How to become an invaluable asset to your company

asset-blog-header
With the right mix of professionalism, attitude and teamwork you can become a model employee and your company’s most valuable asset. In a world where company goals and employee responsibilities are rapidly changing on a daily basis, there’s one thing that always remains the same; striving to become the standout individual in the business can do wonders for both personal and business progression. So, what exactly does a model employee look like? Whether it’s showing enthusiasm regardless of the task that’s placed in front of you, or demonstrating dedication by staying longer than your required working hours, these minor things mean a lot and can determine if we’re truly irreplaceable in the running of a business.

If you’re ready to step on the career accelerator, follow our three simple steps on how to become an invaluable asset to your company and an employee that any company would be lucky to have.

Step 1: Be professional
unprofessional

Sounds obvious, right? Affecting the maintenance of our job and the advancement of our careers, being professional is vital when cementing our reputation as a model employee. A 2012 ‘Professionalism in the Workplace Study’ conducted by York College of Pennsylvania, researched which key factors are important to an employee’s professionalism, and their findings showed that time management and work ethic efficiency were large contributors.

Skills like effective time management and work ethic efficiency can all be ramped up with the use of DropTask. Time management is a desirable skill for most professionals, particularly if you’re responsible for making decisions or working in a high pressured environment. But, being efficient with time management can do much more than just make you standout from the crowd, as it’s considered to play a big part in achieving a long-term career. As well as being an important factor in the initial stages of recruitment, the York College of Pennsylvania study showed that 92.9% of HR managers agreed that an employee’s professionalism has an substantial impact on potential promotion opportunities. So, if you’re looking for ways to become the exemplar employee, it’s time to brush up on how you conduct yourself in the workplace.

By using a simple planning tool like DropTask, you’ll be able to prioritize and adopt a more focused approach to completing your work with efficiency. As a result, you’ll reach high productivity levels and will be admired by your employer as a member of the team who strives to meet and exceed all targets, regardless of the amount of pressure involved.

Step 2: Have a positive attitude
positive

There’ll certainly be times where you’ll have to deal with strict deadlines, difficult co-workers, and tasks that seem impossible to complete, and as a result it can be easy to slip into a state of stress and negativity in the workplace. This is in itself one reason to be noticed by your employer; but you’ll want to avoid attracting attention for the wrong reasons. Remain calm and collected by breaking down the various stages of your project in a clear and concise manner before you start taking action. You can do this using DropTask’s Workflow View for a visual road map that leads you step by step towards completion.

To uplift your mood and boost engagement, add personalized Cover Images to tasks. Cover Images will not only brighten up your workspace, but will allow you to identify areas of work in an instant. No one likes a negative Nancy, and with an upbeat and positive vibe permeating around the workplace, your employer will take a concentrated interest in the quality of work that you produce and your consistent effort to perform to a high standard.

Step 3: A willingness to develop
team

A requirement needed to earn both company and personal success is the ability to work within a team. By collaborating with others, you’ll be exposed to a wide range of personalities and a greater set of skills, while also having the chance to enhance your own. Group work and shared projects can also be a great opportunity for you to demonstrate your own initiative. You can do this by assessing your strengths and subsequently Assigning yourself to tasks, even if they present a challenge. See this as an opportunity to help others as well as develop your own personal skills. By showcasing your range of abilities, you’ll solidify your status as a valuable member of the team.

If you’re feeling up to the challenge, you may also want to volunteer as the project admin. With the added responsibility of overseeing project developments and meeting estimated timescales, you’ll demonstrate to senior management that you’re always willing to go the extra mile. And with valuable experience in managing a team and taking a collaborative project from its initial stages of planning all the way towards the finish line under your belt, you’ll show that you can take on further responsibilities; a great positive to flag up in your next performance review. With your leadership skills on a continuous uphill progression, you’ll be an employee that a business can rely on to deliver.

What do you think makes a model employee? Let us know in the comments below.

Enhance your productivity by eliminating these bad workplace habits

3 Bad Habits
In this day and age, we’re always ‘too busy’. If we’re not at our desks; we’re on an important business call, if our meeting gets postponed; we’re rearranging for another date, and if we’re on our break; we’re responding to emails. Why is it that everything’s so rushed?

If I said that the way to be more productive is by doing less, how many of you would believe me? According to Christine Carter, sociologist and happiness expert, we live in a ‘more is more’ culture. What we have is never enough, and we’re fighting a continuous battle with ourselves to wear ‘busyness’ as a badge of honor. But often, when we have less things to focus on and we’re more selective with our energy and time, we can take a step back to realize that doing more isn’t necessarily better.

The key to achieving more is working smarter not harder. See how DropTask can help you to project maximum productivity output below, without having to exert yourself.

Don’t: Multi-task

Effort

Yes that’s right, you read correctly. Although many of us are under the false impression that multi-tasking enhances our productivity, it’s actually one of its killers. Anything from answering the phone to sending a marketing email; multi-tasking makes it difficult to return to the original task at hand. If you ever feel as though the pressure is mounting or that your workload has suddenly been taken up a notch, it’s probably because of the constant juggling and inability to find a way to cope when multiple deadlines are looming.

People often forget that when we have to engage in an important conversation or make a crucial decision like signing off on a project, we need to focus solely on that task to avoid any mistakes being made. If you’re easily distracted by miscellaneous tasks, you need to cut back on what’s being displayed in front of you. Collapse Categories so that work that doesn’t require your immediate attention is discreetly hidden away. With limited information on display, use the Effort attribute to enlarge the size of your task circle and the Importance icon to channel your focus and priorities. This will not only draw your attention to what you’re currently working on, but even in the scenario where you do get pulled away, you’ll be able to easily find your focus when you return.

Don’t: Delay

Dates

We often make excuses to avoid tasks that require a lot of effort. The ‘I’ll do it tomorrow‘ excuse is a popular one in the workplace, but one that results in little productivity and missed deadlines. The tomorrow syndrome not only rejects opportunities, but results in a looming backlog of work. It goes without saying that sometimes we really are just too busy to begin new work, but when our excuses are being used more frequently than the tasks we complete, then something’s not quite right.

As we get wrapped up in our busy working day, it’s important to remember that unexpected tasks that get placed in front of us can be a chance for us to excel. The next time this occurs, instead of pushing the task to the bottom of the pile, take advantage of it. If your time is sparse, assign a Start and Due Date to the task for a time that best suits you. It may be that you will start it tomorrow, but the difference is that you will actually start it (instead of letting the opportunity pass by). With dates assigned to your task, your Calendar will automatically be updated, meaning that any work that you have scheduled will be slotted into your plan for the coming weeks. With a clear and concise roadmap of everything you need to do, you’ll be able to limit your distractions and remain on track to ensure you’re getting the most out of your working day.

Don’t: Leave things unfinished

Research shows that 80% of American employees feel as though companies are expecting too much work from too few people, with 70% of employees admitting to feeling as though they have to work overtime to finish their uncompleted tasks.

But when 75% of employees rate teamwork and collaboration as ‘very important’ in the workplace, why is it that we aren’t we taking advantage of the great benefits that come with working as part of a team? Instead of falling into the habit of leaving work unfinished, take a quick glance at the Team Calendar to see if there’s a colleague who has a spare moment to lend a hand. By working collaboratively and using the ‘at a glance’ indicators in the Project Browser, you can gain instant feedback on the project that you’re working on, such as what’s currently ‘in progress’ and what’s been completed – without the hassle of nagging for an update. As the saying goes, ‘two heads are better than one’, and once you’ve identified the issues that were previously stalling your project from moving into the next stage, you’ll be able to eliminate the knock-on effect that could’ve staggered your progress later down the line.

Which workplace habits are stalling your productivity? Let me know in the comments below.

OpenGenius, creators of DropTask, join London Stock Exchange’s Elite UK

Open Genius ELITE

We at OpenGenius (the creators of DropTask), achieved a Welsh first this week, by being selected to join the London Stock Exchange’s Elite UK. The Elite UK community includes over 520 businesses, from across 26 countries and 36 sectors, so we’re thrilled to be the first Welsh firm on this special accelerator programme. OpenGenius has already seen excellent growth globally, and we can’t wait to drive that forward with ELITE. We’re so excited to see what the future holds for us – watch this space!

Continue reading

Are you using your time wisely?

time-importance
We’ve all been there, frantically typing as many words as we can to try and increase the word count, only to realize that what we’ve actually written makes no sense at all. Or, scheduling seemingly ‘important’ meetings for every hour of the day, only to result in frequent trips to the kitchen for coffee refills. As well as draining our physical and mental energy, these types of days can fool us into believing that we’re being productive with our time, when in fact, we’re barely making a dent to our hefty workloads.

Leaving the office with a true sense of accomplishment isn’t as difficult as you first might think. Follow our tips below to avoid falling into the trap of wasting crucial hours, and turn every minute into a productive one with DropTask for Business.

Enhance your concentration

assigning-tasks

Manic days at the office occur far too often. Even on our days off, conversations with friends become comparisons of how busy we are:

‘Hey, how’s work going?’

‘Busy. Just busy.’

When we’re juggling an array of different tasks that are beyond the scope of our job description, we often dip into less important jobs which aren’t of any real benefit to us. To put it bluntly, we procrastinate. Research shows that we procrastinate by doing useless or less important things, and by doing so, we neglect our long-term goals and targets. To avoid this, take a look at your workload and assess which tasks require completion. If you have an urgent task that is less important, identify whose skills are best suited for the job and use the Assigning Tasks feature to delegate it. Similarly, if you can identify which tasks are important but not urgent, get them scheduled. Simple deductions such as this will allow you to have more time on your hands to focus on the very important and very urgent, without procrastinating on the things that don’t require your time or input.

Increase your motivation
reminders

When we have a lot on our plate, our brains go into overdrive. But research has shown that overworking does little to help our concentration, and subsequently defeats the objective of remaining motivated and productive. Running around in a state of busyness can also leave us feeling deflated when we’re trying to channel our creative juices.

Avoid working in a rushed and disorganized state by splitting your time into designated segments for specific pieces of work. Take ‘The Pomodoro Technique‘ for instance. Created by Francesco Cirillo, this technique is based around the idea of working in sprints, combined with short frequent breaks to help maximize focus throughout the day and to eliminate the feeling of burnout. The next time an unusual amount of work crops up, try breaking each hour of the day into fragments. For example, use Reminders as a prompt for when your break is due, or further personalize them with a note to indicate which area of work you should be focusing on next. With a tight timescale to stick to, you’ll be able to work more effectively, as opposed to watching the hours speed by and having nothing to show for it.

Resolve unfinished problems
move

When a deadline is approaching we’re forced to re-evaluate and shift priorities accordingly, but all too often, the tasks that are placed at the bottom of the pile get neglected in the long-term.

Start by looking at the Project Workflow to identify any bottlenecks that could be preventing work from moving to the next stage. Once you’ve found an unfinished task, tie up loose ends by taking action to complete, delegate or delete it. A range of built-in functions within DropTask, such as the Duplicate and Move feature, allow you to take quick actions to ensure that you limit your distractions to remain on track.

Welcome more opportunities
calendar

As a result of good timekeeping and honing key transferable skills, opportunities in the workplace can flourish, such as managers becoming increasingly trusting when looking to delegate responsibilities within the team. However, getting the most out of our hours in the workplace is a difficult skill to master, and sometimes when an unexpected issue arises, our workplace performance can take a hit. Of course, we can’t predict when these instances are due to spring up, but we can prepare for the chances that they may happen.

By getting into the habit of scheduling, your diary will be organized months in advance, giving you clear visibility into what’s on your plate, how much of your resource it will require, and any spare time that you may have to work on other activities to further your career, such as researching training courses that could add to your qualifications, or enhancing your LinkedIn profile. As well as stopping you from taking on too much than you can handle, gaining effective time management skills and demonstrating your own initiative at work will not give you the ability to comfortably re-prioritize for any unexpected situations that may arise, but will result in overall job satisfaction, leading you towards brighter career prospects.

How do you manage your time? Let us know in the comments below.

Introducing the all-new Project Browser

apr18-img-proj

We recently unveiled our all-new Project Browser, providing effortless navigation to each of your projects, as well as high-level insight into progress, status and who’s involved. Intrigued? Here’s what’s new:

project-browser-01

A high-level overview

The Project Browser can be accessed via our redesigned Menu, which has been simplified and improved to give you quick access to various information and functionality such as your in-built Calendar, our powerful integrations with other apps, and resourceful help and support guides.

When you first open the Project Browser, you’ll be presented with a library of all of the projects that you’re involved in. (We’ve also separated them into useful sections such as ‘Active’, ‘Archived’ and ‘Template’ projects, to make it that little bit easier.) We understand that having a view of all projects could easily get out of hand, which is why our new Project Browser gives you snapshots of information at a high-level, with indicators for the number of tasks that are not started, on hold, in progress, completed and overdue – give them some attention!
project-browser-avatar-01
All of the information displayed to you in the Project Browser is presented in a visual way – ideal if you’ve only got time for a quick glance but need a clear and accurate idea of where things are at. And what’s particularly useful is not only the ability to see how who’s involved in the project, but the scale of their involvement. A discreet number will be displayed on the project member’s avatar, indicating to you and to others, the number of tasks that have been allocated to them.

(Top Tip: Combine this information with the Team Calendar, so you can gain insight into everyone’s upcoming schedule in relation to workload and availability.)


Instantly sort, search and locate

project-browser-sort-01
If you’re an avid project creator, we know how difficult it can be to locate specific projects. But don’t worry, because the new Project Browser comes with the additional convenience of functions like the Sorting option, allowing you to effortlessly and efficiently tidy your project library. With options such as ‘Alphabetical’, ‘Last Opened by Me’ and ‘Last Created’’, locating projects is now just as easy as creating them.

Better yet, strengthen your ability to track down projects with the Search function. If you need to promptly access a project, the in-built search will offer you a fast track way to get to what you’re looking for. This makes edits and last-minute adjustments to projects a breeze, as they can be found within an instant.

To check out the new Project Browser, login to your account or create a new one for free at www.droptask.com.

4 Unexpected benefits of mixing up your work routine

easter-blog-headerWhile the eight-hour working day is arguably one of the most common rituals throughout society, it’s not necessarily the most productive one. With the upcoming Easter holidays bringing a well-deserved break away from the office, now’s the perfect time to reflect on how wisely we’re using our time. If you’re fed up of your monotonous routine at work, then the definition below for the word ‘routine’ will sound all too familiar:

‘Sameness’

A set of customary and often mechanically performed procedures or activities’

‘A sequence of actions regularly followed.’

Our work routine accounts for at least 57% of where our overall time is spent (we were shocked too), so it goes without saying that the Easter break couldn’t have fallen at a more convenient time. For some of us working folk, having a cement routine in place can provide us with reassurance when tackling the unknowns of everyday life. However, we all know that following the same schedule week on week isn’t doing any of us any favors. As professionals, we like to stick to what’s familiar, and without realizing it we slip into relaxation mode which hinders us from reaching our maximum potential in the workplace.

Although falling out of repetitious habits can be tough, according to research from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, embarking on a fresh start can have a powerful psychological effect that can lead to a positive change in our behavior. This ‘fresh start’ effect suggests that creating shifts in our routine can lead to a sense of starting anew, which helps to reinforce positive habit changes.

What better time to try something new than at the beginning of Easter? Everything around you has blossomed and changed for the better, so now it’s your turn. See below for 4 unexpected benefits that you could gain by mixing up your routine.

1. Increased focus
easter-blog-img-urgency
Most of us have trouble focusing at one time or another. Some of us stray when we’re bored, while others find reasons to avoid a difficult task. I don’t know anyone who couldn’t do with a little helping of self-control and gain a boost to their energy. During the typical 9-5 day, without even realizing it, we have difficulty exerting self-control and focusing on our tasks. And as the day goes on and our self-control wears out, we feel exhausted as our tasks seemingly become more strenuous to complete.

Instead of avoiding miscellaneous tasks because they’re demanding or require alot of brain consumption, try assigning an Urgency level to all of the items that you need to hunt down. With 4 eye-catching levels and colors to choose from, you’ll be able to draw instant meaning from the visuals on your workspace. Plus, with the List View on hand to help you scan across everything that’s deemed as urgent, you’ll be able to reorder and sort your main priorities to ensure that you’re not carrying too many eggs in your basket.

2. Advanced memory
easter-blog-img-themes
Carrying out a repetitive routine in the workplace can result in us feeling disengaged and forgetful of often crucial actions that we need to take. The Telegraph reported a study conducted by scientists proving that working in a claustrophobic workspace stifles our creativity and results in less ‘aha‘ or genius moments. So, with Spring in full bloom, what’s stopping you from taking your work outside? DropTask offers online and offline capabilities, so you’ll be able to enjoy the glorious sunshine while ticking off your tasks from any device, at any time. Incorporating elements of nature into your workday will not only give your brain a boost, but will increase your productivity and focus. Experiments show that color helps us to process and store images in our brain, so with 4 unique Project Themes to choose from in DropTask, a high-level overview of what’s what will be etched as a visual in your memory.

3. Refreshed outlook
easter-blog-img-calendar-02
Sometimes we become so reliant on daily routines, that we fail to notice when they’re no longer of any benefit to us. Stepping out of our comfortable working routine is a key factor when looking for a new wave of innovation. Dr Elizabeth Lomabardo, author of ‘Better Than Perfect’, (a guide for professionals looking to find balance and freedom) teaches that people who seek out fresh experiences are more creative than those who are stuck in the same pattern of doing things. She says ‘breaking your own mold can only make you stronger and more confident to reach higher levels in your professional and personal life.’ So, are you feeling ready to try something new? Planning is key. Start by creating milestones for next season’s schedule in the built-in Calendar. You can even try setting a new challenge to complete each month, and later cement your plan by creating Repeating Tasks to accomplish every week. By doing this, you’ll be able to step into Spring with a fresh perspective, while developing the important habit of stepping out of your comfort zone once in a while and taking risks.

4. Flourished creativity
easter-blog-reminder
If you’re struggling for ways to further explore your imagination and make the 9-5 busyness more creative and stimulating, begin by eliminating those hours that you spend daydreaming at your desk. According to ‘The National Bureau of Economic Research’ we spend a total of 1 hour a day thinking about non-related work activities, rather than being productive. Wouldn’t it be great if we turned that time into something that enhanced our creativity instead? As opposed to spending an hour or two staring at your screen, debating which project to tackle next, use your time wisely by organizing your thoughts in the form of a MindMap. The highly powerful two-way sync between iMindMap and DropTask will allow you to generate your free-flowing ideas quickly, and bring them to life as realistic goals. Brainstorm ideas for your up and coming project and watch the smooth transition as you transport your plans into DropTask. Why not set a Reminder for your daily brainstorming session, that way you’ll regularly set time aside from each day to let your mind take you to somewhere creative that you didn’t think existed.

How are you switching up your routine this Spring? Let us know in the comments below.

How full-stack marketer, Gerald Froehlich, created a simple and seamless workflow

Case Study GF Having worked in marketing for over 25 years, Gerald Froehlich was in search of a tool that could combine all of the different aspects of his work into one task management system. After trying out multiple project management and tasking tools during his lengthy career, Gerald’s approach was different to others in his sector. Searching for a tool that offered creativity, visualization, integration and a seamless flow, Gerald was relieved when he came across DropTask, as he had found an app that worked exactly in the way that he wanted it to.

‘As a Full-Stack Marketer and the Director of Froehlich Kreatives Marketing, I advise, accompany, and inspire entrepreneurs in marketing and communications. Having stood by essential keywords in marketing throughout the duration of my career, e.g. ‘understandable’, ‘ordered’ and ‘well structured’, I’d been unable to translate this method of planning into any task management tool that I’d come across. Even back in the mid-90’s when I first began transferring all of my project management approaches onto the computer (and I think you’ll agree, those times were tough), I always wanted my tasks to be displayed and managed in an intuitive and engaging way. And after trialing almost every task management tool on the market, my hopes of finding a tool that worked the way my mind did was slim, but I didn’t give up – and I’m so glad I didn’t. After a long road I came across DropTask, which provided me with a creative space and a clear way of managing key information in a way that worked for me.

workflow

‘I gained a seamless workflow experience’


I use DropTask in a very simple way, as it’s so easy to use from the beginning right through until the project’s completion. As DropTask is used solely for my work needs, I’ve been able to say goodbye to wasteful hours spent buried in my inbox because I can manage all of my incoming and outgoing work in DropTask for Business. I do this by using the Emailing Tasks In feature (a really handy one if you’re constantly on the go). No matter where I am, whether that be on the bus, in the office, or at home, I can transport all of my emails into my DropTask account, and this is where they’ll turn into actionable tasks. When I then return to my DropTask, a Notification is there reminding me of the project that I transported my email into.

DropTask-aficionado

I can do this whenever and wherever I am, via the iPad, iPhone and Desktop apps, as I know that my DropTask will automatically update while alternating between all of these devices. My usual routine is managing and sorting my tasks on the iPhone app, and when I return to the office I control the finer details such as Status, Progress and Due Dates, on my desktop computer.

DropTask-aficionado

‘I’m proud to say I’m a DropTask aficionado’

I can fluently use DropTask while balancing countless errands, and I’ve found that one of the most useful features to help me is the Evernote Integration that comes with the Business account. This integration allows a highly powerful two-way sync that let’s me syncronize my notes made in Evernote into any of my DropTask projects. In practice, I use Evernote to take notes during meetings with my clients, and then sync with DropTask to view my workload and to reschedule any conflicting dates. The advantage DropTask has in favor of other tools is that it allows you to dive deeper into the tasks that are first displayed on the Canvas. Whether that be by syncing back to Evernote, opening Files, or ticking off Checklist items – I have all of my necessary items in one place, without the stress of managing huge amounts of data.

unbeatable-ui

‘The UI is pretty unbeatable’

As I am currently self-employed, I use DropTask to help plan and manage my workload, depending on my client’s personal needs. Even though I’m using DropTask for a single user purpose, I can see teams benefiting from the collaborative features available. With that being said, I do use DropTask for meetings with clients e.g. when screen-sharing. Whenever I bring up DropTask on an interactive screen, the audience are impressed by its truly stunning interface and way of turning mundane tasks into a visual masterpiece. It’s a fantastic way to present a crisp and clear visualization of the status of a project, and really is an excellent tool that makes visualizing task organization a stimulating and enjoyable experience.

Join teams and individuals just like Gerald, by signing up for free today at www.droptask.com/signup. Already a DropTask user? Share your story with us at contact@droptask.com for your chance to be featured in a future post!

The power of visuals

powerofvisuals-blogheader
2nd April 2017 marks Autism Awareness Day, recognized around the world for raising awareness for individuals with autism. Affecting how individuals perceive the world, autism is a lifelong, neurological condition that affects how individuals interact with the world around them and is much more common than people think; affecting over 21.7 million people worldwide, and 1 in 68 children in the United States.

As a hidden disability, the disorder affects an individual’s ability to process everyday sensory information and the ability to communicate and interact with others, caused by a combination of genetic and environmental influences.

Visuals have always been an important factor for us here at DropTask, helping individuals to communicate and understand information according to their preferred style of working. According to ‘The Index of Learning Styles’, developed by Dr Richard Felder and Barbara Soloman, there are four dimensions of learning styles:

  • Sensory – learners who prefer concrete, practical and procedural information.
  • Visual – learners who prefer pictures and look for a visual representation of information.
  • Active – learners who enjoy working in groups to solve problems.
  • Sequential – learners who have information presented to them linearly, in an orderly manner.

A difficulty individuals with autism experience is having to process an overload of information on a daily basis, often resulting in missed communication, stress and anxiety. This is where visual learning comes in to play. The power of visuals enables us to easily see the big picture and significantly improves the understanding of events, which are sometimes misinterpreted as complex situations. When it comes to visual aids that help our learning and processing of information, approximately 65% of the population are in fact visual learners.

Whether it’s in the form of icons, logos, colors, shapes or symbols, visual imagery can also be used to communicate with individuals on the autism spectrum. A large amount of research indicates that visual ques allow us to better retrieve and remember information. This is due to our brain being mainly an image processor, and when visuals are concrete in our memory they become easier to remember.

Visual supports and how they help:

  • Provide structure and routine
  • Encourage independence
  • Help to reduce anxiety and stress
  • Improve understanding
  • Offer opportunities to interact with others

In support of Autism Awareness Day 2017, we’ve put together an infographic that highlights how DropTask can help present key information in a way that works for all learners, and every member of your team.


autism infographic 2017

Step into Spring with DropTask

With March already in full swing, the evenings are getting lighter and the temperature’s beginning to rise, resulting in a state of calmness surrounding the workplace. But, when our tasks are buried under a thick layer of dust it can be challenging to feel as refreshed as the environment around us.

Whether you love it or hate it, it’s that time of year when we need to start thinking about some serious de-cluttering and reorganization. We comfortably devote a certain amount of time each week to clean our homes, ensuring that it’s looking its finest and things are easy to locate. But when we spend some of our most crucial hours in the workplace, why is it that we’re still sifting through a buried work desk without an efficient schedule in sight? In a report published last year by OfficeMax, it was found that office clutter undermines productivity and motivation. With less ability to work efficiently on our work due to unlimited distractions being placed in front of us, it’s becoming a rarity that we leave the office feeling accomplished with what we’ve achieved with our day.

Research undertaken at Princeton University shows that when your environment is cluttered, the chaos surrounding you restricts your ability to focus, limiting your brain’s ability to process information. So what better time than now to give your workspace a well needed spring clean than at the beginning of the season. With all of the capabilities to transport your projects into full bloom, follow our top tips on how DropTask can turn your workspace into a vibrant setting that’s bursting with effective working and productivity.

Rearrange where necessary

spring-duplicate
Most people throw miscellaneous tasks and odd and ends into the same space, making a mental note to come back to them when they next have five minutes spare. After time, we end up losing these notes, deadlines get missed, and we become anxious about just the thought of rummaging through our misplaced items. To ensure your mental note doesn’t disappear into oblivion, make a visualization in the form of a Task Circle to stimulate your brain. As referenced by psychology professor Allan Paivio in ‘The Dual Coding Theory’ 1971, the formation of mental images aids our learning and processing of information. If you stumble upon a misplaced task, then the Duplicate and Move feature will allow you to tidy-up, resulting in an organized workspace where you can progress through everything you need to do with structure and order.

Even with the best-laid and organized workspaces, there may still be some overflow. If you’re looking for short term-storage and somewhere to limit work that’s in progress, the Kanban-style Workflow view will provide you with a clean space where you channel your focus on taking tasks right through to completion. Split your Categories into ‘To-do’, ‘Doing’ and ‘Done’ swimlanes, and watch your tasks move through designated stages. That way your to-do’s will never be pushed aside, as you will always be concentrating on getting the job done.

Polish appearances

spring-coverimages
With hours spent hunched over our desks with no exposure to sunlight, our health as well as productivity can be significantly impacted. What better way to uplift your mood and to bring your tasks to life than by using visually attractive Cover Images to add a personal touch to your projects. The importance of visual imagery is crucial when striving to achieve high levels of organization and decision making. Research has shown that the human brain allows us to analyze an image in a very short snippet of time, along with its meaning and scenario. By making your tasks more personal to you, they’ll be more aesthetically pleasing, and we know that having something beautiful to look at can have a huge impact on your overall well-being.

Now that you’ve decorated and customized your tasks, it’s time to get them in order. The easier it is to store something, the more likely you are to put it in its place. It’s always a good idea to store similar tasks together, that way you’ll be able to locate tasks that share similar relationships without wasting any time. By Nesting Categories that share related attributes, you’ll create a structured hierarchy for your tasks, allowing you to spend less time searching as they’ll always have a defined place to call home.

Organize upcoming duties

spring-dependencies
Organizing is a process of arranging and keeping things in order; a skill that can be utilized in all areas of life. But when trying to locate specific work is as straight forward as finding a needle in a haystack, tidying up our to-do’s is easier said than done. Studies show that the average person wastes 4.3 hours per week searching through messy papers, which adds stress and frustration to the workplace while reducing our concentration levels and stunting our creative thinking. When creating your project, define the structure in which you’re going to complete your to-do’s by using Dependencies. Visual arrows will be drawn on your Canvas, helping you to identify which direction to turn next. And by taking a practical approach towards assessing your next steps, you’ll be able to map out the structure of your work, paving the way to completion.

For some, dealing with clutter can cause negative stress, making us less able to complete tasks on schedule. If you’re looking to strengthen your organization skills and bring all of your tasks from across all projects together, then the DropTask built-in Calendar is the one for you. By assigning a Start and Due Date to each of your tasks, you’ll be able to toggle between when it’s set to begin and when its deadline is approaching. Instead of feeling overwhelmed when the end of season is forthcoming, you’ll remain confident with clear visibility into your upcoming schedule and the flexibility to make quick rearrangements if necessary.

Focus on what needs your attention

spring--filter
President of ‘The Productivity Pro’, Laura Stack, claims ‘most people spend at least 30 minutes to an hour a day looking for things.’ And according to a Mckinsey report, employees spend 1.8 hours every day – totaling to 9.3 per week on average – gathering the information that they need. Surely there’s a more productive way to use our time? To save time searching through information to locate what you need, the Filter option in DropTask does it for you. Hone in by narrowing down your workload by filtering by Assignee, Effort, Importance, Tags or Attachments etc., and gain exactly what you need, exactly when you need it. By cutting back what’s in-front of you, tasks will be easy to locate for when you require them next.
With these four handy tips and your newly cleaned up and organized DropTask workspace, you’ll feel re-energized and rearing to get to work on your most productive season yet.

What are your top tips for spring cleaning your workload? Share them in the comments below!

Managing nationwide projects with flexibility and focus

arete-rehab-header
arete-rehab-janet-mahoney
Dr. Janet Mahoney, CEO of Arte Rehab; a company that provides quality patient care through a range of therapies within healthcare, was looking for a solution to manage the many aspects of her growing and dynamic business. Janet wanted a solution where employees could focus on accomplishing ongoing goals and would get the big picture overview of company-wide projects, and with DropTask she gained not only this, but the flexibility and visual organization to manage the workload of a large team within a nation-wide company.

“Arte Rehab operates in four different states, offers 3 lines of Business and has a wide range of consultants up and down the country. We have experienced significant growth since our 2013 inception and as a result of our expanding business, have hired a number of remote employees. Prior to finding DropTask, keeping track of everyone’s progress with shared tasks and ongoing projects became a challenge and I resorted to using an old school dry erase board to plan collaborative projects. This wasn’t a successful way to do things, and often lead to a messy board with an unclear structure on how we were going to progress forward with our next project.

This was the tipping point for me as I knew that I needed to find a solution that would fit the needs of the company and allow collaboration between a wide range of staff working within different locations. I needed us all to be on the same page with our current workload, within a system which allowed a seamless way of taking our projects from the initial stages of planning, to completion.
arete-rehab-img-assign
The visual aspect of DropTask and the ability to organize my workload as task circles allowed me to reschedule and prioritize my workload in a simple way. I currently have the Business account, which further allows me to manage the massive process of Task Assignment within the team. In an instant, I’m able to click on tasks that are assigned to different team members and view their progress.
arete-rehab-img-checklist
The Checklist feature is one of the teams’ personal favorites to use. What we find most useful is that it breaks down larger tasks into several smaller tasks and ones which are a little less daunting to tackle. This feature is my go-to if I want to quickly glance over progress. I do this by viewing the task circle on the Canvas, which gives me a visual indicator of how long it will take until the larger task is completed – which I find is most efficient. It’s a great feature for managers to keep on track, and for employees to focus on getting their job done.
arete-rehab-img-reminder
Due to my busy schedule, I often need a prompt to direct my attention to a specific task that I need to complete. I assign Reminders to my tasks for a specific date and time for when I’d like an in-app Notification and email reminder sent to me. I find these really efficient as the Reminder Notification will remain in the app until I dismiss it, encouraging me to complete the task so I can get back to my work at hand.

Currently within DropTask I’m working on reviewing and updating our employee handbook, policies and procedures. This project is very time consuming and requires a massive team effort to review, rewrite and research the policies that our industry requires. For such an extensive project, this entails lots of job roles being assigned to a variety of different staff members in order for the project to remain on course to meet its deadline. In all of my projects and in this one in particular, I review the Status of each of the tasks that are assigned to my employees, and I do this on a daily basis. As Project admin, I have access to all of the Project’s minor details including: changing the permission levels of each project member, editing advanced Permission Settings and removing members from the project. I find this feature useful as I am in affect the owner of the project and as a result have complete control of any user’s accessibility to shared work.
arete-rehab-img-date
Our time management as an entire team has improved significantly with the help of DropTask. We now assign Start and Due Dates to all of our tasks. This not only encourages us to work harder, but we have found that it has allowed us to complete tasks much faster than ever before. For example, each member of the team has a unique Calendar that is based around the tasks that they’re assigned to. Before this, there was confusion surrounding dates and not knowing when deadlines were put in place.

As a doctor of physical therapy with more than 30 years experience, I have worked in acute care hospitals, co-founded a skilled nursing facility rehab management consulting company and written many articles to emphasize the need for industry change. And now I finally feel like I can manage all of these different aspects of my life within DropTask. I have everything that I need to accomplish my projects without any additional stress of knowing where my work is, as now it is all available within one superior task management tool which is DropTask.”

To learn more, sign up for free at www.droptask.com/signup

Already a DropTask user? Share your story with us at contact@droptask.com for your chance to be featured in a future post!