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10 tips to avoid wasting time in Microsoft Programs

Tip 1: Practice using keyboard shortcuts


In Microsoft Programs, many features have keyboard shortcuts to help you be more efficient. With several keystrokes, you can format text and insert formulas in seconds.

But they are not the only two shortcuts. There are many more features that have shortcut keys available. The best place to start to learn these shortcuts is by hovering over features in the ribbon menu. As you hover over these, for at least several seconds, a hint will appear with the shortcut keystrokes (when available).

However, shortcuts are not just limited to keystrokes. Features such as Paint Format are designed to quickly apply existing formatting to text. This will speed up the time it takes to replicate the same formatting throughout your document.


Tip 2: Practice using time-saving features


There are many more time-saving features, other than the Paint Format. Without knowing these, however, you will be resolved to using the manual method which can waste a lot of your time.

For example, if you don’t know about the feature to automatically update pivot tables, then you will be wasting time manually updating each time you open a spreadsheet.

We can solve this problem right now for you, here is how:

  1. Right-click any pivot table and choose PivotTable Options.
  2. In the PivotTable Options dialog, click the Data tab.
  3. Check the Refresh data when opening the file option checkbox.
  4. Click OK and confirm the change.

These are the type of features we teach at CTSA. Click here to learn more time-saving tips you can implement today.


Tip 3: Attend regular training sessions


Attending regular training provides you with the opportunity to learn these shortcut keys and time-saving features. At CTSA, we recommend attending Microsoft training at least once a year, at a minimum.

Our training sessions commence with an overview of the time-saving features you should already be using. If you are using them, great! If not, this is your opportunity to learn, upskill and review.

We continue our training sessions with new features that you may not be aware of. Learning these features, and applying them to your work, will help you to avoid wasting time in Microsoft programs.

To learn about the training we offer, click here.


Tip 4: Stay up to date with your current version

By attending regular Microsoft training, you will stay up to date with the features your current version of Microsoft offers.

But what if you don’t attend regular training?

At the very least, you can attend a training session to learn the new features that your current version offers. For example, as you upgrade to a new Microsoft version, CTSA recommends that you also attend a training session to learn the new features that version has.

While regular training is recommended, at the very least, knowing what your version has to offer is better than nothing. The worst time-waster is manually doing tasks when your version of Microsoft has been updated with new features to save you time.

Click here to read this blog to learn how to stay up to date and avoid obstacles with Microsoft programs.


Tip 5: Retain your knowledge and skills


Is there really a point in attending training if you do not work on retaining what you learnt?

This is why we recommend regular training so that you can retain your knowledge.

Additionally, we are advocates of continuous learning. Attending a one-hour training session once a year is not enough. You need to practice the new features you have learnt, continuously.

This is part of continuous learning. Through practice, you will retain your knowledge and skills.

We help you to remember shortcut keys and time-saving features through our Save a Million Minutes email series.

Consider the mini-series as short hits of training (or micro-learning). We send you reminders of features that you should already know, and you can put them to practice. This is all part of your continuous learning to stop wasting time in Microsoft.

Click here to learn more about the Save a Million Minutes email series and sign up for free to start learning.


Tip 6: Create the habit of sharing tips with peers


“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself” - Eleanor Roosevelt

Most of our learning happens when we apply our knowledge and start to create experiences.

We learn better together, right? We learn when we have the opportunity to share our trials and errors with our peers. Likewise, when we learn about others experiences, we learn new ways of doing things or, equally important, what not to do.

Creating a space where you can share tips together with your peers will help you both to learn. You can achieve this by working together on particular tasks and sharing your lessons learnt. Your peers can bring their knowledge and skills to the task, and you can too.

As a result, you can complete the tasks more efficiently, avoid wasting time in Microsoft programs and, throughout the process, learn the best ways to tackle other tasks.


Tip 7: Read blogs and articles to stay current


Attending scheduled training sessions will help you to stay up to date with the latest tools and tips in Microsoft. Additionally, reading blogs and articles will also help you to stay current with your knowledge and skills.

What does that look like?

Well, you are reading this article right now to learn how to avoid wasting time in Microsoft Programs, right?

This is part of your learning experience, reading blogs and articles just like this to improve your Microsoft efficiencies.

You might do this as part of your continuous learning activities or, as you are completing a task, you can research how to use a particular feature. This will help you to practice your skills now and in the future.

Click here to read more blogs to improve your skills here.


Tip 8: Join community forums


In addition to blogs and articles are community forums.

Forums are like threads, where you can see questions, people have asked and read the responses or respond yourself.

This is an extension of Tip 6. Just like you would share your experiences with your peers, here in forums, you are sharing your experiences with a wider community.

Not only will you find solutions to problems that are similar to yours, but you will also be learning about new ways of using features or completing tasks.

Contributing to community forums is a means of continuous learning.

There are two types of Microsoft Community forums: ones supported by Microsoft where answers are provided by Microsoft employees, partners and certificated experts, and others are knowledge-sharing platforms such as Quora.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” - Helen Keller


Tip 9: Challenge yourself


Can you say that you have implemented each of the previously mentioned tips? All 8?

Great! Now it is time to challenge yourself.

As you are now an expert in the current version of your Microsoft programs and have created an effective continuous learning plan, it is time to level up.

You can start this challenge by simply taking on different tasks within your everyday work. Consider if there are projects you can work on that require you to create documents using different features and skills.

For example, in your current role, you may not be required to create pivot tables. As a result, this skill can quickly become redundant without practice. You can challenge yourself by joining projects and working with peers to practice different Microsoft features.

Tip 10: Revise current work, is there a better way?


However, the flexibility to assign yourself to projects company-wide may not be in your remit or within your workload limits.

Rather, you can challenge yourself by revising your current workload. Consider the following questions when revising your work:

  • Are there better or faster ways than what you are doing?
  • Are there shortcuts that you have not been using that will save you time?
  • Are you up to date with your version?
  • What is taking most of your time? Can you research if there is a better way in community forums?

Consider this tip as though you are conducting an audit of what you are currently doing. The goal is to find gaps in your Microsoft efficiencies and turn them into opportunities for improvement.


The Wrap Up


These tips will help you to avoid wasting hours completing tasks in Microsoft Programs. Work through the tips in order. The final tips will challenge you and push you further in your continuous learning. If you have not implemented the first 8 tips, it will be difficult to challenge yourself or conduct an audit.

First apply and then improve!

Are you ready to schedule your next training sessions? Click here to read more about the Microsoft programs training services we offer.

Not ready for training but want tips emailed to you? Click here to learn about our Save a Million Minutes email series and sign up for free.