Items filtered by date: December 2015 - Xcellerate
Sunday, 20 December 2015 08:47

If you find it hard to get people together for a meeting, then this tool may be exactly what you’re looking for. Do you spend more time arranging a meeting than actually meeting? Then read on, because we reveal a little known gem in Office 365 that can make your life a whole lot easier.

What is Findtime exactly?

It is a new Microsoft add-in for Outlook that facilitates meetings. It aims to make organising a meeting easier by sending out a poll to all participants so you can quickly and easily gain a consensus on the most popular time. Sounds simple? Yes it is, but it is very useful.


Why is it useful?

While this is not a technological revolution, it is a handy tool to make arranging meetings easier. Yes, there are existing tools like Timebridge, NeedtoMeet and Doodle that do the same thing, but they do not have the Outlook integration that Findtime has. 

Solving a common problem

Organising a meeting between, let’s say 5 people, requires contacting each individual and them responding. You cannot always rely on everyone to agree and you will often spend a long time sending emails back and forth trying to confirm a time that is mutually convenient. With several people involved, this can be very time consuming and frustrating. Findtime sends out a poll to each participant asking for their desired time. You can put a few different times, and the most popular option “wins”. There is no discussion, no time wasting and no endless emails back and forth.

How do I get it?

It is available via the Microsoft Office 365 package if you use Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2016. It can also be accessed on the web browser version of Outlook.

Navigate to to install the add-on in your Outlook. You only need to do this once, it will appear both in Outlook and in Outlook Online.

How do you use it?

One you install the add-in, an icon appears in your tool bar. Look out for a new, big red button that says New Meeting Poll. Click it and you can create a poll with proposed times, sent along with an email. It also allows to specify a location, time/date and duration. Participants can accept or decline the times you suggest, and propose new times. Once a consensus is achieved, Findtime will send an invitation to all parties.

Send to Anyone

Findtime is an Outlook add-in, but you can send your meeting polls to anyone regardless of whether they use Outlook or not.

Is it worth installing?

Absolutely. For anyone who organizes regular meetings, this is a huge time saver! It makes arranging meetings so much easier. For anyone who has to regularly arrange meetings, you will know how time consuming it can be, when it should be very straightforward. This add-in makes what is often a painful process a lot simpler.

Sure, this isn’t ground-breaking and the idea is behind it is pretty simple. No bells or whistles here but that’s why we like it. The best ideas are often the simplest and this is a simple way to make this particular challenge a lot easier. Developments like this and attention to detail is why Outlook is still by far the preferred business email provider. Thank you Microsoft!



Published in Blog
Sunday, 13 December 2015 17:29

What is the 21st century way of working? It is a lot of things, but it is underlined by the idea of making work life easier, more efficient and placing the individual as the priority. The concept of commuting to a corporate office every single day is no longer a painful inevitability. The advances in technology provide freedom, control and a healthier approach to work and life. It means that your job works around you and not the other way round. Office 365 plays a big role in this and represents a refreshing new mentality.

Remote working revolutionizes how we work

Office 365 is cloud based which means you can access your information, documents and programs from anywhere. Working from home cuts out commuting time giving you more time to do the things you enjoy, and giving you more energy to be more productive. When something allows parents to work from home and look after children, it can only be a good thing and it is this kind of flexibility that is attracting many people to Office 365.  Did remote working exist before Office 365? Sure. But it wasn’t even close to being this affordable or easy. Importantly, it also allows you to work on the move – mobile working allows you to send that document or edit that file on a mobile device.  

Break down barriers to growth

A small business needs a few things if it wants to professionalize. It needs a suite of applications for employees to do their work. It needs hosted email. It needs significant storage. It needs video conferencing software. Office 365 breaks down barriers to growth by giving the functionality of a large organization to a small business. This is a classic of example of technology working for the little guy and allowing us all to get ahead.

Improved security provided by Microsoft

Security is major issue for businesses of any size. Office 365 not only allows you to back up all your files and data on the cloud, but the package also includes support. This kind of security would otherwise come at a cost, and would likely require hiring a full time IT professional. If you run a small business, the level of security that Microsoft offers with the 365 package is likely far superior to what you could afford on your own. 

Say goodbye to email servers and save money

If you wanted company email in the past, you needed email servers. These are expensive and require employing an IT professional to run it. Office 365 provides this as part of the package, meaning that your company saves a lot of money.

The real reason Office 365 is so significant is because the various features combine to make life easier and cheaper. Technology becomes widely adopted only if it is represents value and allows us to work smarter, and subsequently more productively. It is part a direction of travel that allows us to manipulate working tools around our needs and therefore maximize efficiency. This means we can spend more time doing what we enjoy and achieve the kind of work life/balance that we want.


Published in Blog
Tuesday, 08 December 2015 16:20

RescueTime is an app that monitors your productivity in the workplace. It's designed to spot inefficiences in your day so that you can become a pro at self managing your time. By tracking and categorizing your time, you get better insights and it allows you to implement small changes that impact your time in a positive way.

What is it exactly? 

RescueTime is an application that is installed on office computers for management to track the amount of time employees spend on certain websites and software programs. It is intended to facilitate understanding of what employees are doing to ensure that they are achieving optimal productivity.

Why we (as individuals) like it

We like it because of what it can do for us. As individuals we should be looking at ways to make ourselves more productive. That means not necessarily working harder but working smarter. This means working not longer hours, but being more focused when you do work, which can improve the quality of your output and result in finishing your work sooner.

Find out how you spend your time

The breakdown of your activity allows you to see where how much time you are spending on any given program or site. If you are spending, say 2 hours a day on Outlook when sending emails isn’t a major part of your job, then you can limit the amount of time spend on it. Conference calls are a prime culprit for time wasting – when you see the hours you spend on conference calls at the end of the week, you may just see the value in reorganising the way you work. Needless to say, the same goes for unrelated, non-work sites like Facebook or YouTube used purely for personal entertainment.

"Get Focused"

RescueTime tracks the productivity of each website or programs and assigns a productivity rating to each at any given time. The Get Focused Feature highlights unproductive use in real time by providing an alert. It then blocks the unproductive application for a defined period, forcing you to focus your attention on something else. It may take a little getting used to, but it really works.

Think of RescueTime as personal tool to make your life easier. The reality is that we all spend a lot of time at work doing non-work related things. This can be due to our own lack of focus, inefficient organisation or a work structure imposed by management that isn’t efficient. At the end of the day, an office full of people with technology that makes you constantly available is a distraction. It’s a fact. But how you deal with these distractions is up to you and RescueTime is an excellent way to make it a little easier.


Published in Blog
Tuesday, 01 December 2015 15:50

Do you rely on email to do your job? Do you require information from emails to complete your daily tasks? If so, you may find that you spend a LOT of your time in your inbox. You may find yourself overwhelmed by the volume of emails and people chasing you to respond. If you are tired of people asking “Did you get the email I sent 5 minutes ago?” and seem to spend more time dealing with questions than working, then you need to read this. There IS way to do manage emails and still focus on the job at hand.

The Problem

A widespread problem across all industries is dealing with e-mail flow. Many of us require information via email to do our job and this often involves communication to clarify certain points regarding a task or project. Our inbox is an important central repository of information. If dealing with numerous people, the flow of emails can be very high and many people will expect immediate responses. Some people will chase you and not only is this stressful, it is a huge distraction that prohibits you from doing your work. You may receive phone calls or Skype messages chasing you for a reply. If this sounds familiar to you, you no doubt experience a lot of stress while working.

We make it Worse for Ourselves

The reality is that we in the workplace want to please our managers, bosses or clients. We therefore respond as soon as we can and often work long hours to meet demands and respond toall emails. The reality is, that by making ourselves constantly available, we create unsustainable expectations. The irony is that the harder we work by always responding and always dealing with client questions, the harder we make it for ourselves.

The solution put forward some years ago was to simply close your inbox and only check it periodically, meaning you make yourself available to respond according to your schedule and not anyone else’s. However, many of need to have constant access to our emails and if we don’t have access to them, we don’t have the required information to do our job.

The answer? F9

A way to help solve this problem is to work offline. By clicking the file tab in Outlook and choosing the Work Offline option, you have access to all the information you need without being bombarded by emails. Once you are ready to look at your emails, simply click F9 to manually refresh. This means you can focus on one task ata time without being constantly distracted. You might think that you are essentially ignoring incoming requests but instead think of it as efficiently managing your correspondence. It is merely a systematic approach to best deal with your communications. 

Ultimately, it can be difficult to tear yourself away from urgent demands for your attention, especially from clients or your boss. But ultimately, if you are going to do your job to the required standard and in a way that is sustainable, you need to work at your pace. And that means organizing work flow around you, not just others. Remember, that if you respond to your boss now or in a couple of hours won’t make that much difference but it can make a huge difference to your happiness and productivity.

Published in Blog


« April 2018 »
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29