GTD methodology and task management tools to boost your productivity.
Productivity is a topic that always remains one of the hottest in any workplace. Various studies have found that the average employee is only productive three hours per day or an average of 12.5 hours per week. Knowing that the actual number of working hours per week is forty, these findings are simply mind-blowing. But what can be done? How can employers increase their team productivity? Let's start from the roots and define "productivity".
What is productivity?
Productivity can be defined as the amount of work (output) that an employee produces during their work (input). For business owners, "productivity" may already seem like a buzzword. Everyone keeps looking for ways to be more productive in their job, exploring different productivity techniques, styles, methodologies, and tools.
How is productivity measured?
There is a common formula for productivity measurement: Productivity = output/input. But in fact, it does not apply to all the business models. There are different ways to measure productivity, primarily depending on the produced product – whether it is tangible or not. Depending on your product and business model, you choose a suitable way to measure productivity. For example, a remote team manager will most probably use time tracking and project management software to calculate the team's productivity. Besides, you can try implementing some productivity techniques and styles for workflow modification.
How to increase productivity?
That's a good question and every employer's dream. Employers and business owners try to increase their employee productivity by various means: some allow flexible working hours, or a few days of work from home (these days it's more of a necessity). Some employers implement reduced hours or fully paid days off. Diverse strategies work for different teams and companies. This article explores how we can boost our productivity using the GTD methodology and task management tools.
What hinders productivity?
Many employees are busy all day long and working hard, but still can't manage to get things done on time. Why does this happen? Let's get closer to the problem of a decline in productivity and find out what distracts employees during their work day.
Top disruptions include:
Emails and phone calls;
Useful and productive meetings;
Non-essential interruptions (office noise, chatty colleagues);
Problems with office equipment;
Everything else, i.e., coffee breaks, social media, bathroom breaks, etc.
It is clear that most of these reasons are related to collaboration issues and improper time management. The core problem that causes productivity decline is disorganized communication and workflow in a team, poor time management, and frequent distractions of a shared physical workplace. And even worse is that most workers (84%) estimate they are only able to refocus within a half-hour after they have been distracted. Can you imagine how much time is wasted this way during a work day? As reported by 60% of employees, even meetings are distractions, because of the small talk, side discussions, late arrivals, and technology problems. As a result, people compensate for interruptions by working faster, and experiencing more stress.
We suggest increasing productivity by working smarter, not harder (duh!). And here’s what you can start with:
One way to increase productivity is to try the GTD Methodology.
What is GTD?
The Getting Things Done (GTD) Methodology is a five-step productivity methodology that adds order to your work. This concept was invented by David Allen and discussed in detail in his book "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity". The idea is simple: you have to make five significant steps towards getting things done.
Step 1: Capture
Collect all your tasks, appointments, write your ideas, record, or gather everything that has your attention. The tasks should be put on paper or added to your task management tool before you can begin getting them done.
Step 2: Clarify
Review all the collected tasks. Decide whether the task/action or project is actionable. If not, remove it or put it on hold.
Step 3: Organize
Categorize your content to have everything sorted out and have everything right in front, prioritized, and clear. You can sort your tasks into these six categories: Current actions, Current projects, Areas of responsibility, 1-2-year goals, 3-5-year goals, Life goals before you begin knocking them out.
Step 4: Reflect
Continuously monitor, update, and review your tasks to change the focus, if necessary, and have everything under control.
Step 5: Engage
Use your trusted system to make action decisions with confidence and clarity.
Once all your tasks are outlined and organized into one of these 6 categories (Current actions, Current projects, Areas of responsibility, 1-2-year goals, 3-5-year goals, Life goals), you can begin knocking them out.
Once the tasks are all put on paper (or added on the task board of your task management tool), you can begin getting them done.
Two important rules:
Things that don't take much time should be done ASAP (e.g., if it takes less than two minutes, then do it now);
Things that will take a longer time (e.g., complex projects) should be broken down into a series of smaller, quicker projects/tasks.
And now, when we've shared with you one of the most popular productivity methods, we have some excellent news for you. All of these five steps can quickly be done with a proper task management tool. And even more good news — Infolio (that's us!) is one of such tools, and is free to use for small teams and personal needs!
The efficient use of digital task management tools makes your task tracking process easy and increases your team's productivity in many ways. Let’s see what they are capable of.
How can task and project management tools increase employee productivity?
Here are some of the reasons why project and task management tools bring your productivity to the next level.
You establish a note-taking habit
Note-taking effectively emphasizes and organizes information. It reduces stress when your mind is overwhelmed with thoughts and allows you to focus on the most important things. Taking notes is especially crucial during meetings or brainstorming sessions. After these sessions, you can transform these notes into tasks, to-do lists, or checklists, which might help stay focused during the workday. Or you can make a task list for your next day to not forget anything. Notes will help you to keep track of everything that you don't want to lose or forget. It makes you more attentive to details and accurate in task performance.
You organize your files and store them in one place
You can increase productivity by keeping all your files and information organized. Thus, you will save time looking for necessary files and information, and you will have more time to spend on essential tasks. Convenient file organization can significantly improve the communication between the team members and make teamwork easier. For example, in Infolio, you can attach files to every project task or subtask, so that you have everything in one place. Or you can organize and keep all your project assets in project spaces so that your team performance would become really fast.
You plan and schedule tasks, set deadlines, and get reminders
It's okay if you schedule meetings and appointments in Google calendar. But it's not a convenient solution for scheduling projects and adding tasks for the whole team. Let’s say it’s not really meant for this purpose.
In a task management platform, you can schedule and plan out projects with actionable tasks assigned to team members right within the calendar. This way, all employees involved know their role and clearly see their deadlines. You won’t miss any small subtasks that are part of larger tasks, and you can stick to the schedule as planned from the start.
You delegate work effectively
Delegating may sound easy and may look easy when done by someone who is quite experienced. But in fact, it requires a lot of communication and coordination. As noticed by Dr. Scott Williams, professor of management at Wright State University, "delegating does much more than just get stuff off your plate." And by this, he means that there is that sequence of actions under the word "delegate", which makes it more complicated: you have to choose the right person and explain why you chose him/her for the task. You have to provide the correct instructions, necessary resources, and/or training, and then you have to check the work and provide feedback. And there might be more actions on this list.
To make your team win, you have to master the art of delegation, and project management tools might be so helpful with that. For example, in Infolio, you assign a task to a responsible person, attach all the necessary information, description, and files, and set the due dates. This makes teamwork trackable and organized in a way that everyone can see what's going on. The transparency and clarity will push your team members more proactively towards their role in teamwork and increase their motivation. And so, everyone benefits.
You track the progress, avoid bottlenecks and accomplish more
A significant advantage of task and project management tools is that you have a true view of what everyone in your team is working on. In case you manage an individual project, you have a clear picture of all your tasks in front – past, present, and upcoming. If a team doesn't have a central task and project management tool, it is impossible to measure how productive your team is and keep the right pace. When you keep an eye on the project progress, you can spot the sign of a bottleneck early and eliminate it. Additionally, when you have a good overview of everyone's workload, it is easier to delegate tasks to the right team members for maximum productivity.
You keep your team informed and stay connected
Creating a task with a detailed description, necessary files, statistics, links, or other details attached will release you from the task discussions during the numerous meetings. As we know, 67% of executives consider most meetings to be failures. Having tasks scheduled and assigned to certain assignees, with the correct due date set and additional information included, will prevent you and your team from such failure meetings that waste your time. Everyone will know what has to be done, by whom by when. If there is anything left to discuss, you can use a project chat and communicate with your team any time. Things get simple when everything is at hand, and there is no need for tool switching.
You have space to brainstorm
Brainstorming inspires team members to think more creatively – it is one of the most efficient ways of new idea gathering. Instead of preparing dozens of presentations and wasting time on endless meetings, you can use Infolio's digital project spaces/boards for your ideas visualization and team brainstorming. And you can discuss your ideas by adding comments, notes, links, lists, or images. You can use spaces for note-taking, information collection, file storing, and other needs. And again, there is no need to change the tools – everything's in your project, and your team can easily find it.
You free up your time for what matters most
When it is getting too much of everything, it is not about productivity anymore. Productivity is all about keeping things simple and clear. Switching many different tools for various purposes takes you a few steps back. An average knowledge worker spends up to 32 days per year just navigating between apps. That's too much, though, so we encourage you to try an alternative approach.
You try the GTD methodology right in Infolio and see how it works out for you. Infolio is free to use for small teams and individuals, and we don't ask for your credit card at registration.