While Microsoft Office is generally marketed at workplaces and businesses, it’s easy-to-navigate interface and broad uses mean it can become a useful tool in your personal life. There are almost always Microsoft solutions to logistical problems. As we approach the end of another hectic year we are faced with another hectic season of Christmas and New Years Parties, family holidays, the start of another school year, the commitment to New Year’s Resolutions, and general summer festivities.
We have previously written about how a member of the Nexacu team used forms to simplify the organisation of an end-of-year class breakup. It got us thinking about how Microsoft 365 can be a useful tool for people and not just businesses. Considering this is one of the busiest personal times of the year, we thought it was time to dive into how Microsoft 365 can be utilised to help you out at home.
Microsoft 365 is the successor to Office 365. The suite of applications outgrew the old name and Microsoft responded with a rebranding. While Office 365 is still sometimes used to refer to Microsoft’s more recognisable ‘core’ applications – Word, Excel, and PowerPoint – the technically correct term is Microsoft 365.
The full Microsoft 365 suite is made up of many, many applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, Access, Sway, SharePoint, Yammer, Skype for Business, Teams, OneDrive, Office Delve, MyAnalytics, Power Business Intelligence (BI), Forms, Power Automate and more.
Automatically create reminders or add items to your To-Do list
Power Automate is an app connectivity application – this means that it communicates between apps. You can use Power Automate to create flows. Flows are a series of actions triggered by an original event. For example, a simple outlook flow could create a task in planner each time you flag an email. We have a blog on how to do this here.
Power Automate is most useful in a personal capacity when used in conjunction with the events and calendar feature of your email. There are many templates on the Power Automate website that can be readapted from their original business purpose to a personal use. There is a template that will notify you when Google Tasks are due. Use this to keep on top of your personal holiday deadlines – Christmas presents aren’t going to buy themselves and sometimes things slip through the cracks.
You could also view it as a way to automate tedious small tasks. The ‘button’ section of templates has many templates that will do everything from converting word online documents to pdfs to receiving the weather details for the next five days. By automating otherwise time-consuming tasks, you can save time.
Struggling to get feedback from a lot of people? Let Forms do the heavy lifting
Microsoft Forms is a great way to collect information from many people at once. We all know that holiday season is party season and organising events can become hard with the constant back and forth communication. One easy form can negate all of this and keep all the information you need in one spot. We have previously written about how Anita used her knowledge of forms to collate the information she needed for organising a class party.
This idea can be extrapolated to other uses; organising a family holiday, Christmas party, or you can even use it for a trivia game – use your imagination to suit your needs. Click here for a detailed how to.
Don't forget to order a present for your favourite Aunt!
We all know that staying on top of Christmas presents and what you’ve bought and who wants what is a difficult ask. By creating a table in Excel you can keep all of the information in one spot. To demonstrate, I created a table in Excel. It tracks what I’m going to get the person, whether it has been bought, whether I must order it online or buy it in person, what side of the family they’re on, any extra information and the name of the recipient. I filled it out with everyone that I need to buy a present for (leaving blanks when appropriate) and formatted it as a table.
Once it was formatted as a table, you can sort all the information by your chosen categories. Here the ‘bought’ column is most useful to figure out who you still need to buy presents for. You can even take it a step further and apply conditional formatting to the ‘No’ cells to make them stand out.
Take the stress out of Christmas with a simple Plan
We have previously written about how Microsoft Planner is a useful organisational tool and gave a quick tutorial on how to use it. Simplify organisation this holiday season by creating a holiday planner. Each bucket could be an event, individual tasks that need to be done, shopping you need to do or whatever your schedule demands. We touched on how the versatility and user-friendly interface made planner an incredibly underrated application. I also think that being able to tick a task off gives you more satisfaction. I made a quick mock-up of what a holiday planner could look like:
Planner gives you an overview of everything at once and gives you a better picture of what needs to be done. If you add start/due dates the calendar feature comes in very handy.
Well, they're our hot tips for getting organised this festive season, find what works for you!
Getting creative with the Microsoft 365 applications can solve problems in your business and personal life. A deeper understanding of how these apps work will help you get the most out of them. View our course dates here: Microsoft 365 or Power Automate courses.