Taking Office 365 on the road to New Orleans
Multitasking is an understatement when you are a full-time mom, freelance writer, travel blogger, the family travel agent, and have more to-do lists than you can count. Staying organized when I travel is essential. I need to be able to send lists and reminders to my husband, kiss the boys (virtually) goodnight and upload/download the items I need at the speed of light without having to cram my computer with massive files that can slow me down on the road.
I don’t travel very often without my boys, but when I went to New Orleans in early March, the importance of being organized and having the tools I need to get everything done in my life came to head. One tool would not work, which is why Office 365 was once again brought into the fold to keep me moving forward. Word, Excel, OneNote, Skype and OneDrive for both mobile and desktop/laptop kept me organized and my family running while I was away.
Skype to connect
When I travel, my kids get to hang out with their grandparents or the fun sitter we found through a friend in Maryland as soon as we moved back east. For the most part they forget that boring, old mom isn’t there. At night, when they start to mellow out from a fun day they do miss me though. I have always loved using Skype as a way to stay connected with my family, even as other video chat software has come along. It is free to download, and better yet, with my Office 365 subscription I get 60 minutes per month to make calls through my computer. This is especially helpful when my friend, and the managing editor of Walking On Travels, isn’t online and I need to call her in Switzerland to chat about the editorial calendar. While in New Orleans, Skype allowed me to say hi to my boys. This is the most valuable tool of all for any parent on the road.
Once I tucked my boys in for the night, and my evening activities were finished in New Orleans, I usually had to hunker down to do some work. I house a lot of my documents in my OneDrive (also included in my Office 365 subscription) so I don’t have to keep them all on my computer. OneDrive is also my backup for all of my freelance writing and blog posts that have yet to see the light of day on the site. I’m paranoid when it comes to computers. After accidently leaving my computer at home while on a trip to Mexico, I need to know that I can access my content from anywhere. You never know when you might forget something at home or god forbid your computer is stolen while traveling. Having a backup for documents and even photos is crucial to not only my business, but also our family memories. If you haven’t jumped on the “Cloud” bandwagon, you need to do it right now. We are living in a digital age people. Back up everything! You get 1 TB of free storage with your Office 365 subscription, which can hold way more than a few documents and images while you travel.
My husband is a very wise man. He knows that I am in charge of everything in our house. I handle our finances, repairs, bills, the kids’ schooling, doctors appointments, etc. My laptop and phone keep our family moving forward and he tries very hard to not get in my way. Like any wife and mother I get frustrated with our arrangement though. It really is for the best, and I don’t begrudge him most days. I’m better at it and I need to be in control. It’s just the way I tick. He has his own strengths that I depend on and definitely do not want to do any time soon. However, when I need help, especially when I’m traveling and he is home with the kids, we needed to figure out a way to stay connected, sync up our To-Do lists and stay organized so kids got to school, lunch was made, groceries were picked up and the trash got to the curb. The OneNote app was my answer. I was already using OneNote to organize our cross-country move, the road trip that went along with it, and now our trip to Europe. Why couldn’t I use it to keep track of what was being done at home and add items to the grocery list we grew throughout the week? No reason at all. I was able to make changes to the kids’ schedules from New Orleans on OneNote and they showed up on my husband’s phone back home. Simple, yet effective family organization.
When I got back from New Orleans my house was still humming along at its usual pace. I’d chatted with the boys on Skype, always a hilarious undertaking especially when the toddler tries to share his sandwich with me through the screen. I’d been able to grab all the files I needed from OneDrive, except a few photos that were trapped on a hard drive at home. The simple solution was that my husband just moved them over to my OneDrive for me and I had them within minutes. Leaving the kids home while I travel is never completely seamless or headache free, but at least I had a few tech tools at my disposal to make my absence a little less disruptive and a little more organized than it would normally be.
News from Microsoft Office
As many of you know, I am an Office 365 Champion. This means I’m privy to some fun information that you might miss out on in your daily life. So what’s new that will affect you and your travels?
- Office 2016 is in Mac Preview: The new Office 2016 for Mac includes updated versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook–and the moment you open any one of the apps, you’ll immediately feel the difference. They have modernized the user experience and made it easier to get things done. Check it out here and let them know what you think.
- Office for Android tablets: Similar to Office for Windows 10, Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Android tablets are built from the ground up for touch and are perfect for mobile productivity. Large touch points make it easy for even the largest fingers to navigate commands. Existing documents open and render beautifully and are accessible instantly from device to device via a roaming “most recently used” file list. Try it out here.
I am an Office 365 Champ, which means I am an ambassador for Microsoft and compensated for this content. However, I never promote products I do not believe in, and my opinions are always my own. When they aren’t you will be the first to know.