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Countdown to 2016: part 1

Turbocharge Your Business Productivity

By Rieva Lesonsky

If you’re like most small business owners I know, it’s a good chance your top resolution for 2016 is to be more productive. After all, the average entrepreneur needs more than 24 hours a day to get everything done. I recently got a demo of the newly released Office 2016 and here are five ways to get more accomplished in 2016.

  1. Use the cloud. If you’re not already using cloud-based technology to store, share and back up your files, you’re missing out on one of the best ways to boost your productivity. By tapping into cloud technology, such as Microsoft OneDrive, you and your team can access your documents anywhere, anytime and from any device. It’s unbelievable how much time this saves compared to old-fashioned methods such as copying files onto thumb drives or emailing them to each other. Take the cloud one step beyond document storage, however, and you can get even more done faster. For example, a tool such as Microsoft’s OneNote enables you to store just about everything you create or find online, such as websites, photos, videos, notes and more, then share them with whomever you choose online. And with the newly released , you can just click to share documents from within the document itself, allowing real-time collaboration with your team.
  2. Update your technology. In order to get more done every day, it’s important to make sure that your business technology is on the cutting edge. That means scheduling regular updates for your software, hardware and operating systems. Having the latest versions of software and operating systems, as well as hardware with the capacity to run them smoothly, ensures that you are always operating at peak performance. If you use Windows, for instance, upgrading to the new Windows 10 will give you a lot of advantages in terms of efficiency. The Start menu is back, making it a lot easier to do things quickly, and improved snappable windows enable you to easily switch between apps so multitasking is a breeze. In addition, the new Microsoft Edge browser offers super-fast speeds so you’re not waiting (and waiting).
  3. Get help. There are more options than ever for getting assistance with daily tasks — from hiring an employee to outsourcing to an independent contractor or virtual assistant. Whether you need someone to perform administrative tasks, do your bookkeeping or handle marketing duties, a visit to online outsourcing sites such as Guru, Fiverr, or UpWork can match you with the perfect person to ease your workload. Perhaps your ideal assistant isn’t even a person: Microsoft’s new Cortana personal digital assistant, which is built into Windows 10, can handle both typed and voice commands to do things like add events to your calendar or look up information online.
  4. Get a grip on your email. Easier said than done, right? Actually, it’s pretty easy to do if you’re using Outlook 2016 for Windows. The new Clutter feature learns from the way you prioritize your email, then sorts lower priority messages into a separate folder, while still ensuring that you see them if you need to. Streamline email further by unsubscribing from unnecessary email lists and only checking it certain times of the day (which I personally find impossible to do).
  5. Up your game. If you’ve thought about creating newsletters or special presentations, but have hesitated because you don’t have the time or skill, check out Sway. It enables you to create professional-looking reports, newsletters, presentations, whitepapers, videos and even ebooks in minutes. You can easily embed pictures and charts. And it’s all instantly shareable.

By taking these simple steps, you can start 2016 off right by being more productive every day.