13 August 2010

Pass it on...

I wrote an article called We Don't Know What We Don't Know.  The reason I wrote it was because I know that every assistant knows something that their colleagues don't, but if they did it would be helpful in their jobs.  So why don't we share and better yet, how can we share?  I think the first reason is what I put in my original article.  We don't know what we don't know.  I might be doing something that works really great, but just assume others know about it so don't say anything to anyone. 

I mentioned this to our team of admins at one of our meetings so when one of my co-workers found out how to do something they thought to share it with the team.  I had no idea this could be done, but I was thrilled when I got her email, but it just proved to me once again that we are all holding on to things we take for granted that others know about.

The tip she sent me was how to edit an email that you have received.  This is useful if you want to file the email and change the Subject line to something that better describes what the email is about or to put notes in the email.  For instance I recently received an email and wanted to remember to speak to my boss about it so I flagged it, set a reminder and changed the Subject line to "Add to one on one with boss."  It was a good way to remember why I had flagged the email in the first place and what I wanted to do with it.  What I had previously been doing is forwarding the email back to myself so I could change the subject line or remove some text that I didn't need.  The tip my co-worker sent is much better, but if she hadn't shared, I would still be doing it the old way.

How to edit an email message (Microsoft Office 2007):
Open the email message from your Inbox and click on Other Actions and you will see the option Edit Message.  Click on that and you will notice you can now go in the email and change the Subject line or add or substract text in the body of the email.  I put any changes I make in CAPS (or different coloured font) so I can easily see what changes or points I made.  Close out of the email and you will be asked to Save the changes.  Click OK and voila! the email now has your changes added to it.

Something I use regularly is Tasks in Outlook.  I thought everybody used it, but I started talking about it with some assistant friends of mine and I was met with some blank looks.  I think Tasks is one of Outlook's best-kept secrets, but it shouldn't be and is a great way to follow up on items.  If I send an email to a co-worker requesting information, I immediately drag it from my Sent items to my Tasks, set a reminder to follow up and write in the Subject line "Did I get this information". (Note: The original email will remain in your Sent items and a copy will open up in your Tasks notes page).  I also drag items from my Inbox if someone sends me an email to advise they will be sending an agenda or some other item by a certain date.  I drag it to my Tasks and set a reminder so I can follow up whether the item was received.

Using Tasks
When in Tasks, click on New and you can enter a task and set a reminder, or you can drag and drop an email into Tasks and the text of the email will automatically open in the body of the Task. 

If you want the actual email to be in your Tasks follow the instructions above and once your Task is opened, click on Insert and choose Attach Item, you will then be brought to a Look In screen and you can go to whichever folder it is in and click on the item you want and it will be inserted in the Task as a usable email.  You can also attach a file from Word, Excel or PowerPoint or a business card from your Contacts if it is someone you need to remember to call and want that information available.

You can also set a Task by right clicking on an email and choose Move to Folder.  You can then move it into your Tasks.  A word of caution, if you use this method it actually takes the item right out of your Sent items (or whichever folder you got it from).  I don't like to take items out of my Sent items because I rely on looking in my Sent to verify that I actually sent the email.

When the Task is due it will pop up in a Reminders box so you can see which items you set for that day.  The Reminders box is the same box where your calendar items pop up when they are due, so should be familiar to everyone.

So how can we know what we don't know?
A good way to find out something new is to look on different website forums.  I have learnt a lot just by checking out what others are asking.  Other ways you can learn new things is to:
  • Subscribe to feeds from various admin or business sites.
  • Encourage sharing tips and tricks among the admins in your office. 
  • Share any special training you have received with others in the office or online. 
I share what I know by blogging, but whatever forum you use, communication is key.  If we don't talk about it, we will never know.

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