Monthly Archive for August, 2020

Friendship/Read A New Book Month

September is the ninth month of the year and the third of four months to have a length of 30 days. It is also Friendship Month and Read a New Book Month. Friendship Month celebrates the importance of friendship and what is means for us all, whilst Read a New Book Month is an opportunity to finally complete the novel you haven’t finished.

Friendship Month

We rely on our friends and we require friendships to feel emotionally and socially fulfilled. Friendship Month is all about celebrating what friendship can do for us. Friends can help us with problems and make us happier and better balanced. The time we spend with friends is vitally important and Friendship Month aims to recognise that fact.

Friendship Month is an opportunity to reach out to new people and make friends with them. We’re never too old to make new friends and that’s something that more people are now realising; in part, thanks to Friendship Month.

History of Friendship Month

Friendship month was founded in 2010 by The Oddfellows Friendly Society, who have no political or religious affiliations, stating “we’re here for everyone – from all walks of life and ages.”

How to Celebrate Friendship Month

There is a range of activities and events organised by Oddfellows that you can get involved with, for Friendship month. Even the current climate has not stopped this and they have lots of online social events planned and virtual open days, as well as a number of socially-distanced outdoor ones, too. You’ll have a good time and meet regulars who attend each year.

However, Friendship Month is something you can recognise privately if you wish, by spending more time with your friends and appreciating them. Or by getting back in touch with people who you may have lost touch with.

Use the excuse of Friendship Month to contact the people you perhaps have been meaning to get in touch with for a long time.

Hashtag  #FriendshipMonth

Read A New Book Month

There is nothing better than reading a book. When you open a book you enter new worlds, and find yourself swept up in the lives of extraordinary characters. Or the book may be a history book, an academic tome, an autobiography or an instructional manual.  The best books, even non-fiction, have a story that shares the vision of the author. During Read A New Book Month, dive into a novel or open that DIY manual you bought to finish that project

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King

History of Read A New Book Month

The first written word appeared in 3400BC, and the first story was The Epic of Gilgamesh, the ruler of the Sumerian city-state of Uruk between 2700-2500BC, told in a mythological style. This first tale was written on clay tablets, and through history books have been written on bark pages, rolled pages of papyrus, right up to the books and e-readers we’re familiar with today.

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” – Margaret Fuller

Celebrate Read A New Book Month

Read A Book Month encourages you to take in as many books as you can. At the least during the month, read one new book. If you want to be more ambitious try reading a new book every week, and swap books with friends and family. Join a book club or set up your own. And don’t let Read A New Book Month go by without trying a new author!

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx

Hashtag  #ReadANewBookMonth

10 Ways to Manage Time Effectively

Do you manage your time well or are there never enough hours in the day? For many, Lockdown and the increased trend for working from home has been a been a boon for productivity, but if you struggle to keep on top of work wherever you are, these tips are for you.

The UK has had a productivity problem for a while now. The figure, which is measured by output per hour worked, has flatlined over the last decade and was even dropping quite sharply at the end of 2019, and we have yet to see the effects that the Covid-19 pandemic will have. Having effective Time management skills will increase your own productivity and your value to the business you work for. They are also very useful in your personal life. Following the tips below will be a great start to improving your managing of Time.

1. Have a way to Check the Time

It sounds obvious, but have a clock or watch placed visibly in front of you. Keep a check on what you are doing and don’t spend an hour on emails instead of completing important projects.

2. Set a Time Limit

Decide that you need to finish Task A by 10am, Task B by 3pm, and Task C by 5:30pm etc. Don’t allow tasks to drag on and take time from other activities. You can even ‘Time Box’ your activities, which means allocating a fixed time period to a planned activity, working on the activity for that period and stopping when the time is up.

3. Have a To-Do List

Everyone had tried this, but just having a list of things to do does not make you into a Time Management wizard. If you only spend five minutes writing your To-Do list, then it will probably be of no help at all. A To-Do list requires thought. Plan too many big tasks in your daily list and it is inevitable that you will not get them done. Creating a task list is not secondary thing to try to do as quickly as possible. Making a task list realistic will mean completing it will be less stressful for you.

Not Too Many Tasks for One Day – It is difficult to say how many tasks you should plan for, but the biggest mistake most people make is to have too many on their list. Obviously, it depends on the work you are doing, but 5-10 tasks should be enough for a day.

Balanced – The task list contains both important and less important tasks. We may be tempted to work only on the most important tasks, but we have to take care of the less important tasks as well.

Flexible – What happens when you have planned a task, but cannot do it for whatever reason? Have a plan B in place. Know what you are going to do if your To-Do list does not go to plan

4. Do the Most Important Tasks First

Get the most important tasks done in the morning. The large, most important and stressful tasks should be tackled as early as possible. You have the most energy in the morning, so that’s when you are better equipped to do the most difficult tasks. It will also give you a feeling of accomplishment and make the rest of the day that much better.

5. Plan Ahead

Time management will just not work unless you plan ahead. And plan ahead as far as possible. For the next year, or month, or week or at very least the next day. If you know what is required in advance, large tasks can be broken down over days or even weeks, making them much easier to achieve. Good planning will transform how you work.

6. Delegate

If you need to focus on bigger or more complicated tasks, then perhaps other tasks can be delegated to others. Or trust other people to complete more complex tasks by themselves, so that your own time is freed. If it makes sense you can even outsource the work to an outside agency.

7. Focus on One Task at a Time

Multitasking is something that computers do. For human beings, it is a myth. If you start a task, finish it. Don’t, for instance, abandon writing a report to start to check and reply to email. Momentum is lost, as well as concentration and your time management suffers. Close any applications and browser tabs that you don’t need and focus solely on what you’re doing.

8. Target to Be Early

Be clear on when you need to finish your tasks and mark deadlines in your calendar and organizer. If fact, target to be early. If you target to be on time, then you may actually end up being late. Target to be early and even if you take longer, you can still be on time.

9. Prioritise

It is impossible to do everything, so do learn to prioritise. Apply the 80/20 principle which states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. That is, by ensuring that you get the top 20% most important tasks done, you should receive 80% of the benefits of completing all your work.

10. Don’t Try to be Perfect

Do your best work and don’t be careless, but don’t try to make everything perfect. Once you’ve finished a task and given it your best, then move on.

And some quick, bonus tips:

  • Use a Calendar and or Organiser
  • Block out Distractions 
  • Batch Similar Tasks Together
  • Eliminate Time Wasters like Social Media
  • Plan 10 to 15 minutes for transition between tasks

Effective time management, ultimately, is having the right attitude. Whatever you do, remember to take time to rest and relax. There is a lot more to Time Management, Delegation and other related areas. Infero has a range of courses to help you get better in all of these.

The Top 10 Keyboard Shortcuts for Google Chrome

Although internet access is through phones and tablets, half of web traffic is still through devices like PCs and laptops. These devices are ideal for heavy browsing and research and have keyboards, so it is possible to take advantage of keyboard shortcuts whilst working online.

Keyboard shortcuts are efficient and time-saving. When you are not constantly reaching for the mouse and instead using shortcuts, there will be a boost to your productivity. For instance, selecting all of the text in a document can be achieved by using the key combination of Ctrl + A.  Key combinations also more accurate than even the best mouse when it comes to precise actions like highlighting text or selecting cells in a spreadsheet.

Using keyboard shortcuts can also have measurable health benefits, reducing the risk of  RSI (Repetitive Syndrome Injury) and ULD (Upper Limb Disorders), which repetitive tasks like mouse use can cause.

Google Chrome is, by a long way, the most popular internet browser. Although it’s share is falling, as of June 2020, it still accounted for 65 to 69% of all web-browsing. With that in mind, we here at Infero have put together the most useful Chrome shortcuts to boost your productivity when browsing.

(NB: Many of the shortcuts below use the Control Key. In Windows, this will be labelled Ctrl and on Macs it will have the symbol )

1.  Open a New Tab

  • On Windows: Ctrl + T
  • On Mac: ⌘ + T

It is easy enough to open a new tab by pressing the + button at the top of the browser, but if you get into the habit of using this shortcut, you will never look back.

2. Close Active Tab

  • On Windows: Ctrl + W
  • On Mac: ⌘ + W

Instead of mouse  clicking the small X to close individual tabs on Chrome, simply press Ctrl + W instead. This closes the tab that’s current active (i.e. the one being seen on your screen).

3. Open Last Closed Tab

  • On Windows: Ctrl + Shift + T
  • On Mac: ⌘ + Shift + T

This is possibly the most useful shortcut as it enables you to open the last browser tab you closed – great when you have accidentally closed a tab. It is possible to use this more than once, to re-open multiple closed tabs in the order they were closed. (This feature does not work in Incognito Mode – see below).

4. Enable Incognito Mode

  • On Windows: Ctrl + Shift + N
  • On Mac: ⌘ + Shift + N

Incognito Mode allows private browsing and does not leave a record of your browsing history, useful on shared workstations. Chrome is also blocked from saving cookies, temporary Internet files that contain your IP address, login details, and other browsing information.

5. Minimize the Active Window

  • On Windows: Ctrl + M
  • On Mac: ⌘ + M

If you have multiple windows open instead of tabs, you can minimize the active open window by pressing Ctrl + M. Useful if you have browser windows stacked on top of one another.

6. Jump Between Next & Previous Tabs

  • On Windows: Ctrl + PgDn (Next open tab) or Ctrl + PgUp (Previous open tab)
  • On Mac: ⌘ + Option + Right arrow (Next open tab) and ⌘ + Option + Left arrow (Previous open tab)

If you have multiple tabs open in Chrome, instead of clicking each one to check what is on it , use this shortcut to cycle through all tabs, either forward or backward.

7.  Open the Bookmarks Manager

  • On Windows: Ctrl + B
  • On Mac: ⌘ + Option + B

This opens the Bookmarks Manager on Chrome and allows you to organise your bookmarks. From here you can open and delete individual bookmarks, create bookmark folders, and move bookmarks into different folders.

8. Open Downloads Page

  • On Windows: Ctrl + J
  • On Mac: ⌘ + Option + L

This shortcut allows you to see the files you downloaded using Chrome. It also allows access to downloaded files directly through the browser rather than using File Explorer.

9. Clear Browsing Data

10. Snap Cursor to the Search Bar

  • On Windows: Ctrl + L
  • On Mac: ⌘ + L

This shortcut does exactly what it says on the tine and moves your cursor to the search bar, so that you can Google something or type in a URL.

As a bonus, here are some basic Navigation shortcuts that will work in ALL browsers:

Keyboard ShortcutAction
Ctrl + F5Refresh and reset the browser cache for the current page.
Alt + Left ArrowBack
Alt + Right ArrowForward
Alt + HomeReturn to Homepage
F6Select the address bar (Alt+D and Ctrl+L also works here)
F11Fullscreen mode, exit fullscreen mode
HomeScroll to top of page
EndScroll to bottom of page
SpacebarScroll down
Shift+ SpacebarScroll up
Page Down / UpScroll down / up
Ctrl + CCopy selected text
Ctrl + XCut (copy and delete original) text
Ctrl + VPaste copied text

Using these shortcuts will save time, have health benefits and improve your productivity. You don’t have to use them all, but try a few and see how they work for you. You may find that you start to use your mouse less and less.

Incredibly Inventive Uses of Excel

August is Inventor’s Month. Most people could name very famous inventors like Albert Einstein or Alexander Graham Bell, but what about Tim Berners-Lee, who essentially invented the internet or Katharine Burr Blodgett who created the non-reflective glass used on camera lenses and computer screens? And what about those who are astoundingly inventive with our favourite spreadsheet program, Excel?

Excel was designed for such things as Data entry, Accounting, Scheduling, Producing charts, Identifying trends and many other business uses, but with a surprisingly broad range of graphical options, and with the possibilities that VBA and macros offer, it can stretch well beyond its intended use. Even Excel’s designers and programmers could not have imagined some of the more inventive and unexpected uses of Excel.

Make Music with Excel

Youtuber Dylan Tallchief created a drum machine in Microsoft Excel, but didn’t stop there. He went on to create a fully functional Excel DAW (“Digital Audio Workstation”) called xlStudio. There’s a transport section with playback controls, a looping function, the ability to solo and mute tracks, and it even exports projects as .als files. You can try out xlStudio for yourself by downloading it for free on Google Drive.

Sudoku Solver and Generator

If you are a fan of Sudoku and are want new Sudoku games to play, this humble .xlsm file, utilising the program’s VBA capabilities is for you! It generates an unlimited number of different Sudokus and even solves ones that you are stuck on. Designed by Bruce McPherson, there is an explanation of how it was put together on his website and you can download it here.

Make a Realistic Digital Clock in MS Excel

It sounds impossible, but you really can make a realistic looking digital clock in MS Excel. Find out how in a series of videos on the excellent Excel Unusual website, which has a large number of different ‘unusual’ examples of Excel use. This one requires some work in PowerPoint and working with VBA.

A Working Flight Simulator

Another project from Excel Unusual uses the program to build a functional flight simulator. The visuals are basic, but still impressive and use the mouse as the joystick of the aircraft. It isn’t a ‘game’ as such, more of an exploration of just how far the limits of Excel can be pushed.  If you are interested, find out more and download the Excel Workbook using the link above.

Incredible Excel Art

Excel provides the tools for creating your own digital art. It requires creativity, but you can work using Excel’s basic shapes (or autoshapes) It will also take practice before you reach the standard of  Tatsuo Horiuchi, who layers countless Shape designs over one another to create seriously impressive artwork.

Take a look at some Horiuchi creations here.


One of the world’s most popular games, this example puts an actual Monopoly board into an Excel spreadsheet, which allows play with 3 different people.

Once you are familiar with the tools and functions in Excel, there is very little you can’t use it for. At Infero, we offer courses at all Levels of Excel. Once you have the knowledge, the only limits are your imagination.