How to Take Charge of your Business

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How to take charge of your communications, calendar and projects.

No, the following is not an advertisement.  Though I will begin this post with a disclaimer.  I’m a big fan of Microsoft Office, including Outlook.  Have been for years.  Granted, with my work background and usage, I am an expert user of Outlook, so the critique some have of not knowing how to use all the functions has never slowed me down.  Those who are not fans of MS Office (including Outlook), have strong feelings on the subject.  Just spend a little time on the subject online.  So let me state right here.  If you are using Gmail or another email/calendar program that works for you I think that’s great.  No need to email me a long treatise on the ills of Outlook or any Office product.  I don’t have a horse in this race.  The goal of this post is simply to share a program/product that I find quite useful.  I’ve peppered the post with some links where you can learn more.  If you’re already using Outlook, please take a look at these links to see if you’re getting the most out of it.  If you’re still shopping around for a program that can handle your growing business needs, take a look.

I’m all for choosing the programs that work the best with your business needs and personality style.  There may be other programs better suited.  This is what has worked for me for over a decade and continues to improve to meet my requirements.

Don’t worry if you don’t know how to use all the features in Outlook.  With all the MS tutorials or downloadable books, books and youtube videos, anyone can master these tools.  Once implemented, they can really streamline your business (and personal) obligations this year.   I’ve found that once I set up Outlook, it simplified my handling of emails, helped me organize and keep up with my calendar and meetings, it helped me keep track of my tasks and notes and reminders.  In fact, Outlook and MS’s OneNote are complementary.  Together it really is live having a new and improved custom planning system.  Here’s an article from PC World in 2014 that mentions some of the helpful ways they can be integrated.

What I like about Outlook (and the connected products) is that once I got them up and running it organizes my business for me.  I never lose contact information, I can manage multiple projects and meeting agendas and can my personal and business appointments are always synched.  Projects and their corresponding emails are easy for me to keep track of.  I can forward or share project info via their folders and keep track of progress/input.

From what I’ve gleaned online, a primary reason that Outlook doesn’t work for some, is they don’t use the features or they find them cumbersome.  If you like features, like I do, especially those that help organize your work life and time management, then Outlook is worth a closer look.  If you already have Outlook but don’t know what it can do for you the following video lets you follow a vignette where we watch “Harry” get organized using Outlook.  In the video, Harry is an employee.  As entrepreneurs we have similar reasons to use the tools that Outlook offers.

A blog post I enjoyed on Office.com was written by a busy mom of six, Suzanne Emberton, who also happens to be an IT support analyst.  In the post she explains how MS Office products serve her family’s various needs.  I have found the same to be true in my experience.  In this post Emberton also touches upon another benefit.  And that is, today, with an Outlook.com account and One Drive (the blog was written in 2013 and so references One Drive by its former name, Sky Drive) you can access your files and information anywhere when you’re on the road – on a tablet, laptop or on your phone.

Microsoft Office support site has a wealth of information.  A helpful article is this Best Practices Guide that covers many of the helpful tools Outlook offers.  It was written for Outlook 2010 but many of the features will apply to other versions.  This is a solid reference detailing how Outlook can help you in things like managing your time, taming your inbox, organizing your calendar and handling your to-do’s.

Lastly, if you have (or are planning to get) Outlook 2013 this link showcases many video tutorials to help users learn various Outlook features.

There’s no magic program as we all know but finding the right tools does make keeping our business organized and running smoothly a doable objective.  I hope some of this info offered something valuable to you in your quest to find the best tools for your enterprise!  Let me know what systems work for you in the comments below.

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