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Start Page: Top 5 New Year's (IT) resolutions for 2013

Kim Brand
December 19, 2012
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StartPageBrand.jpgStarePage1.gifYou’re a year older, but are you a year wiser? You trudge down the same poor-productivity path year after year hoping that somehow the work will wane or your staff will step up. You ignore new versions and repel updates because you were barely trained on the last one and don’t have time to invest learning the new ones. Make this the year you get out of the poor-productivity ditch.

Resolution No. 1: Upgrade to Office 2010 (or 2013) and LEARN IT!

Say what you will about Microsoft, they know how to dominate a market. And no market is so dominated as the one they dominate with Office – aka Word, Excel and Outlook. If you make a living with words or numbers they are your toolkit. Are you a craftsman or a klutz?

The best part about Office 2010 is that Outlook search got a lot better. Search is the soul of information management. If you are hoarding thousands of emails in your inbox or folders, you deserve the joy of being able to find something faster.

Resolution No. 2: Empty your inbox

An inbox makes a horrible to-do list and worse project management system. Your inbox is where email goes to die. Resolve to move email to folders – and if you can – delegate your inbox to someone who can help. Assign expiration policies to folders . . . use it (file it) or lose it.

The new version of Outlook lets you drag emails to tasks. With the right system you can simply convert requests delivered by email to tasks you can assign to your staff in a single stroke.

Refer to my website http://emailtrainwreck.com for more about email.

Resolution No. 3: Learn keyboard shortcuts

Since the invention of the mouse I’ve noticed too many seconds are wasted by aiming smaller and smaller arrows at smaller and smaller targets and clicking to do almost everything. By the end of the day you’ve probably wasted enough time to play an 8x8 game of Sudoku. If you are going to waste time, at least you should have fun doing it!

Almost everything you do with a mouse can be done with a keyboard shortcut. Ctrl-S for example saves the file you are working on. Visit http://shortcutworld.com for hundreds more in dozens of programs – especially Word, Excel and Outlook.

Resolution No. 4: Change your passwords

2013 will probably be a good year for hackers. More high-value targets, more online applications, more connected hackers. Protecting yourself doesn’t need to be complicated; just use passwords that have a mix of upper and lower case letters, a number and a special symbol or two. (I wrote about this last January in the Indiana Lawyer.)

Don’t use the same password everywhere! And if you ever lose a password and have it (or a link to a password reset page) emailed to you, DELETE THE MESSAGE! If someone hacks your email and browses your inbox, imagine their delight when they find the credentials to your banking and shopping sites kept there forever!Startpage2.gif

Resolution No. 5: Unhook, disconnect

Studies have shown that as our focus is stolen by the constant interruptions of our digital life, we think less, react more and actually lose IQ points. It is ironic that the Internet, source of all knowledge, is making us stupid.

Most of my customers are afraid to disconnect. It takes courage. But the first step is to make an agreement with the people you connect with about your availability. I’ve added a link to an ‘Email Policies’ page in my Outlook signature. Everyone who receives a message from me is welcomed to learn ‘how I roll’ with email. Setting expectations is everything.

Try this: Share your inbox. Outlook rules are fine, but only a human can decide how to reply, forward or call someone making an urgent request via email (which is stupid all by itself). Leave the rest to wait for your ‘four-times-a-day’ email review windows. Seriously.

I hope you have a happy and productive 2013!•

__________

Kim Brand is a technology expert and president of Computer Experts Inc. He is the inventor of FileSafe, an on-premises file server, and he speaks and writes frequently on technology subjects. To attend a free seminar on Outlook titled: “I Was An E-Mail Sinner,” contact his office: info@ComputerExpertsIndy.com or call 317-833-3000. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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  • Have you tried?
    An interesting alternative to iGoogle is also Startific. It displays icons and widgets, connects all your favorite links and all your bookmarks, etc and organize them into a pretty nice interface, like you probably haven't seen in a quite while, check it if you want at www.Startific.com

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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