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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tech Review: Google Docs

Today on Tech Review, let's talk about one of our office productivity software we discussed previously: GOOGLE DOCS.

With Google Docs, you can create basic documents using a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation online.




Let's get some information from their site:

"Create basic documents from scratch or start from a template.
You can easily do all the basics, including making bulleted lists, sorting by columns, adding tables, images, comments, formulas, changing fonts and more. And it's free. "

Most of the basic feature of a document maker software are available. And Yes! because its from Google..... it's free!


"Upload your existing files.
Google Docs accepts most popular file formats, including DOC, XLS, ODT, ODS, RTF, CSV, PPT, etc. So go ahead and upload your existing files."

Although it works with almost all file format, you might still want to check the layout of your document once you uploaded it. Sometimes it differs from what we expect it.

With Google Docs, you can "share and collaborate in real time".

Before, my boss always asked me to send him the latest of the updated of his latest document with comments from this and that department. Oh BOY! Just imagine how we manage to name that file!

But with Google Docs, you can upload a document (or start from scratch online) and share it with your boss, his secretary, finance department, or anyone you think that need to be involved.

Not only that, you can also edit and discuss in real time. That's what I call a real collaboration.

To know more of Google Docs, just go to http://docs.google.com .

Well, I know it's not enough for a review. I will leave it to you to find out more about it.

See you next time!



Saturday, November 22, 2008

Office Tip # 3: Phone Calls

The way we handle phone calls reflects the personality of our company. So give some little care about it.

Here are some few tips...


Opening Courtesy
  • Smile first before answering any phone call to set an approachable mood.

Transferring Calls
  • Before transferring a call, make sure that you had explained to the caller that you are going to transfer her/his call and will be put on hold.

Taking a message
  • Get every detail of the message. Note that sometimes what you thought insignificance would be very important to the caller.

Placing a call
  • Identify your self, tell your working for , and immediately tell your purpose.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Your Skills Versus Technology

I remember during college, me and some of my colleagues went to an assembly of workers protesting on what they called "some unfair labor practices" by their employers. Allegedly, they were part of a mass lay-off being implemented due to "cost-cutting" strategy of the company.

Before, whenever I hear mass lay-off of employees, I thought that the company was on a crisis and retrenchment would be a solution for survival. But I realized that there's more logical reason behind this... and that's because of technology.

Industrialization made us to be called workers. Labor force strengthen factories and other manufacturing companies. All are being done manually... with man's own strength. That's why companies invested also on the welfare of its workers.

As years passed by approaching the computer era, labor force are being challenged by technology. A work of a hundred men 10 - 20 years ago can now be done by a single machine without any tendency of going on strikes and mass demonstrations. This means for employers less expense, less headache... more gains.

You and I are not exempted with this challenge. Our work and other skills can now be assigned to a computer system with assurance of error-proof results as long as the program and algorithms are correct.

Today, anything that can be digitalized are being challenged!

This does not mean that we need to hate technology and having this kind of attitude will not only makes things difficult but also marks you as instant loser.

So what shall we do?

Instead of being doom-sayers, let's face the fact that technology upgrades are inevitable and we need to cope up with it. But how?

Let me give you some ideas:
  • Have time in learning new things
  • Constantly search for latest technology
  • Collaborate with others
  • Instead of being afraid of the changes, learn to live with it
  • etc. etc. etc.
Bottom line... never ending learning and self improvement.

Always remember that technology comes from man. It needs our knowledge and skills for its own improvement. Do you think that your favorite office productivity softwares were programmed by a software developer without any input from someone like us? Or maybe the programmer himself is also an office admin that's why his softwares really suites our needs?

Do not be contended as end user, but rather be a source of inspiration of technology.

Learn more on how to become "untouchable", read more on Office Survival Tips!

Good night!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Creating Forms Using MS Word or other Word Processing Programs

Please note that the term FORM that I used here refers to a plain document we usually fill out and not the one with fancy buttons and drop-downs plus back-end programs we found on online transactions. That kind of FORM functions will be discussed sometime on a separate article. Thanks!

You were assigned by your office to create a new document transmittal form to be used for a new project. The only program available on your computer is a word processor -- let's say MS Office... yah all right! Nice guess huh?

Since most of the word processing programs are What You See is What You Get (WYSWYG), it is so easy to layout a document. Creating a form is just putting your elements into right positions. Most especially if the form will be printed and filled out by hand writing. But, if the form will be filled up from computer before printing, there are things that we need to consider in our design and layout.

I just want to share to you some points I noticed on most word document forms:

  • The use of dot dot dot (....) or underscore underscore underscore (______ ) to provide a space for answers. e.g. Name .............
  • Over use of space bar or tab to separate items. e.g. Name (I use space bar here) Date
  • Misused of text boxes to insert an item.
If you use the above methods, you will deal a devastating alignment problem. Notice that when you insert your information on the form, the entire content that follows will move also. With this, you need to delete spaces until you get the right alignment that you want. And this is not a good idea especially if the one who will fill out the form is lazy enough to make the adjustments or no I idea at all on how to do it.

The best way to create a form in a word processor is to use a TABLE.

With TABLE, you can layout your form according to what you want it to be without any worries on the alignment after your target audience started filling it up. In this way you will preserve the identity of your masterpiece ;-).

Start to learn how to manipulate cells in a table: merge, adjust width, add or delete. Familiarize yourself with these tricks and soon you will find it easier and interesting.

I will try to give you some "HOW TO" with tables next time. But now, start practicing!

Wahu!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Creating a Reference Number for Letters

I found it a bad practice in document archiving and management system using DATE as your reference. Although for others there is no problem encountered with this procedure, but on the long run this will create chaos in archiving documents.

Whether your organization writes two or more letters a day, use a unique reference number to identify a specific letter followed by a date when it was created or signed. This will make a correspondence archive-able and easy to manage.

Now, next question would be what format to follow?

There is no generic or ready made formatting (that I know) to be followed. The reference number format (or code) is on the discretion of the user which he finds informative, useful, and ease in quick referencing. You can use letters, numbers, or combination of both.

There are different techniques in doing this:

Numbers only
e.g. 001-055-01500
where as:
first three digits (001) are for department code,
second set (055) are for the employee code (or originator),
last digits (01500) are for unique (incremental) number

Alpha Numeric
e.g. ACT-EOF-01500
where as:
first three (ACT) are for department code,
second set (EOF) are for the employee's initials
last digits (01500) are for unique (incremental) number (notice that we still use numbers here)

In the above examples, we only have three elements: department code, employee's code (or the initiator), and unique number. Depending on your organizations need, you can add more elements to make your reference number more informative like project code, storage/file code, branch code, etc.

You can use hyphen (-) or slash (/) to separate the elements... or nothing at all (e.g. ACTEOF01500).

Just a couple of reminders:
  • make it simple and short as much as possible
  • must be consistent with other code format being implemented in your organization
We will discuss more about referencing and document handling next time. If you have some questions, clarifications, or anything related don't hesitate to drop some thoughts on the COMMENTS page.

By now... time to sleep. Goodnight!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

New Category: Document Control and Management

Today, we are going to add a new category to this site. I consider this as another field of study in our endeavor and an interesting discussion for most of us.

Ladies and gentlemen, let's welcome...


E. Document Control and Management (DCM)

In this category, you and I will share best practices and tested solutions in handling corporate documents and other correspondence. It doesn't matter how old or new your system is, or simple or complicated, as long as it works and helps your organization, it is worth a share.

So, I am starting to compile my notes here to share and hope you will get some useful pointers applicable to your own system. Just always remember that the best system starts in the mind of the initiator and ends in the works of the members.

See yah!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Shortcut Keys for MS Word

Since most of us are using MS Word for making a document, here's my gift to you... shortcut keys for MS Word which I found very useful.

Just pick at least 5 shortcut keys a day until you get used to all of it.

Enjoy!

Shortcut
Action
Ctrl + A Select all contents of the document
Ctrl + B Bold/unbold highlighted text
Ctrl + C Copy highlighted text
Ctrl + I
Italize / un-italize highlighted selection
Ctrl + P Open the print dialog box
Ctrl + F Open find dialog box
Ctrl + S
Save the document
Ctrl + Shift + S
Save As
Ctrl + X
Cut highlighted text
Ctrl + K Insert a link
Ctrl + U Underline / remove underline on highlighted text
Ctrl + V Paste the copied or cut text
Ctrl + Y Redo the last action
Ctrl + Z Undo the last action
Ctrl + L

Left align of the selection (or all if nothing been selected)

Ctrl + E Center align of the selection (or all if nothing been selected)
Ctrl + R Right align of the selection (or all if nothing been selected)
Ctrl + M Indent a selected paragraph (or all if nothing been selected)
Ctrl + Shift + F Change font face
Ctrl + Shift + > Increase font size of the highlighted text
Ctrl + ] Increase selected font by +1pts.
Ctrl + Shift + < Decrease font size of the highlighted text
Ctrl + [ Decrease selected font by -1pts
Ctrl + Shift + * View or hide non printing characters
Ctrl + Left Key Cursor moves one word to the left
Ctrl + Right Key Cursor moves one word to the right
Ctrl + Up Key
Cursor moves to the beginning of the line or paragraph
Ctrl + Down Key Cursor moves to the end of the paragraph
Ctrl + Del Deletes word to right of cursor
Ctrl + Backspace Deletes word to left of cursor
Ctrl + End Moves the cursor to the end of the document
Ctrl + Home Moves the cursor to the beginning of the document
Ctrl + Spacebar Reset highlighted text to the default font
Ctrl + 1 Single-space lines on a selected paragraph
Ctrl + 2 Double-space lines on a selected paragraph
Ctrl + 5 1.5-line spacing on a selected paragraph
Ctrl + Alt + 1 Changes text to heading 1
Ctrl + Alt + 2 Changes text to heading 2
Ctrl + Alt + 3 Changes text to heading 3
Ctrl + F1 Open the Task Pane
F1 Help window
Ctrl + N
Open a new document
Ctrl + F2 Display the print preview
Shift + F3 Change the text in Microsoft Word from upper to lower case or a capital letter at the beginning of every word
F5 Open the find, replace, and go to window in Microsoft Word
F7 Spell and grammar check selected text and/or document
Shift + F7 Runs a Thesaurus check on the word highlighted

More shortcuts to come...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Office Productivity Suites, Our Best Buddies

Let's face it! Our work will not be the same without acknowledging the benefit which computers and office productivity softwares help our lives as office personnel. In this period of jpegs and pdfs, having an average knowledge in these softwares is a must.


What are these office productivity tools that I am referring too?


For everybody's guidance (and for us to have one idea on the subject), office productivity softwares are those computer applications that deals in making digital documents and the manipulation of its data. It usually comes as a package which primarily composed of a word processor, spreadsheet, and a presentation tool. However, as technology evolves rapidly, more and more programs are being added to the office productivity package that eventually becoming a necessity also; like drawing, database, forms, and some programs for work collaboration.

When Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple Computers) presented to the world the personal computer, one of the first questions asked to him was who will need such machine? It was a period when electrical typewriters are office admins' best friend and computers are only for computing! Without any second thought, Steve replied that PC computers are for all. And indeed – after a couple years his right! (Watch Pirate of Silicon Valley movie to get a little background on development of personal computers.)

Together with this physical component of a computer comes the softwares. Let's take some short discussion on the different office productivity softwares available today.


1.MICROSOFT OFFICE




Now, tell me which application do you use? I expect that most of you will gave me an answer of "Microsoft Office" for it is well known and commonly used program. Because of its popularity, most of the office softwares used this as their benchmark when it comes to graphical interface. Do I need to elaborate further?

Check out this book for further reading:Microsoft Office 2007: Introductory Concepts and Techniques, Windows XP Edition


2.OPENOFFICE




This is a promising contender of MS Office and getting a lot of attention. OpenOffice Org is a product of open source community and under LGPL license therefore it is free for everyone to use.

"Best of all, OpenOffice.org 3 can be downloaded and used entirely free of any licence fees. OpenOffice.org 3 is released under the LGPL licence. This means you may use it for any purpose - domestic, commercial, educational, public administration. You may install it on as many computers as you like. You may make copies and give them away to family, friends, students, employees - anyone you like. " -OpenOffice website

I can say that the interface is almost the same as MS Office versions before Office 2007. Just make sure when you save the file, use the proper filename extension (or format) to use so that it can be opened with MS Office.

I installed OpenOffice to most of our office computers and my officemate started to get along with it. Another cost-effective solution for a company isn't it?


3. NeoOFFICE



This a derivative of OpenOffice for Mac. Same features of OpenOffice with some additional features to accomodate the capability of a Mac machine.




4. GOOGLE DOCS





And this is a remarkable software! Oppsss... sorry just thinking aloud.

Although it is not much used for office purpose, the idea of using the software online without any installation and worries on licenses is for me a breakthrough. This will make every computer a simple input/output (I/O) device. You can work on your files on any computer with internet connection. Actually, I am using this technology for doing my drafts and researches for this weblog.



5. LOTUS SYMPHONY




I haven't really used this office suite before but I heard a lot of good feedbacks on this. You can try it and let me know your comment. By the way, it is an IBM product and ohhhh.... uses OpenOffice technology.


That's it! I gave you five office suites available for everyone to use. But don't limit yourself on the above list because there are a lots of softwares available out there - with a price or free. They are just waiting for your attention and try them.


Some extra note: next time, use the term "word processor" instead of MS Word, or spreadsheet for Excel. It's like Coke when you mean cola. Or Pepsi... (or bebsi in Dubai)...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Office Fellow: With Dedication and Learning New Things

Today's post for our O.F.O.F., let us welcome Mimi.

From Manila, she moved to Dubai to work in a project management company. She shares to us her dedication to work and some unforgettable experiences she encountered.


"I believe that having a harmonious relationship with co-workers is one of the most important factors to enjoy your work."



Mimi Jimenez
Projects Secretary cum Document Controller
7 1/2 yrs in office admin work








What are the
skills that you think that fits you as a secretary?

I have good communication skills, good interpersonal skills, knowledge in MS Office applications, able to write good correspondences. Also, I am a good listener, fast learner, and flexible.


Any unforgettable experience at work?

My first dictation with our managing director I would say one of my most unforgettable experiences. I was not that good in dictation because I haven't experienced that when I worked in the Philippines as a secretary. It was totally unforgettable experience because at first I was not able to get the words or terms that he dictated to me and my boss get upset . But, now I can say that I am good enough to do it (smile).


How do you manage to improve your skills?

To improve my skills, I am continuously learning from day to day activities in the office. I am not limiting myself to the task or duties assigned to me. As much as possible I am trying to do the things above what is expected from me. In addition to that, I am exploring other office applications that I know will help me in carrying out my business activities.


You mentioned exploring other office applications, can you share to us what are these applications that you are exploring on right now and how it helps you in your work?

Actually, I am exploring MS Publisher right now because I believe it will help me to create a website for the company and my personal website as well. Also, if I'll be given a chance I'm gonna study Primavera because I know it will help me in carrying out my task as a document controller.


Any tips on how to enjoy your work?

For me, what I am doing to enjoy my work is to befriend with my colleagues because I believe that having a harmonious relationship with co-workers is one of the most important factors to enjoy your work. Also, I keep on thinking all the people that I am supporting financially because it’s encouraging me to enjoy my work because they are my inspiration.



Thank you Mimi for your time and support in office admins' hide-out.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Office Tip # 2: Treating Your Officemates As Your Customers

As part of an organization, you should identify two types of customer: one who gives business to your company and those persons you are working with - your officemates.

Treating your officemates as your customers will not only smoothen your relationship with them but also boost the spirit of teamwork in your company. Isn't it your boss is like a very important client that you need to give special care on all requests and task he or she assigned you to do? Ignoring it means losing a deal (your job).

Imagine this, the design department sends you a thank you card for keeping their stationaries and other materials always on "on-stock" status.

If your company gave you a training on how to handle customer service, you can apply it also to your officemates.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Meet Your Fellow Office Admins

This category will give tribute to some of our fellow office admins sharing their experiences and insights of what it takes as the most important person in the office.

From time to time, we will feature a fellow office workaholic here and learn from his or her experiences.

Wanna be featured sometime? Let me know!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Office Tip # 1: Know Your Routine and Simplify

How much of your time are being utilized by your work?

Some of us might say eight hours a day as per office timings and can give some extra hours of work if required. Or if you are working at your home office, it depends on the work load you received and agreed to accomplish. Personal secretaries might find this question very hard to answer, if not answering "while my boss is awake!".

Although we need to work hard everyday, it does not mean that this work will make us unworthy to enjoy life and do other things that will increase our skills and personality. And I guess, right now you have extra time because you are reading this post. =)

We all know that doing same things everyday will eventually become boring. I do believe that boredom results from a stagnant flow (or nothing at all) of imagination, excitement, and curiosity. It is when our voluntary mind works more than our excited mind (or whatever you call it!).

IF WORK BECOMES BORING, IT ONLY MEANS THAT WE NEED TO MOVE ANOTHER STEP IN WHAT WE ARE DOING.

If you are too busy doing things over and over again and find it very pretty boring, its about time to do something.

While working, open a spreadsheet and write down every task you perform for that day. Just a small description will do. It will take you less than 10 seconds to write a single task. At the end of the day save it. Then, tomorrow open the file and do the same thing. Once you have extra time (weekend, if you have it), try to make a score card of all the tasks you just recorded and find which kind ate up a lot of your time. By this method, you can group all task that can be improved and apply a system to make it simpler.

Routines are good only in a particular period and should cope up with the challenges being brought by modern technology.

Who Are We?

If you are:

- an office manager
- any kind of secretary (personal, executive, chief, etc.)
- document controller
- office assistant
- logistics personnel
- purchasing officer
- accountant
- messenger
- human resource personnel
- or whatever your organization calls you

you are considered (for the purpose of this site only) an office admin.

You are most welcome to read all posts, contribute and share what you think appropriate for this site.

See yah!

Technology Review

We believed that using the right technology will make our work easier (and more time for internet browsing... amen!).

Finding the right software and hardware for us means more performance efficiency (or more youtube-ing.... yes!).

We will try to give you some of the useful technology out there and allow us to review it. To add more fun, you can give your review and assessment also.

Suggestions for review are welcome!

Survival Tips for Office Admins

We titled this as "Survival Tips for Office Admins" due to the fact that technology is about to replace our daily routine work and we need to do our work well than an average office administrator or else be extinct.

In order for us to exceed management expectations, if not being lay-off, this Office Survival Tips category is made for you. You can find here helpful tips on basic information, how to , and other tutorials that will improve your skills and effectiveness as office admin.

IF YOU THINK YOU GOT SOMETHING TO SHARE ALSO, PLEASE DON'T HESITATE.

We will be glad to know it. Anyway, we are birds of the same kind!

What To Expect On This Site

On this site, we will tackle everything that affects our life as office admin:

... doing office works under minimum supervision

... confident office manager

... tips on how to file documents easily and effectively

... pointers in filing and all basic informations needed in our record book or log sheets (or whatever you may call it)

... software reviews related to our daily tasks (office productivity, database management, games... of course!)

... interviews of fellow office admins

... job openings (and lay off also...)

... and anything the affects our life as office admins

So then, if you want to be updated about what we post here, make sure to click the FOLLOW THIS BLOG link on the sidebar.

Thanks!

Welcome OFFICE ADMINISTRATORS!!!

Hello there fellow office administrators...

Welcome to OFFICE ADMINS' HIDE-OUT!
... where highly organized individuals of the corporate world meet.

This is where most important persons in a corporate office exchange ideas and share their skills by helping fellow office administrators in their daily office routine.

What is a Office Administration?

According to wiki :

"Office administration is a set of day-to-day activities related to financial planning, billing and recordkeeping, personnel, and physical distribution and logistics, within an organization."

Fellow office administrators, is this enough?

Maybe we can add more on this and give more justification to our existence.

Here's my shot:

Office Administration is the backbone of any organization.

Yes, I know. It is not a valid definition but that's the most description I can give.

Why don't you give your own definition of what you are really doing? Give it a shot!

Anyway, this site is for you!