Using The Pomodoro Technique To Be More Productive

Using The Pomodoro Technique To Be More Productive

We all have a limited amount of time in the day, making it essential to make the most of the time we have. Busy people have searched for time management methods help them maximize their productivity, and one solution developed is the Pomodoro technique.

The Pomodoro technique was developed by Italian author and entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo. Francesco developed the technique with help from a tomato timer, and the Italian word for tomato is pomodoro, which is how the method got its name.

The method is simple: You set the timer to 25 minutes and get to work. Once the 25 minutes (known as a pomodoro) is up, you have a 5-minute break. You then repeat the process again. After four pomodoros, you take a longer break of between 15-20 minutes.

As simple as this time management technique is, it can be very effective.

Urgency

When working for long spells at a time, it’s easy to think you have plenty of time, thus reducing your urgency. This lack of urgency means you’re prone to browsing the web or getting involved with other distractions, affecting how much work you get done.

However, when using the Pomodoro time management technique, you will be breaking your work down into short sprints rather than a few long sessions. With just 25 minutes on the clock, you’re more eager to get as much done as you can, thus creating urgency. Approaching your work with more urgency will help you get more done in the limited time you have available. 

Regular Breaks

When working for long periods without a break, the mind will inevitably become tired. You can become slow, have difficulty focusing, and you might even become irritable. When this happens, your productivity is bound to take a hit no matter how hard you might try.

When using the Pomodoro method, you will be taking breaks regularly. Every 25 minutes, in fact. While the break will only be five minutes long, that’s all it takes for the mind to refresh itself to some degree. When the five minutes are up, and you get back to work again, you will be feeling much fresher and more productive.

Motivation

Spending hours on tasks can cause us to lose enthusiasm for our work. When we don’t feel like working, our productivity is bound to drop, meaning we get less work done.

Taking regular breaks will help to separate the working day into short sprints. Working in short sprints with breaks will help to keep you feeling fresh and enthused about the task at hand.

Gamifies Working

The Pomodoro time management technique helps to gamify working, making the working day easier and even a little fun. Each time you turn the timer on, you are in a race against the clock to get as much as you can before the time is up.

When trying to win the game, you will be focused intently on your task, boosting your productivity.

Dealing With Distractions

Distractions are inevitable. Whether you’re working from home or at the office, somebody or something will eventually break your flow. The good news is that Cirillo also developed the following system that helps you deal with distractions effectively. Distractions are inevitable. Whether you’re working from home or at the office, somebody or something will eventually break your flow. The good news is that Cirillo also developed the following system that helps you deal with distractions effectively. 

  • Inform: If somebody is distracting you from your work, politely inform them that you need to focus on your task. 
  • Negotiate: Arrange a time when you have some time spare.
  • Schedule: Make sure to schedule when you will meet with the person.
  • Call Back: Once your pomodoro is complete, get back to the person who was disturbing you. 

How to Use the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro method is easy to use, but it still takes a little organization. Here’s what you need to do.

  • Buy a Timer: You will need some way to time each Pomodoro. Most timers will do, and the easier it is to use, the better. You can also try using time tracking software like the easy to use PK4 TimeTracker.
  • Plan Your Day: Write down all the tasks you need to get completed. It’s best to rank them in accordance and assign a Pomodoro to each one. 
  • Allow for Overflow Pomodoros: Some tasks will take longer than 25 minutes, and it’s not always practical to split them into more than one. This makes it a good idea to allow for overflow pomodoros, so you have allocated enough time for the day. 

While the Pomodoro method initially stipulates sprints of 25 minutes, you can experiment to find what works best for you. Try shortening or lengthening the time of each pomodoro, while you can also try experimenting with the length of breaks. The overall objective is the get as much work done as you can, so do whatever works best for you.

Summary

One of the best things about the pomodoro technique is that it’s so easy to use. All it takes is to find a suitable timer, a little preparation, and you’re ready to go. When using the method, you should find you increase your focus when you are working, helping to boost your overall productivity.
Remember that it’s also fine to experiment to find what works best for you. You can even try using different types of timers, from the original tomato timer after which the technique is named to digital time-tracking tools.
Regardless, using time management techniques for better productivity can help transform your working day for the better. 

Photo by Kevin Ku on Unsplash 

 

How to Blog Effectively Using a Kanban Board

How to Blog Effectively Using a Kanban Board

Any blogger can tell you it’s important to be organized to help keep your productivity up. Otherwise, you could easily find yourself spending time working out what needs to be done next. Being unorganized also increases the risk that you will miss something altogether, potentially leading to missed deadlines and poor overall project management.

One tool that many bloggers use to help them stay organized is the Kanban Board. The Kanban board involves setting up columns in which tasks are placed according to where they are in the blogging process. So, for example, you can have a column for your ideas, a column for blog outlines, and so on. 

Kanban boards are easy to use, especially with help from PK4 TimeTrackers project management module that makes it easy for users to use Kanban boards in Salesforce. It couldn’t be easier to create new cards for each task, and you can simply drag and drop cards into place as each task progresses. 

This article looks at how a Kanban board can help bloggers work efficiently to boost their productivity.

1. Better Visualization

One of the best advantages of using a Kanban board is that it helps you visualize your workflow at a glance. With your workflow visualized, it becomes easier for you to manage your workflow and identify which tasks should take priority. Being able to see what needs to be done in this way also means you spend less time on project management and more time on getting jobs done.

2. Improve Productivity

As mentioned, Kanban boards mean you spend less time managing projects, boosting your productivity. And there are other benefits, such as being able to track how long certain tasks are taking. Kanban boards help you track cycle time, which is how long a task takes from start to finish, while it also helps you track how many tasks you’ve finished in a given period. This information can then be used to help make your workflow more productive.

3. Manage Your Workload

While it’s good to be busy, we can sometimes bite off more than we can chew. When that happens, we can end up with missed deadlines and unhappy clients. Unhappy clients can often be avoided by not taking on too much work in the first place, and a Kanban board can be very helpful in this regard. Good project management sometimes means saying ‘no’ and letting people know that you’re full. A Kanban board makes it easier for you to visualize when you can’t take on more work.

4. Enhance Flexibility

 A Kanban board helps make it easy for you to make changes to your workflow. This is because there are no set dates or procedures with a Kanban board – you can just move the cards around as you see fit. For example, suppose an urgent job has come up that needs prioritizing. You can simply move the new job into a high-priority category so you and anybody else know to focus on it first. Such flexibility makes it easier for you to react whenever an issue comes up, helping you to keep on top.

5. Distribute Workloads Effectively

Many bloggers will have other people working with them, and distributing tasks effectively will help tasks get done well and on time. It also helps avoid overloading members of your team, which helps to keep productivity high and ensure their morale doesn’t suffer. Kanban boards make it easy for you to visualize who has a heavy workload, helping you spread the workload more evenly, which improves project management.

6. Improve Focus

 We often hear about multi-tasking and how it supposedly helps people get more done. However, quite the opposite is true. A Kanban board makes it easier for you to focus on the tasks that have the highest priority, focusing on one task at a time. With an improved focus on each task, that task will be completed sooner, and you can move on to the next one. A Kanban board also make it easier to assign accountability, so others in your team know what to focus on.

7. Improve Collaboration

Collaboration is essential for good project management, and Kanban boards help make collaboration much easier. Digital Kanban boards in particular are excellent for collaborating because everybody with access to the board has an up-to-date picture of what needs to be done and who is responsible for it. Team members can also comment on individual tasks or the board overall, helping to ensure everybody is working as a team so productivity stays high.

Summary

A Kanban board can be a very powerful tool for bloggers. When used right, a board can help enhance productivity and efficiency not just for you but also for others working with you. A Kanban board will also make it easier for you to assign accountability so you know who is responsible for what. 

Bloggers who use a Kanban board will also find it easier to manage their workloads and distribute work to their team. Kanban boards also help improve flexibility, and collaboration also becomes easier. 

Perhaps best of all is that Kanban boards are very easy to use and very affordable. In most cases, a simple whiteboard or similar will do with post-it notes used as cards that can easily be moved from column to column. Digital versions are also available, which makes them even easier to use, and some Kanban board software platforms are even available for free, albeit with limited functions.

 

Photo by Eden Constantino on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

6 Ways to Become An Accountable Teammate

6 Ways to Become An Accountable Teammate

People work much more effectively as a team when compared to working as a group of individuals. However, in order for teamwork to be effective, each member of the team must do their part. If just one member of the team falters, it can adversely affect the whole group, and projects can be delayed or even worse.

One way to help ensure that all team members are participating is for all team members to accept accountability for their roles. Once team members are accountable, they know they’re responsible for certain tasks while the rest of the team understands their and others’ roles in the group.

This leads to the question of how you can become an accountable teammate, and this article looks to answer that question.

1. Work Efficiently

As a member of a team, individuals have the responsibility of ensuring they’re working efficiently and effectively. Otherwise, tasks might be delayed or not completed to the required standards. However, a lot of people may not be working efficiently without being aware of it.

To help you ensure you’re working efficiency, you can use time tracking software like the PK4 TimeTracker to monitor how much time you’re spending on particular tasks. The results are often surprising, with people finding out that they’re spending a lot of their time on unproductive jobs. Knowing this information then allows you to make adjustments to get your productivity back on track. 

2. Avoid Excuses

If you’re responsible for something that goes wrong – own it. Hold your hand up, acknowledge that you’re at fault and look to rectify the issue as soon as possible. One of the worst things you can do is to make excuses, and you should definitely avoid blaming other people.

You should also ensure you make people aware of the situation as soon as possible. You might find it tempting to keep it quiet in the hope it’ll work out, but this is only likely to make the matter worse. Instead, speak up about any project delays straight away so you can use teamwork with your colleagues, enabling you to fix the problem as soon as possible.

3. Embrace Failure

As a famous Scotsman once quipped, even the best-made plans can go wrong. This won’t necessarily be your fault or anybody else’s, while at other times the reason for the failure might be down to you. Don’t shirk away from such failures. Instead, you should embrace them. While failure obviously has its downsides, it can also be treated as an opportunity.

Once you embrace a failure, you can then own it and deal with it. Embracing a failure also helps you do one of the best things you can do in such a situation, which is to learn from it. When you are embracing your failures, working to correct them and learning from them, you become an accountable member of the team.

4. Declare Your Responsibilities

For teamwork to be effective, it’s important that everybody know who is responsible for what. That way, if something is behind schedule or gets done badly, people know who to turn to. If nobody is accepting responsibility for the role then there’s nobody to turn to, potentially making it very difficult to accept the situation.

To be an accountable teammate, you should declare your responsibility upfront so everybody knows who to speak to should they need to. This can also benefit you because people know who to approach to help prevent a problem from happening, if needed. Not only should you declare your responsibilities, but your teammates should do also.

5. Set Targets

All team members should set themselves targets that help ensure they deliver what is needed, and on time. You should also share your targets with your teammates so everybody knows what is expected of each other as well as themselves.

Another advantage of setting targets is that it helps the team as a unit tell if they’re being realistic and will contribute to successful project management. Setting targets together as a team gives everybody the opportunity to speak out if they feel the plan is flawed in any way.

6. Provide Regular Updates

Providing regular updates on your progress helps to ensure everything is going according to plan. Not only will providing updates help let your teammates know you’re on target, but it’s also an opportunity for you to update yourself. If something isn’t to specification or if it’s running late, then regular updates allow you to fix issues before they become a serious problem.

Providing regular updates will also help make it clear to others what your role is, thus ensuring you maximize your accountability and provide a strong teamwork ethic. Of course, the rest of the team should also provide regular updates making project management easier.

Become an Accountable Team Member and Enhance Your Career

Being an accountable team member provides various benefits to your team by helping to ensure projects are completed successfully. Perhaps even better is that accepting accountability is beneficial for you.

Accepting accountability will help make you a valuable team member, meaning you provide a positive contribution. Being adept at teamwork and contributing will likely be noticed and, hopefully, rewarded with promotions and positions that will help to further your career.

What’s more is that becoming accountable isn’t necessarily difficult, and it can even help to make your job easier. Make sure you’re spending your time effectively, embrace failure so you can learn from it, be open about your responsibilities, and do what you can to contribute to overall project management. Don’t forget that you should expect the same from your teammates also.

If you have any other tips on becoming an accountable team member, do share it with us in the comments. Would love to hear from you.

Photo by StockSnap on Pixabay

 

How To Stop Employee Time Theft

How To Stop Employee Time Theft

Most employers would probably like to think that they can trust their employees and employees will be honest for the most part. However, we can never be entirely sure that the people working for us won’t take advantage if given the opportunity. Indeed, a study showed that 43% of employees who have filled in timesheets had exaggerated the length of time they worked. Studies have also shown that around $400 billion is lost every year in lost productivity in the United States, further highlighting the need to address the problem.

Employee time theft comes in several types, and not all of them are necessarily deliberate. Some of the most common include: 

  • Charging for time spent on personal tasks
  • Buddy punching is a practice that involves an employee’s co-worker punching in for them despite the employee not being at work. Buddy punching alone is thought to cost approximately $373 million alone every year
  • Employees deliberately adding extra time to their worksheets
  • Employees not clocking out for breaks
  • Field employees claiming to have been working but performing other tasks, or even staying at home instead
  • Accidentally overestimating time worked.

Time theft is a real problem for many companies, especially in times of uncertainty. However, one of the most significant difficulties companies face regarding employee theft is that it’s challenging to detect. Managers cannot monitor all employees at all times, especially where field workers are concerned, and honest errors can be particularly difficult to identify. However, you can take some steps to overcome the issue.

Establish Clear Policies

One way you can help overcome some of the issues is to put a deterrent in place. Your managers can let employees know that they’re aware of problems like buddy punching and that employees will be reprimanded if caught doing so. The act of bringing up the topic alone can avoid complacency among employees and deter them from punching in for friends. Make sure to be polite and respectful when reminding your employees about your policies, but also make sure that you’re firm. Acting on indiscretions will help to send the message that you will not tolerate time theft.  

Educate Management

Quite often, the signs of time theft are right in front of us, but we won’t spot them if we don’t know what we’re looking for. For example, what might appear to be a case of an employee working later than others could easily mean that they’re not being honest about their time sheet. After all, it’s a lot easier to be dishonest on your time sheets when there’s nobody around because they’ve already gone home for the day.

Educate Employees

In many cases, time theft might be down to misunderstandings that you can easily clear up with simple communication. You should also make it clear to employees when it’s reasonable for them to record to add time and when it isn’t. You can also educate your employees on the potential harm that time theft can cause businesses, potentially even placing their jobs and their colleagues’ jobs at risk.

Use Time Tracking Software

Software like the PK4 TimeTracker will help to ensure that time is tracked accurately and fairly. For example, the buddy punching system won’t work with time tracking software because employees have to be logged into their computers or on their own mobile devices to track time. The system also helps prevent forms from being filled in erroneously, while it also helps management see which tasks their employees have been working on.

Time tracking software will also help ensure time is recorded accurately for field workers. The time tracking app can record an employee’s location through GPS, so you know they were in the right place. The software is also easy for employees and managers to use, while reviewing and approving timesheets is also made simple, further helping to ensure accurately recorded time. 

Overall, time tracker software will help to empower teams to work better and be more productive. Time sheets will more accurately reflect work that has been done while also giving management access to helpful information such as how much time employees spent on particular tasks. Such information will help management see if time is being spent effectively, helping them make their teams more productive while also helping to reduce frustrations.

 

 

5 Reasons Why Time Tracking Makes Sense!

5 Reasons Why Time Tracking Makes Sense!

Timesheets help to ensure that you pay employees accurately. They help ensure that you’re not overpaying while also allowing employees to get a fair salary. As valuable as timesheets are, however, there is quite a lot of work involved in processing them, making project management harder. For example, time sheet approval is often a manual, time-consuming process, especially if you need to check and correct errors.

The good news is that thanks to PK4 TimeTracker, time review and approval is now made easier than ever before. The easy to use platform makes time sheet approval faster and easier than traditional methods while also helping to eliminate or at least reduce some of the other drawbacks.

Traditional Timesheet Tracking Methods

Over the years, companies have tried numerous team management methods regarding tracking, reviewing, and approving timesheets. Unfortunately, these methods have numerous flaws that can result in you putting many hours into the time review and approval process. Some of these flaws include:

  • Employees forgetting to complete timesheets
  • Employees deliberately filling in the wrong details
  • Dishonest practices like ‘buddy punching’
  • Lost timesheets
  • Difficulty verifying information
  • Difficulty reading handwriting
  • High paper use
  • Employees forgetting badges and punch cards etc.
  • Employees having to queue to use punch cards and similar.

Many of these problems are reduced or even eliminated with time management tools like the PK4 TimeTracker, however.

Time Tracking Software

The PK4 TimeTracker is a powerful yet easy to use time tracking platform that makes it easier for employees to record working hours clearly and accurately. With the data stored safely in Salesforce,  it is a lot easier to work with. And the software provides a range of helpful project management features that take a lot of the work out of time review and approval.

Easily Verifiable Hours

The PK4 platform has team management features that help make it easy for managers to verify that employees were working according to their timesheets. For example, geo-tracking technology will let managers know that employees were in the location they were supposed to be.

Timesheets are Not Lost

With data recorded digitally and synced in real time to Salesforce (for the mobile and web apps), companies no longer have to overcome problems caused by lost timesheets. The information is also available immediately in real-time, instead of waiting for employees to bring their timesheets to the office.

Easy to Read

Because your employees record everything digitally, timesheets created with the PK4 TimeTracker are easy to read. Gone are issues over not being able to read somebody’s handwriting and problems such as paper documents becoming ruined.

Human Error

People make mistakes; they can also forget to track time, and a study has shown that just over 25% of people never track time reading or answering emails. The PK4 TimeTracker software helps to reduce human error both from the employee and from the person reviewing and approving the timesheet.

Reduced Paper Usage

You won’t have to use any paper when working with digital time trackers. A paperless system will help reduce your costs in the long term while also helping you do your part for the environment.

Additional Tools and Functionality

Time tracking software will also help the time review and time sheet approval process in other ways. With the PK4 TimeTracker, project management has all the information it needs right in front of them on a single screen. Timesheets can be approved with the click of a button or sent back to the employee for amendments if required, with a message stating why the timesheet has been returned.

The PK4 time sheet approval software works seamlessly inside Salesforce, helping to keep all relevant data in a single location. Additionally, users that don’t use Salesforce can still use the PK4 TimeTracker web app OR mobile app OR the Chrome Extension for employees to track their time. This is especially great for time tracking for employees working out in the field. All these timesheet entries are also directly synced to Salesforce for analysis, reporting and integration with payroll and invoicing.

The benefits of using PK4 TimeTracker don’t end there, either. For example, for people tracking time within Salesforce, you can install lightning components where a timer starts automatically when employees start working on a specific record. The timesheet can also be broken down in terms of which tasks the employee was working on. Comprehensive reports are also available, and dashboards that help to make it easy to see relevant details at a glance.

Overall, the PK4 TimeTracker offers an impressive array of functionality and streamlining the work involved and helping to reduce time sheet approval errors and other problems. Check out how simple it is to enter, review and approve time with this powerful yet easy to use platform.