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CMI Blog

How to Use Microsoft 365 as Productively as Possible


Combining a wealth of familiar apps and collating them under a single software suite, it’s no wonder Microsoft 365 is the industry leader in office software. For a certain generation – namely, those raised on the offline-only Microsoft Office – 365 is familiar, reliable and easy to understand.

Nonetheless, the industry has changed, and so too have those familiar apps. With many of us so used to our decades-old Microsoft Office habits, it’s easy to overlook how Microsoft 365 leverages years of progress and Cloud connectivity to provide powerful productive capabilities.

Whether you’re brand new to Microsoft 365 or an old dog seeking some new tricks, there’s plenty of ways you can leverage Microsoft 365 to seriously boost your productivity.


Start All your Searches With “Tell Me”

Sat atop the taskbar of any Microsoft 365 app is the “Tell Me” function – a smart search tool that can perform instructions instantly based on your search terms. If you’re struggling to find the option you need in any 365 application, make Tell Me your first port of call. Simply, click, start typing, and the function searches for the most appropriate tasks it can automate for you instantly.


Leverage Microsoft Teams

In Teams, channels are essentially virtual meeting rooms; places where conversations, files, and ideas are saved even after logging off. Your work is consistent, large files have a single sensible repository, and your Microsoft 365 apps can all be opened for editing within the Teams environment – with your teammates cooperating in real-time.

To many of us, Teams is little more than the ‘replacement Skype’, yet that’s merely scraping the surface of what’s essentially the core of Microsoft 365.


Share Smarter

Productivity means speeding up processes and enabling collaboration – so Microsoft 365 provides numerous options for the simple sharing and editing of files among your teams:

  • OneDrive is your personal online file storage and is accessible from any device. It allows you to save your files in a safe online location accessible from anywhere, or share files directly with co-workers should you grant permission
  • SharePoint is a centralised, shared platform where an organisation can share files for the sake of reference or collaboration, with users able to work on documents in real-time. Perfect for managing larger files that might not be sharable via email, or complex projects that need a single point of access.
  • The Share function exists within the ‘File’ tab of most 365 apps and offers instant, easy sharing options for the document you’re currently working on.




Ignore Your Emails (Sort Of)

Okay, maybe don’t ignore them, but know when to manage the time between you and your colleagues effectively.

Outlook’s drastically titled ‘Ignore’ function allows users to move ‘reply all’ email chains into their Deleted Items folder, further reducing the more distracting elements of email communications. Simply open the email chain, and choose ‘Ignore’ from the delete group within the Home tab.

There’s also the friendlier sounding ‘Focus’ option; simply right-click your more important email chains and select ‘Move to Focused’ – these will be prioritised in the respective ‘focused’ folder when they enter your inbox.


Explore Unfamiliar Apps

Not all Microsoft 365 apps have the legacy of PowerPoint, Word or Excel, so it’s easy to overlook the following software and their potential for productivity.

  • Microsoft Flow – a workflow automation app which automates process across multiple apps. Flow also supports third-party software, so it’s not just processes within Microsoft 365 that it completes seamlessly.
  • Microsoft Forms – a simple to use app for the creation of quizzes and surveys, Forms allows users to collect results quickly and concisely in a way that doesn’t distract recipients.
  • Microsoft Planner – organise teams, assign tasks, share files and track project progress. Planner’s scheduling software is designed specifically for the Microsoft 365 environment, making it an excellent addition to businesses reliant on its software offerings.
  • Microsoft Staffhub – an app allowing managers and teams to coordinate shifts, holidays and comms, among individuals or entire teams.

Microsoft 365 is designed to leverage the Cloud, provide a truly collaborative work environment and transition employees smoothly to the modern workplace; yet there’s plenty more to discover than we’ve covered here alone.



Topics: microsoft, Office 365

Graham Stead

Written by Graham Stead

Graham joined CMI following the acquisition of his previous business in 2016, having successfully run that for business for 20 years. Graham's absolute focus is on making sure that we consistently hold our clients central to everything that we do, and is often heard repeating our mantra "we exist to make a significant positive impact on our clients business". Graham and his team work closely with our clients to educate, inform, and ultimately to provide technology that delivers that positive impact. Outside of the office, he is a huge supporter of Bone Cancer Research Trust and has raised over £130,000 for them in recent years.

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