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How to Make Your Morning Meetings More Productive For Everyone Involved

Have you ever woken up for your day at work and absolutely dreaded having to deliver the morning meeting? It’s usually a Monday, it’s usually raining, and for some reason this month, the heating hasn’t kicked in on time, so the boardroom is freezing cold. This type of start to the day is guaranteed to make your employees miserable, which means they do not want to sit in the morning meeting and listen to you talk about the week ahead. This is your chance to make the Monday morning team meeting so much more fun. Well, you can make it suck a little less and make it more bearable, anyway!

If you were a standup comedian, you’d know the importance of the first and last five minutes of any show. You cannot hope to engage your employees if you are bored by your own content and tone of voice, and getting them to interact in the meeting with you is difficult enough as it is! So, how can you engage your employees and get them leaving the meeting they’re dreading smiling instead?

Set An Example

If you walked into a boardroom and everyone had a sour look on their face, would you want to be there? Probably not. Start the meeting with pastries, offerings of hot coffee and be jovial in your demeanour. People find a bad mood infectious, but the same goes for a good mood.

They will be happy and at ease if you are. It’s so much easier to discuss the latest content curation platform you want to use when the team have had a pastry, a hot drink and a laugh first thing in the morning. You need to keep the energy of the room high, so don’t let the Monday morning misery from others affect you, either!

Connect With Everyone

This may seem a little daft, but talk to everyone about their weekend, get an anecdote or something funny they’ve seen while away from the office. If you start off with the agenda of the meeting you’re going to watch their eyes glaze over and it’s game over for their attention-span! Making an effort with your staff can make them feel appreciated, and everyone needs that on a Monday morning.

Start With Praise

Begin a meeting with praising those who have hit targets and deadlines. Hand out rewards and make the meeting a positive one. Recognition is so important when it comes to building good relationships with people and starting your week on rewards instead of failures can set the tone for the workplace. Buoyant staff often work harder, so make them fly.

End How You Begun

You started your meeting with energy and praise, so end it the same way. Never end a meeting on a sour note and thank your staff for their efforts. Acknowledge that meetings aren’t always the most fun way to spend time, but make them know you’re grateful for their attendance.

No one likes to attend a meeting and be lectured, so make sure your meeting style deviates from the norm. You’ll be thanked for it!

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8 Apps to Turn You into a Productivity Machine

For the entrepreneur or small business owner looking to stay ahead of the curve and on top of every challenge, it’s essential to have the right sort of tools at hand to deal with every eventuality that might arise, and to aid performance wherever it can be aided.

In the 21st Century, many of those tools will be in the form of various types of software, with computer programs and web-based apps and services available for just about anything you could imagine, ranging from debt collection software, to programs which monitor the productivity of your employees during the working day.

Whatever the industry you work in, and whatever the structure of your business, you can be sure that there are apps to help you up your game to the next level.

Here are a few specific recommendations.

RescueTime for catching you red-handed when you procrastinate

RescueTime is arguably the most popular time management app out there, and for good reason. While many bits of software do a great job of allowing you to record timesheets or determine how long you’ve spent on a project, RescueTime goes behind your back and holds you accountable in ways that self-reporting tools seldom can.

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There are two key parts to the RescueTime system. The first is a desktop program which runs quietly and inoffensively in the background. The second, is the web-based app, which features your RescueTime dashboard and the assorted reports, settings, and tools that you’ll be using.

The desktop program records the time you spend in various programs, or visiting various websites. It then reports this back to the web service, which creates graphs for you, breaking down your recorded time that day, and categorises it into various productivity scores.

If you’re on Facebook, for example, that will be recorded as unproductive time. Microsoft Word, on the other hand, will be tracked as productive. Fortunately, in case the program has misjudged a site, or program, you can reclassify their productivity scores which will affect future records.

RescueTime also allows you to create “focused” blocks of time, by blocking sites and programs rated as “distracting”, for certain blocks of time.

Toggl for tracking your projects

Toggl is the king of manual project-focused timers, and does exactly what you’d want from a program with that kind of focus. With Toggl, you create different task entries (and can assign them to specific project categories) and simply click on the start button to begin timing.

Toggl will show you how much time you’ve spent in total on a given project or task — even if the total contributed minutes span days, weeks or months.

The program will also allow you to track how well your actual working time lines up with your estimates for a given project, by allowing you to set an estimated time, and budget, for each project.

Finally, Toggl also allows you to create straightforward, effective timesheets, to allow for easier invoicing for different projects.

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Time Doctor for nudging you to stay productive

While RescueTime keeps an eye on what you’re doing, in the background, and while Toggl allows you to focus on the total time you’ve spent on a given project over a particular span of time, Time Doctor’s focus is in forcing you to remain aware of how you’re spending your time, minute by minute, throughout the day.

The Time Doctor setup is quite straightforward. It includes a desktop program, where you enter various tasks (which can be grouped by project).

As you enter a task, a timer for it automatically begins. If you want to stop the timing, you have three options; click “pause”, which causes Time Doctor to start a separate “break” timer, switch to a different project, or click “finish work”, where Time Doctor stops recording any time.

Whenever you’re away from the computer but Time Doctor is left tracking a task, it’ll bring up a “were you on a break? Yes/No” pop-up when you return. And whenever you leave the timer on a “break” but are still active on the computer, it’ll periodically ask if you’ve returned to work yet.

StickK for holding you to your commitments

StickK is a web and app-based service designed specifically to hold you accountable to your pledges. The way it accomplishes this is by having you create “commitment contracts” and then pledge money to achieving them.

The system allows you to bring in “referees” — friends, colleagues, or family — to double-check that your reports are truthful. If they turn out not to be, or if you fail to report, your pledged money will be deducted.

Where does this money go, you ask? You can either nominate a friend to have it sent to, or a charity of your choice (from a pre-selected list), or an “anti-charity” (an organisation that you’d hate giving your money to. There’s a list to choose from.)

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Beeminder for building positive work habits

Having the right habits in place is one of the keys to productivity in work and in life. Beeminder is an accountability system aimed not at getting you to achieve a certain task by a certain date, but rather at developing the right habits and sticking with them on a day-to-day basis.

The way Beeminder achieves this is by having you pledge to do something “more” or “less”. You can set the specifics for each habit, including the number of units of that thing you’d like to do on a daily or weekly basis.

Beeminder then creates you a graph, with a carefully marked off section, known as the “yellow brick road”, which is the sweet spot you’ll want to stay in. If you fall below the yellow brick road, by not failing in your task for several days in a row, you get charged money.

Each time you fall below the yellow brick road from that point on, your financial pledges will grow in size.

Nozbe for keeping track of your projects and tasks

Tracking your time is all very well, but it’s even more essential to keep a list of the various tasks and projects you need to accomplish, and for that list to make sense to you, and allow for an effective, comfortable working situation.

Nozbe is one of the best of task manager services on the web, and it’s free. It uses the famous “Getting Things Done” method, pioneered by David Allen, and popular in boardrooms across the globe, as its template and goes from there.

With Nozbe, you enter in your tasks that later appear in an “inbox”. The goal is to empty your inbox fast, by assigning each task to a project. The tasks then group together into their project categories, and provide a clear picture of what you need to do before the project is complete.

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Remember the Milk helps you remember the milk and everything else

Even the most organised project management system can still fall apart if you forget to carry out your tasks when required. That’s where Remember the Milk comes into the picture.

Remember the Milk is a way of making sure that you don’t forget anything important, for any reason, at any time. It features a system for tracking tasks and their deadlines, and then setting email, pop-up, and even text message reminders when they’re due to be carried out.

Trello for team collaboration

Trello is a system which allows you to create workboards, where team members can sign in simultaneously, see, organise, and work on assorted tasks for various larger projects.

When you manage a team who might be working remotely, or on different shifts, having a tool like Trello is critical for effective collaboration, not to mention avoiding a situation where team members end up stepping on each other’s toes.

How to Personalise Your Work Space for Maximum Productivity

In business, we can find ourselves facing a wide range of different issues. From problematic clients to a lack of funds, issues can come and go, but some are always more frustrating than others. Because although issues can be a problem, when they’re relatively easy to solve or put right, you can easily forget about the stress they caused. And that’s not always the case with some of the more frustrating and frequent issues. Like productivity. Trying to increase productivity in the workplace is something that we all want to do, especially when you work from home. However, have you ever thought of turning to your workspace itself to help increase productivity?

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Keep Distractions to a Minimum

The first way that you’re going to be able to do this is to try to cut out distractions. Now, when you’re looking to particularly manipulate your workspace area to make this happen, you’re going to want to focus on the things you can control, and forget about the things you can’t.

Are your decor choices to distracting? Do you find yourself doing anything other than working? If so, you need to remove these distractions, or even think about relocating your office to ensure that you can keep your focus.

Use Motivational Decor

On the flip side, you should also think about the things that you can add in as well as take away. Because you can actually control and increase your productivity levels by bringing things into the space that keep you, or your team, motivated too.

Whether you work alone in a home office, or you have your own business and you want to keep your employees focused, bringing in motivation slogans can definitely help, as well as things like soothing and motivating music too.

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Read also: Three things to consider when creating the perfect workplace

Add in Essential Accessories

Then, there could be the other additions that ensure your work flow is clearer and more effective. When you work at home, you could use work trays on your desk to keep you on track. When you have a commercial space, you could have a safety swing gate to reduce error and accidents. Whatever it is, you need to think about the things you can bring in that will keep your production running smoothly.

Be Smart with Storage

Another thing that may be able to help you here, is storage. When your commercial or office space, is cluttered and unorganised, it can really affect your focus. But, by bringing in smart office design ideas and great commercial space storage procedures, you may find that you can increase your productivity and avoid downtime.

Use Visuals for Planning

And finally, you should also think about the other ways that you can bring visuals into your workspace to help with productivity. Sometimes, being able to see your work flow can help you to keep the pace up and stay on task. With schedules and incentives to keep you or your employees motivated, you should notice a huge difference in your productivity levels overall.

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