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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Take control of your inbox with GQueues for Gmail

We are happy to share one of the most exciting new GQueues features we’ve ever launched: GQueues for Gmail.

Since we were named a Google for Work Premier Partner earlier this year, we’ve been heads-down working on new integrated product features that allow our individual and business users to achieve higher levels of connection between GQueues and other Google services. Our Google Calendar integration got an update earlier this year. Attachments with Google Drive Integration launched in August, and the Gmail integration adds even more power across Google Apps.

We created the new feature as a Chrome Extension, which you can get here or through the Chrome Web Store.

With GQueues for Gmail, users will have the ability to:
  • Create a new task directly from Gmail, automatically linking to, or attaching the relevant email inside a new task and enabling you to modify the task name and details.
  • View emails attached to a task inside GQueues itself, saving time by avoiding long searches for related messages, or having to open a new window.
Watch the video to see how it works.
GQueues for Gmail is a powerful new tool that will make you and your team even more efficient and organized. The extension is only available to users with a paid subscription, but everyone can test it out with a 2-week free trial (even if a free trial has already been used in the past). Setting up GQueues for Gmail is simple. Visit this page to install the new extension and you’ll be taking control of your email in minutes.

Our goal is to continually add new functionality that makes our current users even more productive. As always, we look forward to your feedback on this new feature and to your suggestions for the next one. And, if you get a moment, share the tool that makes your home or work life easier with your friends. Just click to tweet the feature now.

Monday, November 3, 2014

3 Lessons of Entrepreneurship from the Early Voting Line

Yesterday I received my daily deluge of campaign fundraising emails, one of which reminded me that it was the last day for early voting. I knew I’d be busy on Tuesday, and one of the early voting locations was near my gym, so I decided to cast my ballot before my afternoon run. Upon arriving, shocked at the number of Chicagoans who also thought voting on a Sunday was a top priority, I took my place at the end of a line that extended out the door with several switchbacks in between. During my wait, I experienced three distinct events that reminded me of key lessons I’ve learned as an entrepreneur over the past five years building GQueues, the leading Google-integrated task management service for people and teams.

Listen to Customers (actually listen!)

A few minutes after taking my place in line, volunteers appeared offering coffee and donut holes. Most of us happily accepted the thoughtful gesture. People were cheerful and congenial on this mild fall day. But those of us at the end of the line were anxious; although our appetites were satisfied, our greatest desire was still unmet. We wanted to know how long we would be waiting in line, of course! Taking the lead for the group, I approached a person about halfway between the end of the line and the door and asked how long he had been waiting since standing in my position. 30 minutes. Great! We now knew we’d be voting in approximately an hour. Though the volunteers were well-meaning, they overlooked one of the most important services they could provide -- sharing ballpark wait times -- so people could decide whether if it would be better to vote today or wait until Tuesday.

Almost all the features I’ve built for the online task manager GQueues have come directly from customer feedback. However, the coffee and donuts situation reminded me of a few times when I’ve made changes to GQueues without getting user input first (it turns out people don’t like having task colors changed on them overnight, and they don’t want PayPal as the only payment option)! The Lean Startup movement emphasizes the idea of getting out of the building and talking to customers to ensure you are building the right solution. As entrepreneurs, we are always thinking about how we can improve our products. We have theories on what will solve customers’ problems and improve the business. Our vision of the future is essential to our success. However, our instincts and plans must always be rooted in a clear understanding of users and their needs -- which only emerges through listening. Asking customers for feedback with open-ended questions and then actually listening is paramount to building a truly valuable service. This isn’t revelatory. Most successful startups embrace this concept. But my time waiting to vote brought this to life again for me. Without truly listening, we may end up giving customers what we think they want (coffee and donuts), without addressing their most critical needs (wait times)!

Recognize What You Don’t Know

One of the aspects I enjoy about voting in person is the feeling of community at the polling place. While waiting in line, I listened to a Chicago Teachers Union member and a Chicago Transit worker discuss their views on the current state of the city and their support for various politicians. After an hour we made it to front door of the building, just as calculated. With a sigh of relief, we walked inside, only to see the line of people snaking down hallways throughout the building. I realized my error in reasoning. After talking to those at the front of the line, we learned it was another hour-long wait once inside the building.

At that moment, I recalled a key concept I had learned about project planning in my Masters of software engineering program: always identify the areas of highest risk -- the greatest unknowns -- and address those first. Focusing on what you don’t know is even more important than what you do know when embarking on something new. When building the GQueues Android app my biggest “unknown” was whether I could create a relational database in Android that could sync with the object-oriented “NoSQL” datastore in Google App Engine. If I couldn’t get syncing to work between the two types of databases, there was no point in building the app. So before I started any actual development, I spent an entire week exploring and testing this one area to answer this question and eliminate the risk before moving forward.

As early entrepreneurs there is a huge amount of information we don’t know -- about our market, our potential customers, our competitors, and the future in general. Learning as much as possible in these areas is critical to discovering a viable business model. And yet we often must make decisions with incomplete information. Consequently, it’s crucial to recognize what we don’t know when making decisions, so false assumptions are avoided and risks can be mitigated as much as possible. Had I focused on what I didn’t know at the polling place, I would have either sought more information or at least considered the impact of the unknowns in my decision to stay or go.

Beware of the Sunk Costs Fallacy

Standing inside the building, I realized I should re-evaluate my situation. I’m sure many people stayed in line because they really couldn’t vote on Tuesday, but I was in a position to compare my options.

While considering my choice, I recalled the Sunk Costs Fallacy I had learned so well when I made a major shift in GQueues’ mobile strategy. When we make a decision based on previously incurred expenses, instead of the cost and benefits that an action will have in the future, we are falling subject to the sunk costs fallacy. In 2011 I built an HTML5 mobile web app instead of separate native apps for iOS and Android with the idea that I could provide offline functionality to mobile users with only one code-base to maintain. The mobile web app was welcomed at launch, but I spent the next year trying to address user performance issues associated with not building native apps. Although I had invested three months developing the mobile web app and countless hours trying to improve it, I realized this was irrelevant to considering what was best for GQueues customers. I abandoned the mobile web app and decided to finally build native Android and iOS apps, admitting my mistake publicly and moving forward.

In business and any area of life, it’s easy to fall into the trap of the sunk costs fallacy, because we get attached to our investments of time and money. Recognizing the faulty logic though can help us avoid making decisions that don’t lead us into a brighter future.

Although I knew I’d be busy on Tuesday, my schedule was flexible, and I was willing to bet that if I went during the day while most people were at work, the line to vote would be less than an hour. I said farewell to my fellow voters, passed along the expected wait time to those at the end of the line and headed for the gym.

UPDATE Tues, Nov 4, 2:20pm: I voted today. Perfect timing. No line. In and out in 8 minutes flat!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Attach Files to GQueues Tasks, Including Seamless Google Drive Integration

Associating documents to tasks has been one of the most requested features by users, and starting today you can now attach files to tasks!

The new Attachments feature integrates seamlessly with Google Drive providing an intuitive experience with functionality that "just works."

Attach existing documents and folders from Google Drive, upload files from your computer by simply dragging them onto a task, and even take pictures or record voice notes from your mobile device.

Plus, GQueues manages the attachments for you, updating the necessary permissions to give other people access when you assign tasks or share a queue for collaborative work.

Watch the video below for a complete overview.


Beta testers who had early access quickly realized the value of this new feature, reporting that Attachments had "streamlined communication," "saved time and allowed me to stay more organized," and "made GQueues the place where one can track every aspect of tasks that need to be done."

Try out the new Attachments feature now and see what it can do for you!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

GQueues Named Google Apps Premier Technology Partner

CHICAGO, IL, June 10, 2014 - GQueues, a leading task manager for Google Accounts, has joined the recently launched technology track of the Google Apps Partner Program as one of its first Premier Technology Partners.

As a top-tier member of the Partner Program, GQueues has access to a range of technical, marketing and support resources from Google which will allow for even richer product integrations, including GQueues’ upcoming Attachments feature built around Google Drive. In addition, GQueues looks forward to working with Google on various joint go-to-market efforts to expand the Google Apps ecosystem and bring collaborative solutions to organizations ready to move to the cloud.

Since its founding in 2009, GQueues has focused on maximizing user productivity by offering seamless integrations with Google products and services. As one of the first apps on the original Google Apps Marketplace launched in 2010, and a launch partner for the new Marketplace in 2013, GQueues has an extensive history bringing its task management solution to Google Apps customers worldwide. Now as a Premier Technology Partner, GQueues looks to build on its experience by working more closely with Google. “What I’m most excited about is using the benefits Google offers its Premier Technology Partners to make GQueues even more intuitive and streamlined for users,” says GQueues founder Cameron Henneke.

GQueues’ acceptance into the Partner Program seems natural considering the response from organizations using both Google Apps and GQueues. In recently published case studies several businesses cited GQueues’ deep integration with Google Apps as the key factor that distinguished it from other tools. Consequently, GQueues heartily welcomes the opportunity to work with Google on this new level to continue providing users with the best experience possible.

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About GQueues: Founded in 2009 by Chicago-based entrepreneur Cameron Henneke, GQueues is a full-featured task manager for Google Accounts and Google Apps accounts available on the web, along with Android and iOS apps. Its intuitive interface and seamless integration with Google Calendar, Contacts and Gmail makes it easy for users to get started and actually focus on the work at hand. GQueues helps businesses worldwide and is one of the top productivity apps in the Google Apps Marketplace.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Refer people to GQueues, win a Chromebook Pixel!

Do you know people that may benefit from using GQueues? If so, you have a chance to a win a new Chromebook Pixel!


Chromebook Pixel

Sign in to your GQueues account and click on "Tell your Friends" to email people you know and tell them about GQueues. For each person that logs in you'll get another entry to win the Pixel. The contest ends June 3rd, so start sending your referrals now to maximize your chances.

No purchase necessary to enter or win. Read the full contest rules for complete details.

UPDATE:
The contest is now over.  Congratulations to Zane L. of Nebraska who won the Chromebook Pixel!
Thanks to everyone who helped spread to word about GQueues.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Customer Success Stories

Are you curious how others are using GQueues?  Want some ideas on how to get the most out of the tool?  A new set of case studies has just been published highlighting how four organizations are using GQueues in their daily workflow to collaborate and maximize productivity. Check out the new Customers page to hear their stories first-hand.
GQueues Case Studies


Monday, March 24, 2014

Android App Updated with Top Feature Requests

Today GQueues released a significant update to its Android app packed with users' most highly-requested features and improvements. The new version includes a quick view widget for the homescreen and lockscreen, adjustable font-size for tasks, a DashClock extension, homescreen shortcuts, and Google Now integration.

Watch the video below for highlights of all the new additions.


People who have auto-update enabled most likely already have the new version. Everyone else can install the update or download the app from Google Play now.

Don't have a GQueues subscription? Everyone can try out the new version of the app for two weeks free (even if a free trial has been used in the past).

A special thanks to the 40+ beta testers who discovered bugs and suggested changes over the past three weeks. Contributions from users help ensure the right changes and improvements are made to have the biggest impact for everyone!


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Google Calendar Integration Upgrade Brings Speed Improvements to GQueues

Last November GQueues highly popular Google Calendar integration was completely re-written to use version 3 of the Google Calendar API. The upgrade was gradually rolled out to users in December, and hopefully you've noticed that queues load much faster now when you click on them. While the upgrade process was fairly seamless, quite a bit has changed behind the scenes to make these speed improvements possible.

GQueues 2-way syncing with Google Calendar has been a standout feature since 2009 when it was first added. To achieve this "real-time" 2-way syncing, whenever a person clicked to view a queue, GQueues checked the person's Google Calendar for any changes before displaying the tasks. This check increased the queue load-time 0.5 - 2 seconds depending on network congestion, but it was essential to providing the most current and accurate view of a person's tasks.

Last July Google added "push notifications" to the Calendar API. This was a significant improvement because it meant Google Calendar could be set to immediately notify a third-party server when any changes happened to a calendar instead of the server always having to check for changes. GQueues could finally be notified of calendar changes as they happened, and process them entirely in the background. The 2-second calendar check before a queue loaded could now be eliminated!

Unfortunately implementing the change was not so simple. The new "push notifications" feature is only available in version 3 of the Calendar API, which is wholly different than version 2 (which GQueues used), thus requiring a complete re-write of the calendar integration code. More troubling though, version 3 only supported OAuth2 for getting authorized access to a person's calendar. The Google Apps Marketplace did not support the newer OAuth2 protocol, so GQueues could not change to version 3 without leaving all its business users behind (obviously not a viable option). Fortunately Google updated the Marketplace in November to support OAuth2, and GQueues, as one of the launch partners finally had all the pieces in place to upgrade its calendar integration. After a few weeks of development and testing the upgrade was ready to launch and users now benefit from background calendar syncing and faster queue loading.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Top 3 Productivity Hacks for 2014

During the holidays I inevitably end up having conversations with family and friends comparing notes on the best apps we've found, how to do X on device Y, and savvy tricks we use to be more efficient and productive. It's always a great time of sharing and it prompted me to think about the tech "hacks" I use that have resulted in my largest productivity gains over the past few years.

Here are my top three "productivity hacks," which may seem commonplace to many, but they are so simple and provide such huge gains that they're worth mentioning for the benefit of anyone unacquainted.

1. Google Chrome Profiles to Manage Multiple Accounts

Most of us have multiple email accounts - at minimum personal and work - and often several more. I like to have all of my Gmail and Google Apps accounts open at once to save time logging in and out of each. Before 2013 I achieved this through a concoction of browsers - primary work email and browsing was isolated to Safari, all things personal in Chrome, test accounts in Firefox, and all secondary work accounts in a Chrome incognito window with Google's limited support for multiple account login. This configuration worked for the most part, but was a hassle to setup whenever I restarted my computer, and supported a limited number of accounts (I was still always signing in and out of test accounts on Firefox).

Profiles in Google Chrome changed everything!  When you add a profile to Chrome it's like running an entirely separate browser with a separate browsing history, separate cookies so your logged in accounts don't get mixed up and separate bookmarks.

Adding a profile to Chrome is easy - just go to Settings -> Users and "Add new user...". I created a profile for every email account I have, with a different color icon and theme for each so they are easily distinguishable. Now, essentially I have a separate browser for every account, and since I've signed in to Chrome once for each profile, I can open Gmail or any Google service without ever having to sign in again. (This also works great if you like to have multiple GQueues accounts open at once). And when I restart my machine I just select the profiles I want to open again and choose "Recent tabs" from the menu to restore everything as it was.

I can now open any email account with two clicks, keep all my online identities separate and open simultaneously, and I get to use my favorite browser for everything now too!

2. Multiple Desktops to Stay Organized and Focused

The idea behind multiple desktops is that you can create several different workspaces or desktops on a single computer, thus making it easier to organize and manage disparate computing activities and avoid having layers and layers of windows on top of each other. When I discovered how to setup multiple desktops several years ago it felt like I had just gotten 5 new computers for free!

Multiple desktops are available on most operating systems - Mac OS X allows you to setup "Spaces" for each desktop, on a Windows machine you can choose from a number of free applications to install, and on a Linux box they are included with most distros and desktop environments.


I have six Spaces setup on my Mac (you can add up to 16) - one for each type of activity with unique wallpapers for each desktop so I can instantly know where I am at. I've also setup keyboard shortcuts to quickly navigate between them (option key + the desktop number).

  • 1st desktop - All email accounts are open here, all social networking and web browsing happens here
  • 2nd desktop - All music apps are open here, the control center for my daily soundtrack
  • 3rd desktop - All web development happens here - Terminals, App Engine and testing on various browsers
  • 4th desktop - Exclusively for Photoshop
  • 5th desktop - Android and iOS development - Eclipse and XCode live here
  • 6th desktop - A "free" desktop for whenever I need a blank workspace

Using multiple desktops on my computer is the best hack for keeping myself organized and focused on the task at hand. When I start to develop a new feature for GQueues or fix a bug everything is already setup and ready to go on desktop 3. While developing, I'm less tempted to check my email every minute because it's not on the screen. If I need to design a new component, I hop over to desktop 4 where Photoshop is my entire focus. And when it is time to take a break and check email I can easily switch to this context without losing my place anywhere else. Yes, sometimes it's too easy to just pop over to desktop 1 for a quick peek. Having separate workspaces for each activity helps though, and with a little willpower I can stay focused on one task at a time, minimize switching costs and maintain flow while I work.

3. Multiple Monitors to Maximize Productivity

Adding an additional monitor to your computer setup is probably the easiest way to instantly increase your productivity. Increasing the size of your desktop allows you to have more windows open without covering each other, which means you spend less time switching between them. Copying text between documents or emails, referencing multiple articles, reviewing large spreadsheets all become faster and easier with an additional monitor.

There have been a number of studies and articles over the past 10 years showing productivity boosts from an additional monitor. I've actually cited these in two previous jobs to successfully lobby management for second monitors for all co-workers in my department. And with dwindling prices on monitors, it's even easier to get a return on this one-time investment.

Two years ago I updated my computer to a 15" laptop with a 27" external monitor. All my everyday activities were much easier with the additional desktop space, and my time at the computer was actually more pleasant. A year later I added another 27" monitor to my setup. Before purchasing, I thought it was a little excessive, but now I couldn't imagine working without it. Developing the Android and iOS apps for GQueues was so much easier having an entire screen for writing code, a second one for monitoring logs and debugging, and a third for simulators and documentation. Having multiple email accounts open and fully visible simultaneously is incredibly useful. And this hack is not just for developers - I know a number of accountants, managers, administrators and executive assistants who have all benefited from additional monitors.



Yes, some have questioned the validity of the second monitor studies, and it's true that in some cases people might become less focused when they have more things open and visible on their desktop. For me though, when I combine additional monitors with my multiple desktops hack I get the optimal setup. Each desktop encompasses all three monitors, so I have a huge amount of space within each desktop to maximize my efficiency, while still using distinct workspaces to maintain my focus.

There is certainly an abundance of tips for increasing productivity, but these three I found to have the biggest impact in my own work. What strategies and "hacks" do you use to help boost productivity?