Category Archives: Productivity Tools & Tips

3 Tips for Staying On Top of Overflowing Email Inboxes

Many people use their email as a sort of to-do list, knocking off tasks reactively as they go through their messages one-by-one. And to some extent it makes sense; their inbox is constantly overflowing with email and they’re fighting to regain control.

However, this approach can be a huge productivity drain that not only distracts them from the bigger picture, but also means they’re allowing other people to dictate their work days, rather than ceasing the reigns and structuring their days strategically.

Here are three tips to help you take control of your inbox — before it takes control of you.

1. Remember that Not All Email is Created Equally

The first thing to realize is that not every email is created equally. As a business owner, an email from a client is likely much more urgent than one from another company pitching their services. It’s important to have a system in place — whether manual or automated — to prioritize emails so that urgent ones don’t get buried.

One solution is an app called Sanebox, which creates a new folder called SaneLater in your email. Over time, the app begins learning which emails you tend to prioritize over others. The app then places emails it deems as low priority into your SaneLater folder, and sends a summary at the end of the day of all emails placed there. This way, only high priority messages ever show up in your inbox, giving you the peace of mind you need to get on with real work. Low priority messages can then be processed systematically at a later time.

2. Use Apps to “Do It” or “Defer It”

David Allen, author of the popular productivity book Getting Things Done, coined the “do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it” principle. The “do it” part suggests that if a task will take under two minutes to complete, that it is best to take action on it immediately. The same principles can be applied to email.

To help your respond to emails in under two minutes, try Google’s Canned Responses feature for Gmail, which allows you to create template responses for common inquiries. And if an email contains a task that will take longer than two minutes, try an app like Clear Context, a plugin for Outlook, which allows you to instantly convert any email into an actionable task on your calendar.

3. Consolidate Your Subscriptions

When you sign up for a new software tool, conference or white paper, you’re often opting in to subscribe to emails, such as newsletters and promotions. Even if they are interesting and helpful, in most cases you should not be reading these emails right away. They can also clutter up your inbox and cause you to miss other important messages. To prevent subscriptions from getting out of hand, use an app like Unroll.me to organize them, which will consolidate all your subscriptions into a daily or weekly “rollup”. Unroll.me can also be used to mass-unsubscribe from emails you’re no longer interested in.

So don’t let your email dictate your workday. Cease control by keeping your inbox free of clutter so that you can focus on more important work.

How to plan your work week after a long holiday

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Welcome back! Did you have a great time with friends, family and loved ones this Thanksgiving? Excellent! Now you can start digging yourself out of at least half a week of work. Take the initiative to organize yourself and your work to avoid the post-vacation burnout.

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Tips for leading great meetings

Ever get stuck in meetings that drag on and on and get virtually nothing accomplished? We’ve all been on the phone during conference calls where we go through the weather forecast, weekend plans or baby announcements from each and every single participant before anyone even begins talking about what needs to be talked about! There is a time and place for catching up and unfortunately project meetings are neither of those. Don’t be annoying; be that person everyone refers to as the boss that gets $#!% done!

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How to manage your time at work so you get out at 5pm sharp

Time management is an essential skill that many of us have, unfortunately, NOT mastered. It’s the reason why we’re late for work, why meetings run long and why we usually can’t get our butts out of that office chair by 5:00 PM. We then compromise by working through lunch or, worse yet, working on the weekends. Managing your time at work these says is less about keep work strictly at work (because, let’s be honest, who can afford to do that anymore when we are so connected?) but keeping a healthy work life balance with effective task management. Let’s get started with a few basics that will help you establish a foundation for helping you get what needs to be done on time everyday of the week.

Set yourself up for four solid hours of work each day.

I know, your overachieving self probably aims to get in a full eight hours of work done each day. But just think of all the legitimate distractions you face during the 9-to-5 like meetings, last minute requests, urgent fixes and technology issues that may prevent you from actually getting work done. An once your work flow is interrupted, it takes a while to get back into the groove of it. If you’ve set yourself up for more work that you can realistically finish in one day, you 1) end up staying much later than intended and 2) set yourself up for feeling of failure and disappointment. Be realistic with what you can humanly handle and set those expectation with your colleagues and peers. Make a to-do list for your weekly tasks and projects and reinstate those feelings of accomplishment as you check more and more things off that list!

Do a 4pm wind-down.

Set aside the hour before your workday ends to wrap up. Don’t set any meetings for this time. Go through your Producteev tasks, emails and if someone is making a request, notify them that you will get back to them first thing tomorrow morning. If you coworkers are sending you last minute requests frequently, you should share this list with them as well! Make a generic checklist of all the things that need to wrap up everyday, focus on that, and give yourself a pat on the back as you wrap up and leave the office at 4:59 PM.

Repeat after me: “There will always be work.”

You won’t ever really finish everything that needs to be done. The best you can do is prepare and schedule yourself for the work that needs to be done to meet those deadlines. Once you acknowledge that there will always be works that lingers at the end of the day (and know that you can address that the next morning) you will feel a huge weight lift from your shoulders. Reorganize tasks, give yourself a much needed break and prepare for tomorrow!

These mantras will not resonate with everyone, but if you can take away one thing from this, know that you can achieve a better work/life balance with just a little organization in your day.

Until then, stay productive!

Linda

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6 Ways to Maximize and Manage Notification Alerts

Notifications are certainly the most important feature of a good project management system. And the bigger the project, the more vital the notifications become. We all need to be notified if a co-worker completes a task we were working on or if someone adds a comment. On the other hand, there are a lot of things we don’t need or want to be notified of. This is why Producteev provides smart notifications on Android, Mac, iPhone and Web. Here are seven best practices to be more efficient with notifications:

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1/ Be selective. We give you the choice not to overload your mailbox. Go to your settings and set the events you want to receive notifications for.

2/ Pick and choose workspaces. Not all projects are of equal importance. Choose the workspaces that are highest priority to be notified about via email.

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3/ Select the right email. We all have multiple emails addresses (personal and work). Choose the appropriate email for the project notifications in your settings.

4/ Unfollow tasks you are not interested in anymore. Notifications are sent for tasks you are involved in. If you are the creator or the assignee of a task, your will receive all the notifications. To stop those click on “unfollow” in the task detail panel.

5/ Follow priority tasks. An easy way to stay up-to-date on an important task is to follow it.

6/ Download the apps! Get notifications on your iPhone, Android, and/or Mac so you are always in the loop.

 

Have a Producteev week!

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How-to deal with your people on Producteev?

Teams are change. Employees are leaving, new employees are being hired… Regardless of what type of business you are running, it is inevitable that you will need to adjust teams, reassign tasks, and sadly, make sure that former employees are unable to access sensitive information. Luckily, there are a few simple steps to follow to complete all of these actions in Producteev. Let’s review a few important scenarios:

 

1/ Onboard a new member in a workspace

Let’s say you just hired the perfect assistant. Now you need to provide access for this person to manage your tasks. All you need to do is login to your Producteev account, open the workspace, and to click on the green “+” located in the left sidebar. Then, just type the email address of your employee and Producteev will send the person an email invitation. This is also where you can check your pending invitations and even revoke an invitation if you change your mind or misspell an address.

 

2/ Give administrative powers to someone else

An important element of success is the ability to effectively delegate tasks. As an example, user authorizations is a task that may be better suited for your wonderful new assistant. To give your assistant access, you would open your settings and to go in the workspace panel. Do you see the link “change administrator” option located beneath each workspace? Simply click on this option and to chose your new administrator. Note that this setting will not change anything about your current subscriptions.

 

3/ Remove someone from a workspace

With any business, employees will come and go. It is important that former employees do not have access to the company projects or tasks. To do remove those people from your workspaces you first go to the settings panel. It takes one click on an user avatar to delete this person from the workspace. What happens with the tasks? All the tasks will be reassigned to the creator of each task, or to the workspace administrator if the creator was the person you just removed.

 

Have a Producteev week!

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Stop Using Emails and Take Action

Take just a minute to think about it: of the last 10 emails you received, how many helped you to complete a project? Not a lot right…

A recent study from the McKinsey Institute showed that the average worker spends 28 hrs per week looking for information to help get the job done, including more that 8 hrs per week just looking through old emails thread. We could all use that extra time.

In an effort to reduce the noise of emails you receive and to keep the conversation in the right place, you can use Producteev to turn talk into action items within the tasks and notes. Not only you can discuss and store information with your action items, you can also collaborate on documents and attach any type of files!

Have a Producteev week!

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6 Tips for a Better Sales Management with Producteev

From the classic notepad and paper client folders to professional CRM software, there are many ways you can manage your sales process and leads. Simplify your process with Producteev. Whether you are using regular or Pro workspaces, you can use Producteev to better organize your sales team. Here are six best practices we have heard from customers when using Producteev as a sales management tool.

 

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  1. Make clients tasks. Just like a task, a client may be active or “done.” Each client should be represented by a task.
  2. Use Labels to identify the stage of the funnel of the contact. The labels act as step-indicators for prospects. You can easily create a label for each stage, and change it when something changes with the contact.
  3. Remember to assign the responsible party! Assign the task to the sales representative. This contact then becomes a member of that person’s portfolio.
  4. Utilize Deadlines. Timing matters when you’re trying to convert a prospect.
  5. Don’t count to much on your memory, use the notes!
  6. Use Stars to indicate size or value. There’s always a potential value behind a prospect. The stars help you identify which one is the most important in a blink of an eye.

With a little extra setup, you can optimize your tool through creating macros. For example, one of our customers combined the power of the Mail2Task with a rudimentary contact HTML form on their website to automatically turn emails into potential leads… Stay tuned: this tip will be the subject of a future blog post.

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Getting serious about Task Management and Producteev and need some help?

You might want to check out this Producteev Training from VM Associates.

They organize a webinar every Thursday at 11am EDT to get the most out of Producteev, learn the basics but also how to manage workspaces, delegate tasks and “get  things done”.

For 45minutes they will go over Producteev navigation, use cases and best practises and will finish with 15minutes of Q&A. 

You can signup for the Producteev 101 webinar here for $49 USD/webinar/person. 

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Summer Productivity Survival Kit

Summer is a challenging time for productivity in the office and in general!

You can’t deny that during summer the atmosphere at work is different: colleagues or clients go away on vacations, it’s warmer, and the office doesn’t seem to be the dream destination, but summer can be restorative and PRODUCTIVE following these few easy rules:

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Plan in advance – Build a clear calendar as it will be important to organize yourself with a clear vision of when people go on vacations and make sure everyone in the teams also knows when others will be away.

Change priorities – Take advantage of this time with less people in the office to focus on projects that have been left behind and don’t require that many people. For example, business being slow might be a great opportunity to prioritize non-usual tasks: innovate, organize some brainstorming or team building sessions and get employees out of their comfort zones to do things that they wouldn’t do during the year.

Get ahead for September - Take advantage of the slower weeks to get ahead on tasks that will be difficult to schedule in the fall, for example, get the plans and schedules ready to have a clear vision of the strategy when fall starts.

Change the Schedule – Be realistic, summer is the key time to focus more on results that time spent in the office and generally it’s a good time to focus on high-energy time slots.  For some people it typically is better to get earlier to work during summer as they have more energy than later in the day when it gets warmer when the idea of getting out of work becomes overwhelming.

Summer Hours & “Summer Fridays”

To eradicate the long Friday afternoons when employees can’t focus and just can’t wait to get out of the office, some companies especially here in the US choose to shorten Fridays and find out that not only it increases employees’ satisfaction but it also increases productivity. Unless their workload is too heavy, employees can then manage their time during the week to be out early on Friday or finish their week on Thursday nights. Of course to be successful summer hours need to meet company’s goals and not distract teams from main task.

Avoid Distractions – It will be hard especially during this big Summer of Sports with events as Euro 2012 and the Olympics which might affect productivity on the workplace. The important part is to define time to focus and time for entertainment whether is to take some special breaks as a team or for individuals.

Take time off – It can be few days or a week but taking time to chill out and disconnect from work will make a difference when the workload is back to normal in September.

 

 

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