Category Archives: Productivity Tools & Tips

4 Steps to Solving Your Meeting Problems

You’ve just finished a round of back-to-back video conferences, calls, and team meeting. It’s finally time to sit down and start your Excel reports for the day, only — oh snap — it’s 5PM.

Where did the day go? You take a step back to reflect on how you spent your last few hours. Here’s what you conclude:

  • You spent approximately 1 hour dealing with video conferencing software that didn’t work.
  • You spent 15 minutes apologizing to clients for your screen share not working.
  • You spent 30 minutes trying to find a new conference line after your company’s phone system kept dropping everyone’s calls.

You spent more time fumbling around than having real, impactful conversations, and now you’re stuck working late. And for what? A day’s worth of frustration, not face-time.

Technology empowers businesses infinite touch points to connect. But it’s also buggy. Broken phone lines, resource-hogging browser plug-ins, dropped calls, and crashing systems are a huge waste of time. Follow these three steps to make sure that your next meetings run like butter.

Step 1: Battle Test Your Systems

In high school (or college), your instructor probably taught you to prepare for your presentations and meetings ahead of time. The same holds true for the workforce. Give yourself a few minutes —before your next meeting — to make sure that everything is in working order. If not, you’ll have plenty of time to find a backup plan or get help from IT.

Whatever you do, don’t trust your systems to work. Fumble ahead of time so that everything runs smoothly when five more people are on the line (or in the room).

Step 2: Have a Backup Plan

If you’re giving a remote presentation with a sales deck (or giving a PowerPoint in person), make sure to have some PDFs (or printouts) handy. Nothing induces more stress than an unexpected push to totally ‘wing it.’

If your client’s browser crashes — no problem.

If the projector decides to unexpectedly die — it’s cool.

With five minutes of advanced planning, you’ll be prepared for any situation.

Step 3: Ask People to Come 10 Minutes Early

If you want a meeting to start on time, ask people to hop on the call (or swing by the conference room) early. You can always mute your lines or kill time on your smartphones to read e-mails. By telling people to join early, you’ll be able to have an on-time start. And the stragglers? They’ll be on-time too.

Step 4: Record Your Meetings

Are you trying to host a really big meeting with everyone at the same place at the same time? These types of meetings are necessary every once in a while, but they’re almost impossible to coordinate. Some people — inevitably — won’t be able to make it. Instead of rescheduling, trying to accommodate everyone, or playing catch-up, just record the meeting so that you keep moving —full speed—ahead.

Your Thoughts

How has your company solved its clunky meeting problems? Share your ideas in the comments below. Inspire your fellow readers with what you’ve learned the hard —or the easy—way.

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Psst, Producteev Can Help You Get a Raise!

It’s pretty common knowledge that the best way to ensure a raise is by keeping your boss happy. What’s not as well known, are all the ways Producteev can help with that. Here are some examples and tips from us to you:

  • Let your accomplishments be known - By tracking your projects and tasks in Producteev, it’s easy for your manager to see what you’re working on and all you’ve done. It’s also easy for you to show off your productivity and initiative by running a few quick filters.
  • Work on what’s important to your boss first - In your one-on-one, walk through your tasks and use the stars in Producteev to prioritize. This will ensure you do the things that matter most to them (which score you the most brownie points).
  • Make your boss look good - Producteev’s filters make it simple to find information needed to speak intelligently on an item that may come up in a meeting. Organize your projects and categorize your tasks so that your boss can quickly get the answers they’re looking for when asked the status of something, a specific stat, or for associated resources.
  • Execute Effectively - Everyone wants a team that’s efficient and collaborative. Using Producteev to manage and work on your team tasks is the surest way to hit the mark.
  • Make your boss’s life easier - Just by clearly defining project parameters, setting expectations and establishing ownership of tasks, you’ll be one step ahead of the rest. One of the most frustrating and time consuming parts of managing is having to continually follow up on action items and worry about meeting deadlines or quarter goals. Eliminating this stress by leveraging Producteev’s task features (assignees, followers, due date, reminders, sub-tasks) will make you indispensable. Remember, your boss only wants surprises if they’re good.

Cheers!

The Producteev Team

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3 Fun Facts About Our Front-End Engineer

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1. Before Producteev, I got S#*% done by trying to remember everything. Of course, I would always forget half of it.

2. Besides Producteev (of course), the apps I’m addicted to are Spotify, Google Maps and Dropbox.

3. My tech tip is: always trust Google Maps – it’s smarter than you.

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Your Guide to Everything Producteev

Have you checked out our new user guide? It’s packed with all the info about Producteev features needed to help you and your team execute at top notch efficiency. Take a look: Producteev by Jive – User Guide

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How To Stay Productive During Summer

According to this article by Forbes, productivity at work drops by 20% during summer months. Not only does good weather seem to correlate with an increase in vacations, it’s reported that employees are 45% more distracted when it’s hot out. Here are a few tips from the Producteev Team on how to stay productive this summer:

  • Make sure to add priorities and due dates to tasks – this will help you stay on top of what needs to be accomplished.
  • Plan your “fun” projects for the summer so you’ll want to get work done.
  • Take advantage of Producteev’s mobile apps and work outside for a couple of hours one day if you’re feeling antsy about being in the office.
  • Keep the office between 65 to 70 degrees.

Happy first day of Summer this Saturday!

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Quote of the Day

We couldn’t agree more with this quote by David Allen: “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” Holding is what Producteev is for. Whether your ideas are for private or public viewing, we’ve got you covered. So go on and be brilliant!

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Task Management Software Changing the Way Teams Work Together

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As the use of task management software increases, so does the gap between the new and old way of working in teams. Gone are the days where your only option was to spend hours of your day sorting through emails, in meetings to follow up on action items, and searching through to-do lists to figure out your priorities. There’s now a better way to work, and people are starting to demand change from their employers. What are they looking for? A way to connect with each other. A way to be more efficient, spend time on things that matter, and work from anywhere.

While task management software is just one of the technologies changing the tone of the workplace, its impact is undeniable. Apps like Producteev enable teams to work together on projects by dividing up and collaborating on tasks in one cloud-based platform. What’s truly superior about this solution compared to old way of working in email is not just that all project content and activity is organized in one place, however. It’s that tasks are actually made actionable and team members held accountable for items assigned to them. With Producteev’s task audit trail feature, for example, everyone involved in a project has visibility into who’s responsible for a task, the status of that task, and whether or not action is being taken to complete it.

Other benefits of task management software include:

  1. The ease of finding exactly what you’re looking for via filters that allow you to sort and view tasks by project, person, category, priority, due date, task status, task type, and more.
  2. Accessibility provided by apps available for a variety of devices: iPhone, Android, iPad, Mac, Outlook, and web.
  3. Real time push notifications that keep you informed about task activity and remind you of upcoming due dates.
  4. Integration with products like Dropbox that let you to attach files to tasks from any device.
  5. The elimination of version control issues caused by people not “replying all” or responding to outdated email threads.

And it’s not a select number of use cases this software works for. Task management apps solve business problems that extend across departments, industries and even country borders: duplication of effort, workflow inefficiencies, lack of transparency and communication, inability to find content, late deliverables, travel interference, dispersed teams, and difficulty with organization and prioritization, all of which affect productivity.

With technology now a deeply integrated part of our everyday lives, it’s never been more critical for companies to adopt systems that allow people to work the way they want to, using apps that make their lives easier. Task management and team collaboration software is no longer a foreign concept. It’s a proven method. It’s the new and better way to work. Thank you to all our users who help spur this change!

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Practical Productivity

You’ve got your to do list of tasks, priorities set, and are ready to start executing in a “Producteev” way. You start off on a roll but then you hit a task that’s a bit on the boring side. Here are some tips you won’t find in the Producteev feature section about how to be productive even when tasks are mundane.

1. Review your goals

  • Sometimes it’s important to remind ourselves of how tasks, however small and unexciting, help us achieve our larger goals and enable us to work on the “fun stuff.”

2. Read your mission statement

  • Whether it’s for your company, department, product, or something else, reading your mission statement is a great way to get re-energized about the work you’re doing, why, and the impact it’s making.

3. Browse your company’s social media pages

  • This is an easy resource to turn to for inspiration. Regardless of whether the content you find is good, bad or a mixed bag, it will be motivating.

4. Add subtasks

  • Adding subtasks to that mundane task you’re working on can help you feel a sense of progress (and that an end is in sight) and accomplishment when you get to cross items off your list.

5. Set a target and give yourself a deadline

  • Most of us work faster and more efficiently when we know we need to finish x by x time (in the near future). So why not use this quality to your advantage? Set an achievable but still aggressive goal and go, go, go!

6. Reward yourself

  • You gotta mix things up sometimes and give yourself a break. If you employ tip #5, reward yourself for hitting your goal by allowing yourself to work on a pet project for 30 minutes.

7. Go for a quick walk

  • It’s been proven that walking gives you energy, makes you happy and increases creativity (among other benefits) so when you’re starting to feel sluggish and your productivity is dipping, get up for a quick lap around the office at the very least.

8. Listen to upbeat music

  • If all else fails, pump yourself up with some upbeat tunes!

That’s all for now,

The Producteev Team

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Productive, but Passionate?

The idea of apps and little tricks to make you instantly more productive is great and all, but can anyone really be their most productive if they’re not passionate about what they’re working on?

This article, by Warren Berger posted on Fast Company, does a great job of asking 8 thought-provoking questions to help you find your passion. What would you answer? Are you doing what you love?

  1. What is your tennis ball (the thing that pulls you)?
  2. What am I doing when I feel most beautiful?
  3. What is something you believe that almost nobody agrees with you on?”
  4. What are your superpowers?
  5. What did you enjoy doing at age 10?
  6. What are you willing to try now?
  7. Looking back on your career, 20 or 30 years from now, what do you want to say you’ve accomplished?
  8. What is your sentence (that sums up who you are and what you aim to achieve)?
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Life Hacks to Simplify Your Workday: Solopreneur Edition

As a solopreneur, you’re probably the worst boss you’ve ever had. Between running sales, managing clients, maintaining accounting systems, and doing all the work, you probably work close to 12 hour days.

You lose out on sleep — you drive your loved ones bonkers. No matter how rough it gets, however, you feel like you’re trapped. After all, you do have to do everything.

Don’t fall into this trap. Even if you’re a one-person-shop, you can still simplify your crazy, crazy days. Save time and restore your sanity by implementing the following productivity hacks.

1. Get a Virtual Assistant

Services like Zirtual are available to help you streamline administrative tasks — which really add up. If your job involves scheduling, basic research, or grunt work, get someone else to do it. It may feel weird at first, and you may not feel great about spending hundreds of dollars per month, but here’s the thing. A virtual assistant will save you time — freeing up your schedule to do more work (or get more sleep).

2. Limit Your Meetings

Especially if you work with clients, you’re probably tempted to hop on calls. Resist the urge.

Meetings disrupt your ability to focus — and get real work done. Try to cut down your meetings, or keep them condensed to 20 minutes max. You can start by creating meeting agendas to help structure your time.

3. Create ‘Focus’ Blocks

Block off your calendar to sit and focus. No meetings. No distractions. No Facebook. Give yourself dedicated chunks of time to truly sit down and power through your piles of work, emails, and whatever else is bogging down your day.

4. Communicate with Your Clients

Your clients care about you — more than you realize. If you think you’re going to miss a deadline, don’t over-stress yourself. Get your client on the phone. Talk to her. See if you can reach a good solution together. Take control of your time, and don’t let pressure eat you alive.

5. Learn to Say No

Entrepreneurs have a tendency to over-commit. Resist this urge by under-committing — and set strict guidelines for yourself. Make a spreadsheet for yourself if you have to.

Learning to say no will feel extremely weird at first. It takes practice, but with time, it will get easier.

Final Thoughts: Put Your Plan on Paper

Take the time to write out your thoughts. Make a spreadsheet— seriously. You may not have a boss to manage your performance, but you need to self-regulate. Having a track record of your improvement. Give yourself a performance review. Do whatever it takes to hold yourself accountable.

Simplifying your workday means taking control of your life — and easing up a bit. This is a priority. Everything else can wait.

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