All our days are full of work, no matter whether we work for a corporation, ourselves, raise children, or are a student. For me, whether I am at home or on the road, one constant is that I always have session notes, client reports, or blog posts ideas. This means that I use Microsoft on a daily basis and I am not the only one.

A lot of us use Microsoft applications, even on iPads (thank you, MS Office for iOS!) so I thought it may be helpful to write about some of my favorite shortcuts and efficiency tricks for several MS applications – Word, OneNote, Outlook, and Excel. These only scratch the surface, but I hope you find something new. In addition to a good night sleep, my beloved coffee and a regular workout, these tips help me get more done in less time and I hope they do the same for you!


These short cuts can make typing and formatting your Word doc much faster.

  • Create a horizontal line – Type 3 hyphens and then, press Enter.
  • Select entire sentence – Click anywhere in a sentence while pressing the Ctrl key to select that entire sentence.
  • Generate random text (used for testing layouts) – Type =rand(8,10) and then, press Enter.
  • Delete preceding word – Press backspace while holding the Ctrl key down.
  • Subscript a word – Press Ctrl+
  • Superscript a word – Ctrl Shift +
  • To select an entire paragraph – Make three rapid clicks anywhere in the paragraph.
  • Use the Format Painter feature to quickly apply a particular format to a new area.
    • Bonus tip – You can double-click the icon to keep Format Painter turned on when you need to format multiple sections and then, double click it to deactivate the feature.



  1. In OneNote, select the words from which you wish to create your task.
  2. In the menu that appears, click the arrow by the Outlook Tasks button and choose a reminder.
    • A flag appears next to your task in OneNote and your task is added to Outlook.

Tip: You can use this menu to add note tags. Note tags are handy for things like creating to-do lists or marking items as important. Since note tags are a feature of OneNote, they won’t show up in Outlook.


  1. On the Home tab in OneNote, choose Find Tags.
  2. Your Outlook tasks will be in the Tags Summary pane on the right.

Note: Outlook tasks are the ones with the flags or check marks. You will also see OneNote tags here (things you’ve marked for follow-up or tagged as a question).


  1. In the Tags Summary pane in OneNote, check the flag next to an Outlook task.
    • The task is marked as completed in both the OneNote Tags Summary pane and in Outlook.
  2. If you’d like to add the task back into Outlook, check the box again.

Tip: When you mark a task as complete in Outlook, the task is marked as complete in OneNote when Outlook and OneNote sync. If you check the task as complete in OneNote, it gets marked as complete in Outlook and is removed from your tasks list.


If you decide you don’t need a task, you can remove it in one of two ways:

  • Delete the task from Outlook, which also removes the tag (flag) from OneNote
  • Remove the tag from OneNote and keep the task in Outlook.

To remove the task from Outlook:

  1. Right-click the tag in your notes, and choose Delete Outlook Task.
    • The text remains in OneNote and the task is removed from Outlook.

To keep the task in Outlook and remove the flag from OneNote:

  1. Right-click the tag in your notes, and choose Remove Tag.
    • The tag (flag) is removed from OneNote and the task remains in Outlook.


Have you ever sent an email a bit too early? Maybe you forgot to include important details or used language you’d like to take back? You can fix it with a message recall by following these steps:

  1. Locate the Sent Items folder.
  2. Open the message that you want to recall or replace.
  3. Click Actions on the ribbon or menu and then, click Recall This Message.
  4. Enable the Delete unread copies of this message option to recall the message.
  5. To receive a notification about the success of the recall or replacement, click Tell me if recall succeeds or fails for each recipient option.
  6. Click OK. If you chose the replace option, type your new message and send it.

NOTE: Message recall will not work if one, or more, of the following conditions are true:

  • The recipient is not using Outlook.
  • The recipient is not logged on to the mail service provider.
  • The recipient is using Cached Exchange Mode and is working offline.
  • The original message is moved from the Inbox (this can occur when rules are used).
  • The original message is opened first and marked as read (this can occur when the message is displayed in the Preview Pane or Reading Pane).


When it comes to using Excel, most of us fall into one of two camps – those that can leverage all the power of the application to create complex documents and those who can, maybe, use Format Painter and AutoSum. These lesser known but useful tips will benefit both types of user.

To populate repetitive text in multiple cells:

  1. Press the Ctrl key while clicking the cells you wish to populate.
  2. Next, release the Ctrl key and type your desired text.
  3. Finally, press Ctrl while you hit the Enter key and your text populates in each cell.

To make the Format Painter icon even more powerful:

  1. Double-click the Format Painter icon to activate it for multiple uses.
  2. Then, click anywhere you want to use the target formatting.
  3. When you finish, double click the icon to deactivate.

Here are some powerful shortcuts:

  • Control+Down/Up Arrow = Moves to the top or bottom cell of the current column
  • Control+Left/Right Arrow = Moves to the cell furthest left or right in the current row
  • Control+Shift+Down/Up Arrow = Selects all the cells above/below the current cell
  • Control+Home = Navigates to cell A1
  • Control+End = Navigates to the last cell that contains data


What do you think? Will these help you be more productive? Did I miss your favorite time saving tip? Let me know in the comments!


Life on the road can be great! Traveling and exploring new places is enlightening and exciting but, when you make your living traveling or have a job that requires near-constant travel, it can be challenging to find a routine that works.

Here are my best productivity tips for living as digital nomad and getting things done while on the road. While I am not an expert, I have used these tips successfully for the past 15 years of working remotely more than 95% of the time. Of course, what works for me may not work for you but, hopefully, these ideas will get you started.

Get your head right. Being productive (at home/office and on the road, requires you to have the right mindset. Motivation comes from many different places and understand that even if you are on the road or working remotely, you still have a job to do and obligations to clients and co-workers. Never forget that. Your goal should be for the change in your work location to be invisible to your clients – no interruptions in deliverables or communications. If you are stuck for motivation, check out some podcasts on the topic. One I consider a must-listen is this, from Carter Ferguson.

Create a schedule. Start by determining the time zone of where you are and how you can make that work for your clients. If you aren’t beholden to any specific times, go wild and work when you feel at your best/most creative. In either case, you should make a schedule that breaks up the workday. How much time do you need for your priority tasks? Have you allocated time to answer communications? Is there a block of writing/creating time? Did you factor in breaks for food or exercise?

Craft a dedicated working space. Whether you are sitting in the hotel, a coffee shop, or just an open space on a sunny day, you need to have the right set-up. I don’t recommend a public space unless you can adequately spread out and have enough flat surface for your laptop/tablet, writing paraphernalia, assorted chargers/battery packs, and a beverage. You also need to be honest with yourself regarding your tolerance for distraction. Can you really focus properly with people walking by or with television yammering away in the background?Also, if you are working from a coffee shop or café, please be courteous and purchase food/drink regularly. These establishments are in business for selling food, not for hosting your ass for free.

Make a priority list. This goes along with creating your daily schedule and creating a seamless experience for your clients. What are the top 4 things you must get done each day? Make that list each night for the following day and do your absolute best to accomplish each task. I find it’s never a good idea to set more than 4 must-do tasks because it dilutes the critical nature of a priority.

Be ready to work at odd hours. I know this sort of contradicts number 2, but if you are in a timezone different from your clients or core customer base, consider working those hours. It’s all about the seamless experience.

Enjoy your downtime!! Working remotely is great and offers a certain level of freedom but it is still work so when you have downtime or off time, get out and enjoy all your locale has to offer. If you are traveling some place you really want to enjoy try to arrive 2-3 days before your typical work week begins. This will give you time for the must-see things on your destination wishlist and a bit of time to settle in and prepare for your work schedule.

Bonus Tip!!!! Make your environment as close to home/your happy place as you can. If you have touches of home, you can relax and be more productive and focused. For example, as I write this I am holed up at a hotel in Troy, Michigan working on client strategy stuff for the week. To make my hotel room as pleasant a workspace as possible, I brought my small travel candle to overpower stale hotel room odors and cozy socks to keep my toes toasty. Without these things I would probably be fussy and unfocused on the work I need to do. You may take a small framed photo, favorite wrap or lounge pants, or even a wrist rest for your keyboard.

These tips can be used even if you are traveling to relatives for the holidays but not taking any official time off.

What do you think? Did I miss anything? I’d love to read your tips for getting the most from working remotely so share your ideas in the comments and thanks for stopping by!