Thursday, January 29, 2015

3 Ways to Optimize Work Flow with GQueues

Since the start of the New Year, I've noticed a lot of new interest in task management applications. Organizations want to make the most of 2015 and with one month already down, an urgency is growing. While many promise productivity and efficiency, task managers do not often make clear how they drive tangible results for business and thus, their importance.

To offer clarity on the subject, I'd like to share GQueues' case study on Krengeltech, a software development and professional services company, known for DocuTransfer.®

A majority of Krengeltech's 15 employees work across the Midwest, and one reason they sought a task manager was to improve central communication within the team, thereby producing higher quality deliverables for clients.

Over the past three years, here's how GQueues helped Krengeltech achieve their goals.

Task One: Integrating with Google Apps

In 2011, Quentin Krengel, founder and President of Krengeltech spotted GQueues for its complete Google Apps integration and ability to create, prioritize and share tasks with his entire team. Having just switched Krengeltech to Google Apps, he chose it as the best fitting task manager for the company.

Two: Managing the Flow of Business

Krengeltech first and foremost needed to improve their communication structure that started in internal strategy and poured into client relations.

GQueues offered a way to optimize the team's process of collecting, translating and implementing data from client intake to high-quality deliverables.

First, Krengeltech employees created queues for each step of the process - Estimators, Statement of Work and Projects - in the company's GQueues account. With the Shared Queues feature, all Krengeltech employees were able to prioritize and assign tasks in these queues with Google Contacts, keeping everyone on track. Krengeltech now had access to a smoother, seamless client-to-staff connection.
"GQueues keeps us on track so nothing falls through the cracks."
- Chris Franz, Professional Services Manager

Task Three: Making Teamwork Simple

Next, Krengeltech wanted to streamline the way teams worked together. This meant clear, consistent communication regardless of location or distance from one employee to another. It also meant giving employees a way to optimize their time individually so they could meet goals and deadlines together.

With GQueues, teams began to create agenda queues that contained tasks and items to be discussed in weekly conference calls. They attached files from Google Drive to these queues, organizing information relevant to the upcoming call and sharing it with all participating team members. When it was time to meet, participants were already informed of the purpose and focus of the call and could utilize their time together effectively.

Employees were also able to optimize their individual work flow with the GQueues for Gmail extension, turning relevant email content into actionable tasks. Being able to sort emails from personal, to group, to “junk” made it easy to focus only on relevant tasks.

In the same vein, teams used the GQueues Chrome Extension to add spur of the moment ideas and web content to their tasks without logging into GQueues. This was more productive than sharing a link and having recipients scan through the entire web page to find the relevant content. It also allowed team members to create tasks instantly, a shortcut to the full GQueues interface.

Over the past three years, we've been thrilled to help Krengeltech improve collaboration and communication and achieve more client-focused results. Chris Franz, CEO of Krengeltech noted the app’s simplicity and integration with Google Apps as, "pretty much a no brainer," so we're glad to hear the process was simple.

If you’d like to learn more about GQueues features, how they can optimize your work flow and drive results, take a moment to view our other case studies across several industries. No matter your line of work, we hope this information helps you make key decisions for a productive, purpose-driven New Year.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Focusing on the Essential in 2015

Surrounded by family and friends, I find the holidays are a great time to reflect on what really matters. While I’m fairly clear on the current direction of my life, I noticed a disconnect between what’s important to me and how I was actually spending my time and energy everyday. This reminded me of a key point in Greg McKeown’s latest book Essentialism which I read this past fall:

“Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done.”

That’s it! Even though we know what’s important to accomplish, our daily activities often don’t match up and we squander our time on the non-essential. To be productive is not enough. In order to make our highest contributions both personally and professionally, we must consciously direct our efforts to do the “right" things.

Here are 4 practices to help focus your energy on what is essential, every day.

1. Learn to Say No

Your time is limited. Therefore, the only way to focus on the essential is to reduce time spent on the non-essential. This requires saying no to people or opportunities that distract you from what you value most.

These techniques can help you decide when it is in your best interest to say no:
  • Monitor what is on your plate. Your life is already full. You spend every minute of the day on something. When a new opportunity comes along, think about what it will replace and deliberately decide if this trade is worthwhile. If you’re not willing to give up something else (whether it’s another project, sleep or even relaxation time) then you can confidently and graciously say no.

  • Listen to your body and intuition. They are important! Saying yes to something that seems attractive, but leaves you feeling tight in the belly, or cramped in your back, merits reconsideration. Your body is your best ally in situations where an answer may not be apparent. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s usually a sign for you to first stop and think before moving forward. 

2. Always Give Your All

If you are saying no to the non-essential and focusing only on what’s important to you, it will be easier to bring your best effort to activities. With more time, energy and focus available, you can develop strategies to do higher-level work in a given time.

Here are 3 ways to give your all on a daily basis:
  • Be fully present in whatever you are doing. This requires staying in the moment, accepting the current situation as it is and then deciding how you want to respond and engage. A daily mindfulness routine can help you develop this habit – start your morning with meditation, watch a motivational TED Talk, spend 15 minutes making something with your hands (art, food, music, etc.), take an improv class, or anything else that helps you focus on the now.

  • Start your top priorities first. Since you can only accomplish a number of tasks each day, starting your top priorities first ensures they aren’t neglected due to fatigue. Instead of spending the first hours of your day archiving junk email, take that time to focus on the heavy hitters, such as finishing a business proposal.

  • Be open to feedback. Listening openly, without judgment and without taking things personally is one of the most valuable skills in the workplace and world today. It requires noticing your thoughts and letting defensiveness go while receiving feedback from supervisors, your team, your spouse, or anyone who provides it. First, consider if the feedback resonates with you. If so, put it into action – showing up earlier, sharing more ideas at meetings, spending more time with your kids, or anything else. If it doesn't, choose to continue in a way that is best for you.

3. Optimize Your Habits 

Often, we develop unintentional patterns that waste time, energy and money. Monitoring your daily actions can help you become aware of how you spend resources and how to maximize your ROI.
  • Review how you spend time, money and energy. Track everything for a short period so you have a thorough assessment. Use tracking apps to simplify the process.

  • Eliminate the unnecessary. Identify activities you can cut altogether. I’m no longer checking email when I don’t actually have time to respond. Last year I stopped keeping snacks at my desk, which led to habitual, mindless eating.

  • Replace unintentional patterns with efficient ones. I used to spend about $30 a week on subway train tickets instead of buying an unlimited monthly pass for $100. It took me four months to finally make the switch, realizing the unlimited pass would have saved me $80 in that time period, and countless minutes spent buying tickets every time I took the train.

4. Energize Your Mind and Body

Our minds and bodies need breaks. We put a lot of pressure on them to relentlessly perform, but they are living organisms that also require nurture and care. If you plan to give your all for the long haul, you'll need to keep your mind and body energized.

Here are three ways to sustain your energy on a daily basis:
  • Physical activity. You don’t have to climb Mount Everest, run a marathon, or even join a gym. But incorporating simple and stimulating physical activity in your daily routine will improve your energy level. Take power walks, do cubicle yoga, or jog on lunch breaks.

  • Change your work setting. Mix it up. Spend a few hours on your laptop in a communal space, then move to your desk to make your day’s phone calls. When you’re done, step out to a cafĂ© for some relaxation, or choose another fun destination and keep the work going.

  • Connect with others. When the 3pm office slump kicks in, be the first to drum up a game of Catch Phrase with the team, lead a ten minute dance party, capture a funny group video, or make plans to grab a few beers together when the day is done. 
Taking time to connect with yourself and others stimulates you and helps your whole team accomplish more. Check out these tips for other ways to transform your office into a happy, productive workspace.

Now equipped with four practices for an essential life, how do you envision your year ahead? Whether you're ready to build your business, start a family, travel abroad or anything else, frequently check in with the actions you are taking to make sure they align with your larger goals. There are few things more inspiring than to accomplish exactly what you set out for, no matter what else comes up.