Tag Archives: productivity tips

Speaking Is Believing! Use Windows 10 Cortana to Help Your “Old School” Computer with Work Tasks!

That’s right—the tech geeks have proclaimed that you can use Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant system found in Windows 10 with your “old school” computer to help you navigate and search the Internet, open some applications, make appointments, and remind you of to-do lists by simply plugging in a microphone.

According to Sean Hollister who reviewed Cortana for Gizmodo and who tried a number of microphone scenarios, Cortana seems to be able to recognize and perform voice-activated requests very handily. Marc Chiappetta who writes for Forbes, was impressed with the speed at which Cortana was able to perform requested tasks, although he does provide a wish list of improvements. One improvement he would like to see is for Cortana to be able to handle compound questions—Example: “What is the time and temperature in Chicago?”


Attention SmartPhone Users! Although Cortana has been available on Windows phones for a while, you’ll be happy to know that Cortana is coming to iPhones and Androids later this year—yeah! It will be nice to compare Cortana to Siri and Google Now—you be the judge.


If you want to upgrade or develop skills that can help you in today’s job market, consider enrolling in the Business Office Systems & Support program at Richland College. You will have a wide selection of courses (offered online and face-to-face) from which to choose. These courses range from basic keyboarding, computer literacy, business communications, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access (includes preparation for the Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam**), office procedures, etc. These courses can all lead you towards a college-credit certificate or a 2-year associate’s degree.

Richland College is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu at 972-238-6215.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office Pro Plus 2013***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a FREE version of Microsoft Office 2013 Pro Plus (or 2011 on the Mac) which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote.


Are You Just Hearing, or Are You Listening Your Way to Success?

09-15-2014 final 478293049

Take a “working tip” from Richland College’s POFT 2312 Business Correspondence and Communication course on how to enhance your career and leadership success by developing effective listening skills.

Some people don’t realize that there is a big difference between hearing and listening. As a result, they run the risk of jeopardizing their success at work as well as in other aspects of their lives.

According to experts, hearing is one of the five human senses—vision, hearing, sight, smell, and touch; while listening is a communication technique.

Developing an effective listening technique is vital for anyone who wants to be successful in today’s workplace. The ability to demonstrate effective listening is key to your success, and to ignore important listening strategies is to invite failure.

Review the list below that was developed by authors Thill and Bovée on important listening strategies that can help you succeed in your career. These authors also look at the flip side of the coin and identify behaviors that can reduce your effectiveness and ones that may actually be harmful to your success. So don’t just “hear”; learn to “listen”!

09-15-2014 Table FinalIf you want to improve your communication skills, consider taking one or more courses in the BOSS program at Richland College.

Richland College, which is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road, offers both online and on-campus courses. For more information contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office Pro Plus 2013***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a free version of Microsoft Office 2013 Pro Plus (or 2011 on the Mac) which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote.

Source: John V. Thill and Courtland L. Bovée, Excellence in Business Communication, 11th edition, Pearson, Boston, 2015, p. 49.






Word Tip: Use the Keyboard to Create a Simple Table

11-11-2013 Word Tip--Use the Keyboard to Create a Simple Word Table Image--153454864Have you ever been typing and found that you needed to put some of your information into a table to display it more attractively? Well, Word has a neat keyboard feature that allows you to do just that.

Although Word’s ability to create tables from the Insert tab or to draw them using the Table Draw feature is wonderful and very easy, your fingers don’t have to leave the keyboard if you use the handy tip described below.

For example, if you want a 2-column table:

Optional/Step 1: Make sure your Show/Hide feature is turned on so you can follow your cursor more easily —located in Paragraph group on the Home tab.

Step 2: Make sure your cursor is at the beginning of your left margin and type the “+” key (no quotes), and then use the Space Bar to space the approximate length of where you want the first column to end and then type another “+” (no quotes).

11-11-2013 Word Tip Step 2

Step 3: Use the Space Bar again to space out the length of the second column and type another “+” and press the Enter key and Presto! You have the first row in your table.

11-11-2013 Word Tip Step 3

Step 4: Your cursor should appear in the first column, and you are now ready to begin typing your text. Just press Tab key to move to the second column and type in that text.

11-11-2013 Word Tip Step 4

Step 5: After you have typed in your text in the second column, press the Tab key again and a new row will be created automatically

Hint: If you want three or more columns, use the Space Bar and the “+” key to space out the length for the third column, etc., accordingly, but make sure all characters appear on one line.

After you have created your table and if you want make it fancier, just select the table and use one of the Word styles in Table Tools >Design.

If you need to take one or more classes to help you enhance your technology skills and productivity, consider taking one of the Microsoft Office classes or other skills/productivity development classes from the BOSS area at Richland College.

For more information on BOSS software and productivity course offerings, the BOSS degree and certificates contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.

Join us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/RLCBOSS/


Are You A Team Player???
The question, “Are you a team player?” has certainly gained in importance over the past few years as we rely more and more on networking from remote locations in the world of work. What used to hold us in awe—someone working with a colleague who lived thousands of miles away in another country—is now seen as the routine. Employers expect their employees to be able to work together, even though the workers involved in a project may be many miles apart.
What does it take to be a contributing, responsible team member today?
Jeff Butterfield offers some insight and tips in his textbook entitled Teamwork and Team Building: Soft Skills for a Digital Workplace (Course Technology, Cengage Learning, 2011):
1.  Understand the role of teams in the world of business—recognize that the formation of teams may be necessary because:
  • Teams can serve to represent and implement the goals of a company.
  • The project may be too large for a single individual.
  • Teams can create a broad range of solutions.
  • Teams can serve as motivational tools.
  • Teams can serve to build a sense of commitment to a project—stakeholders.
  • Recognize the various types of teams—basic workgroups, committees, project teams, task force teams, self-managed teams, and special-purpose teams.
2.  Teams may have a shared sense of their purpose, while groups may be comprised of people who work on similar tasks or who follow the same procedures—there is a big difference.
3.  Be aware of the fact that team members should need to develop a sense of ownership or vested interest, share the same objectives, have a sense of contributing to the overall purpose, develop a sense of trust among members, and feel as though the team can make meaningful decisions. Get to know your other team members.
4.  Have a healthy respect for varying opinions—avoid falling into the trap of looking only the familiar and allow new ideas to be explored. However, be sure your “netiquette” (your cyber manners) is incorporated—egos and unhealthy conflict can send a team into a downward, nonproductive spiral very quickly.
5.  Respect deadlines—team members need to be committed to getting goals accomplished by the projected deadline dates; however, if there are extenuating circumstances, adjust the schedule accordingly, but be realistic and stay committed.
6.  Have a team leader (or coordinator) who is responsible for coordinating and contacting members to ensure the goals of the team are being met.
7.  Stay on target while continually examining the team’s purpose, expectations, and any roadblocks/barriers.
8.  Make sure the ability to make decisions, access to resources, and the ability to take meaningful actions are in place—teams need to have a sense of empowerment.
9.  Make sure the efforts of the team are recognized and rewarded. We all want to feel appreciated.
10. Be aware of differences (and perhaps difficulties) between communication and coordination and plan accordingly.
11.  Take advantage of and use appropriate technologies. Today we have mobile devices that include laptops, tablets, social networking, Smartphones along with teleconferencing. If used effectively, these tools that can be of immense help in getting tasks and projects completed. You don’t have to use every “bell and whistle,” but do use technology to help overcome time wasters and redundancy.

For more information on BOSS software offerings, the BOSS degree and certificates, and how the BOSS program can help you with your career, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.

Are You Managing Your Time…Or Is It Managing You?

We’ve all heard the old saying, “time is money and money is time,” and this saying is even more important today to businesses and employees because of increased competition both domestically and globally.

If you want to improve your professional competitive edge, identify those areas that may be “time wasters” and turn them into “time savers.”

Some time wasters have been identified below along with the ways they can impact you negatively and some tips on overcoming them.

Effects of Poorly Written Communications

  • Written messages that are confusing or vague and that may actually lead to costly mistakes for your organization.
  • Unhappy employees and customers or lost business opportunities.
  • Unnecessary or repetitive messages.
  • Improper use of written communications such as forwarding jokes or other inappropriate material.

Solutions to Improve Written Communications

  • Consider taking courses that can help improve your writing skills.
  • Attend company sponsored writing seminars.
  • Attend writing seminars sponsored by professional organizations.

Effects of Ineffective Verbal Communications

  • Receiving personal phone calls during business hours.
  • Not getting complete information from a caller such as name, phone number, and reason for call.

Solutions to Improve Verbal Communications

  • Limit or eliminate personal phone calls.
  • Repeat the caller’s information and get important details of the call.
  • Always provide the complete number for calls that must be transferred.

Effects of Improper Planning

  • Important details may be missed.
  • Important deadlines may not be met.
  • Key personnel or key elements may be mistakenly omitted.

Solutions to Help You Improve Planning

  • Use electronic calendar and planning tools to help you plan and anticipate your task completion.
  • Analyze and identify the “who, what, and when” of tasks to help you cover key elements for completing tasks.

Effects of Having a “Cluttered, Unorganized” Work Area

  • Important information may be lost or overlooked.
  • Precious time may be wasted because materials must be searched repeatedly for important data.
  • Requests from others for information may be delayed or not completed at all.

Solutions to Help You Streamline and Manage Your Work Area

  • Make good use of filing supplies and guides for hardcopy documents.
  • Use filenames that clearly distinguish your electronic files.
  • Make good use of electronic folders to keep your files in order logically and efficiently.
  • Develop a plan to archive important files.
  • Review your files on a planned periodic basis to see what needs to be kept current, what needs to be archived, and what needs to be deleted (destroyed).
  • Backup your electronic files on a regular, planned basis.
  • Simplify repetitive tasks.
  • Handle paper once.

Effects of Waiting Until the Last Minute

  • All tasks in a project may not be completed.
  • Because you are now rushed, the outcome quality may be poor.
  • Deadlines may be missed and business opportunities lost.
  • You may experience feelings of frustration and irritability.
  • These results may lead to tension and resentment among other coworkers, especially those who depend on your tasks in order to get their work completed.

Solutions to Help You Become A More Effective Planner

  • Use electronic planning and calendar tools to help you plan ahead. Tools such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Windows Calendar Live, or calendar apps on Smartphones can help you tremendously.
  • Follow through on your “to do” lists and enjoy the sense of completion when you can check off tasks as “done”!
  • Establish good exercise, nutrition, and sleep habits.

Incorrect or Insufficient Use of Technology Tools.

  • Low productivity results in more time required to complete tasks, which can equal lost revenue.
  • Not being competitive can equal lost business opportunities.
  • Errors in data and information may go undetected.

Solutions to Help You Master Technology and Become More Software Savvy

  • Consider taking classes that can help you learn certain software applications.
  • Consider getting certified in specific software applications such as Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.  Certification awards can also help you in your current position as well as with future employers.
  • Attend company workshops and seminars on software updates and features.
  • Incorporate mobile devices and their apps into your tasks wherever feasible.

For more information on the BOSS program and how it can help you with your career, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.

How Far Will Your Office Skills Take You In the Future?

In today’s fast-paced world, the word “change” is a constant reminder to all workers that “nothing in the workplace stays the same.”

If you want to succeed within your current company or with a future employer, you need to have a skill set that reflects both flexibility and know-how.  The admin staffing company, Office Team, conducted a study entitled Office of the Future: 2020 that needs to be read by anyone planning to remain in or seeking to become an office professional. One finding of this study revealed that office professionals need to take a dynamic and continuous role in preparing for their own success in today’s, as well as in, future work environments by adopting the following ACTION plan:

Analysis – analyzing information and exercising good judgment

Collaboration – establishing rapport with team members and facilitating team building

Technical aptitude – selecting the best technical tools and using these tools effectively

Intuition – identifying and adapting to the needs and work styles of others

Ongoing education – engaging in continual learning

Negotiation – participating in business discussions that produce positive results

Developing critical thinking and analytical skills, managing time and work tasks effectively, operating in a virtual world, using mobile devices to complete business tasks, and developing specialty “niche” skills are just some of the expectations that have appeared on the horizon, and these employer requirements will continue to play a larger role in the lives of office professionals.

It’s an exciting and yet challenging time, and job titles and roles will definitely change over the next few years. You can download a free copy of this study and others by clicking this Office Team link.

For more information on the BOSS program and how it can help you prepare for success, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.