New Year Resolutions: Using a Blueprint

As the first month of the year draws to an end, the resolutions and goals that we set are either slipping away or coming more into focus. While we might try to keep all of those promises to ourselves, just writing a list about what we want to achieve often just isn’t enough, and we need something more beneficial than a list of goals to keep up accountable and motivated. While the first three weeks of 2016 have already gone by, it’s not too late to get on track with a blueprint. Here’s more about one of the tools being used by productivity professionals to guide even the most manic of work schedules: 1. Start with Excel Excel is one of the most multifunctional kinds of software, but unless you’re number crunching or very good about drawing up a personal budget, how many of us really use it to its full potential? While some of us might be more used to Word or other kinds of word processing software, Excel, or any other number processing software, its actually very helpful in tracking the amount of time you spend on tasks. By creating a document called “[Your Name] Blueprint 2016”, you’re already on your way to managing your time better. 2. Block off times for tasks While we can write endless lists, and things to do in our diaries, wall calendars and even loose scraps of paper, what list really holds you accountable to what you want to achieve? Using a blueprint and sharing it with your family, friends and colleagues is a way to group all of your significant...

3 Techniques to Maximise Your Time Management

Minute by minute, hour by hour, how effective are you really at getting items ticked off your to-do list? Some of us might find that it’s easier to get certain tasks done in the morning, with the rest of the day spent on planning and meetings. Others might prefer to get meetings and planning out of the way first before getting stuck into a to-do list. Either way, life happens and it can be difficult to manage our time effectively if we don’t have some kind of plan. To structure your work schedule, and allow for unexpected interruptions, here are three time management techniques that can assist in getting the most out of your day: 1. Pomodoro Technique Brainchild of Italian entrepreneur, Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique is named after a tomato-shaped kitchen timer that he used to time his work schedule during university. A very simple technique, it allows you to be more productive by timing shorter but more frequent bouts of undistracted work, ideally twenty-five minutes, with short breaks in between. Each unit of undistracted work time is called a “pomodoro”, and after every four to five pomodoros (or pomodori to be precise), you can take a longer break. While the number of pomodoros done each day depends entirely on your schedule, this method allows you to fit more focused time into your schedule, whilst making sure that you take regular breaks, which further enhances your ability to accomplish more during the course of a given day. 2. Getting Things Done (GTD) David Allen developed the Getting Things Done (GTD) method as a time management method that...

5 Tips for Dealing with Time Zones in the Workplace

In today’s global work environment, we often have to adjust our work schedules to fit in with different time zones. It can be a serious challenge to adjust our body clocks as we continue to travel internationally for work, as well as having to deal with colleagues both ahead of and behind us in time. While there are many different ways to cope with time zone differences, here are five tips to consider when working with people from various corners of the globe: 1. Maintain Regular Check-Ins While it can be difficult to enforce an exact time at which all concerned are available, scheduling a regular check-in can help to keep everyone on the same page. Collaborative platforms allow for easy task assignment regardless of time zone, but connecting in the same time and space, even digitally, can go a long way in ensuring that there is a consistent workflow. This can require a lot of forward planning but with a variety of digital tools to facilitate cross-continent communication, it’s really just a matter of making the time to connect. 2. Stay Connected Keeping everyone on the team connected, regardless of the platform, is essential to breaking down any potential barriers caused by distance. Being aware of everyone else’s time zone, and work preferences, can also prevent anyone from having to wake up at 2am on the other side of the world to deal with a crisis. WhatsApp and Telegram groups, for example, are a very easy way to keep a large number of people in the know, although it does help to have a clear focus for each...

Is Technology Shortening Our Attention Spans?

We often like to think that if we just try hard enough, we could concentrate for hours at a time and get everything done. It gets frustrating when we struggle to focus on one task at a time, when the truth is that we’re constantly dividing our attention between all kinds of distractions, from phone calls to emails and from news feeds to other on-screen notifications. 1. Are Our Brains Are Working Differently? Recent research on attention spans conducted by Microsoft, revealed that our average attention spans have fallen from 12 to 8 seconds over the last fifteen years. Microsoft delved deeper into their research on the different ways that we pay attention: sustained, selective and alternating. Sustained attention is focus on specific tasks, and selective attention is being aware of distractions around you but still being able to focus on priority tasks. Finally, alternating attention is the ability to switch between different tasks across platforms. The summary of their research suggests that selective and alternating attention are becoming increasingly important skills in today’s world, as our attention spans adapt to working across different devices and using various online tools. This means that while we may still try to focus on doing one thing at a time, the truth is that the actual structure of our brains is changing. This is because, according to neuroscientific research, the brain actually changes in response to behaviour, for example having to learn how to use new technology. 2. Our Attention Spans and Productivity While we might become frustrated with our inability to focus for longer periods of time due to increasing distractions,...

Your Circadian Rhythm and Productivity

You wake up and expect to be alert and ready for the day, you’ve done your best to get enough sleep but for some reason you just can’t manage to get going in the morning like the others around you. Could it be that your natural biological rhythm is just out of sync with the predefined work day? 1. Get in Tune With Your Own Rhythm As much as we might try to conform to a predetermined schedule, our body clocks often work differently. For many years, scientists and those interested in productivity have been studying what are called circadian rhythms, our natural cycles of being awake or asleep. Understanding the way that these cycles work allows us to be less critical of ourselves when we don’t conform to the usual 9-5, as our bodies actually go through natural energy peaks and troughs throughout the day. By being aware of our own unique rhythms, we can actually find what works best for us, and give ourselves an advantage when it comes to being more productive. Besides from being able to get more done, paying attention to our body’s natural rhythms can also help us to function better in daily life. Our entire physical functioning is dependent on different cycles within the body itself, for example, the different hormones that are released in response to stimuli such as light. According to research by Dr. Steve Kay from the University of Southern California, your cognitive abilities are also better at different times of the day, most notably around late morning when the body reaches an optimum temperature after waking up. 2....

Top 5: Productivity Apps

With a smartphone and an internet connection, it’s never been easier to find an app to make your life easier or more entertaining. While the world of online gaming has captured the time and imaginations of millions, apps that manage your time and productivity are becoming very popular. These apps range from interfaces that can create and check off to-do lists to ones that help to manage your day by allowing you to program alerts and other reminders into your schedule. While it might take willpower and discipline to make these apps truly helpful in real life, in an effort to stay on top of all of the latest developments, here are five of the most popular productivity apps in the world right now according to ratings: 1. Wunderlist One of the most famous to-do list apps in the world, Wunderlist provides users with a way to not only create lists of things to see, do or visit, but also allows you to share these with others and sync them across your devices. One of Wunderlist’s key features is that you can also collaborate with others on your lists and delegate to-do list items, which makes it a fully integrative experience and not just a way to manage individual tasks. 2. Swipes Voted as one of the world’s top 5 productivity apps, Swipes helps users to collect all of their tasks in one place, and organise them according to priorities. What separates Swipes from other productivity apps where you can list all of your to-do list items is that Swipes gets you to work on a single task at...