Micro Skills: Actionable Tips to Excel at Work

woman loves micro skills

Micro skills can have big impacts. 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.

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

1. How to paste without copying styles

Keep 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 in Google Docs with 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”, across and up to click “Folder”, then take a powernap to recover. No thanks!

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. For example, you can search:
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 + L or 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 + 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 line.

An 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.” – Humpty Dumpty in an office job…probably

8. How to insert emojis quickly

Punctuate your presentation.

Set tasks ✅ highlight targets 🎯 and retain objectives 📌.
Windows +  . 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. 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 insert symbols and special characters quickly

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. You can 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 + 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 Shift.

The ultimate micro skill

Learning can start small and snowball into great things. If you’ve learned 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.