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The gift of organization

This post is contributed by Leticia Barr, the founder TechSavvyMama.com, a site where she incorporates her experience as a parent and background as an educator to provide useful advice for families about the technology tools that have become a part of their lives.

The gift of organizationWhat do you give the mom who has everything? The gift of organization. As someone who is constantly frustrated by having a mom who insists that there’s nothing she wants as a birthday or holiday gift, I’ve found that the best present is technical assistance. My mom is pretty tech savvy but there’s always more that she is yearning to do. This year I gave her the gift of organization for Mother’s Day and showed her how to work more efficiently with the Microsoft Office tools she already has.

But where do you begin when the capabilities of Office 365 Home Premium are so great? Start by thinking about the individual, including their current use of technology, devices, the daily tasks that they do well, and frustrations. That will allow you to determine a few areas of need to make your gift most useful. Also think back to any conversation involving technology that started with “I wish.” Chances are that will serve as a great starting point for her first lesson.

Since my parents love to travel, I plan to provide my mom with some helpful lessons to assist her in streamlining tasks before and after their trips. I’ll show her how Office 365 and SkyDrive can help organize pre-trip tasks and easily edit photos upon her return so they don’t always have to live on her computer.

Collaborative trip planning using Excel and Sky Drive

My well-traveled parents love to visit new and favorite destinations and we’ve been lucky to take family vacations. These multigenerational trips to Hawaii, a ski trip to Tahoe, and a grand trip to China and Hong Kong have involved planning from opposite coasts.

To ease the burden of trip planning for everyone involved, I’m excited to share how we can use the Excel Web App and SkyDrive to collaborate on trip planning. By creating a file in Excel, I can upload it to SkyDrive and share the link with my fellow travelers. This allows everyone to have access to a single file that can be updated at his or her leisure. Before takeoff, ensure that each member of the family drops it into their OneNote notebook to access information electronically while on the go. This helpful guide shows you how to embed Microsoft Office files in OneNote.

Editing photos with Picture Tools

My father has the mack daddy DSLR and takes phenomenal photos during their travels but my mom is pretty content with the convenience of her point and shoot. Even though it takes decent photos, since she loves to create slide shows featuring travel photos, I’d like to show her Picture Tools. Picture Tools is an easy to use feature that is standard in Office and can be used to edit images from within Word or PowerPoint. By sharpening and softening lines and adjusting the brightness and contrast, my mom’s photos can rival those of my dad’s. With Picture Tools, she can also crop the image to tighten the focus of the photo to draw the viewer’s eye to the subject. After editing her photos to her liking, I can show her how to save them to SkyDrive to free up valuable space on her laptop’s hard drive.

Word templates turn digital photos into photo products

My parents love photos of our family trips but often the use of online photo services is overwhelming especially considering how long it can take to upload pictures. It’s no wonder why most photos tend to live on hard drives! It is nice to have tools that allow you to admire your photos in a new way. Office.com’s templates including photo albums and multiple versions of calendar templates to suit every need including monthly photo calendar with generously sized boxes to write information and a large space to showcase a gorgeous picture from their travels each month. I can also introduce my mom to Publisher, which can be used to create holiday cards featuring images from their trip and seasonal return address labels.

Hopefully my tips will help you, or someone in your family, learn a few new uses for Office that will help them navigate through their everyday lives.

Who in your life could use the gift of technology?

Leticia Barr