Make 2017 your most productive year yet

For many of us, the first two weeks of 2017 have involved a few New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you’re getting up early to hit the gym, working your way through books from the bestseller list or applying all your willpower to avoid that mid-afternoon snack.

However, if your enthusiasm is already waning, why not set yourself a resolution to make it even easier to tick off items from your to-do list, so you can spend more time pursuing the things you love? Whilst lots of people use Skype and Office products every single day, you may not realize that it’s easier than you think to integrate the two to help boost your productivity. So if you like the sound of getting things done more quickly in 2017 and freeing up your time for more exciting pursuits, check out our five top tips below.

ProductivityTip #1: Collaborate to meet deadlines

In 2017, your co-workers will not necessarily be sitting on the opposite deskyour team may work from another city, country or even another continent. For this reason, it’s never been more important to keep in touch, and there are plenty of ways to make that easier:

  • When you’re working towards a stressful deadline, it’s tempting to only communicate with your team via emailbut investing time in face-to-face conversation is key for successful collaboration. Ask your boss to join you for a coffee or call your colleague in another office to say hello and check in. If you’re working remotely and need to catch up with your team whilst on the move, you can use Skype to make group video calls from your mobile to a desktop.
  • Remember to get feedback on your work and crowdsource ideas. Skype is one of the only desktop apps that allows users to share their screen when on a call, making it even easier for you to impress when talking through a Word document or PowerPoint presentation.
  • When you’re finally ready to hit send on that email, make sure it doesn’t get stuck in your outbox. If you need it, Skype has a 300 MB sharing limit, more than any other email app.
Screen sharing
Share your screen on a Skype call to improve collaboration

Tip #2: Create more impressive content

With the technology at our fingertips today, it’s even easier to produce gold-standard content, even if you aren’t a natural born designer:

  • When you want to impress, it’s tempting to spend hours on making a presentation look pretty before you finish writing the content. Don’t feel bad for creating a ‘rough’ draft firstit’ll save you time in the long run.
  • When you’re ready for design, tools such as PowerPoint Designer and QuickStarter in PowerPoint and Sway can then help you create a great looking presentation in half the time. Remember you can use Skype to share your desktop or send documents if you want a second opinion!

Tip #3: Step up your networking game

If you are looking for your next big career move, networking is crucial. But once you’ve met a key contact, what’s the best way to develop the relationship?

  • Social media is a great way to keep in touch with important new contactsyou’ll also be able to see what events they are attending in future and arrange another meeting.
  • Once you’ve set up a follow-up meeting, the Foursquare bot on Skype and Skype Preview can also help you find the best place to meet up at a local restaurant for networking rendezvous.
  • Alternatively, use the Yelp add-in for Outlook to plan lunch dates. Simply search for nearby restaurants and send location details to co-workers right in email. Or, use the Starbucks add-in for Outlook to set up coffee dates right at a nearby Starbucks location.
Foursquare bot
Add the Foursquare bot on Skype

Tip #4: Get (and stay) organized

No matter what your career is, being organized enables you to be productive:

  • Write things downwhether it’s in a notepad, on your phone or on the back of your hand.
  • However, if it doesn’t come naturally, relax and let technology take away some of the stress. You can use OneNote (and the To Do Tag) to track your actions each day. By adding due dates and reminders to each task, you’ll have no excuse for missing a deadline. You can also use categories in Outlook to organize your emails.
  • If you’re losing track of your correspondence, you can use Skype to forward calls to a mobile or landline to keep all your calls on one device. You can also mark messages as read or unread on Skype to avoid missing important notes.
SMS relay
Forward your Skype calls to mobiles or landlines

Tip #5: Be prompt

Being fashionably late might have been cool for your holiday party, but if you’re looking to impress at work, punctuality is key:

  • Need to prioritize taking a lunch, getting to the gym or scheduling an appointment? Put work/life tasks on your Outlook Calendar. Then, when others look at your calendar they already see you’re busy and can suggest another time for meetings.
  • If you frequently travel on the job, consider using the Uber add-in for Outlook to remind you when it’s time to schedule your next ride.

Being productive has never been easier with the technology offered today. For more productivity tips and tricks, check out this survey Microsoft conducted in partnership with Levo on ways to work smarter in the new year. Have additional tips to make your work life a little easier? Tweet us @Skype and @Office and let us know!