Category Archives: Productivity

Avoid speed bumps on the road to project completion

Within every type of project, whether you’re working alone or as part of a team, there are dependencies that effect how fast it progresses. And while completing all steps are vital in making a project a success, miscommunication between team members and being ill-informed of key information can impact accountability, and the execution of the overall project.

To avoid this from happening, we’ve made note of how to limit the possibility of project failure to ensure you always remain on an uphill cycle.

Establish everyone’s direction

While it’s important to work on the tasks that you’re Assigned to, stepping back to look at the bigger picture allows you to see previous actions that have been taken and the remaining tasks left to complete. But not being aware of your contribution towards the project’s overall completion can sometimes stall progress for other team members, and their ability to begin their own work. In DropTask use the Canvas view to envision the aim of the project and get that big picture view. With each step clearly defined as task circles, you’ll be able to gain a visual perspective of the entirety of the project, and identify which actions you need to take.

Another simple but highly effective way to ensure team members are informed of the impact their tasks have on other members’ work, is to encourage others to update one another on the Progress of their task. With a performance indicator displayed on the task circle, you’ll be able let others know how much longer the task will take. And if you’re still curious on the status of a task, drop the team member a direct Message to ensure you’re always informed of key developments within the project.

Avoid a pile-up

The definition of backlog is – ‘the accumulation of uncompleted work needing to be dealt with‘. Ring a bell? Perhaps it’s emails that need to be followed up, forms waiting to be filled in or feedback that needs reviewing, avoiding tasks that lack excitement are normally the ones that delay other work from starting.

Stopping and stalling a project is inevitable. However, if this is a frequent occurrence during all stages within your project, then it’s time for a change. Think about all of those instances you’ve wasted locating miscellaneous to-do’s and what you could have achieved if you’d kept everything together. It would be pretty great, right? With DropTask, there’s no need to worry about the misplacement of documents, dates or reminders of important actions that you need to take, because DropTask’s got it covered. Attach Files to tasks that you’ll need to recall, and assign Due Dates to ensure you’re aware of upcoming deadlines. And if this isn’t enough, add Reminders to prompt you on actions that you need to take (and ones that you’re likely to forget about). With everything you need in one convenient workspace, your projects will be completed more efficiently and effectively, without the backlog.

Buckle yourself in until the end

Without the willingness to help push the project towards the finish line, tasks will not be executed to a high standard, resulting in work needing to be revisited later down the line. In a 2014 survey conducted by Salary.com, 69% of employees admitted to wasting a substantial amount of time at work and letting urgent work slip to the bottom of the pile. Avoid this from happening by becoming more committed, and use your own initiative to utilize your time on something more productive.

Keep moving forward and begin by editing your workspace to indicate to others what you’re working on. Use Dependency arrows to draw links to connecting tasks together, so others (you too) will remain informed of the order of the tasks that you’re going to complete. With focused and visual order displayed within your project, it will give others a gentle nudge of the timescales of their upcoming work.

If you’re facing difficulty with an unusually large task, why not make use of Checklists to break the task down into separate actions. Plus, with the number of checklist items appearing on the task circle, your progress will be instantly visible for those within your project. An employee who is proactive with their time recognizes when responsibility is needed. Don’t be the weak link in the team. Take charge of your work and utilize the time you’ve been granted to increase your accountability, and to remain focused on producing consistent results.

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

 

Streamline your workflow and keep everything in one place

In the busyness of 21st century living, the amount of information that we absorb can often be overwhelming. We all have important documents that we can’t afford to lose, and with a safe place to keep that file and another folder to keep those important forms, even when we think we’re on top of our workload, things still get misplaced. When we’re trying our very best to stay afloat, we’re drowning in emails, messages from team members and updating client notes, all while jumping between different apps and devices, resulting in wasted time as well as frustration.

At DropTask, we’re on a mission to make it easy to stay on track. See just the few ways you can minimize the risk of losing important information below, and gain a central hub for ideas, notes and attachments while feeling at ease, knowing that everything you could ever need is in one place.





Connect seamlessly

We all have our go-to tools that we rely on to remind us of actions we need to take, and the truth is there are some tools we just can’t live without. But sometimes when we have so many applications that we have to update, it can become a chore in itself trying to locate specific information. Spare the worry of jumping between applications and instead, connect DropTask with the tools you use everyday. With a long list of Integrations on hand, you’ll be able to effortlessly intertwine DropTask with your favorite services. Now, you can sync your Google Calendar with DropTask to ensure you’re informed of all of life’s events, import notes from Evernote to turn them into actionable tasks and upload Google Drive files to your projects, giving you the flexibility to manage work and mark progress from wherever you are.





Manage without email

It’s hard to believe that at some point we went through our day-to-day lives without email. In 2014, over 100 billion emails were sent and received every day, so it’s no wonder that we spend most of our days chasing numerous email threads, resulting in low productivity and missed information. With a constant stream of instant notifications, many of us find it difficult to stay on top of our overflowing inbox. With these shocking statistics, business leaders, managers and team leaders are looking to limit the amount of time employees spend in their inboxes, with the aim of increasing employee productivity at work and to prevent wasted time.

I’m going to be bold – if your excuse is that the only way you can receive updates from team members and review the status of a project is via email, then you’re doing it all wrong. With DropTask, you’re be able to manage everything without the need for long and messy email threads. Simply Invite members into a project that you’d like to collaborate on and use your project as a workspace to hold, share and manage key information. If you need an update on the development of a task, step away from the inbox and use the ‘@’ symbol to mention the team member in a Message. Maintaining an effective flow of internal communication between team members will increase company coordination, as everyone will be informed of the common goal that they’re required to work towards, outside of their inbox.





Update from anywhere, at anytime

The way we use technology is dramatically changing while at home and at work. These days, you’ll find a laptop, a smartphone and a tablet at each one of our desks, and we often move between these devices in order to complete one activity after the next. However tech savvy this may seem, more often than not, each device holds different information and restricts us from creating a seamless workflow during our day. If your preferred way of working is using your phone on the commute, the interactive whiteboard for meetings, and the iPad for jotting down notes, then take advantage of DropTask’s portability to ensure you’re always prepared. Available on a wide range of devices with online and offline capabilities, you’ll be able to stay connected and up to date at all times.

Even if you alternate between a Mac in the morning and a Windows desktop in the afternoon, DropTask will provide you with a central hub to capture your notes and recall information at anytime, from any device, making the everyday ‘impossible‘ workload a total breeze.

Keep everything you need together in DropTask. Sign up for free today at www.droptask.com/signup.

Planning your week like an Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur week

When an entrepreneur takes the jump from employee to leader, it can be a challenge to assess main priorities for the week. If you consider yourself as an ‘entrepreneur’, or someone who likes to leverage opportunities, then you’ve probably had to take a few risks in your time. But sometimes, these risks come with obstacles that result from poor planning and lack of structure to our business model, which can have a severe impact on success rates.

Limit the risk of business failure with DropTask for Business, by following our top tips below.

MondayGenerate ideas and get inspired

Get Inspired

At the heart of any successful business is a great idea. Use your fuel at the beginning of the week to think of new ways to improve your business model, or better yet, create a new one. Use the inspiration you gained from the weekend to try something new, and brainstorm all of the possible avenues that you could explore by using the iMindMap 10 to DropTask integration. Develop your idea by thinking of its potential flaws, target market, required budget and what’s needed to make it standout from the crowd. Then, when you’re ready to get to work, transport it into DropTask to turn your idea into a reality. Brainstorming first thing on a Monday morning can have its perks; not only gearing you up for a productive few days ahead, but allowing you to explore new ways to enhance your innovative idea.

Tuesday Delegate your time

Set Reminders

No matter who you are and what you do, countless emails will still find their way to your inbox. Whether it’s an invitation for a networking event or a request to follow-up, these emails need to be answered if you want to connect and spread the word about your newest venture. Instead of spending countless hours buried in your inbox, delegate your time by setting Reminders to tasks, and receive prompts for specific times of the day to address unanswered emails. By separating your day into segments, you’ll be surprised by how much work you’ll get done. If an email requires more than just a response, Email Tasks In to turn it into something that you can action. With the email now embedded within your DropTask project and surrounded by other tasks, you’ll have a visual reminder of something that you need to do.

WednesdayPlan accordingly

Calendar view

As a leader of a business, an entrepreneur needs to be productive in order to set a precedent. To remain up to date with priorities and approaching deadlines, assign Start and Due Dates so you’re aware of what’s in the pipeline. The likelihood of a pitch being rearranged or a business meeting getting cancelled is inevitable. If this happens, simply rejig your schedule by dragging and dropping tasks or events into the newly scheduled date. With the built-in Calendar you have the flexibility to easily shift priorities so you can leverage every opportunity that comes your way.

ThursdayFocus

Importance flags

The danger of being an entrepreneur and living in a world where we have the ability to be on call 24/7 can defer us from getting valuable work done, meaning our important work remains untouched. Prioritize must-do tasks by assigning Importance Flags that will be instantly identifiable on your workspace. To avoid getting distracted by other intriguing work, focus your concentration by Collapsing Task Categories to hide work that doesn’t require your immediate attention. And if you do have a spare hour towards the end of the day to explore something new, expand your Collapsed Categories to reveal the tasks that you’ve been looking forward to getting stuck into – after all, you’ve worked hard all day.

FridayAssess your progress

Completed task

Whether you’re determining where you are now to where you thought you’d be, or, visualizing your goal for the next 5 years; assessing progress is essential to any entrepreneur’s development. Reflect on what you’ve accomplished by glancing at your Completed Tasks. This view will allow you to review trends and patterns to identify which months were more successful than others, and how much of it contributes to the particular activities you were carrying out. If tasks such as proposals or reports need a few adjustments before they’re ready to be pitched, simply transport them back into your project and make a Checklist to revisit specific areas that you need to develop in order to reach that desired end goal.

How do you use DropTask as a daily task manager? 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.

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
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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
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.

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!

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.

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.

The DropTask guide to popular productivity methods

We’re super fans of productivity here at DropTask, and we love exploring all the best possible ways to help you get more done, more efficiently. From GTD to tomato timers, there are multiple to-do methods out there. The challenge is figuring out which one/s work best for you.

In this post, we’ve rounded up 4 of the most popular, tried-and-tested productivity strategies, along with how to navigate them in DropTask. Take a look, try them out and find your best fit.

1. Getting Things Done (GTD)

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One of the most famous productivity techniques ever known is Getting Things Done (GTD), based on the best-selling book of the same name by productivity consultant David Allen. GTD promotes two key elements of task management – control and perspective. In a nutshell, it follows a process that turns your tasks into real, actionable items or things you can just get rid of.  Everything you keep has a clear reason for being in your life at any given moment – both now and well into the future.

With GTD, projects are different to tasks. A project represents a high-level outcome or result which involves multiple steps to achieve. A task represents the actions or steps needed to complete a project. In DropTask, you can break down your main Projects into separate Categories to reflect the type of tasks awaiting attention. Preferably, all your tasks should be organised by the place or context in which they can be done, or the set of tools available (e.g. @Office, @Calls, @Meetings, @Emails, @Home). You could also include a ‘Waiting For’ category for when an action has been delegated to someone else, or when you’re waiting for some external event before a project can be moved forward. A ‘Someday/Maybe’ category is also handy to store things to be done at some point, but not right now. In DropTask, you can use Tags to further clarify the context of your tasks and enable better Filtering, so you can work on targeted groups of actions at a time.

Once you’ve off-loaded what needs to get done from your head or inbox into DropTask, take an inventory to determine whether each item is actionable or not. If a task isn’t actionable, remove it from your project. If it is, consider whether you will:

  • Do it now (if takes less than 2 minutes)
  • Schedule it: Determine priorities and add Start/Due Dates so you can monitor the task in your Calendar.
  • Delegate it: Assign the task to to someone else.
  • Put it in the Someday/Maybe category (to be checked every month or so)

To keep things moving, engage in periodic reviews (at least once a week) to streamline and update your tasks, always focusing on the next logical actions. It takes a bit of setting up, but GTD is an ideal system for helping you pull everything together in an organized fashion so you can knock out tasks quickly.

2. Pomodoro/Sprints

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The Pomodoro technique is based on the idea of work sprints combined with short, frequent breaks to maximize focus while preventing burnout. Francesco Cirillo, the inventor of the method, originally used a kitchen timer in the shape of a tomato to set time increments for working on tasks (pomodoro is Italian for tomato in case you didn’t know!). With Pomodoro, you do a concentrated burst of work for 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break, and then repeat the process until you’ve completed 4 sprints. After each 4-sprint cycle (which represents one ‘Pomodoro’), you take a longer break (say half an hour) to stretch your legs, grab a snack and recharge. It really is that simple. If you want to try this in DropTask, we recommend breaking down larger tasks into a smaller number of digestible subtasks that can be performed within 25-minute blocks. Create a Checklist of tasks and work through it using the segmented Pomodoro process, making sure to protect your time from any and all interruptions.

3. Kanban

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Kanban is a highly visual method that facilitates the flow of tasks across one project board (a ‘Kanban’). It’s great for keeping the big picture in sight as you can clearly see what you have to do right now, what’s coming up and what you’ve just completed. A versatile technique, Kanban is enormously helpful for tracking projects as they cycle through defined stages, such as the Auditing process – ‘Planning’, ‘Assessment’, ‘Reporting’, ‘Follow-up’. DropTask’s new Workflow View enables full-blown Kanban-style productivity. All your tasks are clearly organized in vertical swimlanes that are easy to switch between, keeping you in full control as you progress from ‘Do’ and ‘Doing’ to ‘Done’. The clear sequential structure of DropTask’s Workflow Board helps you keep a tight rein on your ‘work in progress’, so you never take on more than you can chew at any one time. For more info on how to Kanban with Droptask, check out this earlier blog post.

4. The Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Urgent/Important Matrix is another visual approach that makes prioritization simple. Famously referenced by Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, this technique divides your tasks into four quadrants along an XY axis, based on their level of Urgency and/or Importance.
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Examining your work in this way helps you plan and prioritize around your most important, high-value (but not necessarily urgent!) tasks – so they don’t get crowded out by pointless busywork or sudden distractions. Getting extra training or updating your LinkedIn profile might not be pressing requirements right now, but they’ll no doubt be of benefit to your career in the longer term. With the Eisenhower Matrix, you get a better grasp of which tasks need to be done right away, which ones can be put off or ignored, and which ones can be delegated to someone else. This concept can be easily executed in DropTask using the Urgency and Importance attributes. You can set the level of urgency for tasks using 4 values (low to very high) to best determine those that require immediate attention. Color-coded flags denoting importance from low (blue flag) to very high (red flag) will help you identify all your most critical tasks with a single glance.

How do you find these techniques? Do you have any favorite productivity systems we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments below. If you’d like some help with implementing any of these methods in DropTask, email us at support@droptask.com and we’ll do all we can to assist. 

Fed up with your idle projects? Learn how to finish what you started

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Are you in the habit of starting projects, but not finishing them? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many of us are fast to get new projects into motion – a screenplay, a product, a new craft, a business idea or home improvements. We like ‘starting things’ because it makes us feel amped up, entrepreneurial and productive. But, completing them is another matter.

There are plenty of reasons why we lose that initial enthusiasm for our projects and hit the pause button mid-way, be they running out of cash, failure to plan effectively, stumbling on a roadblock, lack of commitment, or reaching a plateau. Rather than abandoning a project altogether, we leave it on the backburner week after week, month after month, anticipating that we’ll get around to wrapping it up at some point.

Every project sitting idle signifies wasted time, energy and resources, and sucks up far too much mental space. It could be a small task, an ongoing work project or something even bigger, like a lifelong passion. Whatever you have that’s undone, it won’t magically get finished without you taking action.

We’ve devised 4 simple hacks to help you see your projects through from beginning to end. Read on and get moving…

1. Be picky

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Before doing anything, take a look at all your unfinished projects and identify which ones are actually worth concluding. Which assignments have the tightest deadlines? Which ones are almost done? What about that never-ending work proposal that’s been going on forever? Remember that dream goal you got started on? Is it still something you care about and want to pursue? Decide which projects you want to finish first. Ranking your projects makes it clear what’s number 1 on your agenda and helps in fueling your motivation to go from one completed activity to the next.

Give your top priority project the go-ahead by forming a basic structure for it in DropTask. First, create a new Project to house all your to-dos. Inside that project, create color-coded Categories for grouping your micro responsibilities and tasks. For instance, you can organize your categories by project stages or themes, such as ‘Ideas’, ‘Research’, ‘Budgeting’, ‘Events’, ‘Marketing’ and so on.

2. Plan your actions in detail

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To get and stay organized, make sure you have a system for action planning. Having set up all your project categories in DropTask, create specific action steps in the form of Tasks to begin the process of making the project a reality. Without clear steps, you might find yourself stumbling around, not knowing which course to follow to achieve your desired results. Your tasks can be anything you need to do or any piece of work you need to produce to fulfil key aspects of your project – ‘Write cover copy’, ‘Commission artwork’, ‘Create webpage’ and so on. You can assign each task a Start and Due Date, and an owner (if you’re working with others). For each task, make sure you prepare, copy, link to or attach any notes or files you might need. If you have a series of tasks that depend on one another, set them up as Dependencies so you can clearly see how they link together in the correct sequence. The tighter your plan, the easier it will be to stick to it without getting sidetracked.

3. Eat a frog first thing

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“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” – Mark Twain. This entertaining quote contains powerful productivity advice. For any project you’re working on, there are tasks that are more important than others. The frog is the biggest, ugliest and hardest task on your plate – it’s the one that puts the most pressure on you because of its significance. Consequently, it’s also the task that you’re most likely to avoid in favor of crossing off the easier 3rd, 4th or 5th items in your to-dos.

But here’s the tip. If you aim to wolf down your giant task ASAP each day, then the rest of your work will be a piece of cake in comparison. According to behavioral scientists, willpower tends to be higher earlier in the day. Prioritizing your toughest task first means you’ll be able to apply your best energy and effort to it before ‘decision fatigue’ kicks in. Specify your frogs by setting Importance, Urgency and Effort attributes for your tasks in DropTask, and switch to Project List View to pull up a list of your most urgent ‘do now’ jobs each day. Eating the frog won’t be pleasant, but steeling yourself to do it allows you to make long strides in achieving your major goal and will nip chronic procrastination in the bud. You might not enjoy the taste, but you’ll love the buzz of accomplishment that comes after.

4. Stay committed to the end

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Maintain momentum on your project by checking in daily, weekly or monthly. We all know what it feels like to start a project all hyped up and full of zest, only to have our enthusiasm fade away once we’re in the thick of things. It’s worth reminding yourself regularly that every little bit you do now counts toward your end vision. Use DropTask’s Workflow View to visually map the development of your project from start to finish, while keeping your eyes firmly on the main prize.  Mark your progress on each task using the Progress Percentage bar, and look over your current achievements in the Completed Tasks View. Monitoring your actions makes you accountable to your final goal and helps you stay on top. DropTask’s Daily Summary Email will notify you of which deadlines are coming up and what tasks are overdue, making tracking effortless on your part. If need be, reschedule or reset any dates against your target, and set Reminders to keep you chipping away at those tasks. Persevere and it won’t be too long before you’re celebrating project success.

What’s on your finish list? Do you have any of your own methods for putting projects to bed? Tell us all about them in the comments below.