Organising your Outlook folders

Organising your Outlook folders

If you are anything like me, you will live your life by Outlook. Sad but true, right? I literally wouldn’t know what I was doing without my inbox and calendar organised just so. For me, Outlook is key to the work that I do – it was even more important when I was working as an EA. I’ve written a few blogs in the past about maximising Outlook for productivity and filing paperwork, but today I wanted to focus specifically on organising your outlook folders. This is a little excerpt of a blog I wrote back in 2012 while working as an EA to three directors, I included a picture of my Outlook filing system which gives a good overview of how I filed stuff.

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Technology of the week: Slack

Technology of the week: Slack

Technology of the week: Slack

What is Slack?

Slack is the fastest growing office application in history. Only in its second year it has over half a million users and is currently doubling its numbers every 3 months. That is a lot of users! Slack is an instant messenger service that allows teams to communicate with each other over a number of platforms (website, phone, tablet etc.)

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Technology of the week: iTranslate

Technology of the week: iTranslate

What is iTranslate

iTranslate enables travellers, students, business professionals, employers and medical staff to read, write and speak in 90 languages, anywhere in the world.

What does it do?

With iTranslate you can translate text or websites, start voice conversations or look up words, meanings and even verb conjugations in over 90 languages. No training needed. Just start speaking and iTranslate recognises your voice, converts your words to text and translates them into another language. The app can also be used offline to save on any roaming charges. With the safari extension users can also translate whole website and pages.

Technology of the week: iTranslate

Why does it benefit assistants?

This is a great app for Executive’s to have on their phone when they travel aboard. Who doesn’t need a quick translation every now and again? The browser extension also let’s assistants translate documents and websites really easily. The translation may not be completely accurate, but with iTranslate you certainly get the gist of the language.

Why is it Practically Perfect PA tech of the week?

Living in Spain I’m sure you can imagine how heavily I rely on a translation app! This is my favourite app and I would really recommend it for business travellers.

Technology of the week: Any.do

What is Any.do?

Any.do is a productivity app that helps organise every aspect of your life. It is available for free on most platforms, including Apple and Android, web and desktop.

What does it do?

Like most ‘life management’ apps Any.do helps users organise their tasks, set reminders and make to-do lists. It also has a calendar function that synchronises with your lists. You can send tasks to other people, it synchronises with other calendars (iCal, Google Calendar etc.) and you can capture tasks with voice recognition. Here are a few more details from the Any.do folks…

Any.do is available anytime, anywhere, on any device. It’s always ready to take your notes or remind you what you need to be doing.

  • Keep all events, tasks, lists and reminders in one place
  • Lightning fast sync across Android, iOS, web and desktop
  • Share lists and assign tasks to get more done, faster
  • Smart widgets keep it all at your fingertips

Technology of the week: Any.do

Why does it benefit assistants?

There are loads of productivity / life management tools on the market and each assistant should pick one that works for them. Overall, they do benefit assistants enormously and I like Any.do because it is pretty simple to use, it looks clean and modern and it is available on a number of platforms. I like the voice recognition element. This might come in handy during meetings with your boss, or when taking minutes, or when someone randomly stops you in the middle of a corridor to ask for something.

Why is it Practically Perfect PA’s tech of the week?

Assistants have to remember a lot of stuff… Stuff for us, stuff for other people, important stuff! Unless we have some kind of superhuman power (which we do, but that’s another blog) we need tools to help us remember all the stuff.

The Industry Snapshot: The Office of the Future

Thanks again to everyone who completed the Practically Perfect PA Industry Snapshot survey. We had some really interesting feedback and I want to share some of that with you today. We asked you a few questions regarding the environment you currently find yourself working in and what your offices might look like in the future. Here are some of your thoughts…

Has the design of your office changed in the last five years?

  • We are working towards a paperless office within the next two years
  • Yes, we now have an open plan office with hot desks and more people working from home
  • We have had a total office renovation with modern furniture – office desks for standing or sitting. Updates on all of our hardware & software, including touch screen telephones with face-view and better communication system. We also have live chat with our IT support desk
  • Yes with health being a focus so think office gym equipment, stand up desks etc.
  • Our office is much more eco-friendly
  • Agile working is the way forward for our office
  • The meeting rooms in our offices are much more flexible with movable walls, digital whiteboards etc.
  • We’ve reduced the amount of storage space to encourage staff to go digital
  • We have more informal meeting spaces
  • I now work from home
  • We have consolidated people into less space to save money on office rent
  • We now have a zero tolerance policy for paper left on desks over night
  • We moved buildings and all of the assistants were assigned desks next to each other

Do you work in the same location as your Executive?

I asked this question to see whether assistants were working more remotely from their Executives but the answer was a resounding no, with 87% of you still working in the same location. I would imagine that most assistants still sit outside their Executive’s office or pretty close by and I can’t imagine this changing any time soon!

Are you able to work remotely (from home or out of the office)?

64% of you answered yes to this question which is slightly higher than previous years. It looks like organisations finally understand that assistants can work very productively while out of the office!

On average, how often does your Executive travel for business?

I asked this as the number of people travelling on business continues to rise and many Executive’s now spend more time on the road than they do in the office. Your answers certainly seem to reflect this trend with 70% of you saying your Executive travels at least once per month. This will certainly change how assistants work with their Executive’s particularly around the use of technology.

Some of your favourite technology

Here is some of the technology you use on a regular basis…

  • Google docs
  • SharePoint
  • Scannable
  • Bloomberg & Reuters
  • Jabber
  • DocuSign
  • Huddle, Doodle, Prezi, Sway
  • Zoom
  • Telepresence rooms
  • WebEx
  • Evernote
  • Blackboard
  • Travo
  • Echo Smartpen
  • Slido
  • Box.com
  • Google Hangout
  • Skype

In a typical month, which types of apps do you use on your smartphone for work?

I was surprised at the mixture of responses for this question with many of you happily listing your favourite apps while others said they did not or were not allowed to use their smartphones for work purposes. Many organisations, for security reasons, do not allow staff to use their own devices for work including access to emails etc. I wonder what effect this has on work life balance for assistants within these types of organisations? It would certainly stop you checking emails at ungodly hours, which can only be a good thing!

For those of you who do use your smartphones, here are some of your preferred apps:

  • Whatsapp
  • National Rail, TFL, Hotels.com
  • Banking apps, maps, stocks, Uber, restaurant apps
  • Travel Apps: Tripit / flight apps / Hotel apps / City guides etc.
  • Concur for expenses
  • Trello
  • The Calculator – all the time!
  • Skyscanner
  • Outlook mail & calendar, Yammer, OneNote, OneDrive, Google, MSN Weather, Office Lens, Skype for Business
  • MobileDay, Waze, Amazon, Concur, Uber, WhatsApp, Skype and Amex
  • American Airlines, FlightStats, Open Table, Google Maps, Weather Channel, CNN, Apple Notes, FaceTime, InstaCart, Uber, Curb, Amazon, WhatsApp (International Texting when my Executive is travelling abroad), Facebook, Twitter, Marriott, Goodreads, Transit Tracker
  • Citymapper
  • The Trainline
  • XE

We have also put together a handy infographic with all of the information, please feel free to share this with your colleagues and network!

The Industry Snapshot: The Office of the Future

Top websites for free images

Today’s blog post is a down and dirty list of my favourite websites for free images. As you can imagine, I use loads of these websites for Practically Perfect PA and I wish I had known about them while I was an assistant. They are much easier to navigate than Google Images. In no particular order, here are my favs…

Stocksnap.io

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