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44 Productivity Hacks to Turn Procrastination Into Action
Productivity 7 min read

44 Productivity Hacks to Turn Procrastination Into Action

  If your to-do list is like mine — longer than the Great Wall of China — you’re probably desperate for productivity tips and shortcuts to help you squeeze a few more hours out of every day. Since we’re all about boosting productivity here at Wrike, we’ve compiled a compendium of  productivity hacks to help you zip through your to-do list in record time. Without further ado: Focus 1. Unplug. Put your phone on airplane mode or Do Not Disturb (or use an Android app like Shush). Black out background browser tabs and notifications with an extension like StayFocusd, and mute your email with Inbox Pause for Gmail. 2. Tidy up. Did you know that the average worker spends 76 hours every year looking for lost stuff? Cleaning up your work area lets your mind focus.  3. Write distractions down. Free up some brain space by taking note of every reminder and distraction that pops in your head. It'll silence that nagging "I'm forgetting something..." feeling and let you focus on the task at hand.  4. Read/watch later. Use Pocket or the Wrike Chrome extension to save interesting links and videos that would ordinarily trigger a marathon link surfing session. 5. Take a hike. Periodic breaks refresh your brain, so go for a walk to boost creativity, sharpen your focus, and brighten your mood.  6. Change your scenery. Work from a coffee shop, library, or your backyard to improve focus and creativity without any office distractions. 7. Be healthy. Losing just 1.5 hours of sleep reduces alertness by 32%, and avoiding junk food can raise your productivity 20%. Exercise helps you better handle stress, makes you more alert, and gives you more mental energy.  8. Get comfy. An office that's too chilly or too warm (outside the 70-77 degree range) lessens productivity by 5%. The pleasant smell of lemons improves focus and reduces errors 54%. And sitting by a window keeps you focused 15% longer.  9. Go green. Houseplants improve creativity by 45% and overall wellbeing by 47%, while sharpening focus and concentration. 10. Grab some headphones. Listening to ambient music or white noise improves focus 35%. 11. Practice meditation. It teaches your brain to tune out distractions and focus longer. Even 5 minutes a day can have an impact! 12. Say "Awww!" Looking at pictures of cute baby animals or photos of nature increases your attention span and memory.  Want to improve collaboration on your team? Start a 2 week trial of Wrike today! Save Time 13. Quit meetings. If you can't cut them completely, keep them to short stand-ups, or make at least one whole day a week meeting-free.  14. Say no. You can't do everything! Just make sure you say no the right way: “I don’t” is more effective than “I can’t”.  15. Delegate whenever possible. You've got a slew of talented teammates around you, so use them! Just don't dump tedious busywork on them — make sure every task you and your team take on is truly worthwhile.  16. De-clutter your inbox. Unroll.me compiles all your newsletters and subscriptions into a single daily digest.  17. Track your time. RescueTime shows how many minutes you spend using various applications. By productivity tracking, you'll get an accurate picture of your daily work habits and discover where you can improve. 18. Quit Facebook (partially). Move everyone from your “friends" list to "acquaintances" — you'll still get the important updates, but you'll spend less time scrolling through quiz results and food photos in your newsfeed. 19. Automate! Create standard email responses to common inquiries, set your browser to automatically open your favorite tabs, set up an RSS feed to monitor essential news outlets and use Zapier or IFTTT to automate other routine tasks.  20. Batch similar tasks. You'll get in the zone and power through several items in less time. 21. Quit typing. Try speech dictation software to get your thoughts down faster, or record new ideas and communications on the go. 22. Keep a "Stop Doing" list. It'll help you watch out for and eliminate the fruitless time sucks from your day. 23. Stop multitasking. Not only is it less efficient, it drops your IQ 10 points. That means more mistakes, which you'll only have to go back and correct... wasting even more precious time.  Prioritize 24. Try the “Must, Should, Want” method. You identify three tasks that will help you accomplish your immediate and long-term goals, plus keep you from burning out.  25. Don't check your email first thing each morning. Instead, spend the first hour or two of each day tackling high-priority items. Too often emails derail our plans for the day, and what we intended to do gets pushed off or lost in the shuffle.  26. Do that ONE thing. Ask yourself: "If I could only get ONE thing done today, what would it be?" Do that first.  27. Pick 3 "Most Important" tasks. Write them on a Post-It, and keep it within sight all day long.  28. Prune your to-do list. If it can’t be done only by you and it's not important enough to delegate, rethink whether it's really worth doing at all. Don't waste time on unproductive tasks! 29. Do creative work first. Take advantage of a fresh brain and leave paperwork, meetings, and follow-up tasks for later. 30. Be picky about the work you accept. Write down your mission (or company's mission) in one concrete sentence, whether that’s “Build useful software” or “Bake beautiful wedding cakes.” Will that task help you achieve your mission? Only take it on if the answer is a firm “yes!”  31. Write tomorrow's to-do list tonight. List 3 items to jumpstart your day with a sense of purpose. And make at least one of those items something fun to get your day started on the right foot.  32. Use Stephen Covey's prioritization matrix to sort tasks. Important & Urgent at the top, then Important but Not Urgent, followed by Urgent but Not Important and finally Not Urgent and Not Important.  33. Ask yourself 5 questions: Does this get me closer to my goal? Is it important to my boss? Does it make me money? Does it make my life easier? Does it have to be done today? Sort your list based on the # of yeses.  Get Motivated 34. Break big tasks into bite-sized pieces. This should kill your procrastination. Or, commit to working on a big project for just 30 minutes, and then stop. 30 minutes a day can add up to significant progress pretty quick! 35. Try David Allen's two-minute rule. If it takes less than two minutes, do it now. Yes, right now. Checking small items off your to-do list boosts motivation.  36. "Eat the frog." You know those big tasks you always dread? Crossing one off first thing in the day gives you a sense of accomplishment and makes you motivated to get even more done.  37. Find your “biological prime time.” This is the magic hour where your energy, focus and motivation align at a high point. Schedule your most important tasks for that window.  38. Make progress visible. Check off tasks or keep an anti-to do list (see #38). It’s easy to lose motivation when you feel like a hamster running on its wheel, going nowhere. Celebrate your successes! 39. Create an “Anti-todo list.” Keep from getting down on yourself for not completing your planned to-dos by keeping a running list of all the stuff you did get done.  40. “Don't break the chain.” Mark each day you accomplish an important task with an X on your calendar, and watch the chain grow. Then don’t break the chain!  41. Start a StickK contract. Name your task or goal, give yourself a set amount of time, and then put up some cash as stakes (optional). If you achieve your goal, you keep your money. If not, it goes to  charity.  42. Strike a power pose. Think Wonder Woman or Superman — wide feet, hands on hips, chest out, chin up. The right body language can boost confidence, lower stress, and help you get "in the zone."  43. Eat some chocolate. You'll get a rush of dopamine, a hormone that boosts motivation. Chocolate also releases chemicals that promote calm and stimulate your brain, perfect for buckling down and getting things done. 44. Be happy! A good mood makes you 12% more productive, so joke with a colleague, watch a funny cat video, or chat with a friend.  With these productivity tips bookmarked or pinned to your wall, your list of accomplishments will be more impressive than ever. Get Work Done - 17 Workplace Productivity Hacks from Wrike Related Reads:• 10 Encouraging Productivity Proverbs for Your Office Wall• How to Create Productive Work Habits (Slideshare)• 8 Lessons in Increased Productivity from Wrike Customers• 10 Free Productivity Apps for Getting Things Done

Email Management: 10 Clever Tricks to Hit Inbox Zero
Productivity 7 min read

Email Management: 10 Clever Tricks to Hit Inbox Zero

For those of us staring down hundreds of unread emails each morning, the concept of inbox zero can start sounding like a mythical achievement — like finding the Holy Grail or stumbling across buried treasure. We look at our colleagues who regularly achieve it with a mix of envy and suspicion: there must be some kind of sorcery involved, right? Give these 10 tips and techniques a try to not only accomplish inbox zero, but actually stay there. No magic required. Trick 1: Use Tony Hsieh’s Yesterbox technique. The basic idea is this: today, you only read and respond to yesterday’s emails. The vast majority of emails don't require an immediate, same-day response, so you can let today's new messages come in without being distracted or distressed by every one. And tomorrow when you get up, you’ll already know exactly how many messages you have to get through and can more accurately plan your day. Zappos CEO Hsieh says he’s actually more responsive with this approach: everyone gets a reply the day after, instead of a week, month, or... never. Obviously, legitimately urgent emails can be addressed today — but true email emergencies are a pretty rare occurrence. Hsieh’s Pro Tip: If you’re using Outlook, just collapse your “Today” section to stay focused on yesterday’s messages. Read more details here: http://yesterbox.com/ Want a tool to help improve your productivity? Start your free Wrike trial today! Trick 2: Apply the 2-minute rule. Take a cue from David Allen’s GTD method: if it'll take you less than two minutes to reply, do it now. Don't wait! Trick 3: Schedule a meeting with your inbox. Set aside time each day to go through your email, whether it’s one hour-long chunk mid-morning, or three 20-minute check-ins at the beginning, middle, and end of the day. Then don’t look at your email any other time. Don’t keep it open in a browser tab, lurking in the background as you work. Turn off notifications. You may even be away from your desk at the time you choose, but as long as you are aware of how to access your messages, like, for example, how to access Outlook work email from home, you'll be fine. By dedicating scheduled time to your inbox, it won’t be on the back of your mind all day long, but you'll still stay on top of your messages. Wish you knew the best time to check your email? This article says that the best time to clean out your inbox is two hours after you’ve started working. Trick 4: Try Unroll.me. This app consolidates all your email subscriptions and newsletters into a single daily digest. Instead of dozens of daily emails to sort through, you have one. It’s easy to unsubscribe from lists en masse, and since you can quickly scan all the offers and updates in one message, you get through your "junk" mail that much faster. If you follow a lot of blogs via email, consider using an RSS reader like Feedly or Inoreader to monitor them instead of clogging up your inbox. Trick 5: Reschedule your emails. Install Boomerang for Gmail to schedule emails to reappear at a set time. It’s great for messages that require some research before a response, and for batching similar to-dos together. Say you’ve got a job posting up and emails from potential candidates are streaming in. You routinely sort through new resumes on Friday mornings. So reschedule every email from job seekers to show up in your inbox Friday am. They won’t be sitting in your inbox, distracting you or weighing on your mind, but you’ll still get them done and clear them out.   Trick 6: Don’t be afraid to delete. If it’s that important, someone will follow up with you. So if there’s even a question about whether you need to keep the email, just delete it. Your trash bin will typically save deleted emails for 30 days, so if you deleted something by accident, you can always retrieve it. But trust us: 99% of the time you won't need to. Trick 7: Modify your Out-of-Office message. Vacations are great, but returning to a terrifying number of new emails can be really depressing, and can take forever to dig your way out of. Even worse is neglecting your work-life balance by figuring out how to access my work email from home. Replace the boilerplate out-of-office message with this: "I’m out of the office from 11/10-11/18 and won’t see your message. Please resend your email after 11/18.” Then filter all incoming messages straight to the trash while you’re gone. If it’s important and the deadline hasn’t passed, they’ll get back to you — and you’ll come home to a clean inbox. Trick 8: Put all your action items in Wrike. Move your to-dos out of your inbox and into your workspace with the rest of your tasks. Wrike’s Outlook/Apple Mail add-ins and Gmail gadget quickly turn emails into tasks, so you can clean out your inbox and actually get to work on to-dos instead of letting them languish in inbox purgatory. You’ll benefit from better organization, and manageable email. Trick 9: Move conversations out of your inbox. Keep your inbox uncluttered by limiting the amount of email you generate. Prevent a chain of email responses by stepping away from the laptop and holding conversations face-to-face, picking up the phone, or sending an instant message. Trick 10: Play the Email Game. The above tips will help you stay at inbox zero, but how do you clear the current mountain of unread emails to get there in the first place? Cleaning out your inbox doesn’t have to be a chore — make it fun! The Email Game gives you a set amount of time to act on each email: reply, forward, label, archive, delete, or skip to look at later. Collect points for beating the timer, which is set according to the length of each email. After you’ve powered through a batch of messages, you’ll get a status report showing how much time you saved and your rank on the leaderboard. Just try not to get addicted to beating your high score! "Inbox Zero" means zero time wasted in your inbox. Did you know that the real definition of Inbox Zero, as originally coined by Merlin Mann, doesn’t actually have anything to do with your number of unread emails? It’s the amount of your attention that’s preoccupied by email, the extent to which your inbox weighs on your mind. Yes, having zero emails in your inbox is one way to do that, but it’s not the only way. So don’t get down on yourself if you don't hit this productivity benchmark every day — or at all. The real achievement is in figuring out a system that works for you, so email doesn’t rule your life. Give these tricks a try, and be sure to let us know how it goes! Wrike can help you organize and manage all your to-dos and reminders. Start a free trial today and make your inbox a more productive place.

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 25 Must-Know Productivity Tips

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 25 Must-Know Productivity Tips

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Tips for Improving Productivity With Employee Time Tracking Apps
Productivity 7 min read

Tips for Improving Productivity With Employee Time Tracking Apps

Time tracking allows managers and directors to effectively measure

4 Vital Career Lessons from Calgary's Worst Driver [Video]
Productivity 5 min read

4 Vital Career Lessons from "Calgary's Worst Driver" [Video]

People at our Mountain View office were recently fascinated by a trending YouTube video showing what is allegedly "Calgary's Worst Driver" taking a painful four and a half minutes to pull out of a pretty standard parking spot. It's a video that leaves you with more questions than answers. BUT! What you see on the video isn't merely an incompetent driver trying to worm his or her way out of a tough spot. What you see is an enlightened guru with vital lessons to teach us about life, career, and the pursuit of efficient productivity. Read on: Lesson 1: Plan Before You Do. The driver kept at it for over four minutes, trying different patterns, each one more complicated than the next. We can't help but think the entire debacle could have been avoided if the driver had taken some time to think things through. Perhaps even stopping completely to step out of the vehicle and judge how close the surrounding cars were situated. When you get into a tough spot in your career, Nike's tagline won't always work; "just doing it" won't lead to success without first thinking things through a little. What are the repercussions of your actions? Which resources will you need to access? Even better, plan out your entire year in advance. Lesson 2: It's Okay to Ask for Help. If you are no expert at your task at hand — whether it's driving in snow, programming code, or writing a blog post — it is incumbent upon you to seek assistance. If you don't, you could cause serious damage to your surroundings and innocent bystanders. Humble yourself, grasshopper. Ask for advice. For example, talk to subject matter experts in a LinkedIn group. You're more likely to get out of a tough spot when you have input from those more skilled or more experienced than you. In the end, succeeding with help will hurt your pride far less than failing alone. Lesson 3: If It's Not Fun Anymore, It May Be Time To Walk. While perseverance is critical in the pursuit of your passions, failure to improve may be a sign that your heart just isn't in it. Our CEO Andrew Filev recently told a story about a time he had a heart-to-heart with a struggling software engineer only to discover the employee was reevaluating his career path — he wasn't enjoying it and it was leading to his substandard work. In the case of "Calgary's Worst Driver," their struggle is probably a sign for them to move on. It may be time for the driver to invest in a bus pass. Lesson 4: Admit Your Mistakes. Everyone messes up sooner or later. The difference between moving on with your dignity intact and going infamously viral is how well you handle the situation. If "Calgary's Worst Driver" had stopped their car and left a note after dinging that red car, we probably never would have seen this video. Similarly, if you make a mistake and miss a vital deadline, man (or woman) up and admit it. Then ensure it doesn't happen again. It's a small world, and your reputation as someone who dodges responsibility will follow you. If Karma doesn't find you, the internet definitely will. Some of life's lessons can only be learned the hard way. If you haven't seen the video yet, it's time to sit through 4 of the most painful minutes of your life: Hindsight is 20/20, so it's important that we keep looking back to catch those learning moments. If you have any embarrassing stories that taught you a great lesson, please share them in the comments — even anonymously! It's important to pass on your newfound expertise and prevent other poor souls from making the same mistakes.

Engagement Survey (Infographic)
Productivity 3 min read

Engagement Survey (Infographic)

Engagement is a hot topic for many business leaders today, and for a good reason. Studies show that companies with engaged employees lead to greater productivity and higher profits. Our infographic illustrates what drives employee engagement and how engagement relates to productivity.

8 Mental Weapons to Vanquish Procrastination (Infographic)
Productivity 3 min read

8 Mental Weapons to Vanquish Procrastination (Infographic)

Ah, procrastination. We know we’ll regret giving in to its siren call, and yet it’s so seductive that most of us can’t resist. This infographic will help you understand the root causes of procrastination so you can start to withstand the lure of “I can always do it later…." Arm yourself with these 8 strategies to fight procrastination:  Focus on the benefits. Look at the task as something that will improve your life, rather than a chore that must be completed.  Chart your progress. Making progress visible by checking items off a list or filling in a progress bar can boost your motivation. Feed your productivity — literally. Eat a banana or drink a glass of juice to replenish your blood glucose levels and give your brain a boost. Work somewhere comfortable and familiar. Our brains read uncertainty as risk and are more prone to distraction.  Set a timer. Tell yourself you only have to buckle down and focus for 15 minutes. Repeated, short sprints can add up to big progress.  Find a work buddy. Having someone to hold you accountable — and celebrate with when you’ve accomplished your goal — is great motivation.  Establish a routine. Include scheduled breaks to refresh your brain and renew your focus.  Set mini-goals. Break up a big, intimidating task into individual steps, then give yourself a little reward when you hit specific milestones. Read the rest of the infographic to find out exactly what happens in your brain when you procrastinate, the driving factors behind habitual procrastination, and the surprising monetary cost of putting off tasks.  Source: Agile8.com Looking for more tips to keep procrastination at bay? Give these 4 new productivity techniques a try. 

Does Being More Rational Help You Be More Productive? (Work Management Roundup)
Productivity 3 min read

Does Being More Rational Help You Be More Productive? (Work Management Roundup)

Welcome back to the weekly Work Management Roundup. This Monday, the US celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose contribution to the civil rights movement helped America rise to greater heights. In this roundup, we link to an internal memo sent by Slack's CEO regarding Dr. King's importance. We also feature a curious movement in Silicon Valley that is teaching people how to live a more fully-analyzed life thanks to rationality principles. Plus, more articles on how to work smarter and get things done on time. The Happiness Code (The New York Times Magazine): Lengthy but fascinating read on a movement toward cold, hard rationality in Silicon Valley, thanks to workshops offered by the Center for Applied Rationality (CFAR). The goal: bring the emotional side of the brain into harmony with the intellectual side and in the process, become more productive and conscious of why you make certain decisions. 4 HR Priorities You Need to Focus on This New Year (Entrepreneur): Via a survey conducted last December, business leaders and consultants report their top HR priorities for 2016. How I Got $248,000 in Pre-orders Before I Even Had a Product (Medium): CEO and entrepreneur Mitchell Harper shares his strategy for building a large audience of potential customers — and it will cost you $0. Email Zero is Easier than Inbox Zero (Cal Newport's Study Hacks): Before you spend serious money hiring an assistant to sort and answer the emails in your inbox, first sit down and figure out if you need all that email in the first place. (Also: time to rethink snail mail.) Holding Off on High Fidelity (Medium): When you sketch out ideas using low fidelity tools like paper and markers, you can  ideate much more quickly, provoke the right questions, and collaborate early and often with stakeholders. And it doesn't matter whether you're designing a logo, or building a lead generation process. A photo posted by Wrike (@wriketeam) on Sep 22, 2015 at 6:24pm PDT More Work Management Reads Think About This: A Reflection on Martin Luther King Jr. by Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield (Medium) Lifelong Learning (Farnam Street) How To Prioritize Projects Across Teams (PM Tips) 25 Daily Rituals Of History’s Most Successful…And What You Can Learn From Them (Medium) Go Try This: The Ultimate List: 70+ Best Tools For Skyrocketing Business Growth In 2016 (LeadChat) 9 Ways to Bring More Traffic to Every Blog Post (The Next Web) Seven Useful Microsoft Excel Features You May Not Be Using - Infographic (Lifehacker) Want to Be an Outstanding Leader? Keep a Journal (HBR) Browse The Work Management Roundup on Flipboard If you use Flipboard on your mobile device, then you can check out these links (and more) via The Work Management Roundup magazine. View my Flipboard Magazine.

How to Create a Streamlined Project Work Plan
Productivity 5 min read

How to Create a Streamlined Project Work Plan

Creating a solid project work plan is essential for success. Wondering about the key elements of developing a work plan? Find out Wrike’s top tips for creating a streamlined project plan for success and read through a proven work plan template.

Why Capacity Utilization Rates are Key to Understanding Profitability
Productivity 7 min read

Why Capacity Utilization Rates are Key to Understanding Profitability

Understanding your capacity utilization rate is key to evaluating the profitability of a business. Find out how to calculate capacity utilization rate with Wrike.

Productivity Playlists Guaranteed To Help You Get More Done
Productivity 3 min read

Productivity Playlists Guaranteed To Help You Get More Done

Some might argue that music helps the hours go by faster and keeps you focused, while others argue that music is distracting and makes it harder to concentrate. When considering whether music is more constructive rather than destructive for work, it's important to consider the type of work being done.

Global filter makes work much more pleasant
Productivity 3 min read

Global filter makes work much more pleasant

This wonderful feature has been recently brought back to life after the great changes in the user interface. Now you can search tasks and folders by the words that are contained in their titles. The filter works really fast (and we work on the performance of the other parts of the system). The temporary folder is created automatically for your search results. While working with the filtered tasks (by the status, the responsible and/or the due date) and changing tasks they may become colored in gray. This means that after the changes have been made, this task doesn't meet the parameters of filtering. I really recommend that you to try the search function to harness Wrike's potential.

Optimizing Project Productivity With Integrated Project Management
Productivity 5 min read

Optimizing Project Productivity With Integrated Project Management

Read and discover how Wrike’s innovative integrated project management system can help your company optimize its project workflows with ease and clarity. Project coordination becomes more efficient and streamlined with Wrike’s simple project management software.

The Secrets to Work-Life Balance: Interview with <i>Overwhelmed</i> Author Brigid Schulte
Productivity 10 min read

The Secrets to Work-Life Balance: Interview with <i>Overwhelmed</i> Author Brigid Schulte

Most Americans consider a 37.5-hour work week short, and respond to days of low productivity by multitasking. We may be working hard, but are we working smart? Research shows America is not the most productive country; Norway takes the cake for that one. America is actually tied with France for most productive countrymen — and they have 30 days of paid vacation, paid parental leave, and after-hours email is outlawed. Compare that to the fact that 1 in 4 working Americans has no access to PTO of any kind, and it seems we're actually losing to France as well. What are we doing wrong? We spoke with author and retired workaholic, Brigid Schulte, about her book Overwhelmed and asked her to share some work-life balance tips she's picked up that can help you, and why remote work is so hard for many to embrace, but why it's worth it. Her research studying workplaces around the world proves that the U.S. is driving their employees to burn out, resent employers, and hate their jobs. Read our Q&A with her to learn how to take back leisure time, find out which companies are the most/least productive, and why multitasking does not exist. 1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your book Overwhelmed. I’m a writer and long-time journalist. I’m a wife, mother of two, sister, daughter, and friend. I love Spock, decaf nonfat lattes, and any day I can get outside where there’s more green than concrete. The book is really an accidental book. It stemmed from leading a crazy busy life, stressed out all the time, never sleeping, feeling that life was passing me by, not knowing why, and thinking things couldn't change. It all started when I’d broken out in a wicked case of stress eczema and had packed on about 30 extra pounds because I never felt I had time to get to the gym. A time-use researcher told me I had 30 hours of leisure a week, like all women, and men had 40. I about fell out of my chair. I told him he was nuts. He challenged me to keep a time diary, and Overwhelmed was born. I wrote a Washington Post magazine story about the attempt to find my elusive leisure time — and thought I’d be exposing myself as a disorganized neurotic underneath a somewhat professional, put-together veneer. I was bowled over by the response; hundreds and hundreds of people wrote me and said things like, 'You climbed into my head and wrote about my life.' That’s when I decided to look deeply into the way we’re living now. The book asks two questions: Why are things the way they are? And how can they be better? The book is really a journey from what I call "Time Confetti" toward "Time Serenity" — that space where you feel that there is enough time to do what you both need and most want to do. I was hit early on by something the Harvard psychologist Erik Erikson said: 'The richest and fullest lives make time for the three great arenas of life — work, love, and play.' So I decided to ask my two questions in each of these great arenas. And that became the basis for the subtitle of the book. It’s really in search of The Good Life in the modern age. 2. Why is "leisure time" so important? To be perfectly honest, when I began this journey, I didn’t think it was. I was like most Americans, I thought time always had to be productive — that I had to be doing something, anything, always driving forward, on the way to somewhere else, somewhere undoubtedly better. Leisure was for lazy people, losers, and slackers. The word even conjures up slick, sleezy, leisure suits. I definitely think we need a better word to describe what I’ve come to see is really the essence of being human. The Greek philosophers like Aristotle said, 'We work to have leisure, upon which happiness is based.' Which was all well and good if you were a man of high status. They’re the ones who’ve had access to this kind of uninterrupted space to think, dream, imagine, contemplate, daydream, experiment. Psychologists now call this kind of time “flow”, or peak human experience. And it wasn’t until I read a book by the philosopher Josef Pieper, Leisure, the Basis of Culture, that I realized that it is in this third space, if you will, away from the drudgery of work and the pressures and joys of family, that civilization has been created. Art, music, literature, philosophy, scientific discoveries and breakthroughs, and inventions all happen in this time out of time. And when you think about it that way — that creativity and innovation require time — it’s not hard to see why all the museums and great libraries are filled with the works of those high-status men who had access to this kind of time. I think that’s really important to remember. Now that we’re in an age of information overload, and everyone’s time is becoming interrupted and fragmented, we have to not only preserve this kind of timeless flow space, but broaden it so that everyone can experience it. Neuroscience now is making the case even more imperative. We’re discovering the high cost of multitasking and distraction for our brains. Emerging research is finding that to create the conditions for the "A-ha!" moment, we need to be calm and relaxed, not overwhelmed. We need to allow our brains to be idle and daydream before flipping back into a more focused mode. And that takes uninterrupted, concentrated time. [inlinetweet prefix="" tweeter="" suffix="—@BrigidSchulte via @Wrike"]"In an age where time is fragmented, we need to preserve&broaden it so it's enjoyable."[/inlinetweet] 3. What's happening to "leisure time" in the U.S.? Are we getting more or less, and why? It’s funny, as I was reading about leisure (something I’d never, ever thought I’d ever do) — I came across articles in the Harvard Business Review and other publications in the 1950s predicting a coming age of leisure, where we’d work six months out of the year, four days a week, and retire at age 38. Some prognosticators of the day were worried about it! They didn’t know what people would do with all this abundant leisure time. Others said it would usher in a golden age where people would have the time and space to become most fully human, and a version of their best selves. I interviewed one leisure researcher for the book who said he’s spent his entire career trying to answer one simple question: What happened?! If you look at averages in time diary data, (collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics) you could argue that work hours have been falling and leisure time is on the rise. But if you talk to just about every person in the country, they’ll laugh at you and say that’s not their experience at all. What’s really happening is that people’s time and experience of work and leisure is dividing. College-educated professionals are working longer hours than ever; even more extreme hours than professionals in other countries. They have virtually no leisure time, and research has shown that when they do they often will choose to work. Some say they work on weekends, evenings, and vacations because they’re anxious they’ll be seen as expendable if they don’t. Some work because they dread seeing their overstuffed email inboxes upon their return. And some work because it’s become a habit, an identity like a second skin, and they’ve lost the ability to imagine doing anything else. At the same time, work hours for low wage workers have indeed dropped off, so they scramble around cobbling together several different unpredictable jobs trying to make ends meet. They do have more leisure time, but it’s unwanted leisure, because they’d rather be working, because there’s the stress of not being able to pay the bills. Economists are finding that our culture, starting in the 1980s, began glorifying not just hard work, but overwork, and that’s when overwork hours — and the financial reward for them — started to climb. We’re the only advanced economy with no paid vacation policy. One in four Americans has no access to paid vacation. Those of us who do, have about 10 to 14 days on average. We don’t take them all, we leave among the most unused vacation days on the table, even though we don’t have that many to begin with. And surveys show that many of us take work along with us, so we’re never truly away, never unplugged, never not thinking about work, never giving ourselves the opportunity to find out what would happen if we sank into a flow state. So it’s not surprising that we have polls showing high rates of disengagement and burnout. We are. And we don’t value taking the time to refresh not only our energy, but our souls. [inlinetweet prefix="" tweeter="" suffix="—@BrigidSchulte via @Wrike #worklifebalance "]"1 in 4 Americans has no access to paid vacation."[/inlinetweet] 4. How do you think "leisure time" differs between women and men? Between managers and employees? It’s interesting, the very first research study done looking at men and women’s experience of time was called Divergent Realities. And a lot of that has to do with our cultural conditioning, and what we still expect men and women to do to conform with traditional gender roles. That was surprising to me, as I was researching the book, how much I had automatically bought into what I intellectually knew were outdated stereotypes. Yet I didn’t even realize how much I was automatically following them. Why did I just automatically assume I had to make all the kids’ doctor’s appointments, take them to the dentist, stay home when they were sick, find child care and summer camps, buy the clothes, clean out their closets, make the Holiday magic, etc.? Was I was afraid the Bad Mommy Police would show up? I guess I was. I’ve met the Bad Mommy Police, and it is us. We police each other in so many subtle ways. The snarky comments on the playground, the disapproving looks... it can be hard to see past that. What I didn’t realize was that I was trying to work the way my Dad did, because he was my only role model. And I was trying to be an at-home mother (like my mother) because that’s all I knew. I found out it’s impossible to live both of those lives at once, but by insisting that I had to, and feeling guilty and inadequate when I couldn’t, I was also keeping my husband at arm’s length; not letting him become the full partner and parent that we’d promised each other we’d be — keeping me in a perpetual state of overwhelmed. It wasn’t good for our kids, either, having such a stressed out parent, always slightly resentful of having to do it all, without realizing how I’d created part of that. These cultural expectations are strong and often unconscious. And the first step toward change is to pause, become aware of them, and how they play on you. Begin to disrupt the automatic thoughts and behaviors, and practice taking a breath so you can begin to hear your own voice, and follow your own internal compass. When it comes to leisure, Americans tend to distrust it. The Protestant Work Ethic and 'idle hands are the devil’s workshop' are a strong undercurrent. But interestingly, women in particular feel they don’t deserve it, research has shown. They feel they have to earn it. And the only way to earn it is to get through a very long to-do list. Which, let’s face it, never ends. 5. What are the 3 biggest roadblocks to having "leisure time"? Work Mindset The Culture of Busyness Work: Americans not only value hard work, which is essential, but we’ve come to value overwork. We financially and psychologically reward those who sacrifice all for work. In such a work-devoted culture, leisure loses all value. It becomes something almost to be ashamed of. Something only weak people require. Mindset: Because of that work-first attitude, our mindsets are firmly set against the importance of leisure and play. Even when we want it, we don’t think we deserve it, or that we haven’t earned it, or somehow can’t give ourselves permission to have this kind of time. And even when we do, because we’re so uneasy about it, we don’t fully enjoy and embrace the time. Which ensures we won’t reap the full benefit of having that third space that can refresh the soul. The Culture of Busyness: We’ve made busyness a competitive sport in our busyness as a badge of honor culture. We brag about how tired and exhausted we are, how much stuff we cram onto our calendars, how we’ve run around and been so productive and crossed so much stuff off our to-do lists, and yet have so much more to do. It’s become so ingrained, we don’t realize we’re doing it! In that kind of culture, leisure is for losers, and people who can’t keep up with the Busy Joneses. 6. You argue in one of your articles that the more fluid and flexible work hours a workplace provides, the happier and more productive the employees are. However, people argue that when they have more flexible work hours, they tend to work more. What are your thoughts on this? This is why culture, not just policy, is so important. In a work-first culture and a work-first organization, of course people are going to use any flex time to work more. The interesting thing is, this tendency is really prevalent among white collar workers. And it tends to reinforce traditional gender roles. There was a fascinating study done that found that nurses tended to use their flexible work hours to do all the traditional “women’s work” of caregiving and housekeeping. And doctors who had flexibility tended to use that time to work more, thus solidifying their traditional breadwinner/distant provider role. At the same time, EMTs, other blue collar workers, and shift workers use their flexibility to be more available at home. Men were organizing and driving the carpools on their off hours, making dinner, and doing laundry while their wives were working. So I think we can all learn a lot from blue collar families who may not be talking the talk of gender equality, like white collar workers do, but are certainly walking the walk. 7. Are companies and individuals naturally at odds on the topic of work-life balance? Is this just a tug-of-war and the companies are winning? Companies and individuals are, truthfully, on the same side of this. And you don’t have to go much farther than the research that Henry Ford did on his factory floors to understand that: healthy, well-rested, happy employees treated fairly do good. I was reading an interesting paper by Stanford economist John Pencavel on the rise in work hours, and how employers continue to think that if only workers just put in more hours, they’d be more productive and make employers more money, and how utterly irrational that is. His research found what he called a “productivity cliff” — the longer we work beyond 40 hours a week, the steeper the productivity drops. We become burned out, exhausted, make more mistakes, and take two and three times as long to get anything done. Research has found that people who continuously work more than 60 hours a week make more mistakes, sometimes life threatening ones, they’re more likely to be injured. They take two and three times as long to perform simple tasks and they become burned out, fried, crispy around the edges and are unable to come up with a fresh idea. You are basically a butt in a chair. Not a great position to be in for a knowledge economy where you’re only as good as your next idea. A recent survey found that more than half of all workers feel burned out. Gallup reports that about 70% of all US workers are disengaged at work or actively HATE their jobs. This blew my mind because I am a recovering workaholic. International comparisons of productivity per hour finds that, despite all those long hours of work, the U.S. is NOT the most productive per hour. That’s Norway. Want to know a country about as productive per hour as we are? France. With their 30 days of paid vacation, paid parental leave, subsidized child care system, short work hours by law, after hours emails outlawed and their, heaven forbid, café culture. And you know who’s at the bottom of the list? Japan and South Korea, countries traditionally known to be full of hard workers. The research is compelling. Healthy, happy workers are more productive. Just being in a positive mood triples creativity, research has found. Productive energy rises 31%, the likelihood of promotion rises 40%, sales by 37%, and doctors make better and faster diagnoses. So it is in employers’ best interests to make sure that workers are primed for optimal performance. And to be primed for optimal performance, you need to create a culture of flexible, but bounded work hours that values time off. [inlinetweet prefix="" tweeter="" suffix="—@BrigidSchulte via @Wrike"]"People who continuously work more than 60 hrs/week make more mistakes."[/inlinetweet] 8. After traveling around the world and observing different work cultures, have you found the secret to a healthy work-life balance? Where do they do this best? I spent time in Denmark and, though a vastly different country, there are two lessons: They are about as productive per hour as we are in the U.S., yet they work what we would consider short work hours — 37.5 hours a week. But when I went to work places, you don’t see people surfing Facebook at work. You don’t hear a lot of chit chat around the water cooler. People do their work. If you work long hours, the culture doesn’t reward you, everyone just thinks you’re inefficient. They truly value gender equality. So much so that they have a Minister of Gender Equality in the government in the cabinet, held in the same regard as the Minister of Defense and other cabinet members. The entire country recognizes that when the entire population is engaged in both the business, or work of the nation, and the caregiving of the next generation at home, it makes for a happier, healthier more productive economy and life. It’s no surprise that Denmark is often rated first or in the top rungs of international indices of happiness, well-being, gender equality, and productivity. And people really do value leisure time for both men and women. In the U.K., one of the very first studies of leisure was called, “Women’s Leisure, What Leisure?” In it, men said it was perfectly natural for men to enjoy leisure, to get together with their mates at the pub, or have outings. But if women were to try to do something with their friends, or on their own, the general sense was something was wrong. That was not at all the case in Denmark. Instead of beginning sentences with, 'What do you do?' they ask, 'What do you do for fun?' They belong to sports clubs. They swim in the ocean before work. They spend time out in the country, not in fancy houses, but rustic little cabins. And every fall, every house receives a host of catalogues of free or inexpensive classes on just about any subject you can imagine — languages, getting a hunting license, swimming, public speaking, cooking. And on the top of one of the catalogues read the mission: “For the Wisdom and Enjoyment of Humanity.” What’s not to like about that!? 9. What are 3 tips you would give someone who struggles with productivity at work? Pause. Disrupt the cycle of busyness and reactivity and really get a sense of what’s most important — both to the mission of the job, and to YOU. Burn your to-do list. Think of it as a brain dump. Get all those stray thoughts running around your brain down on paper. That gives your brain a rest. Then give yourself permission, in your pause, to look at what you’ve written, and with your top priorities in mind — for the day, for your life — choose ONE thing that’s most important to do. And do it first thing in the morning. Shut off your email. Do NOT start your day answering email, or you’ll spend your day in reactive mode putting out fires. Turn off your phone. Set your timer for 30, 45, or 90 minutes and do that ONE thing. The rest of the day is a win, rather than feeling behind. DO NOT MULTITASK. You are not multitasking. You are task-switching. The brain can only pay attention to one thing at a time. And every time you switch tasks, you deplete your energy, willpower, and hit decision fatigue. A study at King’s College, London University found that multitasking makes us as stupid as being stoned. We lose 10 IQ points. So ONE THING at a time! [inlinetweet prefix="" tweeter="" suffix="—@BrigidSchulte via @Wrike"]"@KingsCollegeLon found that #multitasking makes us lose 10 IQ pts."[/inlinetweet] 10. How do you think work-life balance will change (or stay the same) in 2020? If it gets worse, what should we be doing to preserve our precious leisure time? By 2020, we’ll be that much closer to Millennials, now the largest living generation, making up the majority in the workplace. And Millennials, survey after survey shows, want flexible work hours and time for life. Technology will continue evolving, giving all of us more opportunity to control the time, manner, and place of how we work, and coordinate more creatively with team members, not just for blue collar workers, but for low-wage workers as well. At the same time, Baby Boomers who’ve worked like maniacs most of their adult lives, are living longer, are healthier, working longer, but they want something different. There’s a new life phase between retirement and death that’s emerging where meaning and purpose are becoming paramount. And in this new life phase, people, too, are searching for ways to work differently to have time for life. And neuroscience and human performance science will continue to show how to optimize productivity, as well as the importance of mindfulness and deliberate rest. I have hope! 11. What's big new trend that you see coming that people aren't paying enough attention to? Work-life enrichment. We hear all the time about the negative consequences of work-life conflict. They are many, and they are real. But there is a growing body of research on work-life enrichment — on the very real benefits of both men and women having multiple roles in the public and private spheres, from skills that transfer from one dimension to the other, to positive mood, greater energy, a sense of fulfillment, deeper and richer relationships. I think this is really important work, because it spins the argument forward and toward solutions. We’ve been stuck for too long in an ambivalent no-man’s land; surveys show we’re still very uneasy about the proper role of mothers and whether they should work, even though a majority do. That ambivalence has kept us all frozen, and now it’s time to devise real, rational, and supportive work cultures and policies and fluid career paths for both men and women. We need work cultures that recognize excellent work gets done when people have time for their lives, and that raising the next generation, or caring for the previous one, is as valuable as any market work we may do. That’s an exciting and positive way forward! Your Turn: What are your thoughts on work-life balance? What are some of your secrets to obtaining a healthy work-life balance? Having leisure time at home is essential to being productive at work. Share your best tips on how you obtain and manage your own leisure time in the comments! About Brigid Schulte Brigid Schulte is the author of the New York Times bestselling book on time pressure, Overwhelmed: Work, Love & Play when No One has the Time, which named one of the notable books of the year by the Washington Post and NPR, and won the Virginia Library Association’s literary nonfiction award. She has spoken all over the world about the causes and consequences of our unsustainable, always-on culture, and how to make time for The Good Life by rethinking how we work, by re-imagining gender roles for a fairer division of labor and opportunity at work and home and, instead of seeking status in busyness, by recapturing the value of leisure. She was an award-winning journalist for The Washington Post and The Washington Post Magazine and part of the team that won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize. She now serves as the founding director of The Good Life Initiative at the nonpartisan think tank, New America, and director of The Better Life Lab, both of which seek to elevate the conversation, explore transformative solutions and highlight how work-life issues are key to excellence, productivity and innovation, as well as a full, authentic and meaningful life. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband, Tom Bowman, a reporter for National Public Radio, and their two children. She grew up in Portland, Oregon and spent her summers with family in Wyoming, where she did not feel overwhelmed. Sign up for her occasional newsletter, Toward Time Serenity, on the art and science of The Good Life: brigidschulte.com. Join the ongoing discussion about making time for work, love, and play on her Facebook page and on Twitter @BrigidSchulte.  

Accurately Manage Your Backlog by Email and Table View
Productivity 3 min read

Accurately Manage Your Backlog by Email and Table View

We finished 2010 with unveiling a couple of very helpful new project management features: the add-in for Outlook 2010 and the ability to export filtered task lists to Excel. In this post, we’ll introduce the first updates of 2011 that many of you were suggesting to Wrike’s support team. Whenever you get a valuable project idea that doesn’t have to be realized in a fixed timeframe, you can instantly add it to your project backlog in Wrike without even leaving your inbox. To create a backlogged task via email, add the tag [backlog] in the subject of the message that you send to [email protected]. It's important to have a reliable internet connection in case you need to access Wrike remotely, so be sure to have your instructions on how to check work email from home ready. If you want to create backlogged tasks often, Wrike project management software offers you another handy solution. You can simply adjust your account settings so that any email you send to Wrike without specifying a date turns into a backlogged task. To do so, click on the “Account” link in your project management workspace and go to the Personal profile tab. On that page, you can choose how you want Wrike to process emails with no date tags – either create one-day tasks for today, or add these tasks to the backlog. If you choose to create backlogged tasks by default, you can still add one-day tasks for today by adding the date to the email subject in the following format: MM/DD-MM/DD (or DD/MM-DD/MM if you have this date format set as the default in your account). Another significant addition to Wrike’s scheduling functionality is that backlogged tasks are now reflected in the table view, as well as the list view. The new column in the table view – duration – lets you get a more accurate picture of your plans. By the way, you can easily move the columns by dragging and dropping them to adjust the table view to your preferences. We hope these features will help you build agile plans and manage your tasks productively in 2011!  

How to Optimize Your Onboarding Process With Wrike's Onboarding Template
Productivity 5 min read

How to Optimize Your Onboarding Process With Wrike's Onboarding Template

A solid onboarding process can help you save both time and money. Find out how to optimize your employee onboarding process with Wrike’s onboarding template.

New Year's Resolutions from Thought Leaders (Work Management Roundup)
Productivity 3 min read

New Year's Resolutions from Thought Leaders (Work Management Roundup)

Welcome back to the weekly Work Management Roundup, where we collect different links to articles that should help you do your work more efficiently and inspire you to new levels of excellence. Since this is our first for the new year, we'd like to take a look at the various new year's resolutions of thought leaders across the world. Read on! Sheryl Sandberg: Write the Joyful Moments (Time): Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says her new year's resolution is one that has already been helping her cope with losing her husband this past year — namely, to write down three joyful moments each day. Richard Branson: List Your Goals! (Virgin): Richard Branson shares a tip for anyone wanting to stick to their resolutions: write it down, and keep a list. He enumerates 10 steps to creating a list that you can stick to. Cal Newport: Cultivate a Deep Work Habit (Study Hacks): Cal Newport lives his resolution every day of his life. His resolution (and the topic for his latest book) is: commit time during your day for deep work. This is distraction-free time that allows you to work on cognitively demanding tasks. Not the shallow busywork of ticking off to-do items, but rather, the type of creative problem solving that builds real value. Gary Vaynerchuk: Improve How You Work (Gary Vaynerchuk): Gary Vee suggests you commit to these four new year's resolutions to  further your career (at the very least, they'll make you a much more pleasant coworker), namely: become a deep practitioner in something, audit your 7PM to 2AM, practice self-awareness, and eliminate complaining. Forget About Setting Goals, Focus on Systems (James Clear): Productivity author James Clear says you shouldn't commit to a goal; rather, commit to a system or a process that allows you to track results. Read why this works better than simply listing goals. David Allen: Practice Better Email (David Allen): And from the headquarters of GTD (Getting Things Done), comes this resolution which should be a staple for any organization: get better at email communications. Read the link for 5 tips on maximizing your emails, especially for globally dispersed teams. Friedrich Nietzsche: Say Yes! (Brain Pickings): Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche shares a glorious new year's resolution from his journal entry of 1882: be a yea-sayer and a beautifier of life. More Work Management Reads Think About This: 12 Apps You'll See at the Office More in 2016 (Inc) A Fresh Look at the Number, Effectiveness, and Cost of Meetings in the US (Lucid Meetings) 5 Reasons Why A Social Media Content Calendar Is Important For Your Business (Hootsuite) 8 Habits of People Who Always Have Great Ideas (Fast Company) Go Try This: The Ultimate Guide to Becoming Your Best Self: Build your Daily Routine by Optimizing Your Mind, Body and Spirit (Buffer) How to Finally Start Working Out (Even If You Hate It) (Lifehacker) 10 Habits to Adopt Now to Be Better at Your Job in 2016 (Fast Company) Browse The Work Management Roundup on Flipboard If you use Flipboard on your mobile device, then you can check out these links via The Work Management Roundup magazine. View my Flipboard Magazine.

How To Make the Most of a Productivity Journal
Productivity 7 min read

How To Make the Most of a Productivity Journal

Find out all you need to know about starting a productivity journal, including why you should keep one and how to use it for maximum productivity at work.

Generations Engagement Survey
Productivity 10 min read

Generations Engagement Survey

Despite the differences between generations, employees of all generations and backgrounds collaborate across the world to build amazing companies, products, and services. It’s more important now than ever to build an engagement strategy to empower your team across all generations. Read more about our full survey report.

Employee Engagement Statistics to Kick Off 2020
Productivity 10 min read

Employee Engagement Statistics to Kick Off 2020

High employee engagement is crucial to greater productivity and profits. As you execute your 2020 strategies, make sure to factor it into your success. Check out our article, where we round up some of the top statistics from our eBook on engagement and productivity across company size, gender, role, personality, and more.

The Best Resource Allocator Templates to Help Your Team Double Output
Productivity 7 min read

The Best Resource Allocator Templates to Help Your Team Double Output

Resource management can be the trickiest part of planning any project. Read our list of the best resource allocator templates to make your job easier.

Kick Butt in 2018 With These 16 Motivation Hacks
Productivity 7 min read

Kick Butt in 2018 With These 16 Motivation Hacks

Brain still on vacation and feeling more than a little sluggish? How do you get yourself motivated and back up to speed? Start 2015 off right with these 16 motivation hacks.

Get Organized in 2017 with Free Excel Calendar Templates
Productivity 5 min read

Get Organized in 2017 with Free Excel Calendar Templates

We've gathered this collection of free calendar templates for Excel to help you plan your time wisely, along with tips for effectively scheduling your day, your week, your month... and even your year.