Introducing the all-new Project Browser

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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:

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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!
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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

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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.

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‘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.

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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.

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‘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.

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‘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

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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.


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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!

Yes, you’re busy but are you productive?

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3 Ways to go from needlessly busy to getting things done

Think back over the past few weeks. Have you been busy or productive? No, this isn’t a trick question. We’re not trying to trip you up. Being busy and being productive are not the same thing.

These days most of us are crazy busy. Busyness goes hand-in-hand with the modern world, where, thanks to our ‘always on’ digital culture and a haphazard economy, we feel the need to run our lives at breakneck speed and cram our calendars to the brim. Each day we scurry from task to task. There are deadlines to meet, emails to exchange, obligations to fulfill, papers to file, phone calls to answer and meetings to attend – we’re frazzled just thinking about it!

It can be tempting to see being busy as a sign of success; a symbol of your incredible work devotion. But while you’re on full-time ‘inbox monitor’ duty, how much are you actually accomplishing on the things that matter? Although staying constantly in motion can make you feel like you’re racing ahead, the reality is that you’re more likely to be stuck on a treadmill running nonessential errands. Stop confusing busyness for productivity, and you’ll get better results on your mission-critical projects.

So what can you do to be less frantically busy, but more productive? Here are some tips.

1. Trim your to-dos

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Many of us live our lives at such a furious pace that we lose sight of what’s important. Cutting down your to-dos might sound like counterproductive advice, but it actually helps you get more done in ways that count. Being productive means accomplishing the tasks that will bring you closer to meeting your goals – those that are in line with your core mission and provide the biggest bang for your buck in the business. Anything else is just busywork and will clutter up your day.

The Pareto Principle is the idea that 80% of your results come from 20% of your activity. So instead of trying to hurry through a long list of xx trivial items, choose 2 to 3 high priority tasks to focus on in a single day. This is what top CEOs, business owners and managers do. Prioritizing forces you to choose what’s most significant for you to work on right now and helps you remain focused, so you’re not just staying busy for the sake of it. That means tackling those big scary projects first, not claiming that you’re ‘too busy’ as an excuse. So even if you only get those 3 things done at day’s end, you’ll have been far more industrious than if you had completed 10 not-so-important items.

How can you get rid of the checklist mentality and apply the Pareto Principle to your workload? Try using DropTask to separate your high-value tasks from your low-value busywork. The Importance feature allows you to set the priority of a task from low (blue flag) to very high (red flag) in line with its expected impact. You can also define the level of Urgency (low to very high) and Effort (small, medium or large) of each of your items to best determine when and how to take action on them. If you find prioritizing tasks a bit tricky, this Inc. article suggests a useful strategy that takes account of the amount of effort needed as well as the potential for positive results.

2. Hit the pause button

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As humans, we’re designed to operate cyclically between spending and renewing our energy, not linearly like a machine. Think about your personal energy for a moment. When it’s high, you can concentrate well and produce great work. When it’s low, your productivity and work quality plummets. Forcing yourself to slog on when your energy tank is empty is not only harmful to your performance, it’s a sure-fire route to burnout. You might try to override your low points by downing a double-shot coffee or grabbing a sugary snack, but when you do this your stress hormones kick in to keep you going, so you end up working in ‘fight or flight’ mode rather than at full capacity. This means you become reactive to what’s going on around you and less able to think clearly, creatively or critically. The trick around this is to take frequent breaks and replenish your energy levels before they hit rock-bottom, so you can then bring more intensity and power to whatever it is you’re doing.  The 2014 Quality of Life @ Work study found that employees who take a brief break every 90 minutes report:

  • 28% better level of focus
  • 40% greater capacity to think creatively
  • 30% higher level of health and wellbeing

Instead of aiming to stay busy round the clock, schedule regular ‘pit stops’ into your DropTask projects and set Reminders to alert you take them. Plan in advance what you’re going to do in your breaks so you can optimize this time. Consultant Sami Paju recommends changing your channel of activity. We all have 3 channels of human activity – cognitive, physical and emotional. If you’ve been doing a lot of thinking and brainwork, then you need to switch off from the cognitive channel. Try taking a stroll, getting a snack, meditating or break out the crayons and do some coloring in to relieve stress. A great way to engage the emotional channel is to listen to music, watch funny YouTube videos or call a friend. Or get your physical channel going by hitting the gym, doing some stretches or running up and down the stairs. In just a short while, you’ll be able to regain your alertness and go back to work with gusto.

3. Single-Task

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For years, businesses have put the ability to multitask on a pedestal as something to be revered in their workers. But experts agree that multitasking doesn’t really exist. What we think of as multitasking is really ‘multiswitching’, bouncing from one task to another, and there are studies to show that it destroys productivity and concentration. Researchers at Vanderbilt University discovered that people who were given two simple tasks to perform at the same time experienced a huge slowdown in brain activity. They took up to 30% longer and made twice as many errors as those who completed the same tasks consecutively. Task switching causes time delays and scrambles mental clarity as the brain is forced to shift gears to a new task, so rather than being the smart way to work, it’s a dumb deal.

Forget trying to juggle multiple tasks at the same time and try chunking (or ‘timeboxing’) instead. When planning your day, aim to batch similar types of activities together and work on them in sequence, so you have fewer of those jarring start-up moments. Your work Categories might include Team tasks (such as training, appraisals or job assigning), Planning/Reporting, Meetings, Events, Admin Duties, Thinking/Decision Making, Emails/Phone Calls, Brainstorming, and so on. By ring-fencing your tasks like this, you can focus more intensely and get into a productive flow, without being distracted by every single ding or alert. There’s no need to stress about not insta-replying to emails either, as all-in-all you’re getting much more done.

The DropTask Canvas makes it easy for you to cluster tasks into categories through a simple drag and drop facility and gives you a great visual perspective on your entire workload, meaning you can avoid getting caught in mind traps. If you’re a manager, use DropTask to Assign well-categorized tasks to team members, and limit the number of responsibilities each person works on per day. This enables them to bring 100% of their attention to their most important projects and slashes the switching costs that occur when transitioning to new tasks.

How about you? Are you constantly trying to squeeze more into your day and rush through your daily to-dos? Make full use of DropTask to regain your focus and get your demands under control so you can be hyper-productive, not just busy. Any other tips? Please share in the comments below.

Could remote working work for you?

remote-blog-headerLike it or lump it, remote working is having a moment right now. An outburst of cloud technologies and connectivity tools has made the ‘virtual team’ a reality, and we see workers from distant parts of the globe pulling together to meet common business goals. With more and more people opting to work from home or off-site, remote working is fast becoming a mainstay of the corporate domain.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of home workers in the UK has grown by 1.3 million since 1998, amounting to 13.9% of the nation’s workforce. While in the United States, Global Workplace Analytics reports that approximately 20–25% of workers operate remotely on some occasions, and 3.7 million people now work from home at least half the time.

The rise of remote working has become impossible to ignore. But, what makes it so popular?

Why work remotely?

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From an individual standpoint, the growing trend in remote working is undoubtedly positive, bringing greater flexibility in work hours, time saved on the daily commute and a better work-life balance. This is terrific news if you’re a parent juggling family responsibilities alongside a hefty workload. But what impact does it have on the average small to medium-sized enterprise? Quite a lot as it stands. Remote working can be a step in the right direction for many companies, offering a wealth of opportunities to cut costs while boosting the productivity of your team.

  • More talent – Remote working opens up a whole world of talent and you can hire the best and brightest people for the job, regardless of where they live.
  • Office savings – With fewer bods on-site, businesses can save on overheads such as rent, rates, lighting, heating, equipment and any other costs associated with running a physical workspace.
  • Enhanced productivity – Forget the idea that working from home equates to slacking off. In a recent survey by employee engagement firm TINYPulse, 91% of respondents said they were more productive when working remotely. When all that’s needed is a good internet connection, remote work makes it possible for people to choose when, where and how they work, so they’re motivated to hit maximum productivity.

Judging by these benefits, working remotely is working smartly and the traditional office may soon become a thing of the past. But it’s not all smooth sailing. For some organizations, the more flexibility that’s added, the more it can feel as if you’re losing control of your team. To get the most out of a remote workforce, you need a well-considered approach and the right tools for the job.

Here are 3 practical tips to make remote working work for you.

3 tips to make your remote team a success

1. Create connections

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Strong communication is vital for running a remote team, and in these digitally connected times there’s no reason why distance should pull people apart. Thanks to modern devices and apps, we no longer need to be sitting in the same room to touch base, share data or collaborate on projects. Whether your teammates choose to work from a home office, a local co-working space or a coffee house, make sure they have the communication tools they need to be productive.

With full mobility across multiple platforms – Windows, Mac OSX, iPhone and iPad – DropTask acts as a real-time communication channel for teams working online and easily overtakes email in the collaboration stakes. Project teams can target their interactions so that essential messages or files don’t get drowned in people’s inboxes, and individuals can quickly locate conversations without having to dig through an email chain that’s miles long. There’s no reason for freelancers and other ad-hoc workers to feel left out of team play either. They can stay in touch on the projects that concern them and keep close ties with the team from within one virtual workspace.

2. Fit in some Face-Time

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Encourage your distributed team to schedule frequent hangouts in their DropTask calendars – maybe weekly, fortnightly or monthly – so that everyone knows what the rest of the crew is working on and can offer each other support where needed. Regular video or phone conferences are great for connecting people and provide a valuable outlet for sharing issues or problems, ensuring no one in the team feels isolated or stuck. But remember that while technology is great, nothing beats face-time. It’s a fact that human beings work better together when they’re comfortable in each other’s company. Inviting your remote workers to ‘get personal’ via face-to-face meetings at the HQ or during fun, social activities will build camaraderie, and can make all the difference to team dynamics.

3. Keep tabs without losing trust

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One of the biggest fears among managers is that remote workers will ‘goof off’ if left to their own devices. This comes down to trust. Showing that you trust your virtual team is essential to making things work as it gives them the vote of confidence they need to be productive – but you still need to stay in the loop. Incessantly asking questions and checking up on people will only undermine trust, and so the best way to ensure people are doing what they’re supposed to is to keep a tight focus on results. Set concrete goals, deliverables and timelines, and if they aren’t met, follow up with your team members to find out why.

Using DropTask, you can track workflows and view progress across a remote team via an easy-to-read visual dashboard without having to constantly badger people for updates. There’s no need to stress about your team getting stuff done because you can easily keep tabs on what they’re up to, even when you’re on the go. DropTask’s phone, tablet and desktop apps all support offline capability, so changes are automatically synced whenever you’re out and about. By giving you ‘remote control’, DropTask is fully equipped to save your sanity as a manager and help you stay coordinated as a team, no matter where you all are.

Make DropTask your ‘virtual office’ and get the best out of your remote workforce. Available via the web and with native apps on Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone and iPad, it’s a multi-platform friendly tool for bringing your team together seamlessly. How do you make remote working work for you? Add your tips in the comments below.

From personal work to organizing data analysis, learn how Dolores Cloward tracks it all in DropTask

profile-doloresclowardWithin her organization at ‘SMART Recovery,’ Project Management Professional, Dolores Cloward, requires versatility. Working within a fast-growing international company dedicated to providing peer support for those with addiction issues means that priorities tend to shift between different projects quickly, and Dolores was looking to improve her overall productivity to get more done during her working day. During her search for a solution that would help her achieve this while also working collaboratively, Dolores found DropTask, which blew her away right from the very beginning.

‘Over the last few decades I have filled many roles at SMART. Within a company that’s fast growing, it’s all hands on deck, which means that all of my skills from my career come in to play and why it’s vital for me to be on top of my game at all times. I am instinctively drawn to visually appealing technology, and with DropTask thoughtfully designed in the way that it is, it lets me see the big picture overview of the entire project while also zooming in on minor details when needed. I find the design just beautiful, and so highly intuitive as it allows smooth, seamless and crisp movements which are appealing across all of its platforms.
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Before DropTask I was finding it difficult to keep on track of personal and work related projects as I had no central hub for all of my notes, ideas, and tasks that needed action. Now, I use DropTask as my primary planner and organizer for SMART work, while also managing my independent consulting and personal tasks. I do this by having separate projects for all aspects of my life that I need to keep track on, and within these separate projects I create individual tasks that are associated with them.

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When I first signed up I was impressed at the focus that DropTask has brought to providing truly useful integrations. Along with the iMindMap integration, I also use the Google Calendar integration, which I find is vital while in the process of reordering my schedule. I assign Start and Due Dates to my tasks in DropTask and transport them into my Google Calendar, as it’s a great way for me to filter down what I need to work on for the coming the week.

dolores-start-due-calI have combined my Calendar with DropTask to ensure that I have everything that I need in one space, as I can combine my tasks with other important appointments that I have already in my Google Calendar. If I need to rearrange meetings or scheduled plans suddenly change at the last minute, I can effortlessly drag and drop my tasks into a different date in the Calendar and they’ll be instantly updated in DropTask. It makes DropTask really useable with a highly satisfying visual interface that works.

DropTask doesn’t just look pretty, the actual user experience is flawless and I just love that in software. The different views that are available within the Business account kicks off a different area in my brain. The Canvas helps me to envision the overall picture of the project, then I switch to the List View as it helps me to hone in and organize my tasks according to the level of Urgency that they have assigned to them. When I switch between these views I gain perspective and insight into the minor details within larger projects.

Within the app currently, I’m working on a new podcast, organizing some data analysis, putting together a virtual community party, all while preparing for PR and marketing materials to go live in a March webinar. The March webinar is currently at the top of my to-do list, and for this task I’ve relied on the iMindMap integration within DropTask. With this two-way integration, I can brainstorm my ideas and then transport them into DropTask as they appear as visual task circles. The integration makes the initial stages of planning a project easy, intuitive and enjoyable, something that I’ve never experienced before with task management software.

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!

How to fall back in love with your work with DropTask

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Research shows that 53% of US workers love their work, and happier workers are 12% more productive in the workplace. As a result, this leads to workers being healthier and more sociable within their job role. But, if only half of the population love their work then what’s happening to the other 47%? When it comes to how we feel about work, there are often three categories that workers fall under:

1. The ones that are totally devoted to what they do.
2. The ones who tolerate their job and are on a countdown until they’re reunited with the weekend.
3. The ones who are constantly searching for that one job that they can be passionate about.

If you’re reading this and you fall under number 2 or 3, it’s time to reevaluate. The workplace is where we spend most of our waking hours, so it’s crucial that we enjoy the time that we spend there.

Use DropTask to fall hopelessly back in love with your work and follow our simple steps to rekindle the spark that could make you a happier, healthier and more productive worker.

Revisit the first attraction
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‘If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.’
Marc Anthony

Remember when you first started your current job? Just like in the initial stages of dating, you found each task and challenge placed in front of you exciting, and the thought of being granted responsibility made you weak at the knees. You’d even get up 2 hours earlier in the morning to prune and prepare for the day ahead. But now, three years down the line, rushing through the door is a frequent occurrence in your daily routine. When did things get so disorganized?

Take a step back to reflect on the positives in preparing for the day ahead, because the importance of daily and weekly planning plays a crucial part in how successful you are at work. Planning can reduce stress by a significant amount and gives you peace of mind that you have an action plan to work on. In DropTask, create Tasks for the priorities that need to be completed by the end of your day, and use the Assign feature to set that you’re accountable for their completion. Setting yourself up for the day ahead will not only increase your work ethic efficiency and drive you to hit specific goals, but it will also stand as a reminder of the bigger picture and why you fell head over heels with your job in the first place.

Enhance your relationships
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‘Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress; working together is success.’
Henry Ford

Maybe the word ‘love’ is not often heard uttered in the kitchen or the atrium of your workplace, but it has one of the biggest impacts on workplace performance. If you love the company and the colleagues that you’re spending your days with, you’ll naturally become more engaged and passionate about what you’re doing. To enhance your happiness at work, Collaborate with all members of your team and make an effort to bond with one another – after all, you do spend most of your day with these people.

Ensure you set aside time for lunch each day, break away from the desk, and make an effort to chat with your colleagues. Bonding with colleagues enriches the working day and as a result, keeps us energized and eager to produce more work. Use the Messaging feature to arrange a lunchtime date and use this time to offload, let your guard down and talk about anything but work. The latter half of your day is critical to your workplace performance and leaves a lasting impression on how you’ll approach your tasks for the following day. You’ll quickly realize that by taking an extra few minutes to reconnect with colleagues, you’ll be refreshed when returning to your desk and prepped to tackle your to-dos head on. You’ll then be able to leave the office in good spirits knowing that you’ve been a productive member of the team who has helped to move the project nearer to its completion.

Progress in an environment that you adore
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‘The only way to do great work is to love what you do.’
Steve Jobs

Your setting and workplace environment is a key factor in determining whether you’re going to be crazy in love with your work. Whether your preference is a quiet office or being in the center of a vibrant city, it’s important that your surroundings can nurture your growth and progression. If altering your work setting isn’t an option, take the opportunity to switch up your tasking environment. DropTask offers a visually engaging and refreshing approach to managing your day to day tasks and projects, and with notes, files and to-dos all in once place there’ll be no need to worry about falling back into old working habits because we’ll have you covered.

Having a visually appealing workspace with your tasks laid out in front of you will instantly uplift your mood, as you will be able to see who’s working on what, what’s in Progress and what has been Completed. With ‘Clean Desk Policies’ sweeping the nation, it’s said that employees who work at a clutter-free desk are more productive as it improves their efficiency when completing tasks. And as a result of boosting work-related performance, the ‘CDP’ also reduces work-related stress. Within DropTask, we’ve taken a similar approach with DropTask Workflow view that facilitates the flow of tasks as they progress effortlessly through stages within your project.  Tracking progress step-by-step is easy as each vertical swimlane can be divided into ‘to-do, doing and done’ sections, allowing you to keep a tight rein on your workload, so you can maintain focus on the to-dos that will contribute the most towards reaching your successful outcome.

Experiencing ups and downs with your job is completely normal, and in fact, is a continuous development point for maintaining a healthy relationship. Sometimes we just need a little perspective on how many hurdles we’ve overcome to get to where we are today. Dip into your Archived Projects to review your journey and the projects that you were first assigned to. Here, you’ll be able to reevaluate if there are any flaws in your path and feel optimistic about creating a positive and happy future ahead.

How do you get the most out of your working day? Let us know in the comments below.