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Boost Your Team’s Productivity With These Tools

Boost Your Team’s Productivity With These Tools
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Let’s face it, there are never going to be more than 24 hours in a day or seven days in a week, except between the pages of a science fiction novel. So, with our working lives getting busier, our to-do lists getting longer, and the demands on our time increasing, the need to stay focused and productive and make the most of our working hours without burning out or becoming side-tracked has never been greater. Unfortunately, the distractions have never been more numerous.

Tempting as it is to be candy crushing when you should be number crunching, tweeting cat gifs when you should be lead-generating, and updating your Facebook status when you should be analyzing sales figures, managing your time effectively is key if you want to stay one step ahead of your competitors. Technology is a blessing, but can also be a curse for business.

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Making use of intelligent tools to maximize productivity, streamline processes, and manage projects is one way to work towards better results. There are hundreds of apps and programs out there, all promising to help you get things done quicker and more efficiently, but we’d like to concentrate on a few ideas that we’ve found particularly useful.

Trello

Trello is the ultimate project management tool. It allows users to see all tasks relating to a project or projects at a glance. Highly visual, it takes the form of various lists arranged horizontally on a page. Within each list are cards which contain items relating to the project — checklists, images, links, notes, and more. Cards can be dragged and dropped to other lists to record progress, reordered if their priority changes, and be updated by anyone who has access to them on any device. And because Trello updates in real-time, all team members can understand the status of a project from anywhere, avoiding task repetition and costly mistakes.

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Clever Checklist

Clever Checklist is another web-based task management system that enables users to organize and track the progress of tasks. Checklists for each job are created to keep track of everything that needs to be done. Processes, procedures, and policies are documented to show why things are done, and records and forms are produced to show what work was done, when it was done, and by whom. It keeps everything in one place, allowing for easy access and analysis of data and uses a series of customizable templates to make it extremely user-friendly and versatile.

Cyfe

Cyfe is a powerful business data dashboard app that lets you display and monitor all your business and media data and metrics in one place. The beauty of Cyfe is that it can monitor a huge range of information and data — you just add widgets for each aspect of your business that you want to track. Individual departments and multiple websites can be monitored by adding extra dashboards. You can instantly see social media engagement, look at analytics, sales figures, and reports. Your entire business can be tracked in real time. Within an office environment, displaying a team dashboard on a flat panel display to share this information and coordinate projects can be a useful motivator to your teams and help boost productivity.

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Calendar apps

Staying productive is also about staying organised and managing time effectively, and a calendar app can help with that. Don’t be the white rabbit, always late for that important meeting. Don’t over-schedule. Don’t double-book. If your job involves receiving lots of meeting requests, make sure you block out time on your calendar and encourage your team to do the same so that meetings can be arranged at mutually convenient times. A calendar app can usually allow you to specify free meeting slots so everyone knows when you’re available. Make your team aware of them so everyone’s time can be respected. Everyone’s busy, so the more in sync everyone is with everybody else’s schedule the better.

Mixing work and pleasure

Notifications are the modern enemy of productivity. These days, we all get them constantly on our phones. Emails, texts, reminders, Facebook updates, retweets, mentions, requests to connect on LinkedIn — and it can be difficult to not stop what you’re doing and check them. We do it without even realizing we’re doing it. It’s incredible how much time can be eaten up during the working day while responding to the barrage of non-work-related communications we receive. But there’s a time and a place and it’s important that they don’t distract from the job at hand and affect productivity. If you’re the boss, set an example by putting your personal phone on silent or do not disturb, or even out of sight in your desk drawer. Encourage others to do the same. While many companies are relaxed about allowing employees access to social media sites at work, make it clear that it’s a distraction best avoided until they’re on a break. If you or members of your team have to take personal calls during working hours, take them away from your desk to avoid disturbing others.

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Even constantly checking work-related emails is not always a productive use of time. There’s usually no need to check every email as soon it comes in, unless it’s marked important or is directly related to something you’re working on a that moment. Set aside time to work through them at various points throughout the day so that you can concentrate on the task at hand and meet your deadlines. Remember: productive people focus.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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