Tag Archives: productivity

Multiple Monitors can Improve Productivity!



The University of Utah  did a study were they financed $50,000 worth of monitors by NEC Display to various companies. The study concluded that productivity was higher with two monitors than with one. In today’s society we have multiple windows and applications open at the same time including, e-mail, internet, I.M, etc. making it hard to keep track of them all at once. People save about “10 seconds in every 5 minutes of work” which adds up over time and does not break the flow of work.  On the contrary having too many monitors can feel like a boundary isolating you from your colleagues and can make you feel more over whelmed.

  With that said, you’re better off just having two monitors because you’re eyes don’t have to focus on too many things at once. Your eyes can just sweep over all the tasks without interruptions.  This way you will definitely have room for Producteev ;-) on your screen for maximum work productivity.


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[Guest Post] How did I use Producteev to Write & Publish a Book

This guest post is contributed by Producteev user Doreen Bloch, an Entrepreneur & Author whose new book “The Coolest Startups in America” was just released to the public.

People say that ideas are easy, but execution is difficult. When I started penning my book, The Coolest Startups in America (find it here on Amazon) last year, I had a simple thesis: there should be a book that introduces people to startups. But in practice, it was not so straightforward. To write and publish a book, there are hundreds of moving parts and dozens of players.


After six months of writing and hours of interviews (Producteev CEO Ilan Abehassera included!), my idea for The Coolest Startups in America book became reality, available to delight readers around the country on the best startups in the nation. As I reflect on my process, there was one tool with me at every step. That’s right, my Producteev account.

Here is how I used Producteev to move my project from goal to reality:

1. Use Producteev to Brainstorm

Inspiration can come from anywhere. I used my Producteev account to collect quotes, notes and images that would be useful in the writing process. Because Producteev focuses on cross-platform fluidity, I was never pigeonholed into using Producteev.com specifically, instead adding to my account on-the-go via Producteev’s iPhone and iPad apps.

2. Use Producteev to Land an Agent or Publisher

I decided to pursue finding a literary agent and publisher early on in my book-writing process. Because Producteev allows multiple Workspaces within each account, I could keep my writing work in one Workspace and use another for the purpose of securing representation.

While Producteev won’t magically get you interest from an Agent or Publisher, it can help coordinate your outreach. As a first-time author, agency names and publishing houses were esoteric and niche, so I used each “task” in Producteev to store notes on the organizations. And, for each Publisher rejection (happens to every writer like a right of passage), Producteev lifted my spirits because I could cross a name off the list to see a pretty green check mark indicating that I was only getting closer to my goal, never farther from it.

3. Use Producteev to Organize Research

Over a span of about two months, I conducted 50+ interviews with startup CEOs, government officials, academics, thought-leaders, and journalists for The Coolest Startups in America, so staying on top of scheduling could have become a fiasco. Not so with Producteev! Rather than create calendar alerts for checking in with PR reps and sources, I could schedule reminders within Producteev so that the contact information, notes, interview questions and scheduling for each person remained centralized.

I also put Producteev’s labeling features to good use. With 72 startups featured in the inaugural volume of The Coolest Startups in America, organized into 18 categorical sections, colored labels helped to keep the content tidy so I could easily navigate around the tasks for the many chapters.

4. Use Producteev During Editing

When it came time to involve my editor in the book process, Producteev was a gem. I could “assign” chapters to my editor as I finished working on them. If there were items within the chapter for me to review, he could seamlessly assign the task back to me within Producteev.


5. Use Producteev for Publicity

Among bookers, producers, articles, friends & family outreach, volume sales (Plug: Want to order 10 or more copies? Email me for a discount code! ;) and more, there is so much for authors to do after the writing process is complete. No matter whether an author decides to use a traditional publisher or go DIY, book promotion always has the author in the driver’s seat. Producteev is helping me stay on top of publicity for The Coolest Startups in America. In fact, I’m off to cross off the to-do item for this article right now; using a spreadsheet is so last century.

Producteev was named one of “The Coolest Startups in America.” Buy the book to find out about the best new companies around the nation in the first-ever mainstream book about entrepreneurship.


Author Doreen Bloch is an entrepreneur & writer in New York City (hometown: Palo Alto, CA). Her first book “The Coolest Startups in America” was released in February 2012. She is a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council and a former Analyst at SecondMarket, where she worked on the auctions for shares of Facebook Inc. and other leading private companies. Her personal website is http://www.DoreenBloch.com.

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Stay Focused at Work With These #TipsAndTricks

Regardless of the size of your office setting, it is sometimes difficult to remain focused at work. One may typically find other co-workers to blame, but we each have the ability to greatly reduce the disturbance factor by tweaking our own actions. Entrepreneur Dave Cheong came up with a fantastic list of tips and tricks that are sure help you make the most of your day and get stuff done!


  1. Write out a daily task list and plan your day. There’s nothing like a task list sitting next to you to keep you focused. When you have a list of the things you need to accomplish in a day, having that close to you constantly reminding you of what needs to be done is a great way of keeping on track.
  2. Allocate time slots colleagues can interrupt you. In a busy work place, people are moving and talking all the time. If you play a role in a team where others need to interact with you, try allocating a time slot they can interrupt you. Instead of having people stop by your desk every 10 mins and asking you questions, let them know of a time in the day, say between 2-4pm you can be interrupted. At all other times, you can really get some work done.
  3. Apply time boxing. Instead of working at something till it is done, try working on it for a limited period, say 30 mins. By that time, the task is either completed or you allocate another time slot, perhaps in another day, to pick it up again. This way, you keep your work fresh and engaging throughout the entire working day.
  4. Setup filters in your email. If you spend a lot of your time communicating and planning in front of your computer, chances are you deal with emails on a frequent basis. Setting up filters in your email client can be a great way of sorting out what’s important and urgent from personal stuff which can wait. Instead of dealing with a single Inbox with hundreds of unread email, you only need to deal with smaller folders categorised by project, priority and context.
  5. Do not check personal email in the morning. Checking personal emails can be very distracting even with filters setup. This is especially true when your friends send you links to interesting articles, jokes or videos on YouTube. If you’re not careful, you can get side tracked for hours. Instead of checking your personal email as soon as you get in, try starting work straight away. This will build up some momentum as you ease into your work day. You should check your personal email only after you have a few tasks completed or underway. Also, if you don’t want to perpetuate a particular distracting email thread, just don’t reply to it until after work.
  6. Set your IM status. If you use Instant Messenger, when you don’t want to be disturbed, make use of the status and set yourself as being away or busy. Your friends and colleagues will honour that. They can either send you an email or look you up later when you aren’t as busy.
  7. Listen to the right types of music. Music is a great way of settling into the working routine. In addition, having music can drown out office noises like printers and background chattering. Be careful though, depending on personal preference, some types of music are not particularly conducive to productive work. For me, I can’t work when listening to songs with lots of lyrics because the words interrupt my thinking process.
  8. Use the headphones but leave the music off. Some people prefer to have absolute silence when working. I think that also depends on what kind of work you are doing. If you’re doing some serious planning or something computational, having music blasting in your ears may not be the best thing for keeping focused. Try using headphones or ear plugs to block out the background noise but leave the music off.
  9. Fill up a water bottle. Keeping yourself hydrated is pretty important for all sorts of health reasons. Instead of going to the water cooler with your glass every hour, try filling up a water bottle at the start of the day. This does a couple of things – firstly, it limits the starts/stops associated every time you get up for water and secondly, it avoids being sucked into lengthy discussions around the water cooler.
  10. Find the best time to do repetitive and boring tasks. No matter how much you try to avoid it, you’re going to have to face doing things which are either repetitive or boring. For these tasks, I find it is best to choose a time in the day to work on them. For example, I’m more alert at the start of the day, so it’s better to work on things which require brain power early. Working on boring tasks that can be done via auto-pilot are better left towards the end of the day when I’m usually tired.
  11. Bring your lunch and have it at your desk. I’m not suggesting you do this every day, but if you really have to focus and are trying to meet a deadline, having your lunch at your desk really helps. The normal one hour lunch break can really interrupt any momentum you might have built up during the morning. I find when I’m eating lunch at my desk, my lunch breaks are shorter and I can get through a few emails while I’m eating. After I’m done, I’m straight back working on the next task.
  12. Don’t make long personal calls. Most of us have a good separation between our working and personal lives (or a least try to). I think we can all agree we should avoid having work intrude on our personal time as much as possible. The reverse of this also applies. Try limiting the time you spend doing personal things during work as they can be distracting and draining on your motivation. For example, you do not really want to be thinking about your weekend away with your spouse when you really need to get things done.
  13. Clean up your desk. Some of you may have desks which can only be described as ordered chaos. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as long as you can find what you need without too much digging around. However, if you can’t, I suggest cleaning up your desk. That doesn’t mean having an empty desk, it just means having neat stacks of paper, all filed in the correct location. It also helps tremendously having all the things you need easily within arms reach. For example, if you need a place to write, having your pen and notepad close by and easily accessible is incredibly useful.
  14. Get a good chair. If you sit for long hours at your desk and I’m sure some of you do, you might find it helpful to get a good chair. I find it’s pretty hard to stay focused when my neck and back are sore because I have a bad setup at my desk. A good chair can eliminate this, allowing you to work for long stretches without breaks and physical distractions.
  15. Use shortcuts on your computer. If you find you do the same thing with your computer more than once throughout the day, you might find it helpful to look for ways in which you can do them without too much manual repetition. For example, if there’s a project folder you access all the time, try adding a shortcut to your Explorer or Finder so you can get access to it with a single click, instead of expanding folder after folder in the tree panel.
  16. Close programs you’re not using. Instead of Alt-Tabbing constantly and fighting the computer to locate the program you need, try only having the applications you need open. Close everything else. For example, if you have already located a file and no longer need a particular Explorer or Finder instance open, close it. There’s no reason to leave it around at all.
  17. Limit time on Digg, Delicious, news sites and blogs. Digg, Delicious, news and blogs are great from an interest perspective, but they can really take you away from the work you should be working on. Try to limit going to these sites during the working day. If you really have to, try doing it during your lunch time. No, you don’t need to have your finger on the pulse every single minute of the day.

What else would you add to the list? Is there anything here you strongly agree, or disagree with? Sound off and let us know!

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Does anyone actually use agile development or at least heard of it? ;) Agile Glossary ^AccuRev

Agile Term Definition
Agile Application Lifecycle Management Also called Agile ALM, Agile Application Lifecycle Management is the integrated management platform of the entire software application lifecycle, from planning to the final release. Key components of the platform include the ability to handle change management, workflow, source code management, task management, testing and bug tracking, reporting and analytics.
Agile Practices Agile practices are procedures that are defined as being highly efficient to productivity, and include the following practices: user stories, cross-functional teams, unit testing, refactoring, continuous integration, multi-stage continuous integration, planning poker, burnup charts, burndown charts.
Agile Development Agile development is a way of thinking about software development as expressed in the Agile Manifesto, and acts as an “umbrella” for a group of methodologies. The methodologies are based on process-centric and iterative development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. Agile development is a conceptual framework that promotes evolutionary change throughout the entire life cycle of the project and represents a new, more flexible approach to development than the traditional methods that have previously been the norm for software development.
Agile Development Life Cycle The complete software development process including Agile practices such as user stories, cross-functional teams, unit testing, refactoring, continuous integration, multi-stage continuous integration, planning poker, burnup charts, burndown charts.
Agile Manifesto

Principles of Agile software development: “We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.”

Agile Processes A software development methodology based on process-centric and iterative development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams and is collectively regarded as highly efficient to productivity. Specific processes include user stories, cross functional teams, unit testing, refactoring, continuous integration, multi-stage continuous integration, planning poker, burnup charts and burndown charts.
Agile Project Management The process of planning, organizing, and managing the necessary resources in order to complete project goals while adhering to Agile practices.
Agile SCM Tool Software Configuration Management tool that supports Agile Software Development Lifecycle requirements differently than requirements involved with traditional software development. These supported features and requirements of Agile SCM include feature-oriented development, sandboxing with private build before check-in, ability to revert to last good working version when integration testing fails, staging hierarchy, ability to revert and retarget changes, refactoring support and support for geographically distributed development.
Agile Software Development Agile software development is a way of thinking about software development, as expressed in the Agile Manifesto, and acts as an “umbrella” for a group of methodologies. The methodologies are based on process-centric and iterative development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. Agile software development is a conceptual framework that promotes evolutionary change throughout the entire life cycle of the project and represents a new, more flexible approach to development than the traditional methods that have been the norm for software development.
Application Development Process Tools Tools necessary to complete the application development process, such as Application Lifecycle Management tools, Software Configuration Management tools, Build and Release tools, security and defect tracking tools, etc.
Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) Also called ALM, Application Lifecycle Management is the management platform of the entire software application lifecycle, from planning to the final release. Key components of the platform include the ability to handle change management, workflow, source code management, task management, testing and bug tracking, reporting and analytics.
Backlog Also knows as “product backlog,” the backlog is a prioritized list of user stories and defects in order from most valuable to least valuable for a system. Backlogs include both functional and non-functional user stories as well as technical team-generated stories.
Branching Branching is the duplication of objects under revision control (such as a source code file, or a directory tree) in such a way that the newly created objects initially have the same content as the original, but can evolve independently of the original. Branching can take two forms, static or dynamic. In static branches, copy and label operations are used to duplicate a given branch. The duplicate then can evolve independently. With dynamic branches, usually implemented in streams, only the label operation is used, to flag the point in time that a stream diverged from its parent stream. Both branching forms support some form of merging, so that code changes made on a branch can be re-integrated into another branch, as is typical in parallel development processes.
Burndown Chart Representation of the number of hours remaining for completion of a project; usually represented in chart form with points plotted on an x and y axis that map a downward trend of work left to do until burning down to zero.
Burnup Chart Representation of the number of stories completed; usually represented in chart form with points plotted on an x and y axis that map an upward trend of work completed until reaching 100%.
Change and Configuration Management Change and Configuration Management (also known as Software Change and Configuration Management or SCCM) combines aspects of both change management and configuration management to control a software development project as it evolves through the software development process. SCCM typically includes all technical aspects of the development process, such as version control, branching and merging.
Additionally, SCCM includes change related activities such as issue tracking, document tracking, and process workflows that enable development teams to control the overall process.
Change Control Process in which changes to a product or system are introduced in a controlled manner with minimal disruptions to services and cost effective solutions involved in implementing the changes.
Change Management Change Management enables development organizations to control, communicate and respond more effectively to rapidly changing business demands.
Change Packages Change Packages enable developers and managers to group file changes together into a logical whole and enable release managers to work at the issue or task level, while still providing developers with full access to the underlying file contents of the Change Package. Once created, a Change Package allows users to move, copy, modify, merge or revert the change package.
Collocation Collocation refers to development teams located and working in the same location. Collocation is usually applied at the cross-functional team level.
Configuration Management Configuration Management refers to a set of practices around storing, tracking and releasing versions of a software product. Software products that enable development organizations to perform these practices efficiently are also referred to as Configuration Management systems or Configuration Management tools. Configuration Management systems will typically provide users with a variety of features, including but not limited to source code control, issue tracking, and change set management.
Configuration Management Tools Configuration Management tools are the tools that make possible the practices around storing, tracking and releasing versions of software.
Continuous Integration Continuous integration, one of the foundational aspects of Agile software development methodologies, is defined by Martin Fowler to be “a fully automated and reproducible build, including testing, that runs many times a day. This allows each developer to integrate daily, thus reducing integration problems.” By getting changes into the main line as frequently as possible, preferably daily, and by extending the idea of a nightly build, continuous integration helps reduce integrations problems and identify and resolve problems more quickly.
Cross-Functional Team Team comprised of members with all functional skills and specialties necessary to complete a project from start to finish.
Distributed Development Development teams that work on the same project but are located across multiple locations or worksites.
Enterprise Agile The adoption of specific Agile practices in an organization that works in conjunction with other non-Agile practices. Enterprise Agile is a highly efficient and customized practice for large organizations that have difficulty making a complete transition to Agile, as well as for organizations that already practice efficient development processes.
Epic A user story which describes a large amount of customer value and needs to be broken down into many smaller user stories.
Feature Driven Development Feature Driven Development (FDD) is an Agile method for developing software based on an iterative and incremental software development process. The main purpose of FDD is to deliver tangible, working software repeatedly in a timely manner.
Hybrid Processes Development process that uses both Agile and non-Agile practices in conjunction with each other and is proven highly effective for development teams
Inspecting and Adapting Agile process where teams evaluate a project by looking, listening to each other’s feedback and ultimately improving the process or changing course.
Iteration Microcosm of a traditional Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC,) each of which produces working software. Iterations can be as large as 3 months but are more typically between 1 to 4 weeks. See sprint.
Kanban Methodology that comes from Lean software development and has three main components: visual system for managing work, limits work in progress, and work is pulled rather than pushed through the system.
Key Agile Principles See Agile Manifesto.
Lean Software Development A programming concept that focuses on optimizing efficiencies for development and minimizing waste. According to Mary Poppendieck, 10 rules of Lean programming include: eliminate waste, minimize artifacts, satisfy all stakeholders, deliver as fast as possible, decide as late as possible, decide as low as possible, deploy comprehensive testing, learn by experimentation, measure business impact and optimize across organizations.
Merging The process of incorporating branches back into the mainline.
Multi-stage Continuous Integration Agile method allowing for a high degree of integration to occur in parallel while vastly reducing the scope of integration problems. Multi-stage Continuous Integration (CI) is an expansion upon Continuous Integration, where each developer works on his or her own task. As changes are made, CI is done against that team’s branch. If CI does not succeed, then that developer (possibly with help from her teammates) fixes the branch. This way when there is a problem, only that team, not the whole development effort is affected.
One Piece Flow Process in which each developer or development process works on only one piece at a time before pulling code downstream, one piece at a time, to the next process.
Pair Programming Process in which two developers work together at a single workstation, where one is responsible for typing code and the other for reviewing each line of code as it is typed in.
Parallel Development Parallel development occurs whenever a software development project requires separate development efforts on related code bases. For example, when a software product is shipped to customers, a product development team may begin working on a new major feature release of the product, while a product maintenance team may work on defect corrections and customer patch releases of the shipped product. Both teams begin work from the same code base, but the code necessarily diverges. Frequently the code bases used in parallel development efforts must be merged at some future date, for example, to ensure that the defect corrections provided by the product maintenance team are integrated into the major release that the product development team is working on.
Planning Poker A consensus-based technique for estimating; mostly used to estimate effort or relative size of tasks in software development.  Planning Poker is useful for building team cohesion and for fostering self-organizing teams.
Product Backlog The backlog owned by the Product Owner.
Product Owner A role originating from Scrum, but has now been widely adopted independently of Scrum. A product owner manages the product backlog, addresses questions that arise during development and signs off on work results. The product owner guides the team with what should be done and when the final product should be shipped. The Scrum team then balances out the product owner’s decisions by deciding how much work should be involved in an individual sprint and estimating the amount of time necessary to complete the task.
Real World Agile The adoption of specific Agile practices in an organization that works in conjunction with other non-Agile practices. Real World Agile is a highly efficient and customized practice for large organizations that have difficulty make a complete transition to Agile as well as for organizations that already practice efficient development processes.
Refactoring The practice of continuously improving the usability, maintainability, and adaptability of code without changing its behavior. Refactoring makes it much easier to add new and unanticipated functionality. Refactoring has the disadvantage that it takes extra effort and requires changing the code.
Release Management Release management comprises a broad set of activities in software development organizations that center on ensuring that software is ready to be released to customers.
Release Plan A document describing scheduling, activities, resources and responsibilities related to a particular release.
Release Process The software release process is the final stage in a typical software development effort, where the software product is made available for use. To ready a software product for release, the release process must ensure that all product requirements have been met, usually by executing test suites designed to exercise product functionality and correcting any defects found.
SCM Software Software Configuration Management software is a software tool that enable organizations to perform the SCM practices of storing, tracking and releasing a product, and typically provide users with a variety of features including source code control, issue tracking and change set management, advanced configuration management, change packages, process management and integrated issue tracking.
SCM Tools Software Configuration Management tools are tools that enable organizations to perform SCM practices and typically provide users with a variety of features, including source code control, issue tracking and change set management, advanced configuration management, change packages, process management and integrated issue tracking.
Scrum Agile development project management framework based around sprints and is generally comprised of a Scrum Team, Product Owner and Scrum Master. The framework of Scrum leaves most development decisions up to the self-organizing Scrum team, where decisions are reached as a whole team.
Scrum Master Person trained to facilitate daily Scrum meetings, remove impediments, oversee the team’s progress through the process and track Scrum team updates.
Self Organizing A team, usually found in Scrum, that manages itself through various means of communication and reoccurring structured meetings. Self organizing teams solve development issues together as a whole and decide the best solution depending on the various team members.
Software Change and Configuration Management (SCCM) Software change and configuration management (SCCM – mainframe and distributed) tools implement a set of disciplines used to stabilize, track and control the versions and configurations of a set of software items and also may include development change management, defect tracking, change automation, development release management, integrated test management, integrated build management and other related processes. – Gartner Research
Software Configuration Management (SCM) Software Configuration Management (SCM) refers to a set of practices around storing, tracking and releasing versions of a software product. Software products that enable development organizations to perform these practices efficiently are also referred to as Software Configuration Management systems or Software Configuration Management tools. Software Configuration Management systems will typically provide users with a variety of features, including but not limited to: source code control, issue tracking and change set management.
Software Development Development of software in a planned and structured process. See software development process.
Software Development Process The software development process is the set of coordinated activities performed by engineers, managers and technical writers resulting in the creation of a software product. Various named software development processes are in use today, including Agile, XP, Scrum, Waterfall and Lean.
Source Code Control Source code control is a common requirement in all modern software development projects that provides mechanisms for checking source code in and out of a central repository. This allows different developers to work on the same project, with reduced fears of lost code or overwritten changes. Source code control also implies a version control system that can manage files through the development lifecycle, keeping track of which changes were made, who made them, when they were made, and why. Finally, source code control also frequently involves the ability to group versioned files as a single release, maintain multiple active releases concurrently (branching), and join different releases (merging).
Source Code Management Source code management refers broadly to the set of operations required to store, retrieve and version the files used to construct software applications. Development teams rely on source code management to organize the source code files for different releases of software, so that releases can be uniquely identified for testing, packaging and delivery to customers. Failure to do this properly results in poor quality releases and inefficient use of development resources.
Spike Timeboxed investigation of feasibility via a bare bones implementation, which touches on all aspects of the full implementation.
Sprint Scrum specific word describing iterations.
Sprint Backlog Plan for development team to map out implementation of features for an upcoming sprint.
Sprint Planning A meeting for Scrum Teams, Scrum Masters and Product Owners where the Product Owner describes priority features to the team. The Scrum Team gets enough of an understanding about the tasks discussed that they are able to choose which ones to move from the product backlog to the sprint backlog.
Retrospective Meeting held at the end of every sprint review to reflect on what went well during the sprint and what can be improved upon during the next sprint. Sprint retrospectives are valued as necessary parts of inspecting and adapting, and allow development teams to plan for future output.
Sprint Review In the sprint review, teams go over what stories were completed during the iteration and demonstrate those stories for stakeholders and the product owner.
Stand-up Daily Meetings that are meant to quickly and efficiently resolve obstacles that any team members may be experiencing.
Story Points Relative scale of effort required by a team to implement a user story.
Task Board A physical or electronic board representing the state of tasks in a current sprint, often divided into “to do,” “in progress” and “done.”
Timeboxing The practice of constraining the amount of time for performing any activity. Examples include iterations, spikes and stand up meetings.
Unit Testing Tests that exercise small amounts of isolated functionality.
User Stories Used with Agile methodologies for specifying requirements and presented as an informal statement of the requirement (usually fitting on a 3×5 index card).
Velocity The velocity of a team is the number of story points associated with stories that are finished over a given period of time, often 1 to 4 weeks. For instance, if the team completed 8 stories that were each 5 points during a four week period, then their velocity is 40 story points every four weeks.
Waterfall Model of a software development process in which progress flows downwards through phases of conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing and maintenance.
Whole Teams Team comprised of members with different functional skills and specialties that work together during all phases of development in order to complete a project from start to finish. Also known as a cross-functional team.
XP “Extreme Programming,” one implementation of the Agile methodology that focuses on producing the simplest coding situation for application requirements and includes practices such as pair programming, incremental design and continuous integration.
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How far ahead *should* we plan?! | The Case for Project Management ^LeadingAgile

The Case for Project Management

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 October 2011 01:21 Written by Mike Cottmeyer Saturday, 15 October 2011 01:21

How far ahead should we plan? It depends on what you are building, when you need to have it done… and if you aren’t going to get done… how soon do you need to know about it. If your goal is to build the highest value features possible, deliver continuously to market, get real time feedback… you might be able to get away with planning a sprint or two out… maybe less. If your goal is to deliver a specific set of predefined features, all of which need to be done by the end of the quarter, you may want to have all three months laid out. It’s not that we wouldn’t inspect and adapt and deal with reality, it’s just that we need to know if our velocity isn’t trending such that everything is going to get done. If we don’t know how we are doing against done, we don’t know what tradeoffs we need to make along the way.

I’ve worked with several clients recently that were trying to operate as if the software they were building was emergent. It wasn’t. They were being asked to deliver a specific outcome, with a pre-defined set of time and cost constraints. For these guys, it was absolutely silly to only plan their backlog two weeks at a pop. They had no idea how they were doing against the expectations of the business. They had no idea if they were on track or not or how they should approach the business to negotiate scope trade-offs. They had no means to determine if their approach was trending toward and acceptable outcome. The reality was that they were going to work really hard, probably deliver a great working product, and still have their stakeholders upset with them.

Having a plan doesn’t mean that we have to have a death march. Having a plan means that we have a baseline to measure against. Some way to determine if we are making the progress necessary to achieve our goals. Remember that line in the Agile Manifesto? We value responding to change over following a plan?  While we value the items on the right, we value the items on the left more? The plan isn’t the problem… it’s failure to respond to change… to deal with reality that is the problem. If I have a fixed time, fixed cost, fixed scope project… I damn well better be delivering incrementally using an agile approach… it’s the only way of knowing if I’ve got a shot in hell of being successful. It’s the only way we can confidently let our stakeholders know if we are on track or not.

Not every team needs a project manager… but I think many could benefit from some really good project management. I’ve been an agile project management guy from the beginning, but I am becoming increasingly convinced that we need to be teaching teams, not just how to self-organize, but how to effectively manage delivery… product or project delivery, I don’t care which. Self organized teams need to have everything necessary to deliver an increment of value… it’s my opinion that everything necessary to deliver an increment of working product includes someone that knows how to manage risk, validate assumptions, communicate with stakeholders, assess progress against the goal, and know when things are off track. That can be the PO, the ScrumMaster, or someone else on the team… again, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that project management is happening… no matter who does it.

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Food for Thought: Why You Should Question Your Culture ^Harvard Business Review

Organizational culture powerfully influences a company’s performance — or at least we say so. I often hear executives reassure me that projects will get done because “we have an execution culture,” or that customers will be well taken care of because “we have a culture where the customer comes first.” At the same time, culture is also one of the great rationalizations for managerial shortcomings. Many times I’ve heard that a project was delayed because “we don’t make quick decisions around here,” which is the managerial equivalent of “the dog ate my homework.”

But the problem with all of these statements — both positive and negative — is that they don’t really mean anything. Worse yet, they can’t be translated into any kind of action. At best these declarations are vague generalizations; and at worst they are misleading stereotypes.

The truth is that most leaders don’t know how to develop a useful picture of their organization’s culture, which is why they resort to platitudes. However when managers can better articulate the behavioral patterns that constitute the culture, they can determine which behaviors facilitate results — and which behaviors should be avoided.

For example, a large automotive parts company had just completed a merger, and the senior team — made up of leaders from both firms — struggled with making decisions. They either took too long to decide, or the decisions just didn’t stick. To fix this problem, the team asked themselves some simple questions about the decision-making culture: To what extent are decisions currently made by consensus or by the CEO (on a scale of 1-10)? On that same scale, how were decisions made at your heritage company? And on the same scale, where should the decision-making process be in the new company?

Each person on the team answered these questions separately, and a facilitator consolidated them as the basis for a group discussion. When looking at the answers, the team quickly realized that the previous companies had very different decision-making cultures (one was a slow process of building consensus, and the other used open, time-bound debate with final decisions made by the CEO). The team members also had very different expectations for how the process should work. By making these differences concrete and conscious, they were able to have a constructive dialogue that led to ground rules for decision-making.

Any management team can assess its culture by asking these kinds of simple questions across a range of organizational behaviors. For example: To what extent do we reward individual vs. team results? To what extent do we share information broadly or parcel it out narrowly? To what extent do we encourage or discourage risk?

Asking these kinds of questions can smoke out the differences in expectations that people have about the organization. Not everyone experiences culture the same way, so a structured way to discuss those differences can increase alignment and the ability to take collective action. In practical terms, culture is not an intangible cloud that hangs over a company, but an outcome of the way people behave on multiple dimensions. Better understanding of these behavioral patterns — and how each person experiences them — makes it possible to decide whether to continue them or not.

To what extent do you question your organization’s culture?


We <3 # 5-8: Make Your Team Happy to Increase #Productivity

Are your employees happy and productive?

Or do they waste inordinate amounts of time complaining and procrastinating?

Employee productivity is a challenge that faces all companies.

Are your employees happy?

And more importantly, what are you doing about it?

Happy is Productive

When was the last time your company made an effort to keep its employees happy?

Too often companies neglect their employees’ well-being.

Many leaders think a touchy-feely issue like “employee happiness” is better handled by the HR department. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Employee happiness is not an HR issue. It is a leadership issue.

Good leaders know that happy employees are productive ones.

Yes, times are tough. And money is tight.

However, that doesn’t mean that you have to make your employees live a miserable existence. Good leaders know that taking care of their employees leads to increased worker performance.

Happy employees not only work harder but have higher feelings of company ownership.

Unhappy employees often will not go the extra step when it comes to work.

Happy employees have higher retention.

And despite what HR will tell you, unhappy employees will leave. Yes, even in this economy. (And the good ones leave first.)

So, when was the last time that you (or your company) did something to make employees happy?

Productive and Happy About It

There are some HR types who will argue that happiness does not equate to productiveness.

And it doesn’t by itself. It takes leadership, purpose, and drive.

However, in the same situation, who do you think will perform better? Happy employees or unhappy ones?

I guarantee that happy workers will out perform unhappy ones every day of the week. (Especially on Mondays)

Here are just a few tips to help “Keep Your Employees Happy and Productive:”

  • Recognize Them – Most companies are very poor at this. In fact, a large number of companies have no employee recognition. Publicly recognize your best employees and reward with something that is important to them. (Danger: Recognizing the wrong employees can be an explosive issue. But, that is a topic for a different leadership article.)
  • Thank Them – Sometimes you don’t even have to recognize them, how about just thanking them. Employee happiness is not tied to awards and rewards. Sometimes a well-placed and sincere “Thank You” is all it takes.
  • Listen to Them – Want your team to be happy and productive? Listen to them. Leaders sometimes think they have all the answers and fail to listen to the team. Not only does the team often have the “answer,” but sometimes they just want to be heard.
  • Be Straight With Them – Employees want the straight scoop and they feel respected when they get it. Don’t wrap announcements in legalese or HR speak. Any leader that thinks that employees can’t “read between the lines” on corporate memos shouldn’t be in charge.  Instead, tell your employees the truth.
  • Give Them a Day Off – Rewards don’t have to be trips and monetary incentives. (Although those are nice!) Try rewarding hard work with time. Time off that is. A simple day off can be the difference between a happy recharged top performer and burnt out jaded one.
  • Pamper Them – As I have mentioned, rewards don’t have to be expensive or lavish. Sometimes it is the little things. Go for the small ones. Sometimes they make all the difference. I once worked with a call center and one day we replaced all the workers chairs with brand new rolling ones. People were literally “rolling” through their day and were on cloud nine.
  • Remove Obstacles – Want happy employees? Then don’t put silly rules and obstacles in the way of them doing their job. As a leader, your job is to remove the things in their way. Except when it comes to safety, problems are not solved by putting “rules” in place. Want increased happiness and productivity? Remove the red tape! (See: The Difference Between Blue Tape and Red Tape.)
  • Surprise Them, In a Good Way – Surprises can be a great motivator for employees. Just make sure you are in tune with your employees or else you risk surprising them with something that could backfire.

Happy and Productive

When your employees are not happy, they are not as productive as they could be.

Unhappy employees are unmotivated and uninspired to work at their potential. Even your best performers will leave when they are unhappy.

Many companies do not make the effort to keep employees happy because of the assumed costs. However, most employees are not looking for expensive perks to encourage them.

They will be driven with a little recognition, support, and thankfulness.

Oh, and don’t forget to listen to them.

When was the last time your company boosted productivity by making employees happy?

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50 Ways To Get More Done Today

Get More Done Today

‘Work smarter not harder’ is one of the most popular catchphrases fueling the information age.  Yet most of us frequently overlook the fact that time is the only true luxury we have in life.  Being more productive doesn’t make you stronger, cooler, or wealthier.  It allows you to get more done in less time so you can use the time you save to get more enjoyment out of life.

Here are 50 ideas to help you do just that:

  1. Do what you don’t want to do first. – If you handle the toughest tasks first when your mind is fresh, you’ll get done quicker and make the rest of the day more enjoyable.
  2. Focus on high impact tasks. – Figure out what will have the greatest impact today, and make sure you address the most important stuff first.  Don’t get caught up in odd jobs, even those that seem urgent, unless they are also important.
  3. Don’t confuse being busy with being productive. – Stop and ask yourself if what you’re working on is worth the effort.  Is it bringing you in the same direction as your goals?  (Read The Success Principles.)
  4. Accept imperfections. – Perfectionism is the enemy of completion.  Don’t ignore the forest for the sake of one lonely tree.  Most of the time small imperfections aren’t even noticed, so don’t waste all your time on them.
  5. Create and refer to a TO-DON’T list. – A to-don’t is a list of things not to do.  It might sound funny, but it’s useful for keeping track of unproductive habits, like playing online flash games, checking Facebook, etc.
  6. Use productive shortcuts. – There are productive shortcuts for almost everything you do.  Finding and using them can save you a few minutes here and there on a daily basis.  If you use a computer, learn the keyboard shortcuts for the programs you use most often.  If you can permanently delegate one of your regular tasks to someone else, do it.  Is there a route to work with less traffic?  Where can you hit two birds with one stone?
  7. Narrow the number of ventures you’re involved in. – Productivity is not usually my challenge, narrowing the number of ventures to be productive in is.  Even when you have the knowledge and ability to access super-productive states, you get to a point where being simultaneously super-productive on too many fronts at once causes all activities to slow down, stand still and sometimes even slide backwards.
  8. Pick-up the phone. – We’ve become so accustomed to communicating digitally, sending emails, IMs and texts, etc. that we forget we can get some tasks accomplished in a fraction of the time with one or two quick phone calls.
  9. Use technology to automate tasks. – From creating email filters, to automatically backing-up your hard drive, to automatic bill paying.  The more you automate, the more you can get done without with the same level of effort.
  10. Learn to search Google effectively. – If Google is the portal to the information superhighway, Google’s advanced search operators are the most efficient vehicles on the road.  Once you learn them, you will find what you seek in half the time, every time. For example, with Google, you could search for “life lessons” site:www.marcandangel.com to find all of the life lessons posted on our blog.  Spending less time looking for information means that you can get more done.
  11. Group similar tasks back-to-back. – Switching gears between different types of tasks can be tough.  It takes most people several minutes to get into a productive mental groove geared for a specific type of task.  Therefore, it makes sense to group similar tasks in an effort to minimize the number of rough patches, and thus wasted time, between task orders.
  12. Pay attention and get it right the first time. – The better listener you are, the more you will learn.  The more you learn now, the fewer questions you will have later, and the less time you will spend searching for answers.  And obviously, doing things right the first time eliminates future delays.
  13. Eliminate all distractions for a set time. – Distractions are everywhere.  They arrive via email, cell phone, coworker inquiry, etc.  I’ve found that cutting out all distractions for a set time is one of the most effective ways to get things done in less time.  You can’t remain in hiding forever, but you can be nearly four times as productive while you are.
  14. Plan ahead and start early. – 10 minutes of dedicated time planning each evening will save you from 30 minutes of ad-hoc preparation each morning.  Likewise, starting your morning on purpose 30 minutes early will likely inject at least 60 additional productive minutes into your day.  Think about it.
  15. Organize your space. – How much time do you think the average person wastefully spends searching for items they’ve misplaced?  Keeping both your living and working spaces organized will undoubtedly allow you to get thing done more efficiently.
  16. Choose a dedicated spot. – Don’t put your car keys, cell phone, etc. in a different spot each evening after work.  Choose a dedicated spot and make it a habit. There is nothing more frustrating in the morning than looking for the stuff you need.  Morning scavenger hunts are a huge waste of time.
  17. Productively use waiting time. – Waiting time does not have to be wasted time.  When you are waiting at the doctor’s office, the post office, or on hold for the next available representative, what simple tasks could you complete while you wait?  How about sorting through your snail mail or email, writing those thank you notes you’ve been putting off, reading the book you keep meaning to read, reviewing/editing your to-do lists, etc.
  18. Stop over-analyzing things.  – There comes a time when you have to stop evaluating something and just bite the bullet and do it.  Contemplating taking action isn’t taking action.  It gets nothing accomplished.
  19. Handle 2-minute tasks immediately. – “The 2 Minute Rule” is single greatest tip I picked up from David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done.  If you roughly estimate that a task is going to take you less than two minutes to accomplish, do it right now.  It’s a waste of time and energy to keep small tasks like this on your to-do list on in the back of your mind.
  20. Make reservations. – When a one minute phone call now can save one hour of waiting later.
  21. Ask more questions. – The trial and error process can be a huge waste of time.  Often people view asking questions and relying on others as a weakness, but they are sadly mistaken.  Asking legitimate questions will bring you closer to the people around you and likely save you a huge chunk of time.  Win-win.
  22. Buy in bulk and cook in bulk. – Buying stuff and cooking food are two of the most common unplanned consumptions of time.  Most people buy replacements in small amounts only when they need them and think about food only when they’re hungry.  The problem is these issues will often arise at inopportune times.  The most efficient way I’ve found to counteract this is by doing bulk loads of both.  I know I’ll always need gas in my vehicle.  So instead of putting in $25 here and $25 there, I top off my tank every time I’m at the station regardless of the sticker shock.  Likewise, I know I’m going to be hungry at lunch time every day this week.  So on Sundays I’ll grill up five extra chicken breasts and make a chicken wrap or sandwich for every day of the week.
  23. Standardize common tasks. – If you find yourself performing the same set of tasks on a regular basis then it makes sense to establish an efficient, standardized way of accomplishing them.  Are certain tasks easier to perform in the morning?  Are there additional resources that can be utilized only at a certain time?  It’s up to you to find an efficient pattern, standardize it and follow it.
  24. Stop consuming the headline news every day. – Most news has no long term value.  Mainstream media primarily focuses on ‘what’s hot now’ instead of ‘what will be useful tomorrow.’
  25. Stop mindlessly browsing online ad infinitum.  – Web browsing is one of the immense black holes in time spending.  Before you realize it, you may have spent hours browsing while generating very little value.
  26. Turn off the TV. – Nuff said.
  27. Make better usage of commute times. – Listen to audio books, make calls, do some proactive time planning, etc.  I use Evernote on my iPad and capture tons of ideas and thoughts when I’m commuting and traveling on business.
  28. Write things down. – Nobody’s memory is perfect.  If you don’t take notes and setup to-do lists for yourself you will end up wasting time several minutes of time every day trying to remember things that would have taken you seconds to write down.
  29. Consolidate all daily errands into one trip. – Consolidate all of your errands into one trip instead of driving back and forth several times from home to the store to home to the bank to home, etc.
  30. Exercise daily. – I know it sounds counter-intuitive.  You have to spend time exercising.  But exercise boosts cognitive function, creativity, problem solving and productivity.  In fact a NASA study showed employees who exercised daily worked at 100% efficiency after seven hours, while those who didn’t saw a 50% drop, meaning it took them twice as long to accomplish the same thing.  (Read The 4-Hour Body.)
  31. Use a timer. – I use a timer to limit the amount of time I spend on daily tasks such as email, returning calls, cranking through my to-do lists, etc.  This keeps me from getting overly distracted from the truly important tasks I must accomplish during the day.
  32. Harness the power of teamwork. – I heard a story once about some horses that were in a competition to see which could pull the most weight.  One horse pulled 3,000 lbs and another one pulled 4,000 lbs.  Someone suggested the horses team together to see how much they could pull.  Most guesses were in the 7,000 lb to 10,000 lb range but when those two horses worked together, they pulled an amazing 20,000 lbs.  That’s the power of teamwork.  Good teamwork can get a large project completed in an amazingly short amount of time.
  33. Just say NO!  – While saying yes can take us down some wonderful roads, there’s also a ton of value in saying “no.”  We’re only given a certain amount of hours in our lives; do you really want to give yours away so easily?  If you don’t have to time to commit to a new project, complete a favor, or serve on another committee, it’s a good idea to just say “no.”
  34. Focus your attention on one thing at a time.  – Cutting out multitasking (or “multi-slacking” as I call it) leaves you to focus more intently on one task and finish it to completion, rather than having many tasks started and nothing finished.
  35. Create productivity triggers for yourself. – If you’re fighting yourself every step of the way, forming diligent habits is hard.  You need to create triggers to help you out.  A simple example would be packing your gym bag the night before to keep you from having an excuse not to go to the gym.  Or put the books you need to take back to the library in front of the door, so you can’t leave the house without seeing them and remembering they need to be returned.
  36. Touch inbox items only once. – This one is difficult for most people (myself included), but it really makes a difference.  For new email or other communications, look over it and decide what to do with it right away: archive, respond, flag for follow-up, etc.  Regardless of how you process communications, just make sure you deal with them once rather than wasting time by looking at them without taking decisive action.
  37. Clean up your inbox. – Your inbox (email and otherwise) should only be for priority communication; otherwise it just wastes your time.  Set-up email filters to keep things organized and filter spam in your email inbox (here’s how in Gmail).
  38. Use time multipliers. – Effective delegation of lower priority tasks is a time multiplier.  Eliminating time wasting activities is a time multiplier.  Screening phone calls is a time multiplier.  By practicing creative procrastination on anything that doesn’t propel you toward your goals, you can multiply the amount of time you have to achieve those goals.
  39. Relocate closer to your place of employment. – In every major city in the world there are people traveling over an hour to reach their work destination from home.  This is a huge chunk of time that could be used far more productively.
  40. Avoid meetings. – Not all meetings are a waste of time, but many are.  If you frequently spend time in meetings, but would rather be doing your actual work instead of listening to other people talk about things they could have sent you in an email, see if you can get out of some of those meetings.  You’ll get a lot more done.
  41. Let your mouse do the walking. – Shop online, rent movies online, pay bills online, etc.  It’s so much more efficient.
  42. Keep it simple. – Keep your to-do lists and planning simple, and don’t waste time playing with new tools.  There’s always going to be shiny programs that promise to make your day faster and more efficient.  Stick with one, and learn to rely on it.
  43. Tell other people and hold yourself accountable. – It’s always a smart thing to tell people what you’re working on.  If you tell your colleagues or friends that you’re going to get something done, it motivates you to see it through to completion.  People who have a support system almost always find it easier to make things happen.
  44. Hire someone. – Sometimes it makes more sense to hire someone to do something, especially if your time is worth more money than you’re paying that person. For example, if I have a large yard that would take me five hours to maintain (it’s pretty big), it makes more sense for me to pay someone as I can earn more during those 5 hours by working. Other things you might pay someone for: other home maintenance projects, washing your car, doing errands or laundry, doing your taxes … just about anything where doing it yourself isn’t cost-effective.
  45. Spend minutes now to save hours later. – During happy hour last Friday I spent some time listening to one of my colleagues confess her utter distaste for the Windows 7 Start menu.  “The system is organized all wrong.  The programs I need are buried and the ones I never use are right at my finger tips.  I waste so much time digging through menus,” she said.  “But you can easily rearrange that,” I replied.  She looked down with a despondent expression on her face.  “I know,” she said.  “Someone else told me that too, but I haven’t taken the time to figure it out.”  Bottom line:  Sometimes you have to spend a few minutes now to save hours of grief in the future.
  46. Practice the 80/20 rule. – Generally speaking, the 80/20 Rule states that 80% of our results come from 20% our actual work, and conversely, that we spend most of our energy doing things that aren’t important.  Figure out what that 20% is comprised of and focus as much of your energy as you can on it.  (Read The 4-Hour Workweek.)
  47. Time box. – Assign a set amount of time per day to work on a specific task or project.  Focus entirely on that one thing during that timeframe.  Don’t worry about finishing it, just worry about giving it your undivided attention for the set timeframe.  (This is the opposite of having fixed goals.  For example, you don’t get up until you’ve written a thousand words, or processed 25 orders, or whatever.)
  48. Remove information sources containing little value. – Unsubscribe from RSS feeds and newsletters that give no bang for their buck, and set up quick email filters to delete or de-prioritize the junk mail that isn’t easy to unsubscribe from.
  49. Don’t underestimate the time it takes to do something. – Know the opportunity cost of your actions and how long something will truly take to do.  All things being equal, the best solution is the one that takes the least amount of total time (including maintenance time for fixing and support). What might have been a great idea with an hour of projected work would likely be a horrible idea if it took all day.
  50. Start now. – In the end, all the tips in the world won’t make as productive as you could be if you simply started to get things done right now.  Don’t waste another minute!  START!

Photo by: Brandon Christopher Warren

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Students that Use Twitter Score Higher GPAs | Socialnomics

Browse: Home / , / Students that Use Twitter Score Higher GPAs

Students that Use Twitter Score Higher GPAs

By Erik Qualman | June 21, 2011

In a recent study (see infographic from Master Degree Online below)  of 125 students those that used Twitter for educational purposes in the classroom outperformed students using traditional learning methods.  Aside from higher GPA’s the Twitter enable students were also 2x more engaged in the classroom.

++ Click to Enlarge Image ++
College Students - Is Twitter Hurting Your Grades? | Infographic |
Via: Masters Degree Guide

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5 Tips For Managing Your Energy, Not Your Time by @jenny_blake

Paula Radcliffe, winner of the 2007 New York C... 

Image via Wikipedia

“Life is a marathon, not a sprint.”
“I’m in this for the long-haul.”
“I can see the finish line — not letting up now.”
“I’ll sleep when I’m old” or “I’ll rest after I finish this next big phase.”
“I’m so passionate about what I’m doing that I don’t even NEED a break!”

If you’re anything like me, you’ve uttered one or more of these motivational phrases to yourself as you pursued a big project or business idea. As female business owners and entrepreneurs, we often try to do it all — build our business, eat healthy foods, stay fit, be social, take care of our home and loved ones, and be cheerful on top of it all.

It can be exhausting.

And contrary to all the popular mantras, treating life and business like a marathon might not actually be in our best interest.

My Ill-Timed Book Breakdown

I experienced this first-hand after having a complete and utter breakdown three weeks before my book, Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want, was set to come out.

I had been working on the project for over two and half years, and in the final months I ramped it up to an obsessive around-the-clock endeavor (in addition to my full-time job at Google). I felt like I was on Mile 23 of a marathon — I could see the finish line and now was no time to rest or let-up.

Because I wasn’t willing to take a break, life knocked me on my ass (that’s the technical term) and forced me to rest. Despite the fact that my book was going to be released in three weeks and I had an impossibly long to-do list of important tasks to complete, I was a miserable, crying, nonfunctioning mess. Even though I was incredibly passionate about my project, not building in any rest stops had been a recipe for disaster.

The Alternative: Manage your energy, not your time

Tony Schwartz, author of The Power of Full Engagement, recommends that we manage our energy not our time.

Rather than treating our life and businesses as a marathon, Schwartz advises we treat them as sprints and recovery (recovery being key here!).

We all know we are going to have big sprints — that’s what makes pursuing a project or business so exciting. But it’s imperative that we build in equal parts recovery.

5 Tips to Make Room for Recovery

  1. Schedule it. No matter whether or not you think you need a break, schedule fun or relaxation activities in advance and stick to them.
  2. Double the break you think you need. I know how this goes, “Sure, I’ll take a break — I’ll give myself a whole hour off!” Not good enough. Whatever the break you think you need, double it. You are most likely underestimating the toll that all of your hard work is taking on your body and mind — even if you’re having fun.
  3. Enlist family and friends. If you schedule a weekend get-away with family or friends, you’ll have no excuse but to unplug. Family and friends can be great accountability buddies for taking the breaks you need.
  4. Make a list of the benefits of R&R, and brainstorm your favorite rejuvenation activities. I know that even after reluctantly taking a break, I will come back refreshed, more cheerful and more creative — which puts me in an even better position to do my best work once I’m back at it. Making a list of the benefits will help motivate and remind you to actually take the breaks you’ve set-up. At a loss for what to do? Make a list of any/all activities that bring you joy or relaxation. For me that’s reading, yoga, a glass of wine (with chocolate) and watching a few shows on Hulu.
  5. Break down your biggest goals into achievable, measurable chunks and reward yourself often! For every day that you make a massive to-do list, add a “reward” item at the end that brings you joy. Maybe it’s reading a book, a gossip magazine, or going out to dinner with a friend. For many of us, we only take breaks or celebrate when we hit the BIG goals — but those can take months to achieve. Instead, break them down into smaller parts and reward yourself for all of the smaller milestones you hit along the way.

So the next time you’re headed for a big business sprint, make sure you build in recovery rest-stops. For those of you who already do this, what did I miss on the list above? How else do you balance hard work with rest and play?

Jenny Blake 

Courtesy of Y.E.C.

Jenny Blake is an author, blogger, life coach and yoga teacher. She is currently on a three-month sabbatical from Google to go on a self-funded 14-city book tour for her recently released book, Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want. The experience of leaving school before her friends inspired her to start her blog, LifeAfterCollege.org, in 2007 which was later voted #1 Gen Y blog by her peers, and recognized by Suze Orman and the Wall Street Journal.

Y.E.C. Women 

via Y.E.C.

Co-Founded by Natalie MacNeil and Scott Gerber, Y.E.C. Women is an initiative of the Young Entrepreneur Council, a nonprofit organization that provides young entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, community and educational resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth. Y.E.C. Women’s members are successful female business owners, entrepreneurs and thought leaders.

I actually met Jenny Blake at her book launch in NYC! Feel free to check out the following

related productivity post: The Secret of High & Low Energy Tasks