There was a song, popular in the 1960s or 1970s, called ‘Monster Mash’.
I have no idea who sang it but recognise the tune if I hear it.
It’s a story about a monster created in a lab, like Frankenstein, who ends up doing a crazy dance, which gives the song its title.
It reminds me of a different kind of ‘mash’, one that can hinder professional assistants in their work.
Let me explain.
An assistant might have an Excel spreadsheet for their contacts list.
Some of those names might be used an email marketing platform for sending one-off, scheduled or a sequence of messages.
The assistant may also use an online calendar on their smartphone or laptop, such as Google Calendar or iCal.
They might use Zoom for online meetings and virtual ‘face to face’ calls.
To keep track of tasks, an assistant might also run a project management tool like Asana or Trello.
That may suffice at the start of a business, when you’re happy to put in the hours to get things off the ground. However, at some point it’s going to hamper productivity, efficiency and the capacity to grow.
That’s because you’re trying to work with a multi-platform ‘monster’.
Ditch the Mish Mash
It can be tempting, especially if money is tight, to look for whatever solution you can get for free.
And there are some great applications out there that won’t cost a penny. (At least, not until your business or contact list grows – or you require additional features).
However, the smarter assistant will always look beyond what they need for their current work. They will be thinking what solutions they need within the next year, two or three.
Sometimes it is better to invest now, and work with systems and apps that are going to be able to manage everything – either for your boss or as you grow the business.
If you’re using a monstrous ‘mish mash’ of tech, which means you have to keep switching from one to another, it is probably time to look for a single solution.
This is where Microsoft Office and – especially – Microsoft 365 should be in your thinking.
The latter is a really strong business tool. It gives you standard favourites like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook as well as the communication and collaboration hub, Microsoft Teams and more.
It allows you to do something very neat.
Keep Everything Under One Roof
None of that switching apps or having to deal with the (often annoying) inefficiencies of the ‘mish mash’ approach.
Microsoft Outlook acts as your all-in-one CRM, email, calendar and task management system.
Master the essentials of Outlook and it will save you time, energy and frustration week after week.
There are some really neat things you can do with this versatile and flexible application. I love sharing practical ‘how to’ tips about this with followers on my LinkedIn and subscribers to my mailing list.
And, because it’s Microsoft, there are new and updated features being added throughout the year.
In Outlook for Windows, for example, you can:
- Use a dictation toolbar to draft documents using only your voice
- Filter and narrow your search for a message or other information
- Share messages from Outlook with a person or channel in Teams
It is this functionality and integration that makes an ‘all in one’ system like 365 a far better prospect than the ‘mish mash’ monster
Understand How to Unlock the Power
Any system, platform or application is only as good as the user.
If you already have Outlook, it will pay to know how to get the best from it. It will make your life easier, help you stand out with bosses and clients, and allow you to both deliver on service and create more time to build your career or business.
If you know you need more learning across more than one Microsoft application, it is worth taking a look at The Hub (aka ‘The Full Monty’). It’s the complete box set of my online courses in Microsoft.
At the very least, take a look at Microsoft’s 365 product pages and explore the features and benefits available to you.
See what functions will serve you best – then make sure you’re up to speed with how to use them.