Micro Skills: Actionable Tips to Excel at Work

woman loves micro skills

Micro skills can have big impacts. Here are some simple actionable skills you can start applying today to improve your work.

Modern work requires using a computer, so these skills are focused on elevating your computer abilities to impress your colleagues and improve your work. 

Don’t be tempted to master them all today. Start with one skill and make it a habit – you can always come back for more.

1. How to paste without copying styles

Keeping it professional

Ctrl + V is great for pasting text, though sometimes you end up copying weird formatting into your clean presentation.

Paste just the unformatted text in Microsoft Office with Ctrl + Alt + V, or Google Docs Ctrl + Shift + V
The text will match your professional document perfectly.

2. How to easily create new folders

Low mileage work

Right-click, move your mouse down to “New”, then across and up to click “Folder”, then take a powernap to recover. Making a new folder is a daily task that should be quick and easy: Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + N, will create a new folder fast.

Bonus Micro Skill: Pressing F2 will rename a selected folder (only on windows).

3. How to get better search results

Get results

Knowing how to find the right answer is a key skill.

  • Get the exact term in your results by wrapping them in quotes.
  • Exclude irrelevant results by subtracting them ‘example’.
  • Limit your search to a single website by adding ‘Site:example.com’.

Combine them for winning results, e.g.
site:collegeforadultlearning.edu.au “how to enrol” -expensive

Some other search bars also use the same patterns for filtering results.

4. How to quickly lock your computer

Secure your snack break

If you need to step away from your desk quickly, it’s a good idea to lock your computer to stop peeping peers or curious kids. Windows logo + L on Windows, and Shift + Cmd + Q on Mac will bring you to your lock screen so you can grab that coffee without worry ☕.

*It’s also effective for tea breaks

5. How to view your copy history

Paste from the past

Have you ever pressed Ctrl + C instead of Ctrl + V and had to relocate the text you were copying? Turn on Cloud Clipboard with Windows Logo + V – now you can check your copy history and paste previous items.

6. How to highlight rows and columns

Arrows hit the mark

Highlight a whole row or column by using Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + Arrow Keys. You can also use this outside of tables when highlighting text to jump to the next word or next line.

Arrow by any other name would not highlight as quick 🌹

7. How to restore your browser tabs

Reappear disappearing tabs

If you have accidentally closed your browser and lost all your precious tabs, don’t worry: Ctrl + Shift + T reopens any previously closed tabs. For a deeper dive Ctrl + H will open your history to find older tabs.

“99 tabs sitting on the wall, I opened one more and crashed them all”

8. How to type emojis

Punctuate your presentation

Set tasks ✅ highlight targets 🎯 and retain objectives 📌.
Windows key +  . on Windows, and Ctrl + Cmd + Space on Mac will open your emoji keyboard allowing you to 🔍 and tactically insert emojis.


9. How to create file shortcuts

Shortcuts to copying

Dragging files is an easy way to organise, but did you know you can also create shortcuts and copy them simultaneously? Holding ctrl while dragging a file will place a copy on release, and holding alt will create a shortcut.

If you want to find the original file location of a shortcut: right-click > Open file location.


10. How to type symbols

Type with character

If you are sick of googling “fancy e” every time you write “résumé” it’s time to learn alt codes. By holding the alt key and using your number pad you can enter codes to add special characters:

alt + 130 = é

alt + 7 is great for creating bulleted lists:

alt + 0188 = ¼

alt + 0189 = ½

alt + 0190 = ¾

11. How to bookmark your workspaces

Save your workspaces

Upgrade your bookmarking from one page at a time to your entire “workspace”. Ctrl + Shift + D will save all your currently open tabs. If you save them in a folder, and click it with the middle mouse button to open them all up again – easy!

Ctrl + Shift + O will open your bookmark manager for easy sorting. Add emojis for that extra flair 🎉

12. How to organise your receipts

Clean up your receipts

It’s tax time and you need to find your receipts! Scanning them is the easy part, but sorting is another issue. Name your files starting with the year, month, and day “YYYY-MM-DD” e.g. 2022-06-21. This will neatly organise the files by date. Who doesn’t like an attractive date?

13. How to organise your windows

Snappy screen shortcuts

It can be messy having multiple windows open while working on a computer. By using the Windows key + Arrow Key you can snap your current window to wherever you need.

Two documents can be viewed side by side quickly with this feature. You can even switch between screens by also pressing the Shift Key.

The ultimate micro skill

Learning can start small and snowball into great things. If you’ve learnt anything from this post, you’ve not just gained a skill you’ve also gained a little momentum. Keep learning – it’s the ultimate micro skill.