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Productivity Hack: Find an app that works for you
Over the last several weeks, we've brought you insights from IT experts on how you can eliminate distractions and take your productivity to the next level. For the last article in this series, IT leaders share the apps that have changed the way they manage their time and their teams.
Things for task management
Lubos Parobek, VP of Product, Sauce Labs
"I'm a big fan of task management tools. I personally use Things. Task management tools help me stay on top of due dates and action items, and get these things out of email. However, robust task management tools go further and allow you to keep track of things you’ve delegated to your team, and can even be used as mini-project management tools. For example, I keep a list of action items and discussion topics for each of my direct reports in Things. This allows me make the most out of my 1-1 time with my team, and ensures that delegated tasks get completed on schedule. I also use it to plan and track mini-projects like offsite meetings.
When email volume gets out of control I like to use a system called Yesterbox. I’ve found it amazingly effective in keeping me productive even under a deluge of email!"
Trello to manage the team
Adam Johnson, VP of Business, Midokura
"We use Trello to keep project status, track changes - it is easily to track who’s doing what and when things will be completed. It also provides me a view into the workload so that I can re-balance the workload amongst the team.
App-integration using Zapier is one of my favorite productivity hacks. Zapier allows you to connect one service to another, with Zapier managing the API connections between them. It is dead simple to 'zap' or move data from one application to another, even allowing you to add logic to the zaps. A typical workflow might be triggered by someone entering a form in order to download an ebook. Their contact info can be 'zapped' into a CRM system like Pipedrive so that they can get an email follow-up from the Sales Development Rep (SDR)."
Slack for communication
Julien Anguenot, VP of Software Engineering, iland
"My team is spread across three continents, so written communication that others can reference is key. We use Slack as a first line of communication in most cases, leveraging channels to make sure the right people are in the conversation. Email is secondary. If necessary, we’ll use Skype for ad hoc conference calls when addressing complicated urgent matters, but it rarely happens. Collaboration is important, but always-on communication can be just as disruptive as too many meetings. I schedule 30-minute 'disconnect windows' several times a day so that I can focus on my projects. I even switch to a computer that does not run any messaging or email applications.
Beyond establishing clear processes, I also focus on building my team with experts I trust, and then empower them to do their job while learning new things. First, it cuts down on meetings because they just know what to do and get it done. But perhaps more importantly, it's a competitive tech market, and if you aren't giving your employees the opportunity to innovate and leverage cutting edge technologies, they will go elsewhere. That creates a whole different set of productivity challenges."
Read all articles in our mini-series on Productivity Hacks here.