clip_image001If I was to ever write a style guide for these Tip o’ the Week emails, it would say to never use the first person, and to maintain a degree of relatively irreverent humour that hopefully makes it easy to read and not get in the way of the content. When I was thinking about what to write for the ToW #200, a few areas were considered…

Rob Fraser suggested some intriguing but frankly unprintable ideas.

I considered writing an off-piste article such as “How to wash your car properly”, or “How to cook the perfect fillet steak”, amusingly the most popular (by a factor of x10) old post on my blog.

All old externally-relevant ToWs end up on the blog, so if you want to send this stuff to your customer then by all means forward the emails, or just point them at the blog.

But no. After thinking about 4 years’ worth of Tips o’ the Week, some of which are now superseded by new product releases or defunct intranet or external web sites, I decided to showcase my favourite ten, presented here in no particular order. Some are a little out of date now (eg the steps to follow changed due to a new release) but the core principle still holds up and is easy enough to figure out.

#1 – Hide Outlook New Mail Notification. In Outlook clip_image0032013, go into File | Options | Mail and look for the Message arrival section. Switch off particularly the Desktop Alert and the sound – you don’t need to know you have a new mail, and it’ll still be there next time you go to look.

#45 – Focus! Silence the interruptions! Featured a brilliant application which puts Outlook into offline mode and Lync into Do Not Disturb, for a period of time… to let you do your day job without interruption. Sadly not available externally, but you should check out the principle of the Pomodoro technique for time management.

#19 ­–­ Navigating multi-sheet Excel workbooks. Particularly useful when you’re using Multi-monitor setups (a scenario first covered in ToW #39, and updated for Win8.x in ToW #115).

#101 – Finding files for dialogs. The Copy As Path method of clicking on a file somewhere and adding its full file name and path to the clipboard is such a useful tip, it saves me practically several minutes every week. Hey, every second counts.

#71 – Formatting tips for Office apps. Introducing the “Magic Office Key no-one knows about”, F4. Not useful very often, maybe, but when you do need it, you’ll be singing praises to the Office product group.

#5 – Contact number formatting. Install this little utility into Outlook and it will live forever in your mailbox, so never needs to be re-installed. Run it to sweep your Contacts folder for number formatted 0118 etc and it will tidy them up as +44118 etc, so you can click to dial from Lync. It’s UK specific but easy enough to modify for other country codes if you’ve got any VBScript coding skills in you.

#175 – a ‘tastic OneNote add-in. The great OneNote addin “OneCalendar” has featured in a couple of ToWs, it’s so good. This is the latest incarnation, either as a standalone addin or as part of the OneTastic suite.

#102 – When did someone really put something in their calendar? I really wondered whether to “out” this technique for sneaking a look at another user’s calendar, to see how long ago they created a meeting that they are now saying conflicts with the thing you’ve already invited them to.

#105 – Productivity? Learn to type! By far the best thing you can do to increase your productivity, is to learn how to use your keyboard properly. That’s all.

#125 – Ban the Mail Bomb. Another internal-only Tip, aiming to Stop Reply-all madness. It doesn’t just affect Microsoft, though. Me too!
You could employ the great and simple addin to Outlook courtesy of Microsoft Research, which disables the Reply All functionality from any subsequent emails, without having to rely on Rights Management. See here for a description, and here to install.

Hopefully these may be a useful refresher for regulars or a new discovery for recent additions to the ToW list. Here’s looking forward to the next 200 tips – remember, keep the ideas and the feedback coming! Thanks,

Ewan