ctrl & + (plus)
  • Delete the current record: Ctrl & - (minus)
  • Undo a change to the current record: Esc
  • Replace an entered current value with the default value: Ctrl, Alt & Spacebar
  • Save the entire record after changing an individual field: Shift & Enter
  • Toggle values in a check box or option: Spacebar
  • Insert the current date: Ctrl & ; (semicolon)
  • Insert the current time: Ctrl, Shift & ; (semicolon)

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