Bill Baer /bɛːr/

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Bill Baer /bɛːr/
Bill Baer is a Senior Product Manager for Microsoft 365 at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington.

4 simple tips to being more productive in 2020 with AI and Cortana in Microsoft 365

4 simple tips to being more productive in 2020 with AI and Cortana in Microsoft 365

4 simple tips to being more productive in 2020 with AI and Cortana in Microsoft 365

  AI Microsoft 365 Productivity

Time is our most valuable resource and with the rapid pace of work and ever expanding amount of information we need to process, it’s often hard to find time to manage our work.  AI and Cortana in Microsoft 365 puts you at the center so you can do your best work with intelligent, natural, and personalized productivity experiences.  Here are four tips to being more productive in 2020 with AI in Microsoft 365.

  1. Make time for focus
  2. Put your personal assistant to work
  3. Get a head start on your day
  4. Stay informed

Make time to focus

Create a focus plan in MyAnalytics and rule your day. Productivity preferences are different for everyone, but experts on deep work report that setting aside regular blocks of time to focus on challenging work can have massive benefits. With a focus plan, MyAnalytics will help you establish a daily focus time routine. The focus plan will offer you the flexibility to have daily focus time booked automatically based on your availability, or surface suggestions to book focus time manually as you work in Outlook. The automatic booking algorithm will prioritize booking morning hours, if they are open, so you can be at your peak capacity for tackling challenging analytics tasks. Focus Plan.2019-12-05 09_18_33 The focus plan in MyAnalytics helps you set aside regular focus time for your top-priority work. This plan helps you schedule one to two hours every day to focus, with an option to book that time automatically. During the booked focus time, it silences chats in Teams and in Skype for Business. Learn more about focus plans in MyAnalytics at

Put your personal assistant to work

Get control of your calendar with Scheduler. Often the hardest part of meetings is scheduling them, whether finding the right time or the right location.  Let Cortana help manage the logistics so you can focus on the purpose.  Simply let Cortana know your meeting needs in the body of the email. You can tell Cortana the duration, timing, or location, or simply say “Find a time for us.” Since Cortana understands natural language, there are no special commands to use. Scheduler Demo.2019-12-05 09_07_32 With the speed of artificial intelligence and the personal touch of a human assistant, it’s the best of both worlds. Cortana communicates with your contacts by email to provide a natural, almost human, scheduling experience. Learn more at and sign-up for the exclusive preview.

Get a head start on your day

Get productivity tips from where you’re already working. Information moves quickly and it’s not always easy staying on top of tasks and commitments.  Have you ever missed an important email or forget a commitment you made to your co-workers? Do meetings and emails tend to take over your calendar? Do you ever wish to see reminders for 1:1 meetings with your manager, direct reports, or other top collaborators? Would you like to be notified if an upcoming meeting doesn’t have a quorum? Let the Outlook Insights add-in help you stay on top of your e-mail, tasks, and more.  The Outlook add-in provides actionable insights to help you stay on top of your tasks and get more done. This add-in is an extension of your Outlook experience and works within Outlook to help you gain focus time, maintain your work relationships, and improve your overall work-life balance. Insights MyAnalytics can also help you follow up on requests you asked of others in email. MyAnalytics will automatically find tasks you requested of others based on your sent mails. For example:

  • “Can you send me this year’s latest report?”
  • “Everyone, please complete your performance evaluations by the end of the week.”
  • “Cancel my RSVP for Carrin Patman’s lunch scheduled early next week.”

Learn more about the Insights Outlook add-in at

Stay informed

Let Microsoft Search help you find what’s important and trending around you. Let’s face it, we’re inundated with more information than ever.  Microsoft Search helps you discover what’s trending around you so you can keep informed and get back to what you were working on easily.  Whether you’re looking for a file in SharePoint or a conversation in Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Search is there to help. Microsoft Search in 11_45_57 Learn more about Microsoft Search at Learn more about AI and Cortana in Microsoft 365 and get more productivity tips at

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