Saturday, October 11, 2008

Do You Know How to Use the Tools You Need in the Office?

In a post called the GROWING PRODUCTIVITY DIVIDE Seth Godin wrote a quick quiz with tools you need to know how to use to make your work more productive.

Take a few minutes to scan his list and see how many of his tools you use regularly.
1. Can you capture something you see on your screen and paste it into Word or PowerPoint?
2. Do you have a blog?
3. Can you open a link you get in an email message?
4. Do you read more than five blogs a day?
5. Do you have a signature in your outbound email?
6. Do you have an RSS reader?
7. Can you generate a PDF document from a Word file you're working on?
8. Do you know how to build and share a simple spreadsheet using Google Docs?
9. Do have a shortcut for sending mail to the six co-workers you usually write to?
10. Are you able to find what you're looking for on Google most of the time?
11. Do you know how to download a file from the internet?
12. Do you back up your work?
13. Do you keep track of contacts using a digital tool?
14. Do you use anti-virus software?
15. Do you fall for internet hoaxes and forward stuff to friends and then regret it?
16. Have you ever bought something from a piece of spam?

How many did you say yes to? (Hopefully the answers top 15 and 16 were NO.) How many questions did you say "what's RSS? or Google Docs? or PDF software costs too much!"

If you're trying to make the transition into the workforce and found you didn't have a high score, you may want to use this list as a springboard to learn how to become more productive.

When you go for an interview and the person says something like:
"Why should I hire you?"
You will have something to say.

Print out this list. Learn a new skill each week and continue to use it. And when the interviewer asks, you can say: "You should hire me because I am extremely productive. I know and use many computer shortcuts and can help other people in the office learn them as well." Then whip out your list with check marks after each of the 16 questions and leave it with the interviewer. Good bet the interviewer won't admit it but only knows how to do a few.

This list is not meant to intimidate, but if you find you're not familiar with the ideas, you'll be 3 steps ahead if you use it as a to-do list to learn new ways to become more productive.

Twenty years ago (when the world was running on 386's, Wangs and Radio Shack TRS80's & most departments had a secretary taking messages) the list might have looked like:

  1. Do you keep pre-filled out overnight FedEx forms ready and know where the last pick up box is within a 45 minute drive of the office?
  2. Do you know how to create a cover sheet and send a faxsimile?
  3. Have you created a filing system that cross references your outgoing and incoming faxes?
  4. Can you find and fix the paper jam in the copy machine without getting toner all over your business suit?
  5. Do you know how to program a simple formula into Lotus 123?
  6. Do you know how to use a text editor?
  7. Do you use a Franklin Planner?
  8. Can you program an Kodak Ectographic viewer?
  9. Do you have overheads on a cardboard frame to make your presentations look more professional?

Okay, for those who are re-entering the workforce, you may recognize some of those terms, but recent college graduates will probably wonder what I'm talking about.

Being "the one" who knows how to do something that the others don't can go a long way into getting you the job and also making your co-workers feel that you helped to save the day when a big presentation was going south or another deadline loomed.

More productivity ideas for the office from Ben Yoskovitz at the Instigator Blog. I met Ben at conference in Chicago about 18 months ago. He asked his readership for their best productivity tips. If you are feeling smug about getting a 90-100% on Seth Godin's list... take a look at the tips that are shared there.

Some of my favorites:

  1. Make a to do list for tomorrow at the end of the day so you start fresh.
  2. Empty your InBox every day -- both paper and electronic.
  3. Create files (both paper & electronic) so you can retrieve information when you need it quickly.
  4. Back up electronic files.
  5. Discard old files or store somewhere that won't slow down your system.
  6. Make it easy to find frequently needed phone numbers, email, addresses.

What's your best productivity tool?

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