U is for… Use your tools effectively

There are many tools out there to help you do your job effectively, just bear in mind that having all the tools in the world is no substitute for skill and ability; in that way that having a copy of MS Project (other planning tools are available) does not make you a Project Manager.

However, if you make yourself a master of the tools you need in your day to day tasks, it makes everything else that much easier and quicker. People pay more attention to the content of a well presented document, instead of mocking or getting confused by layout and mistakes. If you don’t have time to master a tool before you have to use it, get someone on your team that is already a master of it.

Here’s a few pointers (other products/pointers are available):
Word:
Learn how to use the formatting tools: paragraph marks, bullets/numbering, headers and footers, auto numbering and styleref.
Create templates for the stuff you use a lot.
Excel:
Learn how to use the formatting tools, borders, colours, conditional formatting, charts.
Use macros for anything that is repetitive.
Powerpoint:
Learn how to use the formatting tools, master slide layout, transitions.
Don’t overdo it, people tire VERY quickly of flashing lights and sounds.
Project:
Set your working day before you start putting in tasks (if you don’t – learn to live with it that way)
Don’t use hard dates other than fixed starts of major phases or hard milestones: use dependencies, including ss, sf, fs, ff and lead and lag times.
General:
Use the right tool for the job; don’t do presso’s in Word, don’t do your project plan in Excel

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