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.

Picture of 3 iced ring donuts with surprised faces on them

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.

The session was well structured and the explanation was very clear. It was amazing how Shelley managed to squeeze so much info in just one hour and a half! Colin’s support and contributions were also very valuable, and so were “Virtual Veronica”‘s. Thank you for a most interesting and useful training session at the Miss Jones Virtual Summit!

Laura Carizzo- Royal Norwegian Embassy in Argentina

I haven’t used PowerPoint in 20 years, this has really boosted my confidence.

Lyn Parker

Course is packed with so much valuable information in a easy-to-understand and follow language, even for a complete beginner. I can respect the fact that sometimes it’s very hard for an expert to break the information down to basics. but Shelley has done it brilliantly. I was sure that I knew quite a bit but Shelley has proven me wrong even at the very beginning of the basics of PowerPoint. Lessons are short and precise which allowed me to easily transfer the new skill into practice without being overwhelmed and to carry on adding on more with each lesson. I had so many ‘Aha!’ moments and for most of them I couldn’t believe I used to pay graphic designer to do it for me, now, thanks to Shelley, I am looking forward to creating, designing, converting my presentations all by myself!

Iva Freeman – Vertex Human Capital

Shelley was very thorough and knew a lot of tip’s for using Teams, thank you 🙂

James O’Connor – Cavannah Homes

Very informative, constantly getting everyone in the meeting involved, loved every bit of it!

Dylan Teal Hopkins – Cavannah Homes
Fantastic and informative training and great to see all of the exciting functions with Microsoft Teams.
Laura Rigby – The Apprenticeship College
Shelley was really clear in her teaching and went at a pace that was helpful to us. We covered all we needed to know to get us started, as a small team, using MS Teams. She was also very helpful in the run up to the session, with check in calls and ensuring our platform was set up correctly. I would highly recommend Shelley to anyone wanting to learn to navigate their way around MS Teams.
Leigh Dowling – Innuous

Microsoft Teams One to One Training Session

Shelley was approachable, easy to work with, and agile with answering questions to apply the session to my specific needs

Melissa Marshall – Present Your Science

A course on Outlook had been on the top of my list when Shelley asked VA’s what they wanted to learn.

It was a real case of ‘so that’s how you do it’ or ‘I never knew that’. I have to say that I learnt so many great tips it has definitely improved the way I work in Outlook and my inbox is looking colourful and organised and I can’t wait to share this knowledge with my clients.

Jacqueline Leake – JLeake VA Services – Outlook

A great course with lots of examples and step by step instructions. I can now confidently create infographics and as a bonus, I learnt a lot of new PowerPoint functionality that will enhance all my PowerPoint work and save me so much time.

Jessica Bailey – Integral Resource

I really like Shelley’s courses. She has a clear and easy to follow teaching style. In ‘How to Create Fillable Forms’ I’ve learned about the functions of the Developer ribbon which will mean I’ll be able to create a bespoke Returns Form for a client who has an online shop

Freya Henderson – Virtual Office Orkney

Shelley was really clear in her teaching and went at a pace that was helpful to us. We covered all we needed to know to get us started, as a small team, using MS Teams. She was also very helpful in the run up to the session, with check in calls and ensuring our platform was set up correctly. I would highly recommend Shelley to anyone wanting to learn to navigate their way around MS Teams.

Sarah Clements – Inuous

Absolutely superb course, easy to follow and to refer back whilst putting it all into practice! I was unaware of the extent you can customise a presentation and it’s just made me want to know more – what’s next Shelley?

Denise Williams

I thought I had a pretty good grasp of Outlook until I did this course! In her videos, Shelley is clear and concise, and the language she uses is straightforward and jargon-free. Each module is broken down into manageable chunks, which helps keep your attention and means the course is easy to fit in around other commitments. I’ve created email templates and implemented rules that are already saving me time, and as all the other things I’ve learnt start to become second nature, the positive impact on my efficiency is fast becoming clear. This course has been incredibly beneficial and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to strengthen their skills and boost productivity.

Pip Doleman VA

I thought I knew Powerpoint really well, but I wanted to specifically learn how to use Powerpoint to create better infographics, easily and quickly. Shelley explains everything in a very logical and clear way, so I understood everything the first time I heard it. The most useful thing I learnt was that Powerpoint can do so much more than I thought it could. By also using the short cuts that Shelley showed me I am much quicker than I have ever been and I thought I was already quick!

Susan Marot

Shelley Fishel of Tomorrow’s VA has a wealth of experience in Microsoft Office. I met her in person 2 years ago at the PA Show in London. I also saw her in action in a fab workshop and knew she was the whizz that everyone had told me she was. I have since bought a lifetime access to her HUB and all the courses in there are a MUST if you are a VA on a mission. The courses will give you confidence in all the Office 365 components and will catapult you to dizzy heights

Alex Hughes