Using automation to ease that work/life integration!
With most of us working from home it is new for some of us, but not all of us. From newbies to seasoned remote workers, there are some tools that can help you better organize yourself to keep some sanity in your day to day work.
Personally, I need to organize myself with my calendar. I put in blockers for tasks so that I can focus my time and (hopefully/usually) achieve more. I am working on customer projects that have specific tasks assigned to me as well as managing my own Kanban board. I need to a way to integrate everything a bit better so that I don’t end up with endless ‘to-do’ lists, but also let me focus my tasks for the week ahead.
I find that working with different tools is great, but I can easily forget to update one or miss a task, which leads to me dropping the ball. Being able to integrate my toolsets removes these risks enables me to be more productive.
I use the full suite of Microsoft products for my day to day working environment. I use Outlook for email, OneNote for notes/tasks/Kanban, Azure DevOps and its various tools for project delivery (technical and organisational), as well as other tools to ‘help’. It gets complicated.
I started using Microsoft Power Automate (formerly known as Microsoft Flow) as it allows you connect your various products together, similar to IFTT (If This Then That). I can automate simple tasks across my core tooling, allowing me to cut out wasted time ‘over-organizing’ or missing a task.
There are so any other things that you can do with Power Automate, have a look HERE. There are so many templates to choose from, not only using the Microsoft suite of products but also other 3rd party products (Dropbox, Wunderlist, Twitter, etc), just to name a few! You can also create you own!
One of the capabilities that I love is being able to sync my Azure DevOps assigned tasks/stories to my Outlook client. When a new task/story is assigned to me, it creates a task in Outlook. I turn those tasks into allocated time blocks in my calendar. I am able to sync all the tasks and work items from my customer projects AND my Kanban board into my Outlook task list.
In the following example, I have setup an automated workflow to create a new Outlook task when I am assigned a task in Azure DevOps:
Using the following template HERE
- Authenticate access to your preferred Outlook account and Azure DevOps accounts
- Configure the ‘flow’ to your preferred ADO org/project, also configuring specific task properties that you want to transfer across in the task
3. Run your flow!!! You can also select ‘flow checker’ or ‘test’ to with an output to see if it was successful:
In my project, I have created work items in my own Kanban board and as you can see, they have appeared in my Outlook calendar, only taking a couple of seconds. I can look at the run history of my flow, analytics, share it to my teammates or friends, or export the flow.
The picture just below is my Kanban board in ADO, the one below that are the tasks that have replicated over.
Now that all my tasks have sync’d over, I can priotize my calendar and my working day, you can even add in personal tasks, going for a walk/run, walking the dog, children’s pickup from school, etc.
Microsoft Power Automate is awesome…There are endless possibilities to the things that you can automate, making your life easier and more organized! Get started and leave comments below with any questions. Happy automating!