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Article 5 Office365 hacks for small business owners

Clippy, the little virtual Microsoft Office helper from the 90s, is long gone. But the problems he tried to solve remain: small businesses like yours still aren’t using Microsoft Office as effectively as they could. This post will help.

Clippy may have failed but his motivation was good: Time is money. When your business is small and margins are tight you can’t afford to waste it. Good software can save you hours. But who has the time to take the tutorials?

Don’t worry, you don’t need Clippy. Small business and software are two things Sprint understands. Here are some great time saving hacks for Microsoft Office that will let you get on with the business of business.

Make use of Microsoft Word Templates

For most small businesses, Microsoft Word is the ‘go to’ program for creating documents. But Word isn’t built for easy layout and formatting.

Getting text into the correct format for a business document, so that it looks professional, is time consuming and frankly, infuriating. Luckily, templates are here to save the day (and your temper).

So instead of clicking ‘Blank Document’ when you open a new document, hit ‘New From Template’.

Once opened you’ll find all sorts of useful templates, including: Newsletter, Brochure, Leaflet, Business Paper, Cover Letter and Catalog.

Don’t be put off if the designs on the templates don’t immediately match your brand. Each element can be easily modified to reflect your brand’s colours and typefaces.

Brochures and leaflets are a great way to communicate your product offerings. The layout allows you to add images and accompanying text quickly and easily. Simply click on the placeholder image and then on ‘Insert’ and choose the ‘Pictures’ button. This will allow you to upload the image you need for your brochure. Color backgrounds are just as easy to change.

Go beyond the cut & paste with Spike

Copy and paste is exactly what it sounds like. You copy content from one place and paste it somewhere else. Simple. Perhaps a little too simple. Clipboard only allows you store one piece of copied content at a time.

That’s where Spike comes in. This little known Microsoft Office hack will take your copy & paste game to a new level. It works like an old school paper spike. You can store multiple pieces of cut or copied content and access them when you’re ready.

It’s easy to use. When you want to add content to the Spike you select the chunk of text and push Ctrl + F3 (In Windows) or Command + F3 (on a Mac). You can repeat this as many times as you want to keep spiking content.

Empty the spike, paste all the content at once, by pressing Ctrl + Shift + F3 (in Windows) or Command + Shift + F3 (on a Mac). If you want to paste the content and keep it on the spike simply type ‘spike’ and the first part of the copied text will appear. Hit return and the content will paste to where the cursor is on the document.

This is great for populating multiple documents with the same copied content, or cutting out content that you don’t want to lose but aren’t sure where you’ll need it later. 

Organise your inbox on Microsoft Outlook

It’s safe to say that more time gets lost in the email inbox than on social media. If not properly managed, your inbox can become a black hole of productivity. But who has time for flagging emails and sorting inboxes? Luckily, Microsoft Outlook has it covered.

The Focused and Other tabs in Outlook help you stay on task by separating important from less important emails. Ensuring you don’t get distracted by a big online sale when you should be replying to suppliers.

To maximise its effectiveness you need to train it. Certain actions will determine whether an email is placed in Focused or Other.

Update your contact list, if an incoming email is from someone in your contacts it’ll go into Focused. Move important emails into Focused if they end up in Other and Outlook will put future emails from that sender into Focused.

This is a great way to manage your inbox and streamline your day. The more actively you use it the better it gets. 

Microsoft Outlook lets you leave the conversation

This one is as much fun as it sounds. It’s actually some really good life advice too. Ignore the conversations that don’t have anything to do with you.

If you’re included in an email conversation that no longer concerns you, simply click on the conversation and choose Ignore in the Delete button group of the Home tab.

The quickest and easiest way is to right-click a message and select Ignore from the pop-up menu.

You won’t be blocking the sender or any participants in the thread. This feature only stops you receiving new emails in the conversation. Top tip, it’s probably worth telling the rest of the thread you’re doing it.

Microsoft Office OneNote is a great business companion

OneNote is exactly what it sounds like, a note taking application. But it’s so much more than a notepad next to your computer where you messily jot down random thoughts.

It is smart and easy to use, with loads of functionality to save you time and make running your small business easier.

Use it to organize your tasks, write ‘To Do’ lists, set reminders and take notes in a meeting. One of its most useful functions is the ability to share notes.

By sharing a ‘To Do’ list OneNote becomes a powerful project management tool. Assigning tasks, setting reminders for those tasks and following up to check that they’re done lets you delegate work without losing control.

Sharing meeting notes with your colleagues ensures everyone is aligned with expected outcomes and saves valuable time.

Sharing is easy. Click ‘File’ and ‘Share’ then choose ‘Share with People’. This will give you the space to enter names or email addresses of people you want to share it with. There is also the option to add a note so you can issue instructions or feedback for the item you’re sharing.