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A Project Management Tool for Teams That You Didn’t Know Existed

A Project Management Tool for Teams That You Didn’t Know Existed

Some of the first problems busy freelancers & entrepreneurs run into is a time management crunch. As they take on more work, job tracking the tasks for each client becomes more demanding. Having a centralized hub to communicate and share files with team members quickly becomes a necessity when you get busy: it’s deciding the best project management software to use that stops most people in dead their tracks.

Managing Multiple Jobs and Virtual Team Members

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Project Management Software Viewpath with Gantt Chart

    So how do you manage multiple jobs with many other team members that need access to client information and files? A great tool to start with is Viewpath. Viewpath is an online project management software with a free edition that does not expire. This powerful program does not get enough time in the spotlight and deserves a long overdue introduction. This writer uses it every day.

    Though the free version has some limitations it’s a great place to start and see if you can actually get your process down to repeatable steps. Getting your brain down on paper can be very revealing. You can expect to change your process many times as you grow. The experience will also show you what good project management software is capable of without making you rush through the process so you can learn and try at your own pace.

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    With all team members on board it’s easy to track which tasks are on time and late with simple red dots marking the late tasks. Extending due dates or moving project start dates can be done by dragging the project visually or entering the desired date into the correct task.

    Project Management Software Viewpath with project open

      This all ties in nicely with the resource management aspect in the Gantt chart where you can take a quick peek at who is overbooked and who can accept more work. You can create unlimited projects and invite unlimited guests. “Guests” will be your virtual team members and can view tasks that have been assigned to them within a project to access files, mark them complete or a percentage complete, as well as add notes and links.

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      Project Management for Beginners

      Project Management Software Viewpath with timeline

        The beauty of starting with project management software early in the game is that you can get an idea of how much time it takes just to outline jobs and track progress so that you aren’t surprised by it later. You might even find that you dislike this aspect of the work and, knowing that, will help you hire the right kind of people later on down the road.

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        If you are new to project management software there are a few things you should know. These programs are big. They may look simple but they are capable of running hundreds of jobs and tracking hundreds of employees. There is a template creation process, reporting function, separate views, multiple categories and personal logins.

        Being big means they can grow with you but they also require more attention at the start. Many freelancers dive in and find out quickly that to truly utilize all the functions it takes hours of learning and even more time planning. This time investment may feel like a turn off at first but asking hard questions only streamlines the process for later. Of course there is always the option of using it for the tasks you need immediately and learning as you go but don’t expect a quick “end” to the learning curve.

        15 Hacks for Viewpath That Will Save You Time:

        1. When selecting multiple rows at a time, hold shift and don’t click inside the check boxes—click to the left to make a large selection.
        2. You can change multiple dates or resource names at once by selecting all the lines you want and jut typing the first letter of the name or the date.
        3. Confused about making templates? Just create a job, create all the tasks and the next time you want to create a similar job, just choose to “create from existing” job instead of the template option.
        4. The time-tracking clock does not work in free edition so stop clicking it.
        5. Missing a job? You probably closed the tab. Go home, then to the project tab and double click it.
        6. Archiving jobs is better than deleting.
        7. Resources not showing up on a job? Go to a different job with resources in it, select them all, click edit copy and then edit paste into new job.
        8. The little arrows move around everything you select, not just one task. Make sure only one task is selected and then place it in the hierarchy.
        9. Don’t skip the tutorial. It’s super simple and takes about 3 minutes.
        10. Tasks showing but can’t find them on the timeline? Check your year in the date column. Sometimes jobs get entered in for the wrong year and poof! They disappear.
        11. “Duration” means how many days or hours you will let someone attempt to complete the task. “work” is how long you expect them to take and can be found in the dropdown menu of each header.
        12. The home screen requires you hit the continue button in the middle of the screen before revealing the program when you first log in. Yes you are in the right place.
        13. The free version does not expire but if you don’t login for over 4 months you may not have an account when you come back.
        14. If you indent a task (move it to the right with an arrow key) the task above it will become a bold header. You can’t mark headers complete. They will become complete when all the tasks under them have been completed.
        15. Create a task at the end of each project that says “ready for billing”, if the billing date goes past due it serves as a nice reminder.

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        Last Updated on May 21, 2019

        How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

        How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

        Regardless of how creative you already consider yourself to be, there’s a good chance you would like to level up your creative abilities.

        You might want to write a better song, think of better solutions to problems at work or around the home or maybe paint a picture.

        In any case, the good news is that creativity is not born: it’s made, and each one of us has the potential to be more creative and come up with incredible ideas.

        “Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

        The definition of creativity is broad, and reminds us that creativity is not limited to artists or musicians. It does however require that we have some kind of impact on the domain in which we create.

        Creativity also emphasizes values.

        “The process of having original ideas that have value” — Ken Robinson

        This makes up for what Csikszentmihalyi misses out. For instance, we can make a change in the world without adding significant value. Any destructive act, like smashing a window, creates change, but it doesn’t necessarily create valuable change.

        In short, there isn’t one single definition of creativity It’s up to us to find a definition that feels true and useful. When you know what your standard is, It’s much easier to embrace creativity and start to cultivate it.

        And in this article, you will learn how to be more creative and take a good look at what goes into the creative skill:

        1. Cultivate Focus

        In order to create, there needs to be a focus on creating something, whether it’s a song, a theory, a product, or a sculpture.

        You could also call this “drive” – it’s the initial spark that drives the solution to a problem, or the will to get on your laptop and start typing.

        However, it’s worth noting there are different stages to the creative process: the divergent stage and the convergent stage.

        In the divergent stage, we want a broad focus – we want to be willing to let in lots of different inputs, ideas and insights. This is the time for brainstorming all possible ideas and solutions.

        In the convergent stage, we start to narrow our focus, like a camera lens. At this stage, we start to drill down to a handful of ideas or solutions, discriminating throughout the process.

        How to cultivate focus?

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        Take a 20 Minute Walk

        Walking away and getting your heart rate up is the best free tool you have in regaining your focus.

        I know it might seem counterintuitive to take a break right when you’re at your busiest, and especially when you’re drowning in your massive to do list, but the effects it will have on your clarity and ability to focus are undeniable.

        Walking is physiologically proven to release stress, and clear your mind. In fact, most of my most brilliant ideas (and some pretty terrible ones too) have occurred on my daily walks.

        If you give this technique a try, what you’ll find is that you’re much more productive than you were before you took a breather.

        Over time, if you do these walks daily, you’ll quickly find that your to-do list starts to feel a lot less significant, and a lot more doable. It’s all about keeping razor focused, and that’s what short daily walks will gift you.

        2. Build a Structure

        When I wake up in the morning, I start the day with a structure in mind. I know that 15 minutes will be dedicated to meditation, 30 minutes to coffee and reading, 20 minutes to yoga and so on.

        The structure of this morning routine might be boring, but the act of each task in itself has the potential to be, on some level, “creative.”

        The point of structure is that it gives you the space to make time for something you want to do. It helps you carve out the time to do your creative work. Once you begin that thing in itself, you are free to go about it however you’d like.

        Without structure, we can lose focus and can feel overwhelmed with possibility. If you’ve ever looked at a blank page and felt too overwhelmed with possibility to make a mark on it, you’ll know what I mean. How much easier it gets when you are given some guidelines or a deadline?

        The trick is finding the right amount of structure for you and your creative needs. Too little structure and we feel overwhelmed. Too much structure, and we risk feeling limited and stifled.

        Again, it’s worth thinking about creating in those two stages: divergent (less structure) and convergent (more structure.)

        How to build a structure?

        Create a Morning Routine

        Your morning routine doesn’t have to be rigid or so arduous you dread waking up. In fact, it should feel like the opposite. When you get a routine that works for you, you’ll look forward to starting the day.

        We all have different needs and preferences which can shape our ideal routine. In the book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, you can be inspired over 160 different creators’ daily routines, from Charles Darwin to Pablo Picasso.

        Experiment with any that take your fancy, and see how you feel with a bit more structure to start your day.

        You can also take a look at this article about morning routine for inspirations: The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

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        3. Find Motivation

        There is a theory that suggests: people will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself — not by external pressures. This is also known as intrinsic motivation; a drive that comes from within.

        Think of a time when you did some of your best work — chances are you were totally absorbed in what you were doing, to the exclusion of everything else. You were completely focused on the work itself, barely noticing time flying by.

        Now think of a time when you felt under pressure to perform. Maybe it was an exam, or a commission for an important client, or maybe your boss had told you “there’s a lot riding on this.”

        Notice the difference? In the first memory, you were driven by intrinsic motivation, which made it relatively easy, even enjoyable, to be highly creative.

        In the second memory however, extrinsic motivation was breathing down your neck, distracting you by whispering about the rewards for success and the horrible consequences of failure: likely making it harder to focus on the task at hand.

        For this reason, intrinsic motivation, if you can find it, is what separates the good from great creative work.

        This isn’t to say only internal motivators help. I personally get motivated by luring myself to work with a good cappuccino at my favourite cafe. That will get me ready to write or edit or whatever I’ve been avoiding.

        How to find motivation?

        Connect to Your “Why”

        Your “Why” is your fuel: the thing that drives you forward, that gives you a reason to do what you’re doing.

        ‘He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.’ — Friedrich Nietzche

        When you have a reason to do something, a purpose or a goal that matters to you, you can connect your daily actions to it. Then, each act becomes infused with meaning and you find that intrinsic motivation comes naturally.

        The trick is to remember your “why” and connect with it on a regular basis.

        Think about how you want to feel on a daily basis. What would you like to accomplish in the next year? What would you like for yourself in the next five years? How about in your lifetime?

        Ultimately, the tasks you face on a daily basis, or at least some of them, will connect to a greater purpose if you follow this path and you will find you feel more motivated to create and less resistance.

        If you aren’t sure where to start looking for motivation, this will help: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

        4. Be an Expert in a Chosen Domain

        Research has shown that just as expertise in one domain does not predict expertise in other unrelated domains; creativity in one domain does not predict creativity in other unrelated domains.[1]

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        So just because you can paint a pretty picture, doesn’t mean you can creatively solve a mathematical problem.

        If you’ve taken one of those tests like the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, which will ask you to think of a bazillion uses for a pencil, and scored well, unfortunately this is only an indicator of divergent thinking skills. It is not a predictor for creativity all round.

        The good news is, you can train your creativity in your chosen domain. Much like a muscle, you can isolate exercises to strengthen it.

        Of course you can still do a total body workout – or atotal creativity workout – but it means your creativity-training exercises need to come from a wide variety of domains; not just thinking up uses for a pencil.

        How to become an expert?

        Make a Mastery Training Plan

        Following our physical workout analogy, it’s worth applying the habits of great athletes to your chosen creative domain. For example:

        1. Decide what area/s you want to work on

        Much like a tennis player who decides they need to improve their serving technique, you can decide what area within your creative domain you want to improve at. Get specific.

        2. Decide how much time you can dedicate

        Most of us don’t have all day to train like a pro tennis player might, but you can likely squeeze 20 to 30 minutes in a day, if you want to. Whatever the time you can allow is, decide to dedicate yourself to it.

        3. Review your progress

        Finally, in order to check your progress, you can take regular reviews. Decide what your metrics are, and take time each week to check in with yourself.

        How many days did you practice? How did you compare to the previous week? This kind of review can help you stay on track, and actually creates more intrinsic motivation as you see yourself develop.

        5. Create a Conducive Environment

        A psychologist in 1943 proposed that behaviour is:[2]

        “a function of both the person as well as the physical environment they are in.”

        I would suggest that the act of creating is a behaviour and that, even though it begins as an internal process, it’s very much affected by and even dependent on the environment we are in.

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        I started noticing how environment affects me when I worked in an office. Over time, I realized that the more people who were in or who were talking, the more distracted I was. If I got to the office early before my coworkers arrived, I was twice as effective.

        I was even more effective if I was at home. Now that I work from home, I know I’m even more effective when in certain coffee shops. Ideally, places that have high ceilings, gentle lighting, some barely noticeable background music – and excellent coffee.

        It’s these little variations in our environment that can really shape our creative output.

        If you’re an introvert, you probably do your best work alone. If you’re an extrovert, you probably do your best work in the company of others.

        This isn’t to say you should find one way of doing things and stick to it: in fact, varying your environment from time to time is a great way to stoke the creative fire too, which we’ll touch on more later.

        How to create a conducive environment?

        Add or Subtract Stimuli

        Novelty in our environment has been shown to stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that increases our desire to seek out reward.[3]

        If you’re looking for creative motivation, adding some novelty into your environment can be just what you need.

        On the other hand, some people are highly sensitive and when it comes to having too much stimulation in their environment, they find it difficult to focus.

        Experiment with working in different environments. Note how you feel. Note whether you do better creative work or have more interesting ideas when you’re alone or with others.

        Try listening to music, people chatting or try being in complete silence. Try a dimly lit room, try working in bright sunlight.

        In each case, note how you feel before, during and afterwards and rate the quality of your work.

        The Bottom Line

        Creativity is not one particular skill or talent one can have. It comes in as many broad and unique flavors as there are people on this earth.

        To be more creative, take little steps each day. Acknowledge where and when you feel most inspired, motivated and original and spend more energy in those areas.

        More Articles About Creativity

        Featured photo credit: Sticker Mule via unsplash.com

        Reference

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