Monthly Archive for December, 2020

The Best of Blogs

As it’s our last blog of the year, we thought we’d take a look back at some of our favourite blogs of 2020.

Back in May, we gave you 12 Unbelievable Facts about Excel, detailing some amazing trivia about our favourite spreadsheet programme.

June was the month that we told you How to Geta Job in Project Management and there were some Essential Ergonomic Tips for Home Workers in July. There was more bounty in July as we gave you not 10 but 12 Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste in Your Office.

In August we thought, that if, like us, you find there are never enough hours in the day, you might want to know 10 Ways to Manage Time Effectively, whilst September provided 10 Ways to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence.

October saw us celebrating  World Vegan Month as well as telling you How to Get Microsoft Office for Free.

And Bringing us almost up to Date, we told you How to Beat Procrastination in November.

There are many more articles on our blog for you to enjoy.

Motivation – That’s What You Need!

Motivation helps us to make things happen, but how motivated are you? Let’s be honest, most of us feel unmotivated some of the time and sometimes we don’t feel motivated at all. As we look forward to a New Year, we thought we’d share some tips on how to get and stay motivated, as well as some of our favourite motivational quotes.

Set a goal. This will be something to focus on. Ideally choose a goal that interests you, as you are much more likely to stay motivated if you are working towards something that you really want to achieve. If you have a goal that doesn’t interest you, then find something in the goal that does. If you also make your goal public, by, perhaps, posting it on social media or writing it down, then you will be more motivated to achieve it.

Don’t try to do too many things at once; it saps energy and motivation.  Some say that the secret of getting things done is focus. Choose One Goal. It’s hard to maintain energy if you are trying to do two or more goals at once. Choose one goal, for now, and focus everything on it. You can get to the other goals once this one is done.

Even if you don’t feel like you are motivated, act like you do. Research has shown by acting as if you are a certain type of person, you become that person, happy, sad or, yes, motivated. Act as if you are motivated and pretty quickly you actually start to feel motivated and enthusiastic.

Try starting small. It is much easier to be motivated to do something if it is only a small task. Instead of starting with two hours of exercise a day, start with two minutes a day. It is much easier to commit to that and to stick to it. Two minutes is so easy, that you are almost certain to do it. Next week increase it to five. And keep doing it. It may take a while, but you will get to your two hours a day.

If you can’t get motivated at all, then do something – anything – just to get started. Clean your desk, or wash the dishes. Finish one small task and you will feel much more ready to do something else. Just getting started will boost your motivation. Have you ever thought that those really ‘productive’ days were sometimes started by doing one, small thing?

Look for inspiration and motivation wherever you can. Read books, blogs, magazines. Talk to other people about your goals. Google how other people achieved your current goal and maybe get some tips. (You can visit Infero’s social media every Tuesday to see the best motivational quotes!)

Think about benefits, not difficulties. It is really easy to focus on how hard something is and to convince ourselves that we can’t do it. Focus instead on what you will achieve at the end; how good you will feel at the end of the run and how much healthier you will be if you keep up with your exercising.

If you can, do the hardest thing on your to-do list first. Once it is done and out of the way, you will feel much better and more motivated for the rest of the things that you need to do.

Have fun. If you have fun doing a task, you will be far more motivated. And if there is no fun in a particular task, create some. And don’t be afraid of failing. Things will sometimes not go as you want them to go. Failure can be re-defined as feedback that helps you go on to bigger and better things.

Don’t give up. No-one is motivated every day, but even if you aren’t feeling inspired, remember that this isn’t the whole story. Stay with it for the long run and realise that there will be stops and starts and days when things don’t go right, but don’t lose sight of your goal and you will get there.

Finally remember that no-one is motivated all of the time. Don’t be hard on yourself if you are just not inspired today. Motivation is waiting for you, just around the corner.

10 Top Tips for Keeping Your New Year Resolutions

It’s the time of year when many of us make resolutions. A New Year seems like a great time to make a fresh start and to change our habits. But we’ve all made resolutions and then ended breaking them. However, if you can resolve to improve your health and stick to it, then the chances are your whole year will be better.

Keeping resolutions is not as hard as you might think. There are simple things that you can do that will improve your chances of success.  Actually making a resolution is a good start. According to a study, those who make New Year’s resolutions are 10 times more likely to actually change their behaviour than people who don’t.

Here are 10 tips to make sure that this is the year you keep your resolutions:

1.  Be Realistic and Specific

If you resolve to change your whole lifestyle and have a long list of resolutions, it is very much more likely that you will fail. It is better to have a small number of resolutions, or even just one. Think carefully and choose the resolution that will have the greatest impact on your happiness and health, which will also provide the greatest sense of achievement.

And ensure that resolutions that you do make are realistic. Having vague resolutions of ‘losing weight’ or ‘getting fit will quickly be broken. Specific, realistic goals such as losing 10 pounds, or training for a 5-mile charity run will give you something to aim for. Trying to do too much will all at once will almost certainly lead to failure. We need to remember that establishing new behavioural patterns takes time. Remember that achieving even small goals can boost your self-belief.

2. Have a Plan

If you were undertaking a major project at work, you would not proceed without a plan. Making a major behaviour change needs just as much thought and planning. Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve. Take some time before to consider how you are going to achieve our goals and consider any problems you might encounter and how you would deal with them. How will you deal with temptation, or the days that you don’t want to go to the gym?

3. Start Small

Trying to do everything at once is one of the main reason’s resolutions fail. Break goals down to manageable chunks and take small steps at first. If you have resolved to run a marathon, start out by going for a jog two or three times a week. Eating more healthily can begin with replacing one or two of your favourite junk foods with healthier options. It may take longer to get to your goal, but you are much more likely to stick to this.

4. Don’t Give Up

Slip-ups are inevitable, but relapsing into an old habit doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. Set-backs can be learning opportunities, allowing you to plan to avoid it next time. There will always be challenges and times when things don’t go as you would want them to, but don’t beat yourself up about it and don’t let this become an excuse to give up. Instead of focussing on what went wrong, think of what you have achieved so far and tell yourself that you are starting again now

5. Remember That Change Is a Process

It probably took you years to develop the habits that you are trying to get rid of, so it is unrealistic to think you can change them in a few days or even weeks or months. It is probably going to take longer than you would like to achieve your goals; it takes around 21 days for a new activity to become a habit and six months for it to become part of your personality. Changing your behaviour is something that you will continue to improve on for years and years to come.

6. Get Help and Support

Tell friends and family about your resolutions and enlist their support and help in achieving your objectives. Having a good support system will keep you motivated. Ideally find someone who shares your New Year’s Resolution, or something similar and form a buddy system to support each other. Or, you can join a group, such as a running club, that shares your goal.

7. Track How You Are Progressing

Ensure you are keeping track of each accomplishment, as these will keep you motivated. We know that short-term goals are easier to keep. If we think about losing the first five pounds, rather than focusing on the 30 pounds loss that may be our ultimate goal, it will help to stay on track. Assessing short term progress against a long-term goal reminds us that we are succeeding.

8. Give Yourself A Reward

You have planned carefully to keep your Resolution and part of that planning should be to put in place rewards and treats that you give yourself when you reach an important milestone. But make the rewards appropriate. Don’t eat an entire box of chocolates because you have you have manged to eat healthily for a month. A little is ok, but you could perhaps reward yourself with trip to the cinema or some new clothes.

9. Keep Trying

New Year’s resolutions are easy to make and may be easy to keep for a few days or even weeks. But if by the end of February, you have totally run out of motivation, remind yourself why you are doing this and find sources of inspiration to keep you going. If all else fails, start over again. Tell yourself that you are going to recommit to your resolution for just 24 hours, which is fairly easy. And then do that again. A few of these will build on each other and you will soon be back on track.

10. Realise That You are in Control

Remember that all of this is in your power. If you have planned your resolutions carefully, then they are achievable. You have friends to help and support you, but it will ultimately be you and what you do that will achieve the results you want. These achievements are under your control – other people can advise and support you but it’s your actions which need to change to see the results you want.

It may not be easy, but it is something you can do and achieving your goals is definitely worth the time and effort it will take. Good luck!

10 Fantastic Features in Microsoft 365

The vast majority of businesses use Microsoft software for their everyday office tasks and many of us also use the same programmes on our own personal laptops. Whichever category you fall into, here’s our guide to the latest and best features that you should be using in Microsoft 365.

On April 21, 2020, Microsoft officially changed the name of its productivity suite from Office 365 to Microsoft 365. It includes applications like Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint, which will be familiar to most of us. As it is the de facto standard for most companies, it pays to keep up to date with all the new developments within Microsoft 365.

Office 2019 was the last standalone version of Microsoft’s software. Whilst there are rumours of a new standalone version being released in 2021, Microsoft 365 is based around the 2019 edition. If you have an earlier version of the software, then many of the features in this article may be unavailable to you and, unfortunately, they may never be, as Microsoft doesn’t update older versions with all new functionality.

The programmes that most of us are familiar with are the ones that are considered the core apps and services:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • Outlook
  • OneNote
  • OneDrive
  • Teams

However, there are many, many more apps that may not be so familiar such as Intune, Forms and Exchange. Microsoft has adapted its productivity suite to cater for the massive increase in remote working and online collaboration, so if you are not using the new tools available, you are missing out om a chance to become much more productive.

1. Real-Time Co-Authoring

It’s possible to collaborate online and see changes as they happen with real-time co-authoring in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Files can be saved to OneDrive or SharePoint so others can work on it Using the integrated sidebar you can share it directly from the application.

2. Microsoft Translator Built-in Support

This is a new feature added to Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Access by opening the Review tab, locate the language group and you will see the new Translate and Language commands. It is possible portions of text, either the entire or a selected portion.

3. Chat with co-workers in Office apps

You will be aware that Microsoft Teams is one of the biggest pieces of software of 2020, but may not be aware it has in-app integration in Microsoft 365.  It is possible to chat, share screens and have conversations with colleagues without leaving the application you’re working in.

 4. Add Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG)

These don’t sound exciting, but Scalable Vector Graphics Office 2019, which can be inserted in Excel, Word, and PowerPoint documents can be easily rotated, moved, coloured, and resized without affecting the quality of the images. To add these, click the Insert tab and look for the new Icon Command button.

5. Send Links to Files Instead of Entire Documents

If a file is uploaded to Microsoft 365’s cloud storage then co-workers can easily access it. Using Outlook, email the person who needs to edit the document, inserting a link to it. Outlook will automatically grant edit permission to the recipient of the email.

 6. Morph in PowerPoint

A new transition called Morph is now available in PowerPoint. This, ostensibly, allows a transition from one slide to another using animation, but in effect, allows you to create animations within seconds. Using Morph, first duplicate a slide, then move, resize, or edit the objects on the duplicated slide. Choose the Transitions tab and then morph. This will automatically create a smooth animation from the original slide to the duplicated one.

7. Power Map in Excel: Turning data into a map

Power Map allows you to transform rows of data into a 3D interactive map, with the ability to filter the data used. It’s enhanced by Power BI, which is available to anyone as a free download.

8. Reply to an Email Without Opening It

Now the Reading Pane in Outlook allows you to not only preview an email’s content, but by hitting reply, it is possible to send a response in the same main Outlook window.

9. Working Anywhere on Any Device

Office Web Apps are part of a Microsoft 365 subscription (and also free to anyone who signs up to a Microsoft account). This means that your cloud files can accessed from any internet connected device, with a suitable browser. Office Mobile Apps, again free to download from the relevant app store, allow you to access files, using Word, Excel and PowerPoint, using a smartphone or tablet.

10. Resume Reading Feature

you have been given long documents to read, it may not be possible do this in one session. The Resume Reading feature in Office 365 allows you to drop in and out of the document and pick up straight from where you left off, even if you are using a different device.

These are by no means the only new and useful features available in Office 365. There are others, including managing your finances with Money in Excel. You can find out more here.

Is it Time for a Dry January?

Among a myriad of New Year’s traditions, resolutions and etc., Dry January became a popular challenge for many. The concept is simple – give up alcohol entirely from your diet for the duration of January. For some, it’s a way to take a break from excessive drinking during holidays, for others it’s a way to “detox” and kick start health-related New Year’s resolutions.

Officially, Dry January is known as a campaign run by Alcohol Concern, a charity which is tackling problems with overconsumption of alcohol and the many issues it can potentially cause. Since 2015 they have been working with Public Health England, which also encourages people to participate, as according to their words, it can continue to help people with their drinking habits for weeks, even months after the challenge.

And it works too! Not only do 72% of participants improve their drinking habits, even 6 months later, but many sources also confirm other benefits of participating. Big drinker or not, giving up alcohol for a month would show a few health improvements. And with that recurring resolution to get healthy in the new year, why not give this challenge a go?

Here’s a list of reasons why you might like to try the challenge:

1. Rethinking your habits

Dry January is an opportunity to rethink how one consumes alcohol and in what situations. The unfortunate reality is that many of us can feel pressured in drinking environments, ending up consuming far more than we originally planned. But, if we dedicate the whole month to not having a drop of alcohol, we can find a way to decline social pressure or just have a good reflection on our own habits. Some people may find that they need alcohol far less to enjoy themselves, or not need it at all.

2. Saving money

Whether you go for your drinks to a fancy bar, a local pub or just get your fill at the corner shop, alcohol always costs a pretty penny. By not consuming it, an average participant can save some money, which can either be spent on something else of course or be donated to the charity itself!

3. Weight loss

We always hear that alcohol is empty calories, and it’s true! Depending on how much you drink usually, you can even lose a few pounds in a couple of weeks. Alcohol consumption also leads to the likelihood of increased junk food consumption, so if you cut back on alcohol, you might not feel the need to get a greasy takeaway afterwards.

But most importantly, Dry January heavily focuses on community and supporting each other, whether or not we have difficult relationships with alcohol. For some, it’s just a detox month, for others it’s a way to take back control, but we are more likely to succeed at it if we doing it together and supporting others. So next time you hear a friend or a family member trying the challenge, maybe offer to join them and see how it changes your life for yourself.

You can find out more about Dry January and even download resources here.