iMindMap 10 – Out now!

iMindMap 10 - Out now

A creative powerhouse to make your ideas unstoppable

Christmas has come early as we celebrate the latest evolution of a much-loved tool for Mind Mapping this week. Give a big, hearty welcome to iMindMap 10!

Loaded with sparkling new features and enhanced functionality, this supercharged new version will ramp up your creativity like never before. Bigger and better in every way, iMindMap 10 offers a complete kit to help you capture, sort and transform your ideas into tasks before launching them into action in DropTask. Now with five different views, it’s the perfect digital thinking space for any activity, from brainstorming and mind mapping to full-blown project planning – you name it. Choose how you want to work for infinite productivity.

In iMindMap 10, you’ll encounter the most inspiring and free-flowing work environment yet. Get ready for more authentic branch drawing, in-line access to thousands of Mind Map templates, fast consolidation of ideas, optimized brainstorming, advanced categorization, added imports and integrations, and a whole new view for managing your projects. Paired with its visual partner DropTask, you can convert your brightest ideas into practical tasks, enabling you to seamlessly plan, prioritize and bring them to life in the real world.

Here’s an overview of the smart features you can expect to find in the newly enriched iMindMap 10…

timemap

1. Manage projects from idea to implementation

Get your ideas off the ground with an entirely new view. The introduction of the Time Map View is a productivity game changer, bridging the gap between Mind Mapping and timeline project planning. Whether you’re launching a new product or arranging a party, you get a fully equipped workspace to move any kind of project across the finish line. Add brightly colored tasks to your Time Map using the click and draw method that iMindMap users are familiar with, and set Time Scales by specifying custom start dates and durations for your projects and tasks. For ultimate organization, group your responsibilities and priorities into clear Swimlanes, and visually track your most important Milestones as they appear at the bottom of the timeline.

No matter how big your project, checking your progress is a breeze with graphical cues indicating what tasks have been planned (yellow icon), started (green icon), put on hold (red icon) or completed (checkmark), as well as alerting you to any tasks that are overdue. At one glance, you get a clear view of what’s ahead, making it simple to coordinate your workflow and perform at your best. With complete switchability from Mind Map View to Time Map View (and back), watch as your Mind Map branches convert to tasks, keeping all their properties, so you can follow through on your ideas and take them to new heights. Go full steam ahead on your tasks by exporting your Time Map into DropTask, and benefit from real-time collaboration on team projects.

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2. Get inspired

iMindMap 10 brings instant access to the world’s largest Mind Map collection via its all-new Biggerplate Mind Map Library Integration. You can now search and download thousands of time-saving Mind Map templates and inspiring examples all from within iMindMap. Whether your purpose is business related, educational or personal, find useful maps to kick-start your ideas and spur you into action to reach your goals. Simply download a template of your choice and edit it to suit your needs. Likewise, you can also inspire others by sharing your own creations with the global Mind Mapping community in just a few clicks.

fast-capture-and-brainstorm

3. Consolidate your ideas with ease

New updates to the Fast Capture View give you extra flexibility in gathering and consolidating your ideas at full speed, so those precious ‘aha’ moments never slip you by. Change the color of idea bubbles to categorize your ideas and create a structure that makes sense to you; then relax in the knowledge that these will be carried across to your branches automatically when you switch to Mind Map View. Add cover images to your idea bubbles for a double visual hit, bringing your ideas to life and boosting your ability to memorise and recall important info.

Revive lacklustre brainstorming sessions and give immediate shape to your ideas with the optimized Brainstorm View. Brand new conversion tools give you the freedom to organize your growing pile of ideas in a format that best fits your preferences. As your ideas develop, add or convert them into new groups to bring greater order to your thoughts, or input them as a list – it’s up to you! For the ideal recall tool, try the new Flashcards. Whether you use them as revision or speaking prompts, they’re handy for keeping extra info hidden until it’s needed.

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4. Go organic

iMindMap 10’s Branch Drawing Tool has been remodeled to make your Mind Mapping experience even more natural and intuitive, so your ideas can radiate from branch to branch without restriction – just like they do in your mind. The organic movement of the drawing tool feels effortless and helps you work quicker, freeing up more time for in-depth thinking. All your essential editing and customization tools are now conveniently located at the end of each branch, exactly where they’re needed most, so your thinking remains fluid and uninterrupted. Simply click to open the all-new Pop-Up Edit Menu to easily access editing tools and keep your work area neat and tidy. The most fundamental Mind Mapping element has been refined, and it’s oh so powerful!

tags-and-icons

5. Create some order

The latest rendition of iMindMap brings two cool new systems for categorizing information – Tags and the Icon Manager. These updates offer a way of ordering any of your iMindMap creations in a way that’s totally unique to you. Define your Tags by various themes, such as team members, task importance, topic or performance metrics to set up your own classification system for any purpose, and assign them to branches, sticky notes, idea bubbles or tasks. If you’re more visually minded, add meaningful Icons to create an attractively organized yet clutter-free workspace, and benefit from a sharpened focus for getting more done. A robust filtering system helps you refine your project by Tags or Icon to find information quickly and get a clear view on what matters most at that very moment.

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6. Enjoy more flexibility

iMindMap 10 gives you more options and greater flexibility than ever before through its new Software Importers. Now you can access and edit maps created within other software through iMindMap, and work seamlessly with colleagues and friends who are using alternative map formats. Once you’ve brought your ideas together, don’t forget to action them! Two-way integration with DropTask allows you to take your ideas further with optimum efficiency. Alternatively, switch from bubbles to branches by exporting your DropTask projects into iMindMap for an extra brainstorming boost within a vibrant, interactive canvas. And that’s not all, iMindMap 10’s Email Integration also helps to streamline the flow of your communications by allowing you to send your iMindMap creations directly by email from your workspace. No more switching between iMindMap and your inbox to share your work.

All these convenient updates are designed with one goal in mind – to produce a faster, more focused and more visually engaging work experience. Find out more about these features and other additional improvements over at www.iMindMap.com

5 Tactics for driving end of year sales success

5 Tactics for driving end of year sales success
December is typically crunch time for sales reps and managers who work on the front line. While most people are thinking about their Christmas shopping and festive party plans, you’re caught up in end of year anxieties about hitting your annual sales targets. With just a few weeks to go, you need to close sales pronto, but you’re getting rebuffed by prospects who want to put buying decisions on hold till the new year. Things start to get real tense as you’re weighed down by the pressure to do more with less, and do it yesterday!

Need some help to drive up your win rates? Here are 5 tactics you can use to make quota and finish the year on a sales high.

1. Prune your pipeline

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The clock is ticking and having too many opportunities in your pipeline at this time of year can stall your progress. Don’t waste time trying to target anyone and everyone as this will just dilute your attention. Focus on the deals that are most likely to close this year, and remove any less certain prospects from your December pipeline. You can always follow up with them next year. Use the Progress Percentage feature in DropTask to identify which deals are near completion in the sales cycle. In addition, a quick analysis will help determine which prospects are the best fit and have the most urgent need for your product or service. Look at your last 10-20 leads and identify some criteria to describe those that went on to close successfully. For example, were the majority startups or established businesses? Which departments tend to respond better? What’s the average sales price? And so on. Use this customer profile as a guide for directing your primary sales activity.

2. Get creative with incentives

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There’s fun and festivity in the air, so now’s a good time to think of creative ways to nudge your prospective customers to say yes. Consider special holiday discounts to encourage prompt purchase, free shipping/returns, competitions, giveaways, flexible payment schemes and add-ons; or bundle your products into new combinations so you can sell at a higher price point. Flash sales via email and social media are a great way to create a sense of urgency and encourage last-minute buys. According to a study by Monetate, 56% of businesses agree that flash sale campaigns tend to have better response rates than regular campaigns. Shorter duration flash sales – say three hours – are particularly successful. With DropTask Notifications, you can keep a tight rein on all your campaigns and communicate available offers to the sales team in real time, so everyone can capitalize on a more receptive ‘holiday happy’ market.

3. Automate sales workflow

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The best sales teams operate within a standardized process that defines a particular sequence of steps – Research, Approach, Qualify, Presentation/Product Info, Close, Aftersales/Follow-up. In the mad rush to drive immediate year-end sales, however, this process can often go to pot, and with it, so do the chances of achieving customer satisfaction. Technology is valuable in helping to automate workflow for your reps. Even simple tools like email templates can ease the pressure. By cutting out extra procedures and reporting, sales people won’t get bogged down by the daily grind and can devote more energy to what they do best – selling. The DropTask Workflow Board is a great feature for enabling up-to-the-minute tracking of each stage of the sales workflow, without overcomplicating things. In just one glance, you can quickly evaluate your key sales activities and progress, and realign as necessary to meet your goals.

4. Remove roadblocks

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As crazy as things are right now, it’s worth taking time to review all the proposals and campaigns you made throughout the year to identify any significant roadblocks that held your prospects back from purchasing. Make notes of the challenges you faced and what worked well in response. What lessons can you take on board to make this final month a winner? Assist your team in overcoming any obstacles and set clear metrics to hold your sales reps accountable, for instance, outline targets for number of calls or appointments. Support and accountability for tasks can be easily administered through DropTask by establishing effort and urgency levels, attaching files/notes, determining task dependencies and redistributing tasks between team members.

5. Celebrate wins!

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People are motivated by recognition and rewards, and this is especially true for salespeople! A little celebration can mean a lot at the end of the year, when the atmosphere turns festive and joyful. It’s the perfect time to thank your reps for their hard work and reward wins to keep everyone revved up and hungry. Extend the same celebratory spirit to your loyal customers by reaching out to thank them for their custom, wish them ‘happy holidays’, or even send a surprise gift. A small gesture can go a long way in cementing good relationships for the future.

Any other tips for boosting sales success as we reach the end of 2016? We’d love to hear about them.

Bring Thanksgiving to the workplace for stronger teams

Bring thanksgiving to the workplace for stronger teams

As Thanksgiving approaches, we look forward to gathering around the dinner table with our loved ones to be thankful for all the blessings of the past year. But the heartwarming tradition of Thanksgiving shouldn’t only be practiced at home with our spouses, children and special friends; it should also be celebrated with our “work families” – the co-workers and colleagues whose hard graft powers the engine of the business.

As an employer or manager, do you take time to say “thank you” and appreciate your team for going the extra mile for you?

As a team worker, do you express your gratitude to your colleagues and peers for their everyday input and support in your work life?

Don’t be a turkey, now’s the time to celebrate the teamwork that makes your success as a company possible. Encouraging an “attitude of gratitude” in the workplace is not only uplifting in the moment, but has a powerful ripple effect in building team morale, trust and productivity all year long.

So, how can we all be a little more thankful this holiday season? Here are some suggestions:

Chocolate cakes

1. Recognize with a prize

According to a survey by career community site Glassdoor, 81% of workers are motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work. And yet in the never-stand-still flurry of the modern work environment, good leaders will often take their team members for granted. A Gallup poll found that only one in three US workers could strongly agree that they had received recognition or praise from their supervisor in the last seven days. With Thanksgiving almost upon us, don’t miss this precious opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of your team. There are lots of simple (mostly budget-friendly) ways to show the people in your workplace that you really care:

  • Time off around Thanksgiving
  • A personalized thank you note, whether by email, card, letter or even video
  • Unexpected gifts such as a turkey, food hamper, grocery store/restaurant gift card or show tickets
  • A plaque, award or certificate of appreciation
  • Pre-Thanksgiving meal at work with all the trimmings
  • A day trip or outing
  • A monetary award such as a cash bonus or pay rise
  • The ability to work remotely in the run up to Thanksgiving
  • Meaningful career opportunities, training or coaching
  • Public praise and a handshake at a team meeting or company event
  • Highlighting someone’s performance in the company newsletter

Sincere expressions of gratitude like these aren’t difficult to organize, but are indispensable in making teams feel valued for their work. With a variety of Team Plans on offer, DropTask can help your colleagues pull together to achieve common goals and keep their eyes on the prize. People have greater options to work from home during the winter holidays while still collaborating in real-time, so no-one need ever miss out.
Thank you

2. Get specific by evaluating performance

To get better at saying thank you and giving rewards, you need to stay on top of people’s performance. A general pat on the back for effort is one thing, but recognition is best received when it’s specific. Rather than simply praising workers for a “good job”, highlight exactly what they’re doing right and how they’ve contributed to broader business objectives. This makes it clear what actions or behaviors you would love to see more of in the future and is one of the best ways to positively reinforce first class performance. Use DropTask to track individual and team performance on big or small projects. With the ability to Filter tasks by Assignee, Importance, Effort and Status, it’s easy to keep tabs on how workers and teams are getting on, and you’ll have no trouble finding the specifics to be thankful about.

Evaluate performance

3. Promote goodwill

Connect everyone to the spirit of Thanksgiving through different media. For instance, create a social network page, blog or bulletin board for folks to post things that they appreciate about each other. People should focus on what they are grateful for in their bosses, co-workers or teams – whether their strengths, the things they do or the times they’ve shared together during their work relationship. Showing gratitude to colleagues can build stronger bonds and spurs teams to get better results. Make a genuine effort to compliment your peers whenever you can. Thank them publicly for their help in a team meeting, bring them a tasty treat or drop them a quick message via DropTask so everyone involved in a task can see it. Better yet, extend your gratitude even further by sending a complimentary email to his or her boss. It only takes a few feel-good moments like this to establish a culture of appreciation and fellowship.


Your special Thanksgiving gift

As a thank you from us, we’re giving you and your team a whole year of DropTask for Business free* when you upgrade to any of our 2 year plans before this Friday 25th November 2016. Don’t miss out, redeem now.

From everyone here at DropTask, we wish you, your family and your entire team a very happy Thanksgiving!

Work-life balance and 5 ways you can achieve it

Work-life balance and 5 ways you can achieve it
Every business owner, professional or working parent out there knows what a struggle it can be to balance a heavy workload with a fulfilling personal life. Mastering the elusive ‘work-life balance’ can seem nigh on impossible when you’re taking tons of work home with you, cancelling social plans and answering emails at 11pm.

According to a global study by Ernst & Young, one-third of full-time workers say that maintaining a work-life balance has become tougher in the last five years. Longer work hours, lack of job security and new communication technologies make it increasingly difficult for people to leave work behind at the office, and the boundaries between home and work are blurring. But the stress that builds up from overwork and an ‘always on’ mentality can be costly, giving rise to health issues, relationship conflicts and disengagement. The need to unwind from the pressures of work, spend time with family and take care of your own wellbeing has never been more crucial. Indeed, getting the balance right can help you bring your best to all areas of your life.

Work-life balance varies from one individual to the next. Here are 5 tips to support you in finding the balance that’s right for you.

1. Work out your personal priorities

Work out your personal priorities

If you’ve been tipping over on the work side of the scale, then your private life is likely to have taken a hit lately. Take a good hard look at your priorities and consider how you can re-allocate time to the most precious things in your personal life, as well as your business. We all need personal goals to balance out our professional ambitions. To help you create space in your life for family, friends, rest and play, create a project in DropTask just as you would for a work-related goal, and manage it in the same way. Make yourself accountable by scheduling tasks for the next few weeks or months to pursue a hobby, attend your kid’s soccer match, go on a trip, volunteer or host a dinner party for friends. Focus on the people and things that are important to you so that your life reflects your priorities, not anyone else’s. We suggest aiming to give yourself something to look forward to at least twice a week, so you have an extra incentive to manage your time well. Don’t worry about trying to remember everything as DropTask will send you a Daily Summary Email to inform you on what you should be doing and when.

2. Learn to say “no”

Learn to say no
You’ll have an easier time sticking to your personal priorities if you learn the power of saying “no” once in a while. Trying to please everyone all the time is the short route to burnout, so it’s imperative to protect your time. You don’t have to volunteer for everything you’re asked to do. Get comfortable with setting boundaries and decline any energy-sapping requests, errands or meetings that fall outside of them. Have a chat with your manager or team to communicate your limits and agree on how you’ll work going forward – can you delegate or outsource any of your time-consuming but low-value jobs? Any feelings of guilt will soon melt away when you realise how much it can benefit your productivity and work-life balance. DropTask can help you with crafting and maintaining boundaries, allowing you to Assign Tasks to others and customize Notifications so that you don’t get overloaded.

3. Telecommute

Telecommute
If you have the option, consider working from home a few times a week. Freedom from the hellish commute and time-guzzling distractions of the office (impromptu meetings, interruptions by colleagues, and so on) means that your natural workflow can flourish unabated. As a result, you’ll gain much-needed extra time to take care of your personal responsibilities. With DropTask at your service, you no longer need to be sitting in the same office to share info, stay up-to-date on progress or give your full input on team projects. You can be just as productive and collaborative as your office-based colleagues, if not more, while lounging around in your pyjamas!

4. Unplug after hours

Unplug after hours
Here at DropTask, we love new technology. But there are occasions when even we admit you have to pull the plug on it. Checking your emails every 15 minutes when you’re supposed to be watching a movie with the kids doesn’t amount to true quality time and actually injects an element of stress into your evening. Try to completely ban work-related technology when you get home so that you can focus on your family, friends or yourself. Turn off your phone or screen your calls, letting them go to voicemail if they’re not urgent. Now relax and enjoy the moment.

5. Take care of the physical

Take care of the physical
No matter how jam-packed our schedule is, the one aspect we can’t ignore is our self-care. Block out a bit of personal time in your calendar to take a walk, meditate, eat a mindful lunch or do anything that will top up your tank. That way your health won’t get crowded out in favour of other more ‘urgent’ demands. Get out into the fresh air for an hour if you can, or head to the gym for a heart-pumping session. Can’t leave your desk? Then try some deep breathing exercises or stretches while sitting down (roll your neck and shoulders, flex your feet, stretch your arms), or do a 10-minute body-scan meditation. A little rejuvenation goes a long way in helping to bring more balance to your life.

Got any ideas for tip No. 6? What strategies do you rely on for creating a healthy work-life balance? Tell us in the comments below.

4 Reasons why email can never replace a task manager

We’re all guilty of using our inbox as our to-do list. Do you ever email tasks to yourself, ‘unread’ messages or flag items as a reminder to tackle them later, leaving them hanging in your inbox? Bad idea. With a constant inflow of new emails and pressing requests, there inevitably comes a point when our inbox starts to overgrow and we feel bogged down.
28% workweek
Let’s face it, email is simply not a productive or efficient way to manage and keep track of tasks. Inbox management can easily take over your entire workday if you let it. A 2012 study by the McKinsey Global Institute found that the average worker spends approximately 28% of the workweek processing their emails (answering, reading, deleting and sorting); time that could be better occupied with high-value tasks. Using a separate task manager (hint: DropTask) to capture your to-dos in one place, including those arriving in your ever-expanding inbox, can help you avoid wasting time sifting through stacks of emails and frees you up to get more done. Plus, you won’t get distracted by each and every message that pops into your inbox while you’re in the middle of a serious assignment.

Drag yourself away from your emails for a moment and take note of these four reasons why email isn’t a good replacement for a task manager.

1. No central ‘hub’ for projects

No Central Hub
All teams need a centralized location for important project information – files, comments, updates – that can be accessed from anywhere at any time. When this isn’t available, workers take to their emails to make requests, assign tasks to colleagues, send attachments or track down the information they need. The next thing you know, numerous messages are flying around and information is scattered between various conversations, folders, labels, attachments or lists. But email wasn’t built for task management, only correspondence. While you can go to all the effort of creating your own system of color-coding and adding stars and flags to draw attention to tasks in your email program, you’ll still have a hard time keeping sight of the big picture and staying in sync with your team when relying on email alone. This is especially true when working together on long-term projects.

Cue DropTask, your one-stop-shop for project management, allowing you to collate and categorize your to-dos and responsibilities in one friendly workspace. Private projects can remain just that – private – while team or cross-departmental projects can be shared for effective collaboration with colleagues. Keeping tasks, files, status updates and comments all together simplifies the way you manage your workload and ensures that everyone stays in the loop – no email required!

2. Emails don’t have start or due dates

DropTask Calendar
An email inbox doesn’t allow you to plan ahead by setting start dates for your tasks or deadlines for completing them. By contrast, the cool tool that is DropTask helps you effortlessly manage your time by allowing you to add Start and Due dates to each of your tasks. These are instantly scheduled within your Calendar, which brings together all of your tasks from across every project you are working on. The Calendar lets you toggle between Start and Due dates so you can choose whether to view your must-do-now priorities or focus on what’s coming up to reach maximum productivity. Scared of falling behind? Set Task Reminders to alert you as deadlines approach and spur you into action.

3. To-dos get buried

Email
In a bid to stay organized, you might try to keep email communications about specific tasks all on one thread. Seems like a decent enough plan, but an email thread for a single project soon grows to an unmanageable length, with task-critical data, questions, team progress updates, FYIs and off-topic chats gathering on top of each other in no simple order. These long, bulky ‘re:re:re’ email threads bury important information and cause untold frustration when it comes to digging out what’s relevant.

The key around this is to separate your tasks from your email as soon as they come in, so they don’t fall off the radar. Whenever a to-do arrives via email, transfer it straight into your task manager. It might seem like more work; after all, you’re adding another step to the process. But the act of freeing tasks from your email forces you to get clear on what has to be done, rather than scrolling through a long list of ‘re: re: re:’ emails to remind yourself.

Turning emails into tasks is a breeze with DropTask – just send the message to task@droptask.com or the special address found in your user preferences. Or, you can move emails from Outlook to DropTask with a single click of a button using our Outlook integration feature. There’s the option to set attributes for your tasks (such as Due Dates and Importance) from within Outlook before mailing to DropTask, and to include email attachments. More than that, you can also delegate responsibilities by emailing them straight into someone else’s DropTask workspace!

If you’re a Gmail user, download DropTask from the Google Apps Marketplace and send actionable items from your Gmail inbox directly into DropTask. As with Outlook, you can set time management and prioritization preferences to your Gmail emails, before firing them over to DropTask to tackle at a later date.

FEATURE FACT: The subject of your email will become the to-do name, and the body of the email will be the task description. Any attachments will be added as a file. When you next log in, you’ll see the task waiting for you in your Notifications.

4. Email distracts

Up to 15 minutes to resume tasks
Keeping your to-dos lounging in your inbox encourages constant email checking, and we all know how much of a distraction that can be! With every new ping, you’ll lose focus. A joint study by Microsoft Research and the University of Illinois found that it took workers up to 15 minutes to resume an absorbing task when interrupted by a simple email alert, whether they responded to it or not. Once you’re in your inbox, you run the risk of getting caught up processing new messages and as a result important to-dos get left behind.

Separating out your tasks into your task manager means that you won’t lose sight of them in a mass of open emails. And you have the added benefit of being able to better define, prioritize, classify and filter your tasks. Unlike email, you can also group tasks and show their relationships and dependencies in visible ways, as well as mark out which activities are complete, in progress or incomplete. In DropTask, you have a clear visualization structure of your work at all times, with options to view tasks in the original colorful Canvas, as a Workflow Board (Kanban-style) or in Calendar form.

While your inbox can offer support for your daily workload, it’s not the place for task management. Detach your email from your tasks by capturing all your actions in a dedicated tool like DropTask. What other good reasons are there not to use email to manage your to-dos? Or are you happy using your inbox as a to-do list? Let us know in the comments.

The planner versus the doer

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Here’s a thought-provoking question for you: Do you consider yourself a planner or a doer?

In the process of developing our new Calendar View, we noticed something interesting. Some of our team showed a preference for viewing their schedule by start dates, while others only wanted to view the due dates of their tasks. We came to the conclusion that those leaning toward start dates were the ‘planners’ of the group, and they liked to be more organized in how they approached their work. On the other side of the scale were the ‘doers’ whose main focus was on taking action to get the job done; so all that mattered to them were their deadlines.

Both planning and doing workstyles are equally valid in the workplace, and the best teams excel by harnessing the strengths of each. That’s why the all-new DropTask Calendar allows you to choose how you view your entire workload – by Start Date or Due Date – so you can manage your time in a way that suits you.

Not sure if you’re a planner or a doer? Here’s how you can tell.

“I’m a Planner”

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Planners are a naturally deliberate and focused bunch. These organized types love lists, calendars, timelines, budgets, schedules and charts, and are driven to give order to the world around them. Planners tend to think more strategically and are great at exploring different opportunities or sides of a problem, as well as overseeing projects. It’s all about the where and how for these guys. Once they have the big picture in sight, they prefer to map things out in clear stages, so they know exactly where they’re headed and how they’re going to get there. Goals need to be clear and deliverables outlined at the outset, all carefully thought out to ensure the best possible outcome. Some planners hold on to their plans like security blankets. Predictability and caution is the name of the game, while ambiguity makes them edgy and nervous. Does this sound like you?

If you’re a planner, take care not to get stuck on perfecting the plan to the point that you delay the work getting done. Even the best-laid plans still need to be executed, so planners work well with others who are ready to act. And sometimes, a bit of flexibility could be just what your plan needs to make better progress – after all, things don’t always go according to plan!

“I’m a DOER”

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Doers are masters of action – they make things happen. When handed an assignment, a doer’s first tendency is to dive right in, and they work fluidly and fast to check off their to-dos one by one. In other words, doers are all about the what. The ‘Shoot, Fire, Aim’ approach works well for this kind of worker, without the faff of planning everything out or holding meeting after meeting; and they nimbly sidestep the dangers of analysis paralysis. ‘Doing’ folk can happily ‘go with the flow’ and spontaneously take advantage of opportunities that cross their path because they’re not confined to the mental box created by their plan. They are intensely focused on one area rather than broadly focused like the planner. Often, doers see planning as getting in the way of their actual work, not as part of the work itself. Speed is valued over process, and any snags or obstacles are dealt with swiftly. Do these traits seem familiar to you?

While doers are able to handle truckloads of work, their lack of planning can cost them. Rushing at a doer’s pace, it’s easy to overlook important things or forget to communicate with your team. A plan is a framework for action, and a few minutes’ worth of planning before taking action makes for better and more consistent results.

Whether you’re a doer or a planner, DropTask can help you plan and do more – smartly and efficiently. The spanking new Calendar feature allows you to toggle between Start and Due dates for your tasks, so you can stay on top of your must-do priorities whatever your work style. Have you checked out the Calendar view yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Why stepping out of your comfort zone should be at the top of your to-do’s this Halloween

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In business, it seems that it’s always the most daring of individuals who take the first step into the unknown. Without a following behind them and a feeling of doubt in their gut, it’s up to the lone wolf to take charge of their own future. By stepping out of our comfort zones we’re welcoming the prospect of revitalized change and personal growth, in the hopes of accomplishing something that’s beneficial to our lives. With corporate directors, managers and CEO’s often feeling trapped and not knowing where to turn next, little do they know that the door that leads them to their maximum potential is open right in front of them. But why is it that we’re still so apprehensive of stepping out of our comfort zone? The fear of ‘doing’ is just another way of fearing success. Tackle your fears today and take a step forward in what you might think is the wrong direction. See our 4 simple steps below, how coming out of your comfort zone with DropTask will help you to maximize your productivity output and to progress with those Projects you’ve got in the pipeline.
 

1. Become comfortable with taking risks.

take risks
Risk taking is seen by some as unwise and dangerous, but for others it’s seen as the perfect opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Shake the curse of ‘being different’ and feeling threatened with the prospect of the unknown. Prepare well by planning out your strategic steps in DropTask’s signature Canvas View. With an overview of the bigger picture you’ll feel at ease from the offset, and can ensure that you’re asking yourself those hard high-level questions.

2. Gain control

Gain Control
When the prospect of stepping out of our comfort zone dawns, it’s easy to get caught up in self-doubt which can lead us into thinking that we’re incapable. You’ve already been courageous enough to take the risk, so now it’s time to take the reins and own it. Use DropTask to avoid slipping back into those old habits which hold you back from succeeding. The built-in Calendar allows you to plan your schedule weeks in advance so you can hit the ground running with your new venture. And with the ability to take a peek at other colleagues’ schedules in the Team Calendar, you can ensure that your team is fully aware of what’s creeping around the corner to avoid being startled by looming deadlines.

3. Reinforce your creativity

Reinforce Creativity
Research shows that when individuals foster their creative thinking, they often outperform their rivals in revenue growth. What’s holding you back from revisiting those ideas that were left in the shadows? With regular sessions of brainstorming and by nurturing your unconventional ideas, sparks of genius will arise which you never thought were possible. DropTask’s visual nature encourages interaction and subsequently boosts engagement, and with color, shapes and icons prompting you down the right path, the thought and act of getting things done is significantly less daunting. With a less formal approach, watch your ideas come to life and bury the uncertainties which hinder your success.

4. Accept failure

Accept Failure
Everyone in life has experienced failure, though admitting to it can be a tough pill to swallow. Failures are valuable experiences as they often bring to our attention what we can improve on to progress forward. Without failures, you may still be stuck down that dead end street which brought you no hope. In DropTask’s Completed Tasks View, you’re able to review your performance as you go, and see everything that you’ve overcome to get to where you are. With a historic view of Shared Files, Conversations, and the Project Members that you’ve collaborated with, you’ll be reminded of why you pursued your gut feeling and stepped out of your comfort zone in the first place – the thought of which now seems a lot less daunting than before.

Have some tips of your own? Share your experiences in the comments below and tell us how stepping out of your comfort zone has helped you. 

New to DropTask? Learn more about the benefits by signing up for a free account today.

 

10 innovative ways to stay motivated at work

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At DropTask, we pride ourselves on being an innovative crew. Our all-visual task management tool is the only one of its kind and packs a powerful productivity punch, and we operate from a really cool, hi-tech space in Wales – Tec Marina. Lately, we’ve been thinking a lot about motivation and the different ways we keep ourselves geared up throughout the day or week. In this post, we’ll be sharing some of our most innovative tips to help you stay motivated (and productive) at work.

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Find a personal ‘why’
Trick yourself into doing a task you dread by linking it to something that matters to you, and get a much-needed push to finish the job. Ask yourself: What bigger goal of mine does this task connect to?

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Have a game plan
Sometimes all that’s needed to give you a kick up the butt is a clear plan. Create an agenda to put your priorities in order and give you something to run with from the get go.

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Be task-driven, not time-driven
Focus on  what you need to do, instead of how much time you have to do it. Breaking tasks down into bite-sized chunks is a great recipe for getting some ‘quick wins’ under your belt.

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Get inspired on a daily basis
What can you read/watch/listen to/play to get a burst of optimism and good feeling each day?

 

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Commit to being better
Don’t just look to get something done, aim to get it done better, faster, easier or with more energy. Not only will you get superb results, but you’ll also see a huge lift in your motivation and self-esteem.

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Look at what you’ve done
Feeling a bit ‘meh’? One quick way to recapture your mojo is to look at your completed tasks. Ride the wave of your earlier successes and keep the momentum going to achieve even more.

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Celebrate – you’re worth it!
Review your progress and celebrate each victory with a small reward, even something as simple as your favorite dessert. Knowing a reward is just around the corner gives you added drive to reach your goals.

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Set ‘to-be’ tasks as well as ‘to-do’ ones
Include exercise and wellbeing activities alongside your usual work related to-dos. By building self-care into your week, you’re more likely to stay on top of weightier tasks and feel energized in the process.

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Get close to your colleagues
Research shows that workplace friendships can increase productivity and job commitment. Spend time getting to know your co-workers. Go to lunch, grab a coffee or even hit the gym together.

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Be positive, no matter what.
Focusing on the negatives of work (the pressure, deadlines) will zap your motivation and blind you to all the good stuff. Practice being upbeat every day and look for the hidden positives in every challenge.

Which of these 10 innovative tips get you moving? Got any special motivational tricks of your own? Then share them with your fellow DropTaskers below.

 

Tackling information overload with DropTask 2

Information overload

Emails, reports, Twitter, news, YouTube videos, reminders, websites, RSS feeds, blogs, Facebook, IMs, texts, Skype….Information is everywhere! We live in a hyper-connected world where the gadgets and gizmos of modern work life make outrageous amounts of information available to us at the click of a button. For the most part, this is awesome because we can find what we need to know, when we need to know it. But as legions of us in the workplace are discovering, you can have too much of a good thing.

It’s hard to keep a straight head and focus on your to-dos while being bombarded by a relentless flood of data, which soon plunges you into ‘information overload’. According to a study cited by Jonathan Spira, author of Overload, a shocking 94% of people have at some point felt so overwhelmed by information to the point of incapacitation. The result? Things don’t get done, or they get done badly.

DropTask’s visual display can clean up the clutter

Cleaning up clutter

The fact of the matter is linear, top-down lists don’t cut it as a tool for managing dizzying quantities of information and tasks. Under the crushing pressure of ‘infomania’, our brain has a tough time processing text and separating the trivial from the important. And even a to-do list of only one page can become unwieldy if there’s no obvious structure to it. Plus, let’s be straight, it’s bland. A visual representation like DropTask’s colorful, shapely dashboard is much less taxing mentally and helps to simplify info and to-dos with crystal clarity. Dr. Dimitrios Tsivrikos, business psychologist at the University College London (UCL), highlights the value of visuals for getting to grips with complex data: “Research has proven that by visually presenting information, data processing demands on the brain can be reduced”.

To avoid drowning in a deluge of tasks, use DropTask to pull everything together in one place so you can see the whole view of a project, from the bigger picture right down to the smaller details. In other words, both the forest and the trees! Unlike linear, text-heavy tools, DropTask allows you to build an eye-catching and coordinated framework around the contents of your task list, putting you in firm control and warding off overwhelm.

Let’s take a closer look at how the all-new enhancements in DropTask 2 can help shrink the clutter and give your brain the breathing space it needs to be super-productive.

1. Filter through the flood

Filter through the flood

For a simple way to cut through the noise and find what matters most, use the new Filter feature to (you guessed it!) filter tasks, either by Assignee, Importance, Keywords, Effort, Tags, Attachments or even Status (tasks not started, tasks in progress and tasks on hold). By narrowing down your field of vision, you get a clean glimpse of only the things you need and want to see, whether you’re tracking performance or sifting through priorities. If you want stress-free task management, this is it!

2. More ways to manage – Workflow Boards and built-in Calendar

Workflow and Calendar

The latest rendition of DropTask offers not one, but two glistening new ways to view and organize your information, projects and tasks:

  • Kanban-style Workflow Boards – Pave a clear path through your tasks and track your progress with ease. By setting staged categories like ‘To-do’, ‘Doing’ and ‘Done’, you can model your workflow along vertical swimlanes and get an instantaneous view of where you are and where you’re going. As you work through your to-dos, your completed items stay visible giving you a sense of sequence and mucho satisfaction.
  • Built-in Calendar – The key to combating information overload is to be organized. With DropTask’s new Calendar feature you can stay on top of what you should be doing today, and what’s due in the future. Need to reschedule? Simple. Just drag and drop to reprioritize your tasks in the right order, so you always know what needs immediate attention.

3. Sometimes less is more – Collapsing Categories

Collapsing categories

While it’s essential to capture all the details you need to remember, there are times when you just need a quick snapshot of your current situation. This is where DropTask’s nifty new tool for collapsing and expanding project categories comes in. It gives you the added flexibility to keep your eye on the bigger picture at all times, without getting flustered by the bitty errands and chores still on your plate. With your most critical data consolidated into one compact space, it’s easy to locate key information and concentrate your efforts, minus the strain.

Rather than letting an influx of information get the better of you, use DropTask to organize and bring clarity to it. All your tasks are brought together on a single eye-grabbing dashboard, putting you right at the center of the process so nothing slips through the cracks. You’ll spend less effort trying to find what you need and more on getting stuff done. How do you conquer information overload?  Offer up some tips in the comments below.

New to DropTask? Learn more about the benefits by signing up for a free account today.

Can shorter workdays mean higher productivity?

Shorter workdays

More work hours = more output. Right? New developments in Sweden suggest otherwise.

A growing number of Swedish employers are moving to a 6-hour working day in a bid to lift productivity, counter burnout and make people happier. These organizations (which include Toyota service centers, retirement homes and hospitals) have found that a shorter workday can decrease staff turnover, enhance creativity, inspire loyalty and boost profits as well as efficiency. Impressive benefits by anyone’s standards!

But will this 6-hour workday model catch on in nations like America, where clocking long hours is the norm and ‘presenteeism’ sees workers burning the candle at both ends to prove they’re up to the job? This ambitious, workaholic mentality is as much a part of US culture as hot dogs and baseball, and is worn proudly like a badge of honor. Yet research shows that cranking out more hours at your desk doesn’t necessarily pay off when it comes to output, and the Families and Work Institute discovered that working longer can even damage productivity as people are more likely to make mistakes and get sick.

Clearly there is a link between wellbeing and productivity, so how do we create a workplace that nurtures a balanced relationship between intense work and time to chill? Here are some ideas for making the shift.

1. Set the tone

Set the tone

If you’re a leader, it’s up to you to set a positive tone for your company culture and embark on active steps to create a healthy work environment for your team. People take their cue from you, so send a clear message that wellness matters. Praise teammates who work sensible hours, go on full lunch breaks, use their annual leave and take time to rest after a busy stretch, and rap the knuckles of those who don’t. Practice what you preach by stepping away from your desk once in a while, and openly discuss the ways you take care of yourself with your team. But don’t stop there. Make the most of internal communication channels to raise awareness about work-life balance by circulating blogs, factsheets and informative websites; and use posters, noticeboards and company newsletters to promote your message in visible ways. The more people are educated about good work habits, the more likely they are to take measures to improve their own situation and to look out for those they work with.

2. Take frequent ‘pulse checks’

Take frequent 'pulse checks'

Schedule regular one-to-ones with team members to check how they’re doing and catch any early signs of stress. What’s their energy like? Are they feeling overwhelmed? How’s their morale?  Did they come back refreshed after their recent vacation? Remember that being super busy all the time doesn’t mean that person is more productive or engaged. They may have fallen into bad habits such as multitasking or being constantly plugged in to technology which disrupts their focus. It’s also worth keeping an eye on people who always volunteer for extra tasks, as they could be taking on more than they can realistically chew because they’re hungry for more brownie points. To supplement your one-to-ones, use DropTask to drop subtle hints to colleagues who might be slipping when it comes to their wellbeing. All it takes is a quick comment urging them to re-align or take a break from a task.

3. Be flexible

Be flexible

According to The Harris Poll, 89% of Americans believe employers should offer flexible work hours so long as the job gets done, and over half of American workers (52%) feel they would perform better at their jobs with more flexibility. Let’s face it, one-size-fits-all policies are too rigid and don’t account for the fact that people are individuals and work optimally in different ways. Encourage your teammates to figure out what kind of schedule works best for them and be open to ideas for alternative approaches, such as remote working or 4-day workweeks.

Job satisfaction soars when people feel valued and are given the opportunity to make small shifts in when, where and how their work is done without being micro-managed every step of the way. Putting people in charge of their time motivates them to knuckle down and give their total attention, dodging distractions like nonessential emails, social media or meetings – meaning more work gets done. DropTask is an ideal tool for ensuring work stays manageable in a flexible environment. In-app notifications keep teams and managers up to speed with every project, so the ball never gets dropped. And completed tasks are all cataloged in one place, making it easy to review performance based on what people have achieved and not the number of hours they spent in the office.

How do you encourage personal and professional balance within your team? Do shorter workdays or other flexible arrangements work for you? We’d love to hear your experiences and advice in the comments below.

New to DropTask? Learn more about the benefits by signing up for a free account today.