I love finding better, faster and smarter ways of doing things, and recently I've realised that not everyone is privy to these more efficient ways of working.
So today I want to share with you some of the nerdy little hacks that I believe can save seconds, minutes, who knows, maybe even hours when you're working on your computer... And, if nothing else, they will help you to be a bit more productive, which means you can get more done, in less time, and be less stressed!
Interested? Here are my favourite 12. You may know some, all, or none, but it's always a good refresher to figure out how we can save time on the devices we spend so many hours on each day. Make sure you leave a comment below with any of your favourite hacks!
1. Quick parts
Are you frequently typing the same email over and over again? Or going into templates to copy and paste into your emails, for things like confirmations, reminders, explanations of those repetitive PM questions? In your Outlook there is a feature called 'Quick Parts', which allows you to quickly dump your frequently used and favourite content into your emails – you can save as many as you like and categorise them too. For a handy guide on how to set it up and use it, click here.
2. Keyboard shortcuts
A few quick keyboard shortcuts that will speed up seconds when working on your computer (they all add up):
- Alt-M – minimise all windows to show desktop
- Alt-TAB – flick between open programs/windows
- CTRL-X – cut
- CTRL-C – copy
- CTRL-V – paste
3. Delay send
This handy one works on Outlook, and Gmail now has a feature for this too – allowing you to shoot off an email now but select when you would like it to be delivered. This is great for reminders to tenants ahead of routines or after moving in to return condition reports, etc. The link above will also explain how to delay send emails.
4. Turn off email alerts
Constant distractions popping up in the corner of your screen will not make for a productive property manager. To disable Desktop Alert in Outlook, simply go to: Options – Mail – disable 'Display a Desktop Alert' option. Turn them off on your phone too, otherwise the buzzing in the background will keep you just as distracted. (Turn off all your alerts on your phone, you'll be amazed at how much more pleasant it is).
5. Work offline
As above, distractions will derail your productivity. If you're trying to work on a specific task, or just want to clear out the email clutter without getting new messages in that distract you – select to work offline from your main menu. Some super productive PMs will selectively use this throughout the day.
6. Shared calendars
Sharing calendars with your fellow staff members will save time asking who is where and what each person has got going on. It might seem a bit 'big brother', but it can save a lot of time and help others in the office know when not to disturb you, or when you'll be back in the office.
7. Format painter
If you're ever trying to get some text to match up to how another area of text looks in outlook or word... there is a cheat mode to do so, click on the text you want to duplicate, then click on the format painter icon (top left on the main menu on most versions), and then click on the word or highlight the area you want to past the formatting to. Saving time fiddling with fonts, sizes, etc.
8. Follow up
Sending an email but think, 'I really need to follow this up if I don’t hear back, but how will I remember?' From your draft message you can set a follow-up (either a flag to go into your Outlook to-do list) or an actual pop-up reminder. You'll thank yourself for reminding yourself.
9. Email rules
Most mail clients can help with this. And they are not too complicated to set up – even simply by right-clicking an email. This will help if you're organising emails into folders on a regular basis.
10. Group messages by…
If you receive a high volume of email, tracking down relevant messages can be a chore. Outlook can group emails into conversations, so that a single click shows all related messages together. You can set this on a global or per-mailbox basis by going to the View tab and ticking 'Show as Conversations'. Click the 'Arrange By' bar at the top of the message list and select 'View Settings' from the dropdown menu to configure additional grouping options.
If you're wasting time sifting through email newsletters you're no longer interested in, instead of deleting them each time, click on the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the email. Save yourself some seconds and frustration.
I'm the one in the office who always says "oh, there's an app for that", and there usually is! As far as computer apps go, here’s a few of my top picks:
- Momentum Extension – When using Google Chrome, you can add on this app, which means that every time a new browser tab is opened, the time and your main goal for the day is displayed loud and proud, reminding you to get back to the task at hand and avoid procrastination.
- StayFocused – The app StayFocusd increases your productivity by limiting the amount of time that you can spend on time-wasting websites such as social media, set your limit to 30 minutes each day and you’ll quickly see how much time you really spend online.
- Forgotten Attachment Detector – Whenever you send an email that contains terms such as 'attachment', 'attached', 'enclosed', and more but does not actually have a file attached, it will alert you before you send your email. A saviour for me.
Comment below with your hacks. Happy productivity!