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Boost Your Team’s Productivity With These Tools

Boost Your Team’s Productivity With These Tools

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 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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