Katie Allen is a web developer and freelance artist, with a busy life to boot. Before DropTask, she was struggling to manage her many tasks and duties. DropTask has allowed Katie to organize her multiple projects, and in a visual format which best suits her workload. Read on to see how DropTask works for Katie, and to discover why she’s deleted her Trello boards:
With remote working comes freedom – and lots of it. Moving beyond the standard structure of a 9-5 office job means those who work remotely are empowered to choose their work time, location and can generally tailor their day to best fit their role. However, as with everything, there are some downsides. Without the motivation of a day-to-day routine or the support of a surrounding team, remote workers are more inclined to overwork and feel isolated whilst undertaking their daily duties. The good news is that when these issues are properly managed, working out of office looks to be the liberated future of work in our tech-enhanced world. Read on to discover the essential tips every remote worker should practice to stay connected, productive and healthy:
At DropTask, we’re passionate about giving you the right tools to plan, manage and achieve your project goals. And, with more and more people working remotely, we thought it was only right to give our Android app a little TLC, to ensure you can be productive whenever and wherever you are. So, without further ado, here’s what’s new!
To deliver a smooth and seamless experience, our Android app has undergone a huge update and features a cleaner design, easier navigation and updated functionality.
You’ll see that tasks within the Workflow, Completed Tasks and Calendar View now have a new look, with visuals that you’ll be familiar with from our web and desktop apps. This new and optimized design allows tasks to ‘stack’ for more intuitive use of space.
Located in the main menu, you’ll also find the Project Browser, which is great if you’re a manager and are looking for that high level overview of how many tasks are in progress, on hold, or completed, as well as the distribution of workload within the team.
With visual indicators displayed on each project, you’ll be able to determine its health at a single glance. Plus, to make life infinitely easier, you can search and filter by name, last opened or even last updated.
To see the app in action, check out our 30 second video.
Download our new Android app today and let us know your thoughts in the comments below. With more updates in the pipeline, your DropTask experience will remain in sync, whatever your device.
We’d like to introduce an exciting new update to the way you get things done using DropTask. We’re making it a whole lot easier for you to bring order, prioritize and work through your daily tasks.
You may have noticed a refreshed layout in your DropTask Calendar, Completed Tasks, Urgency Lists, and Workflow views. New, block-shaped tasks stack neatly for a more intuitive use of space. We know that the best way to stay productive is to never lose sight of your goals. The shape of the tasks in these views gives you greater visibility of what you need to get done, boosting your productivity and motivation as a result. This condensed overview of your workload can be easily arranged in an order that makes the most sense to you.
Enjoy a smarter Workflow View
In Workflow View, our new look lets you work on projects and processes in a logical, linear order. When you switch from Canvas View to Workflow View, your circular tasks will transform into rectangular blocks, bringing their categories with them. If you’re a fan of the Kanban productivity method, you can build your tasks under customized boards in a compact list format. Then, drag and drop them along your ‘To Do’, ‘Doing’, ‘Done’ boards as they sail through your set process or timeline.
Adapt to shifts in priorities
You’ll also find that block-shaped tasks save you a lot of space in Urgency Lists View – formerly known as List View. When you can see more of your tasks, setting urgency levels becomes a much smoother experience. For a project to succeed, you need to be ready to adapt to sudden shifts in priorities. Urgency List Views’ new layout is here for exactly that. When changes to your schedule happen, it is quick and painless to adjust your focus to those tasks that just became more urgent. The All Tasks Urgency Lists View allows you to see how any priority changes affect the rest of your current projects. To keep productivity levels high, it’s important to focus only on what requires your attention right now. We’re helping you to sharpen this focus by giving you three levels of task urgency across all views – normal, high and very high. On tasks that were previously set as low urgency, you’ll now see a low urgency tag instead.
See more in your Calendar
DropTask’s Calendar has also been refreshed with a new, smarter layout. Here, block-shaped tasks represent what needs to be done today, tomorrow or sometime in the future across all of your projects. Shared Calendars are now less overwhelming. You can now enjoy a condensed overview of your team’s responsibilities and schedules, helping you plan better than ever before. Keep on top of deadlines and avoid nasty surprises with greater visibility across all calendars in DropTask.
Quick ticks for quick wins
Wherever you see these new-look tasks, you have the option to instantly mark them as complete with a brand new tick button. With just one click, you will fly through those ‘quick-win’ tasks faster than ever before. Watch them fade away beautifully as you strike them off and send them to your Completed Tasks View. Switch back to your Canvas to see the positive impact your progress has had on your project’s bigger picture.
Our latest update has been designed to save you space and time when using DropTask. We want to give you the option to work in a way that best suits you. Let us know how you are enjoying our new-look tasks and the benefits that you’re getting from a smarter layout. Stay tuned for more productivity power-ups from new DropTask features, coming soon.
Sign up to DropTask FREE today to test out our latest, powerful feature!
For some of us, January can be our least productive month. Less than 10% of projects are ever fully completed during this period. Do you feel that you and your team have hit a wall with your productivity this month? Now that February is here, it’s time leave your unproductive January blues behind. Set your team up for a motivated month and get your projects back on track with DropTask. We’ve noted down some of our top tips for shaking off the slump in time for a successful February.
Get your schedule in order
You’re far more likely to take action upon tasks that have a strict deadline. How many of your tasks have deadlines? If the answer is zero, then it’s time to make that change. Use your built-in Calendar in DropTask for Business to effectively manage your time. Create an up to date summary of your schedule and easily spot gaps for extra to-dos. Create a new task, then effortlessly drag and drop it on a time and date to set its deadline. Make use of the shared Team Calendar to check the whole team’s availability at a quick glance. DropTask gives you a smarter way to get more out of your time, making every day more productive for you and your team.
Resolve problems quickly
Projects break down when team communication fails. Luckily, DropTask for Business’ Comments and Messages let you quickly and effectively communicate with team members through your project. Use visuals to instantly indicate the current status of your task. DropTask’s Progress Percentage allows your team to quickly spot if anything has fallen behind schedule so they can jump in with support if it’s needed. Avoid unexpected surprises and project delays by keeping everyone on the same page and on track for success.
Look how far you’ve come
To stay productive we need to feel motivated. DropTask’s Completed Tasks View makes it easy for you to review the past achievements of you and your team members. No matter how big or small, it’s always motivating to celebrate wins. If you’re looking for a quick boost of motivation, head on over to your Completed Task View to see a library of your project’s success so far. The next time you’re at risk of hitting a slump in productivity, take a look at what you’ve achieved so far to remind yourself of what you’re capable of doing.
Got any tips for keeping your team projects on track? Let us know in the comments below.
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.
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.
3 Ways to go from needlessly busy to getting things done
Think back over the past few weeks. Have you been busy or productive? No, this isn’t a trick question. We’re not trying to trip you up. Being busy and being productive are not the same thing.
These days most of us are crazy busy. Busyness goes hand-in-hand with the modern world, where, thanks to our ‘always on’ digital culture and a haphazard economy, we feel the need to run our lives at breakneck speed and cram our calendars to the brim. Each day we scurry from task to task. There are deadlines to meet, emails to exchange, obligations to fulfill, papers to file, phone calls to answer and meetings to attend – we’re frazzled just thinking about it!
It can be tempting to see being busy as a sign of success; a symbol of your incredible work devotion. But while you’re on full-time ‘inbox monitor’ duty, how much are you actually accomplishing on the things that matter? Although staying constantly in motion can make you feel like you’re racing ahead, the reality is that you’re more likely to be stuck on a treadmill running nonessential errands. Stop confusing busyness for productivity, and you’ll get better results on your mission-critical projects.
So what can you do to be less frantically busy, but more productive? Here are some tips.
1. Trim your to-dos
Many of us live our lives at such a furious pace that we lose sight of what’s important. Cutting down your to-dos might sound like counterproductive advice, but it actually helps you get more done in ways that count. Being productive means accomplishing the tasks that will bring you closer to meeting your goals – those that are in line with your core mission and provide the biggest bang for your buck in the business. Anything else is just busywork and will clutter up your day.
The Pareto Principle is the idea that 80% of your results come from 20% of your activity. So instead of trying to hurry through a long list of xx trivial items, choose 2 to 3 high priority tasks to focus on in a single day. This is what top CEOs, business owners and managers do. Prioritizing forces you to choose what’s most significant for you to work on right now and helps you remain focused, so you’re not just staying busy for the sake of it. That means tackling those big scary projects first, not claiming that you’re ‘too busy’ as an excuse. So even if you only get those 3 things done at day’s end, you’ll have been far more industrious than if you had completed 10 not-so-important items.
How can you get rid of the checklist mentality and apply the Pareto Principle to your workload? Try using DropTask to separate your high-value tasks from your low-value busywork. The Importance feature allows you to set the priority of a task from low (blue flag) to very high (red flag) in line with its expected impact. You can also define the level of Urgency (low to very high) and Effort (small, medium or large) of each of your items to best determine when and how to take action on them. If you find prioritizing tasks a bit tricky, this Inc. article suggests a useful strategy that takes account of the amount of effort needed as well as the potential for positive results.
2. Hit the pause button
As humans, we’re designed to operate cyclically between spending and renewing our energy, not linearly like a machine. Think about your personal energy for a moment. When it’s high, you can concentrate well and produce great work. When it’s low, your productivity and work quality plummets. Forcing yourself to slog on when your energy tank is empty is not only harmful to your performance, it’s a sure-fire route to burnout. You might try to override your low points by downing a double-shot coffee or grabbing a sugary snack, but when you do this your stress hormones kick in to keep you going, so you end up working in ‘fight or flight’ mode rather than at full capacity. This means you become reactive to what’s going on around you and less able to think clearly, creatively or critically. The trick around this is to take frequent breaks and replenish your energy levels before they hit rock-bottom, so you can then bring more intensity and power to whatever it is you’re doing. The 2014 Quality of Life @ Work study found that employees who take a brief break every 90 minutes report:
- 28% better level of focus
- 40% greater capacity to think creatively
- 30% higher level of health and wellbeing
Instead of aiming to stay busy round the clock, schedule regular ‘pit stops’ into your DropTask projects and set Reminders to alert you take them. Plan in advance what you’re going to do in your breaks so you can optimize this time. Consultant Sami Paju recommends changing your channel of activity. We all have 3 channels of human activity – cognitive, physical and emotional. If you’ve been doing a lot of thinking and brainwork, then you need to switch off from the cognitive channel. Try taking a stroll, getting a snack, meditating or break out the crayons and do some coloring in to relieve stress. A great way to engage the emotional channel is to listen to music, watch funny YouTube videos or call a friend. Or get your physical channel going by hitting the gym, doing some stretches or running up and down the stairs. In just a short while, you’ll be able to regain your alertness and go back to work with gusto.
For years, businesses have put the ability to multitask on a pedestal as something to be revered in their workers. But experts agree that multitasking doesn’t really exist. What we think of as multitasking is really ‘multiswitching’, bouncing from one task to another, and there are studies to show that it destroys productivity and concentration. Researchers at Vanderbilt University discovered that people who were given two simple tasks to perform at the same time experienced a huge slowdown in brain activity. They took up to 30% longer and made twice as many errors as those who completed the same tasks consecutively. Task switching causes time delays and scrambles mental clarity as the brain is forced to shift gears to a new task, so rather than being the smart way to work, it’s a dumb deal.
Forget trying to juggle multiple tasks at the same time and try chunking (or ‘timeboxing’) instead. When planning your day, aim to batch similar types of activities together and work on them in sequence, so you have fewer of those jarring start-up moments. Your work Categories might include Team tasks (such as training, appraisals or job assigning), Planning/Reporting, Meetings, Events, Admin Duties, Thinking/Decision Making, Emails/Phone Calls, Brainstorming, and so on. By ring-fencing your tasks like this, you can focus more intensely and get into a productive flow, without being distracted by every single ding or alert. There’s no need to stress about not insta-replying to emails either, as all-in-all you’re getting much more done.
The DropTask Canvas makes it easy for you to cluster tasks into categories through a simple drag and drop facility and gives you a great visual perspective on your entire workload, meaning you can avoid getting caught in mind traps. If you’re a manager, use DropTask to Assign well-categorized tasks to team members, and limit the number of responsibilities each person works on per day. This enables them to bring 100% of their attention to their most important projects and slashes the switching costs that occur when transitioning to new tasks.
How about you? Are you constantly trying to squeeze more into your day and rush through your daily to-dos? Make full use of DropTask to regain your focus and get your demands under control so you can be hyper-productive, not just busy. Any other tips? Please share in the comments below.
Within her organization at ‘SMART Recovery,’ Project Management Professional, Dolores Cloward, requires versatility. Working within a fast-growing international company dedicated to providing peer support for those with addiction issues means that priorities tend to shift between different projects quickly, and Dolores was looking to improve her overall productivity to get more done during her working day. During her search for a solution that would help her achieve this while also working collaboratively, Dolores found DropTask, which blew her away right from the very beginning.
‘Over the last few decades I have filled many roles at SMART. Within a company that’s fast growing, it’s all hands on deck, which means that all of my skills from my career come in to play and why it’s vital for me to be on top of my game at all times. I am instinctively drawn to visually appealing technology, and with DropTask thoughtfully designed in the way that it is, it lets me see the big picture overview of the entire project while also zooming in on minor details when needed. I find the design just beautiful, and so highly intuitive as it allows smooth, seamless and crisp movements which are appealing across all of its platforms.
Before DropTask I was finding it difficult to keep on track of personal and work related projects as I had no central hub for all of my notes, ideas, and tasks that needed action. Now, I use DropTask as my primary planner and organizer for SMART work, while also managing my independent consulting and personal tasks. I do this by having separate projects for all aspects of my life that I need to keep track on, and within these separate projects I create individual tasks that are associated with them.
When I first signed up I was impressed at the focus that DropTask has brought to providing truly useful integrations. Along with the iMindMap integration, I also use the Google Calendar integration, which I find is vital while in the process of reordering my schedule. I assign Start and Due Dates to my tasks in DropTask and transport them into my Google Calendar, as it’s a great way for me to filter down what I need to work on for the coming the week.
I have combined my Calendar with DropTask to ensure that I have everything that I need in one space, as I can combine my tasks with other important appointments that I have already in my Google Calendar. If I need to rearrange meetings or scheduled plans suddenly change at the last minute, I can effortlessly drag and drop my tasks into a different date in the Calendar and they’ll be instantly updated in DropTask. It makes DropTask really useable with a highly satisfying visual interface that works.
DropTask doesn’t just look pretty, the actual user experience is flawless and I just love that in software. The different views that are available within the Business account kicks off a different area in my brain. The Canvas helps me to envision the overall picture of the project, then I switch to the List View as it helps me to hone in and organize my tasks according to the level of Urgency that they have assigned to them. When I switch between these views I gain perspective and insight into the minor details within larger projects.
Within the app currently, I’m working on a new podcast, organizing some data analysis, putting together a virtual community party, all while preparing for PR and marketing materials to go live in a March webinar. The March webinar is currently at the top of my to-do list, and for this task I’ve relied on the iMindMap integration within DropTask. With this two-way integration, I can brainstorm my ideas and then transport them into DropTask as they appear as visual task circles. The integration makes the initial stages of planning a project easy, intuitive and enjoyable, something that I’ve never experienced before with task management software.’
To learn more, sign up for free at www.droptask.com/signup
Already a DropTask user? Share your story with us at email@example.com for your chance to be featured in a future post!
Productivity and creativity are often said to be opposed and at battle with one another; in order to be productive you have to sacrifice creativity, and if you wish to be creative, you must forgo being productive.
Creativity focuses on the quality of work and the development of new ideas – giving little thought to time. Productivity on the other hand, is about putting the wheels in motion – it focuses on getting things done and reaching goals in the most effective way, in the least amount of time.
But does a trade-off between the two have to exist, or can productivity and creativity be balanced so they’re not fundamentally at odds with one another? After all, if we’re to be successful we need to be both productive and creative.
You may be creative and have amazing new ideas, but without productivity, those ideas are simply that – ideas. Similarly, if you’re productive in your work but don’t have any creativity in your process, you become stuck in a routine and are likely to miss out on new opportunities.
As you can see, both productivity and creativity are important, and although the possibility of combining them is questionable, we’ve got 3 steps which will allow you to synchronise them; so each can do what it does best when appropriate.
1. Separate your tasks
In any project you’re likely to have a mixture of both creative and productive tasks. The key is to break down your project and identify whether productivity or creativity is best suited for each one. It’s important to do this because even though a project might be creative – for example, designing a new website – it doesn’t necessarily mean that every task within that project will be creative too. Tasks such as brainstorming ideas and designing the layout are creative, but actions such as proofing and publishing web pages are more about being productive.
2. Schedule creative time
Once you’ve identified the tasks that primarily require creativity, allocate yourself time and space to undertake some creative thinking. Whether it’s 20 minutes or several hours, it’s important to schedule time in your day which can be spent away from your usual activities, so you can brainstorm new ideas and gain fresh perspectives.
3. Establish a workflow
For the productive tasks, a workflow of activity should be set up to optimize efficiency and to limit work in progress. By mapping out each stage of your project cycle, you can easily monitor work as it passes through the cycle, and quickly address any bottlenecks; ensuring tasks flow through each step of the process smoothly – which is essential for a fast and consistent delivery of work.
How do you balance creativity and productivity while you work? Share your top tips with us in the comments below.
Learn more about the benefits of DropTask and sign up for a free account today.
Waiting; we’ve all been there. Whether it’s at the station platform, in the office or even at the doctor’s surgery. But when you have a busy schedule to follow, there’s nothing more frustrating than having to wait. After all, every minute spent waiting for something or someone, is a minute wasted. Or, is it?
I recently found myself at a loose end ‘waiting’ for some unexpected software updates – which ultimately put a halt to any laptop-based work. In this day and age we rely so heavily on technology and being connected online, that it’s easy to forget about the many other activities we could be doing that don’t require a digital connection. So, instead of staring at my screen and waiting for the update % number to increase, I took the opportunity to partake in some creative thinking and brainstorming of new ideas.
Being disconnected from the internet meant I was really able to explore my own mind and think outside of the box without any distractions – it even inspired me to write this post. That’s why I want to share 5 things (including brainstorming), that you can try the next time you find yourself waiting – turning wait time into productive time. If there’s something you do to stay productive while you wait, then I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
As we get comfortable in our lives, we form routines and can often fall into the trap of doing things the way that we’ve always done them. But when it comes to our professional lives, in particular things such as personal progression, company growth, and staying competitive, it’s important to seek new ways of achieving our goals. So, if like me, you want to make the most of your time, then why not do some creative brainstorming?
Brainstorming promotes the generation of new ideas and fresh approaches. Whether it’s improving your organization’s offerings, driving your business forward, developing strategies to advance your own strengths, or even thinking of new ways to keep the kids occupied during the holidays, brainstorming plays a significant and valuable role during problem solving and decision making.
2. Read a book
Reading is an important activity, as amongst other benefits, it can boost creativity. But the number of people taking time out to read a book has dropped over the years. In fact, in the past year, over a quarter of American adults (28%) didn’t read a book at all.
Losing yourself in a different world through reading can help engage your imagination – and by opening yourself up to new experiences, you may come up with some new and creative business solutions. Engrossing yourself in a book can also help to reduce stress, as you can escape the worries of day-to-day life. So, dust off those old books, fully immerse yourself in a good read, and inspire new ideas.
3. Organize your space
We’ve talked about the benefits of having a clear workspace in the past, but often, spending time rooting through desk drawers and sorting mountains of paper work can fall to the bottom of our priority list. But, if you’ve got some spare time on your hands while you wait, try using it to de-clutter your desk or workspace. After all, having a clean and organized space will save valuable time when looking for things, and will provide a state of calmness while you work so when you’ve finished waiting you can easily focus on what’s important and maximize your productivity.
4. Take a break
When tackling busy schedules and working long hours, it’s important to take regular breaks to maintain and even improve productivity. In a survey by Staples, 86% of respondents recognized that taking a break would make them more productive. A break can reduce fatigue, prevent feeling burned-out and improve both happiness and health – it’s a chance to refuel and rejuvenate, and when you return to work you’re ready to work productively for the remainder of the day.
Taking a break isn’t limited to the office – if you’re out and about waiting, then use the time to escape your normal activities and routines. Taking some time out will allow for a period of thinking – which you may not normally get chance to do, and will help clear your mind.
5. Plan your day
Use wait time to plan ahead and organize upcoming activities. If you have access to a mobile, tablet or computer while you wait, then a tool such as DropTask helps to get everything out of your head and into one clear workspace. Once you’ve jotted down your to-dos in DropTask, share them with others, add notes and important documents, and check in for updates – plus much more, to schedule, manage and organize tasks. When you’re finished waiting, you’ll know exactly what needs to be done – so you can be more efficient and productive when getting tasks ticked off!
From just the few examples I’ve shared with you above, it’s easy to see that wait time really doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Whether it’s a few minutes, an hour or several hours, with a little forward planning, there’s always something you can be doing while you wait.
How do you spend periods of waiting? If you have a favorite thing to do while you wait we’d love to hear it. Leave us a comment below and share your tips.