How I use Microsoft Planner to manage my time
When I first started my position at D365 Life Without Code, there were a lot of tasks coming my way. So used to my multitude of notepads and pens, I quickly began to realise that I would need a better method of taking notes and keeping track of my work.
I’ve always loved stationary and have grown used to colour-coding for convenience. It had never occurred to me that there could be a way to integrate this love with technology. Then, I was introduced by Microsoft’s Tasks by Planner.
Planner is a tool which can integrate with Teams, Outlook and other Microsoft products. To use it, all you need its an appropriate Microsoft License!
Post-it notes and ‘Labels’
On paper, I have a tendency to colour-code things and forget what each colour represents. Labels takes care of this for me. To assign each colour to a topic, all you have to do is click and type to re-name. This means that each task can be categorised and scanned easily for functionality.
Using notepads, I realised that more and more of my time began to be spent searching for the information I needed.
Instead of reaching for the notepad (or running around the office in an attempt to find it), all I now need is my laptop. Information is recorded as soon as the idea is had and, what’s better, is that everyone in the team can do this and simply assign the task to who needs to see it.
It’s been suggested to me that I’m perhaps too fond of assigning tasks to my colleagues. However, I believe that having the ability to assign is one of the best ways to collaborate with team members. We can add people to the task if it is a group effort and remove ourselves when it is time for somebody else to take over. As a content creator, a good portion of my work needs some collaboration, even if it’s just a review before publication. Assigning tasks alerts other members and invites them to the task at hand.
There are different progress stages that can be set in each task, so everyone in the team remains up to date. This way, anyone entering the task at a later stage can immediately scan the information and see what it is they need to do. Each item on the checklist can be ticked off as they are completed and, when all is finally done, the task can be checked off. This will move it to the ‘Completed’ section.
One of the best collaborative features, in my opinion, is the ‘Comments’ section of the task card. Unlike the Notes section, ‘comments’ retains the names of those who send a message. This can create a dialogue between team members directly in the collaborative space, so that updates or issues that require more attention are followed with the required information.
Everyone who has access to view the Teams Planner can leave comments on a task. Every time somebody leaves a comment, those assigned receive an Outlook notification to alert them. Instead of taking the time to stop and compare notes, our data can be shared collectively, in real-time, so that everyone has what they need to produce great work, even when working from home.
Buckets and Schedules
Knowing what order to prioritise work is perhaps just as important as making the reminders and taking notes. This is why we’ve categorised our Buckets by priority. I can find any task in seconds (and there’s multiple ways to search). There’s less headaches over lost data, and confusion over what should come first has stopped.
I’m now able to schedule my tasks into manageable amounts, so I don’t feel as overwhelmed. By setting dates to begin and complete tasks by, my schedule is condensed to what I can manage. This, in turn, helps me to be more productive when completing work.
Paper Vs Planner
I still love writing on paper but, I’ve come to admit that it is impractical in more ways than just one. Microsoft Planner tends to be quicker, easier to navigate, and better for collaboration. Whilst I wont be throwing out my notepads any time soon, I wouldn’t like to go back to a time before Planner in the office.
Having the ability to use the application across my devices makes it far more convenient than paper. And, with the system fully integrated with both Outlook and Teams, I am able to remain updated and schedule things for myself no matter where I am.
Need more information?
For more information or guidance using Tasks by Planner, we run regular training sessions for all abilities.
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