Category Archives: Productivity

Get back on track with an end-of-summer project review

You’ve probably just enjoyed a summer of blissful vacations and time off spent with family and friends. As summer passes for another year, now is the time to catch-up, get back into your work routine and review the status of your projects. Assess your project’s objectives and set out goals to work more productively and see the rest of the year out successfully.

Conduct a project review with DropTask for Business to know where you presently stand. Ensure your projects are focused and planned well to achieve more this coming fall and winter.

Reflect on your progress

Reflect on Completed Tasks

Take a step back and focus on what you have achieved so far and spot if you have any outstanding tasks or projects. Review and evaluate your Completed Tasks to pinpoint areas for development. Take into consideration how you approached those compared to any tasks that have fallen behind. Perhaps tasks were not completed due to reasons beyond your control, or was it down to poor time management, lack of communication or resources? Now is a good time for honest reflection to get you back on track for the final few months of the year.

To gauge how many tasks are unfinished, use the Progress Percentage bar to see how far they are from completion, gain a greater understanding of what areas need improving and decide how to proceed with them.

Shift the deadwood

Project List View and new Canvas

You might have noticed your strategy going in different directions as the year has progressed. Priorities can change a lot over time. In your project review, pinpoint any stagnant projects in the Project List View and start to revive the ones you believe still remain relevant to your overall goals for the rest of the year. Dispose of the now-insignificant projects and start from scratch with fresh goals in mind on a new Canvas, which may well give you the necessary headspace to rethink your priorities.

See your changes in your Calendar, and if you’re part of a team, keep them up to date using the Team Calendar. With newly reviewed goals for the rest of the year, you and your team will benefit from having a revamped schedule and a clearer direction for your projects.

Plan to end the year successfully

Convert Task to a Category

Is someone struggling to complete a task on time or progressing too slowly on their own? Sometimes, a task that you thought was small and manageable escalates into something pivotal to your overall goals. Easily Convert a Task into a category and begin to section it into smaller, more manageable tasks. That way, it can be approached more realistically and improve the likelihood of the important things getting done.

Collaborative working brings the team together to reach their full productivity potential. Assign other team members to the larger tasks and reap the productive benefits of real-time team collaboration. Make changes that are instantly communicated to your team, speeding up the process and allowing you to work more efficiently.

Now you know where you stand with your projects and their associated tasks, you can begin to take action. Easily make adjustments and use DropTask’s full feature set for a productive end of year, be it setting more accurate deadlines, delegating more tasks or better juggling your priorities. Use DropTask to review the status of your ongoing projects and reignite your motivation for the rest of the year. With clear and refreshed goals, it is possible to make the end of the year your most productive yet.

Manage your tasks more efficiently and sign up today with DropTask – it’s free.

How to quit the harmful habit of multitasking for good

Many people see multitasking as an admirable skill, one that leads to success in the busy modern world. The truth is that multitasking is productivity’s biggest enemy. This ‘skill’ we strive to master is a hidden dagger sabotaging our efficiency.

A common misconception is that multitasking is the ability to perform more than one task at once. In fact, when we multitask, we actually flit between tasks, often completing them to a lower standard than we would have if we focused on one thing at a time. When we try to perform two or more cognitively complex tasks at once, such as replying to an email while apparently listening to someone in a meeting, we find that we’re more stressed and less productive. In short, multitasking is harmful to both our mental health and our careers.

So, why exactly is multitasking such a productivity killer? And how can DropTask help you fight the urge to multitask? Read on to find out the answer to these questions and more.

 

Save time on tasks

Save time on tasks

Despite popular belief, it actually takes us a lot longer to accomplish anything when we multitask. John Medina, author of Brain Rules, reports that people whose work is interrupted take 50% longer to finish a task and make up to 50% more errors. This makes sense when you stop and think about it. Say you leave one task unfinished and run off to complete another, by the time you get back to your original task you will probably have lost track of your progress. This means you have to spend extra time getting settled back into the work at hand.

DropTask’s Checklist feature enables you to break tasks up into subtasks, allowing you to work methodically until the overall task is complete. Checking off quick, small checklist items helps you keep your motivation and momentum, making you less likely to become discouraged or distracted. If you eventually find yourself unable to complete more subtasks, for example if you need to take your lunch break or have a meeting to attend, you can still get a clear idea of how much work you’ve completed by glancing at the checklist overview visible on the task circle.

 

Fight fatigue

Fight fatigue

Multitasking is exhausting. Our brains are not built to cope with flitting from one complex task to the next in a short space of time. Instead, we need to properly focus and commit to completing one task before beginning another.

Keep your DropTask Calendar up to date with your tasks and deadlines so that you can manage both your workload and other people’s expectations of your time. With the Team Calendar, your colleagues will be able to instantly see when you’re busy and will be less likely to interrupt you during an important task. Start Dates and Due Dates allow you and your team to clearly see when you are planning to begin a task as well as which task is due next. You can then focus on completing tasks in order of priority instead of getting distracted by less urgent tasks and trying to multitask at the last minute.

 

Shield yourself from distractions

Shield yourself from distractions

Being reactive rather than proactive with your workload is incredibly unproductive. Gloria Mark, a professor at the University of California, found that when people are interrupted it typically takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to their work, and most people will do two intervening tasks before going back to their original project. This switching leads to a buildup of stress.

One way to manage distractions is by Emailing Tasks into DropTask. When an important task does crop up unexpectedly, you can send it over to DropTask in an instant, ready for the next time you log in. The task is then off your mind, ready for you to deal with when you can. You can even set a Start Date on the task to show your colleagues when you’ll see to it.

Another way to deal with distractions is by prioritizing tasks. You can mark certain tasks as Important and Urgent and Collapse lower priority categories. This way, you’ll feel less overwhelmed and distracted at work – out of sight, out of mind! You can always expand collapsed categories again when you are ready to commit to something new.

 

Protect yourself from stress

Protect yourself from stress

Attempting to perform too many tasks at once can cause your stress and anxiety levels to soar, which in turn can lead to burnout and sick days at work. When the office environment is too fast-paced and encourages employees to multitask, morale is lowered and there may be a higher turnover, which could be costly to companies.

DropTask provides you with the tools to be productive at work as well as a complete overview of your projects, allowing you to work methodically at your own pace and pinpoint where you and your team are with tasks. The Progress Percentage bar displayed on the task circle allows you to see exactly how far you and your colleagues have come with your tasks, giving you that extra push to finish your great work. A clear overview of your progress, along with the ability to set Reminders to prompt you to take important action, obliterates the need for multitasking and ensures that you and your teammates are less anxious and less stressed at work.

Sign up to DropTask for free today to kick your multitasking habit for good. Know someone who is a serial multitasker? Why not do them a favour and show them this blog? They’ll thank you for it later.

Maximizing your ‘Productivity Peak’ with DropTask

According to society, you’re either a morning person or you’re not. However, productivity is not that straightforward. Josh Davis, the author of ‘Two Awesome Hours’, believes you have a two-hour ‘Productivity Peak’ each day. But, how do you get the most out of your hours of peak productivity and make the most of those less productive periods? DropTask can help you to maximize your output when productivity does strike. Plus, it can trigger and maintain motivation for you and your team throughout all parts of the day. Here’s how…

Prepare for productivity to strike

Create a Project

If productivity can peak at any time, you need to be poised and ready to make the most of it. Davis’ idea is that there are two ‘best mental hours’ each day, so it’s essential to maximize your output during this period. To prepare effectively, start a DropTask project and create categories and tasks for all that you need to achieve on its canvas. Set Start and Due Dates for a practical way to control your own workload, so that when productivity does strike you can beat those deadlines fastest approaching. In your project, Assign Tasks to team members. That way, your project’s workload is shared and when somebody’s productivity peaks, it is to the whole team’s advantage. Use the task Progress Sliders to keep your team up to date with your progress and to gain an overview of how the entire project is moving along. Using DropTask’s markers of Importance and Urgency, add clear visual cues to your project and give yourself an easy to digest overview of where your time and effort is best spent when productivity does hit.

Stay motivated with a collaborative team effort

Comments and Messaging

If everyone on your team has at least two hours of peak productivity, that’s a lot of hours filled with completed tasks and feelings of accomplishment within your team. The buzz of finishing a task or hitting key project milestones can become infectious, and you can spread this feeling using DropTask’s Comments and Messaging feature. Comments and Messaging enable you to give a friendly boost to team members with motivational comments and collaborative support, all of which help to promote a warm working environment where productivity can thrive. With a real-time, visual overview of your project, you can watch team to-dos move from started to complete throughout the day. This clear project progress will spark a sense of shared productivity and achievement within your team, even when you’re not sat in the same office.

Break down larger tasks using Checklists

Checklists

The prospect of a big task requiring a lot of effort can be quite overwhelming. You might sit there fearing the enormity of the job at hand. Rather than freezing in panic, begin to break the task down into smaller chunks that can be more quickly and easily achieved. DropTask’s Checklists will break the task up into sub-tasks. With a breakdown of your task to-dos, you can prioritise those requiring the most effort for times of peak productivity, and leave the less challenging sub-tasks for those not-so productive periods. Checklists help you to remain focused and motivated by quick wins, regardless of your productivity level at that time and track your progress every step of the way. With every sub-task ticked off, you’re one step closer to task completion.

Make time to clear some headspace

Team Calendars

Alongside those more strenuous tasks, use DropTask’s Calendar to schedule time for your physical health. Davis thinks that our physical health combines strongly with our mental health and if they suffer, so will our productivity. Have a go on the treadmill, take a lunch break, head outside for a stroll. While it may seem trivial when compared to the significance of your tasks, a change of environment will trigger new levels of productivity that you wouldn’t achieve otherwise. The adaptable nature of DropTask allows you to factor in these breaks when you need them most. We would suggest including them in between your most demanding to-dos to give yourself quick boosts throughout the day. The Team Calendar allows everyone to factor in these important breaks and your project progress will improve as a result.

DropTask gives you a real-time overview of your tasks, goals and team projects to set yourself up for greater success, so you can remain productive throughout the day. When your ‘Productivity Peak’ strikes, you will be ready to maximize your output and achieve more than ever.

Make the most of your productivity and sign up for free with DropTask.

Got deadlines? We’ve got it covered

When we plan to meet deadlines we imagine the best-case scenario; involving no hiccups or bumps along the way. But the reality is, deadlines often get missed and before you know it, you’re already two steps behind on next week’s work.

At DropTask, we want to eliminate the risk of missing important deadlines. We’ve made note of just some of the ways that DropTask can help you to plan, manage and achieve anything that you put your mind to. Don’t believe us? See for yourself below.

Plan thoroughly

Imagine this. You’ve just arrived at work and before you’ve even had a chance to sit down, your manager has unexpectedly thrown you a bundle of urgent deadlines to meet. Already juggling your current workload, the thought of adding more tasks into the mix, seems almost impossible. First things first – don’t panic. We suggest making each deadline a task in DropTask to make getting your head around your impending work that little bit easier. And the best thing about tasks? Creating them is simple.

    • Tasks are a great way to identify the steps you need to take. We suggest doing this so you know exactly what you need to work on. Click here to turn your deadlines into tasks.

Now you’ve made a visual note of everything you need to do, the next stage is making each task more desirable to tackle. Next up are Checklists:

  • Checklists allow you to break down the original tasks that you’ve created. For example, if one task is particularly tricky, you’ll be able to define the individual steps you’ll need to take to complete the overall task. This feature is a great way for you to limit the chances of overwhelm and let’s face it, we’ve all been there.

Ready to break it down? Learn more about Checklists here.

Manage accordingly

So now that you’ve jotted down your action steps for the coming weeks, it’s time to cement those deadlines in place. We suggest selecting a date before the actual deadline is due. Confused? Don’t worry, we’re here to give you the low-down.

Welcome to ‘self-imposed deadlines‘. If you’re unfamiliar with this method, self-imposed deadlines simply encourage you to work harder. By setting them days or even weeks before a deadline is due, you’ll give yourself extra time to perfect those finishing touches.

Set and manage these deadlines by assigning Due Dates to tasks. Once Due Dates have been set in place they’ll automatically be slotted into the built-in Calendar, carefully displaying your schedule for the coming weeks and months ahead, helping you to remain on track to meet all of those deadlines.

(Top tip: Want to rearrange a date? Simply drag and drop your task into its new date and let DropTask rejig your schedule accordingly.)

Achieve consistently

Last, but certainly not least, is achieve. You’ve planned your steps and created a personal Calendar, now all that’s left is to meet those deadlines.

From the very start of creating your tasks, to sliding the Progress bar to 100% complete; DropTask is there to help you work more efficiently towards reaching that end goal. With its unique capabilities helping to boost performance and maximize your potential, you’ll never miss a deadline again. Now, you’ll be able to keep track of everything (including the important details) all in one, organized workspace.

Never miss a deadline again with DropTask. Sign up today – it’s free.

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
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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.

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!