We at IMI are very excited to announce the launch of the newly redesigned website at IMIAE.com! If you have ever participated in a website redesign you will know that it’s a big task to complete. We are very thankful to our dedicated crew who worked together to make this beautiful new site a reality. Below are just a few highlights from the new website.
The three easy buttons on the front page help visitors navigate to the information they need most. Information to identify an association’s management needs, about IMI’s services, or submitting an RFP is only a click away!
Also on the front page is the Connect with IMI feature which provides quick access to just a few of IMI’s educational resources through our blog and social media feeds.
Speaking of IMI’s great team that created the new website, check out the “Our Team” tab! Within you’ll find pictures and brief bios of our team members who are the strength of our organization.
For organizations that may be new to the realm of association management, the “About IMI” tab features information on association management and what benefits association management companies (AMCs) provide to associations.
For more information on the new website you may read our press release.
The website redesign is just one practical example of how we are continuously improving the services we provide. Please take a moment to tell us what you think about the new website. Are there other resources you’d like to see on IMIAE.com? Let us know in the comments below!
By Adrian Emerson, Association Accounting Specialist
Microsoft Excel is a very versatile program that is not just for crunching numbers. You can use it for multiple tasks, like making lists, drafting a report, and drawing charts and graphs. Excel can be the association staff member’s best friend; however, there are some time saving features of Excel that almost everyone forgets.
Here are my top 10 tips and shortcuts to help make using Excel 2007 and newer more efficient and easier to use.
Personalize your Quick Access Toolbar! (you know that little bar at the very top right corner of your screen)
You can add preloaded and custom buttons to this string, like Quick Print or a custom sort feature.
Time and Date Stamps.
To populate a static time or date stamp of the current date or time:
For the date use – “Ctrl” + semi-colon
For the time use – “Ctrl” + “Shift” + colon
To populate an automatically updating time or date stamp:
For the date use the formula: “=today()”
For the time use the formula: “=now()”
Basic Rules of Lists and Reports.
Some of the features in Excel will not work if the any of the following is in your data group; here are some basic rules to follow:
Put the sheet title in as a header, and not in the spreadsheet
Always include appropriate row and column headings
Do not leave entire rows blank
Do not leave entire columns blank
Make sure to use the same data type in an entire column
Navigating Cells In a Data Range.
Pressing “Enter” moves up and down the cells in a column
Pressing “Tab” moves left and right in a row
If you select a range of cells, pressing “Enter” and “Tab” will only move between the selected cells
To quickly select a data range, click the first cell hold “Shift” and click the end of the range. This will select all cells in between.
This feature copies and links the data from another sheet, and will update the next time you open the file.
The Multiple Sorting feature can sort data by multiple specified criteria at the same time. So, if you need a report to be sorted by letter in one column and by zip code in another this feature makes it really easy.
Custom sorting listings can be set up for easier sorting, like by month, day of the week, or site location.
To create a new custom list click the “Add” Button.
Then in the “List Entries” box type your new list.
Then Click “OK”
Allows you to set up more complicated queries and place a copy in a new area or sheet.
This feature allows you to add selected formatting to specific data, like automatically changing the font color to red for any cell in the range that is below 100 or highlighting a cell if it is within a certain given range.
This feature will automatically place subtotals and grand totals in a range of data per your specified groupings. NOTE: Make sure to sort your data before using this feature.
NOTE: If you add new data at the beginning or at the end of a data range it will not automatically recalculate the formula.
A. VLOOKUP – “=VLookup(LookupValue,LookupTable,ColumnToReturn)”
This formula is probably one of the most widely used of the formulas second to AUTOSUM. The VLookup formula allows you to look up data from a range of data. You can use this formula to create a whole new table of data using data from other sheets and workbooks.
B. SUMIF – “=SUMIF(range, criterion, sumrange)
This formula will sum the data in a range that fit the selected criteria, like if you want to know the sum of only the sales for one location or one employee. However, this formula will only allow you to pick one criteria
C. SUMIFS – “=SUMIFS(sumrange, criteriarange1, criteria1, criteriarange2, criteria2, etc.)
This formula provides the same function as its sibling above, but will allow you to pick multiple criteria, like if you want to know the sum of sales for one employee at only one location or if you want to know the sum of only two employee’s sales at all locations.
What are your favorite Excel tips? Share in the comments below!
This is the second in a 2-part series about productivity based on a recent Association Chat (#assnchat). Click here to read part 1.
Read below for more helpful thoughts about productivity from the IMI staff.
Q5: Do you keep your inbox at 0 emails, like some productivity experts suggest? If so, how? If not, why not?
Almost – I try to keep sent and inbox at under 20 emails each. I answer quick emails immediately and save emails to the server that have important info but require no action. I use flags as reminders.
I do not keep my box at 0 but I like to keep it as clean as possible. I keep items in my in-box that I need to do or follow-up on later. I also use categories and flags to make it easy to find anything in my inbox.
I really, really try to keep my inbox at 0. I delete what has been handled and change action items into tasks.
I “try” to limit my inbox only to those emails that require an answer or follow-up by me
I try to keep 0 emails in my inbox by moving items to the task area, the calendar, and or saving the message in a folder. If I am unable to keep my inbox clear every other Friday I go through and move items out of my inbox.
I like to keep my inbox clean, and only keep emails in my “inbox” that I have not completed or I still need. Once I have completed a task I file the email away. I do not delete any emails. I also move emails older than a year in the archives.
For the most part I have my inbox to 0 before I close for the day.
Sometimes it gets to 0 but my goal is to at least tackle all the new ones each day.
I keep my inbox at 0 unread emails. Everything is read and triaged (I color code with urgency, emails that are awaiting responses, etc.).
Q6: Where do you turn for advice about productivity? What are some of your go-to resources?
I ask fellow co-workers to help me not reinvent the wheel on developing plans or documents that have already been used and approved to work.
I don’t have a go-to for productivity resources. I try to read articles and anytime I see information in online, in print, or word of mouth I determine if I can incorporate the suggestion into my system to further enhance productivity.
I like to learn new features of the software I use, like Outlook and Excel, for new ways to better organize and manage my day.
Coworkers have helped me greatly and so have webinars on Outlook productivity.
Q7: Complete this sentence. “For me, the most important thing to remember about productivity is _______________________.”
Because, productivity is not just about getting things done. It is about getting things done more efficiently and remembering that there will always be more things to do then there is time in the day.
If you are productive, it leaves more time for enjoyable things.
That you eat an elephant one bite at a time. This helps me not to get overwhelmed with big projects and keeps me moving forward.
I can only do one thing well at a time. Multi-tasking or hurrying can often lead to mistakes. I have to s.l.o.w. down and just do one thing at a time.
To stay focused on the current task.
It is not about an empty “in box.” It is about using the time you have available to accomplish the tasks which are most closely aligned with your success as you define it.
Focus and the ability to stay on task without distraction, especially social distractions.
Knowing what you need to do and when it needs to be done.
Quality accomplishment of tasks on or before deadlines.
Prioritizing projects and staying on top of deadlines.
Quality over quickness.
Being “busy” is not the same as being productive.
Keeping the quality along with the speed.
Q8: Do you do things for your health in order to improve your productivity? (Ex., take supplements, exercise, eat right, etc.)
Exercise and yoga help me let go of work. Reading, both for pleasure and for knowledge. Eating healthy. When I start to feel overwhelmed or can’t sit any longer in front of my computer screen I get up and take a quick walk to clear my mind and re-gain my focus.
Nothing gets the day ramped up like my 6 a.m. spin class!
Get 8 hours of sleep! If I find I’m losing focus while working on a project I push away and go work on something else or walk around for a few minutes.
I take a break sometimes just for sanity, walk around, get some sunshine.
Exercise, absolutely. Clears the cobwebs, stretches the limbs and makes sitting back down at your desk more comfortable both physically and mentally
Yes, yes, yes and yes. Get up and walk away from your desk at least every 30 minutes.
A daily walk of 30 minutes is key. I decided not to allow other’s personalities to affect me personally so I wouldn’t take their attitude to heart.
I am one to just power through until it all gets done or I have just worked until I can’t work anymore. (Not the greatest for one’s health, I know)
Sleeping more hours each night, eating healthier, nutritional supplements.
I exercise, eat right, drink water, supplements.
I do things for my health, not for productivity. My body serves me first.
Yes, I exercise, take supplements, eat right, and take breaks.
We hope you enjoyed IMI’s in-house #assnchat. If you haven’t tried #assnchat on Twitter, give it a try! You may find answers to questions you didn’t even know you had.
This is part one of a 2-part series on productivity based on a recent Association Chat (#assnchat).
Have you tried the Association Chat recently? Every Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET follow #assnchat on Twitter for a moderated series of questions designed for association professionals to interact and share their experiences. The chat is hosted by KiKi L’Italien (@kikilitalien) and anyone following the hashtag can respond with their answers and participate.
We decided to hold our own in-house #assnchat on productivity, based on the October 7, 2014, #assnchat questions. Read below for productivity troubles and tips from the IMI staff.
Q1: What are some of your productivity killers? What gets in the way of your productivity?
IMI team members shared that their top productivity killer is interruptions. Emails, phone calls, and office visitors were named as the most common interruptions.
Other productivity killers:
When others don’t plan their schedules accordingly and it causes an emergency through poor planning.
Waiting on others to answer questions or provide information to complete the job from my standpoint.
Too many tasks to accomplish in a short amount of time.
Q2: What is the best productivity tool you use regularly?
Across the board, team members cited lists, lists, and more lists as productivity aids!
I categorize and assign tasks, due dates and deadlines to items that come in through email. I also use the Franklin Covey system of prioritizing items.
It’s a tie between Basecamp and Outlook (color coding emails).
I delegate, break big projects into little tasks that I try to work on a little each day, and work at home one day a week, which has fewer interruptions. I also unsubscribe from irrelevant emails and set goals for myself (e.g. I will complete this project in 1 hour).
I establish a timeframe during which I will focus on one task that needs attention. No Email interruptions and all phone calls go to voicemail.
Not waiting until the last minute to complete the task or responsibility.
Outlook! I set reminders/due dates on emails and setup tasks on my calendar.
I use a spreadsheet with reminders and deadlines. I also use the Outlook Tasks feature. I just have to remember to stay on top of it!
Reducing distractions! I turn off email notifications, set my phone to do not disturb, etc., for a brief time while I focus on critical tasks.
I will switch to non-computer tasks for short occasional breaks to rest my eyes and mind from the computer.
Q3: Do you have rules for the way you prioritize tasks each day? What are they? (Such as: List your top 3 priorities but no more, etc.)
The week prior, I map out overall items that need to be accomplished during the upcoming week. I then break these down into specific items for specific days of the week. Each day I look through the list for the next day and assign priority to items. A1, A2, A3 are most important and need to get done. B1, B2, B3 are second level of importance, C1, C2, C3 are items that I will do if I have time, but can be pushed to the next day if needed. During the day if an item comes up that needs to trump one of my planned priorities I assign U1, U2, U3 (U = urgent) and determine which item will be bumped to the next day.
I get the urgent items done, but each week I also make sure to save some time to work on tasks that have been on the back burner.
Each day I prioritize my top nine tasks into three categories: A-one big thing, B-three medium things, and C-five small things.
I prioritize tasks by categories: Today, This Week, This Month, This Year.
Review deadlines for the week and prioritize tasks based on those deadlines.
Prioritize tasks to match or exceed the time available.
I usually prioritize by first come first served, starting with tasks that are older than a day that haven’t been completed. Then, I prioritize by request type. For example, requests that take longer to complete I will carve out a time slot in the day, like the whole afternoon or first thing in the morning, and work on other smaller tasks around it. I make sure to complete everything I promised before leaving at the end of the day. If I cannot complete something in a reasonable amount of time or if it has been sitting for a while I will send updates letting the appropriate people know when I will complete the task.
Review daily tasks each day and prioritize.
I respond to the most important emails first and then go back to the others as time allows. I block time periods to not handle email when working on project.
I list my tasks by priority and work on them based on deadline.
I first list the tasks that MUST be finished and label them in order that they should be completed. I make a second list below it of tasks I will conquer next if I have time after the critical tasks are complete.
I prioritize based on: 1. What needs to be done today? 2. How long has it been waiting? 3. Does it affect our members?
Q4: Do you use an organization or scheduling system, like GTD or the Pomodoro Technique?
Overall, Outlook features, such as tasks and reminders, were the most popular scheduling system.
Other helpful systems:
I use Franklin Covey’s system and I do recommend it for people that like to make lists. The system is a great way to bring your love of list making to the next level.
A QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode). A barcode is an optically machine-readable label that is attached to an item and that records information related to that item.
The QR Code system has become popular due to its fast readability and greater storage capacity compared to standard UPC barcodes. Applications include product tracking, item identification, time tracking, document management, general marketing and more.
A QR code consists of black modules (square dots) arranged in a square grid on a white background, which can be read by an imaging device (such as a camera) and processed using Reed–Solomon error correction until the image can be appropriately interpreted; data is then extracted from patterns present in both horizontal and vertical components of the image.
Schedule & Program Information. QR code on a name badge or the paper program that links to the schedule or program information
Tradeshow Booths. Exhibitors can have a QR code at their booth that attendees can use to get further information about their company.
Business Cards. Add a QR to your business card so people can download your information to their phone.
Conference Handouts. Add a QR code to a sign posted outside of the session that can be used to download course notes or relevant web pages.
Put a QR sign up at an event so people can access the event survey on their phones.
Social Media. Post a sign at the registration desk that has QR codes that link to the association’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
Scavenger Hunt. Host a QR code-based scavenger hunt during an event.
Include instructions on how to download the QR reader app and how to scan the QR code.
Make sure you have a mobile-friendly site to direct people to.
Before you decide to include a QR code, determine if it will add value.
Instead of a QR code, a link would be more useful on a website or electronic marketing piece. It’s far more convenient to click a link on a website than to get out your phone, open an app, scan a QR code, and read the site from your phone.
Don’t use QR codes where there is no Wi-Fi or cellular connection.
Don’t rely on the QR code as the only source for attendees to get more information.