Nowhere is the saying 'you don't know what you don't know" more true, or of paramount importance then to understand the wastage occurring behind every computer. It doesn't matter if you're a company of one, or CEO of a multinational.

I'm not referring to fiddling around with social media or Trade Me. Measures can be put in place to curb that. Let me give you an example to illustrate the problem.

Interviewing an Office Manager applicant

"I'm superb at the computer" she said, and continued with all the ways over the years she has used software. Proficiency with MS Office was one of the main job requirements.


When it was my turn to describe the Office Manager role, in an offhand manner I mentioned something about email. "Oh, I'm just great with Outlook" she replied. Thinking my luck couldn't get any better with a more suitable applicant, I innocently asked "so, tell me, how do you use Rules?"

A blank quizzical stare was her only response. I was stunned. How could someone professing to be so good on the computer not know about Rules? In my opinion, the Rules function in email programs is one of the most important items to know.

This is one simple, personal example of literally dozens of true stories I could write about. They would all point to the same fact. Almost everyone works VERY inefficiently with their software. From the Managing Director, to the Executive PA to Managers and down.

You'll find what has happened is that efficiency has been impeded by six factors:
1. Expectations that staff should and could use software without any prior experience or training.
2. New young staff starting work having only experienced web based email.
3. Increasing volumes of email sent and received.
4. Software upgrades in the office without accompanying training.
5. The lack of books or resources available for staff to turn to.
6. IT helpdesks focus more so on systems and solving problems - not on education.

This problem is most when you are working in Outlook (which is still the major business email software). It probably gobbles up several hours of your day and is a major pain point. It's where you receive work requests. Where you communicate with most. Where you get news. Where you set your appointments and meetings, and where you remind yourself to follow up. Not only that, the change to the ribbon format in 2007 and 2010 changed everything that was familiar.

Most people perform actions one by one by one and the way they've nutted a task out over time. Managers don't know to ask staff why reports or documents that took hours or days to be created, could have been done in a fraction of the time - if the staff member knew a few simple software functions.

The solution to the problem is helping people, staff to discover the diamonds of productivity waiting at their fingertips. They just need to take the time to learn if there is a better way of doing things. This can span formal training to the informal of books, manuals or even implementing a share a computer tip portion to regular meetings.

Speaking of books, here is one example out of hundreds of tips from my new book Conquer Your Email Overload. We'll be giving one book away each week. Enter the contest, as the tips you learn will help you work more effectively both easing your pain and enhancing your gain. Learning just four or five time saving tips can easily free up at least two working weeks a year (20 minutes a day times 240 working days a year).

I've taken ten years of learning and put it into a very easy to read book. It's in a problem/solution format that focuses on where you'd like to improve most; in communication, sales, workflow, response management, customer service. Imagine accomplishing this by simply making a few simple tweaks to the way you work.

Why not begin with this little known tip?

Forget typing details: Drag and Drop

You'll love this tip! Used creatively drag and drop can replace cut and paste and typing from scratch.

Take incoming email and drag, then drop into contacts, calendar, or task folders to transform that email into a new item. An email dropped into Contacts creates a new contact for the sender. Take their signature, drag and drop the information into the respective contact fields. Even better, you can highlight text within an email and drag and drop that instead of the entire email.

Where: Anywhere within Outlook
I'm giving away one free copy of my new book Conquer Your Email Overload weekly this month. To be in to win, simply email me naming your top email problem. By the way the book can be purchased at any bookstore or from my website