Tag Archives: personal productivity

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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Turn your emails into action!

Whether you use Outlook or a trendy mail client like Sparrow or directly Gmail, the statement holds true: emails are overwhelming. It results in a critical loss of productivity for employees and managers alike. What would happen if you turn this old tool into the most actionable piece of work? A task. Give it a try by starting to forward your actionable emails to task@producteev.com. This will help you will keep the conversation with your team in the right place, out of your email inbox.

 

From an email to a task, in a single forward

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If you want to create a new task from scratch or to transform an existing email into a task the process is always the same: you send an email to task@producteev.com. You can send from your main address (the one you used to register on Producteev) and from any email address you own, as long as you register those in your account’s settings.

By default the title of your email will become the title of your task. Producteev will help you to go further into the action, by using the Natural Language Processing in the subject field you’re able to create a deadline and name the person who is responsible.

The actionable conversation

 

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Once you have set the title of your future task and its assets, it’s time to edit your first note. The body of your email will be considered as the first note, including the attachments (remember all you can do with your docs on Producteev?). The icing on the cake is that you can also mention members of your team using the @ in the body of your email so they will be added as followers to the new task, and notified that they have a role to play! Now you only need to move the conversation in the right place and to let your collaborators move forward.

Turn the good emails into actionable tasks to create a better way to communicate and get things done.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Don’t Waste Your Weekend! #HowTo Stay Productive

Weekends are generally meant to be a time to unwind, rejuvenate, and focus on the other aspects of life that matter- but do you find yourself wasting valuable weekend-time?

For those of us who don’t have weekend jobs, or plans to visit family/friends, and all household errands have been completed; there are still ways you can be productive during the weekend!

Give in to Your Creativity

Write out a list of creative things you would like to do, but don’t quite find time for during the work-week. Teach yourself to sing/play/dance to a favorite song. Create something thoughtful for loved ones. Experiment bold new recipes. Post some how-to videos on YouTube. It’ll feel so good to cater to the side of you that you normally set-aside. You may learn more of yourself in doing so!

Give in to Your Inner Child

Go ahead and relive the joy of filling the pages of a coloring book! Disregard your grown-up diet, and indulge in your favorite childhood treats! Go to the park with a child, and play to your hearts content! Or maybe you can play with slime, or clay. Nothing wrong with it, no one will judge you. It’s all quite humbling.

Give in to What You’ve Abandoned

Come on now. Don’t let ‘writers block’ be your excuse for not finishing your novel, or posting new entries to your blog- you know you want to continue, but you’ve become too comfortable with not! You may have many messages waiting for you in one of the social media accounts you signed up for and later neglected- revisit those!

Surely there are tens of hundreds of thousands more ideas that can be added to this list. What are some of your suggestions?

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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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Q & A: How app helps Super Mom “crank out the tasks in a technologically harmonious wonderland”

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Michele K. is a suburban super mom. She and her husband Howard have three beautiful children: Alyssa, 11;  Alex, 9; and Jared, 7.

Michele was delighted to have discovered Producteev through Android’s Astrid add-on. She finds much to love about Producteev and quickly became a hyper-user because it’s free and has an attractive, “simple” interface.

Q: How do you use Producteev?
Michele: I share a workspace called “Command Central” with my husband. I love that it helps my man and I are see the most up-to-date list at all times. Having a single repository is awesome. We’re able to see the same Google calendar, which makes the kids’ chauffeuring needs crystal clear. Also, we’re both on the same page when it comes to household duties, and even simple little questions that we would forget to ask otherwise.

The convenience of our tasks showing up on the Gmail page, where we are already synced with a calendar for each person in the family, is great!  We are looking at it all day, anyway. Google tasks is woefully and pitifully inadequate.

With all this info at our fingertips, we waste a lot less time and mental energy having purely logistical conversations about “remember to do this” or “where is the party” or “what is left on the yard work list” or “who do I give it to at school” and so on. Thankfully, we now have MORE time for the good stuff.

My husband is hooked and has started his own account now, with one tab for Command Central and another for work!

I have other workspaces just for myself. For example, I have a “Packing Workspace” with our packing list for family vacations. The labels represent the people in my family and the rooms in my home.

Q: Tell us about your experience with Producteev.
Michele: I especially love being able to assign tasks to each other. Leaving notes, questions, or web links for clarity is also pretty awesome. And the smart prioritizing of tasks, including being able to star each other’s tasks to indicate our opinion of its priority. And the ability to give a task many different labels! I think the label icons could be more exciting.  I love the colors.  But it would be even more fun to add stars, hearts, pluses, and other basic shapes that could also be custom-colored.  I would color-code every person in my house and maybe see things at a glance easier.

I like having Producteev available on my nice, big desktop for major editing. And if I am out of town on vacation or waiting for an appointment, it’s right there in my hand. Woo hoo!

I’m super excited to crank out the tasks in a technologically harmonious wonderland. Especially once we get recurring tasks going!  I think we’re going to have a long and meaningful relationship!

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Q & A: How Producteev is “pretty awesome” for committed college student

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Pierre-Simon Ntiruhungwa is a business student at ESCP Europe, in Paris. Like most over-achieving college students, Pierre-Simon is both a juggler and a hustler. He uses Producteev to get a hold of his academic projects, student job, and internship.

Q: Tell us about your experience with Producteev.
Pierre-Simon: Producteev really helps me organize the enormous amount of work I commit to doing. One of my favorite features is [GCal sync] the possibility of setting deadlines to tasks and then seeing them in my google calendar.

This is really helpful because I have an overview of all the things I need to do and when I have to do them. Producteev helps me balance my workload everyday. Above all, it helps me actually remember to do things, thanks to the reminders I am able to set.

Also, I just discovered natural language processing (NLP) on Producteev to help me set deadlines more quickly, and this is great! In addition, I like responding to Producteev emails once tasks are created. This is also great! I haven’t tried the other NLP capabilities, but it’sproven to be pretty awesome.

Q: How do you use Producteev?
Pierre-Simon: I’m currently at the end of my first year so I’m doing a three-month internship at an internet start up in Paris. At the same time I am working for a professional union called Junior Enterprise. I will resume school in a few days, and I look forward to using Producteev for my business school assignments!

Before I used to put assignments on paper without being able to keep track of their deadlines. I can’t imagine how any student, especially ones in universities as challenging and demanding as mine, can accomplish all of their assignments without a tool like Producteev.

Even at our age, it is good to practice organization and task management. Everyday, I have friends telling me how they forgot to do something. And the more I do group work, the more I will encourage my fellow students to use Producteev so that we can mutually benefit….

All this, is of course, aimed at one thing: getting things done as quickly and efficiently as possible in order to spend more time having fun. Because we’re still young!

Thanks @psntir! If you’re looking for help with the parts of your life that you juggle, give Producteev task management that works the way you do, a try.

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Q & A: How Producteev is “best match” for typical city dwelling married couple

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Jessica and Calvin Gilbert are your typical city dwelling married couple that recently moved to the country and purchased a fixer-upper. Jessica is a recent graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Education.Calvin is a graphic designer, web developer and social media strategist for a large non-profit organization.

They chose Producteev for simplicity and flexibility. They use it for just about everything, from getting household chores to web mastering DONE!

Q: Tell us about your experience with Producteev.

Calvin: I started using Producteev at my job to keep my day in order. Once we purchased our house, my traditional office job converted to a home office position.

I researched and tried many different task/project management tools and felt Producteev was the best match. What really sold me on Producteev, apart from the visually appealing interface, was the ability to control my tasks and projects via e-mail and instant messenger.This was HUGE! Before Producteev, I had to take my e-mail task and retype it into various online tools.

Q: How do you use Producteev?

Calvin: After using Producteev for two weeks I realized the site had way more potential than just keeping track of my work projects.

Jessica and Calvin: We created a shared workspace named “house”. In this workspace, we keep track of all the TO DO items we need to get done around the house. From painting the bathroom to dropping off donations at Goodwill, Producteev helps us get things done.

Tagging [labeling] projects and assigning them priority has helped simplify our lives. It is really nice to tag things we need to purchase “BUY” and things I need to do as “TO DO.” Being able to filter views by tags really helps us stay focused and complete items one by one.

Calvin jokingly: I also use Producteev to hunt zombies in the evening so….you’re welcome.

There you have it, another example of Producteev in the real world. Sign up today.

We hope you liked this first interview of a small team, in this case a married couple, in action! Thank you, Jessica & Calvin!

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