Why a To-Do List Template Will Make Your Team More Productive?

Meeta Sharma
By
July 29th, 2014 // Productivity

image1It’s common knowledge that workaholics maintain a crazy schedule. They are always preoccupied with performing well and as long as they are able to meet their targets, no second thought is given to how they managed it all. But what happens when you want to repeat such accidental success stories?

This is one situation we have all stumbled into at some point in our lives. And often respite rests merely in our abilities to conjure up memories from the last time we were involved in a similar situation. Haven’t we all wondered if there was some way we could restore our mental and physical faculties to those prevailing in those exact moments when we did something that worked out really well?

For those like me, who bestow little to no faith in their own mental faculties to come to rescue in such demanding times, there exists hope in technology. Let me introduce you to the concept of ‘workflow templates’ or (more subtly put) the ‘to-do list template’.

What is a to-do list template?

Basically, a to-do list template is a responsibility chart (or a template therefor) which contains pre-built set of task lists that can be applied to any number of projects that are similar in nature. Applicable to simple projects or even mission critical ones, a to-do list template serves as a central repository of all necessary tasks pre-designed for use when need arises. Such a template of task lists can be duplicated again and again for (seemingly) similar projects.

The purpose of such pre-designed workflow charts is to help you get started with a project quickly without having to spend too much time deciding who does what and when. When you put in place such to-do list templates for specific kinds of projects (say a to-do list template for managing social media campaigns and another to-do list template for managing SEO activities) you save a lot of time and energy that would have been otherwise spent trying to outline responsibility centres and individual tasks each time a project comes your way.

Why a to-do list template is important when working in teams?

At the helm of it, a to-do list template or workflow template helps save on time and effort. It becomes far easier to start collaborating once you know all accountabilities and a timeline for achieving them beforehand.

More importantly, a workflow template saves you the opportunity cost that would have been incurred if you would have spent that time devising a workflow order from scratch. Not only can you kick-start work quickly with a template already in place but use all that time you save on doing new things or simply do things in a new way. So, in a way, all this time saving leaves you with much more room to explore options for bringing creativity in task execution.

Another plus of this ingenuity is that your team becomes habituated to a certain protocol. This helps them get their resources in order far more quickly than if they were starting from scratch every time. Additionally, tracking the progress of any task becomes a regulated endeavour.

How to develop a workable to-do list template for your team?

One of the simplest ways of instituting specific to-do-list templates for similar projects is to use Excel spreadsheets. Pre-design workflow orders on excel and share it with your team for easy on-boarding and task initiation. For this, you can either manually create a template or download one from Microsoft’s official website. There are plenty of project to-do list templates available there.

If you prefer working on the go, there are plenty of to-do list building apps that can do a similar job. I recommend trying Wunderlist (a very basic application for developing to-do lists), Any.do (a personal favorite) and todoist (a popular pick for those constantly trying to keep up with their busy lives). These apps are pretty basic but help you get acclimatized to to-do lists rather comfortably.

However, if you wish to eliminate this entire activity of pre-designing to-do list templates yourself, opt for downloading a web application online. Such web applications are downloadable at an affordable price and provide a range of pre-made workflow templates pre-built in to the application itself. Let me take Brightpod’s Workflow template here as an example:

Brightpod’s readymade workflow templates are designed especially for marketers to plan their campaign activities quickly and easily. For example, if you are engaged in managing a client’s email marketing campaign, you can choose the ‘email marketing workflow’ option while adding a Pod so that you don’t have to manually add milestones and tasks required to get this type of a project done.

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Brigtpod’s workflow template for setting up a Google Adwords Campaign

A workflow template like this allows you to clone pre-set tasks and apply them to a similar project in the future. Pretty workable, right.

On a concluding note, the one thing I wish you can take away from this post is that bringing a level of standardization into your work eco-system (such as through the use of workflow templates and to-do lists) is a good way to boost productivity of your team. Let it be known that standardization has nothing to do with monotony; it is simply a matter of realizing that conforming to a pre-set way of doing things helps get things done faster, and with efficiency. This further helps avoid any scope for dissonance that may arise out of doing things from scratch every time.

 Meeta Sharma is an independent writing and editing professional from the digital marketing domain. Loves marketing and everything about it.

How Startup Marketers Stay Productive : Clément Delangue of Mention

mention

For our twenty first interview series, we feature Clément Delangue Head of Marketing at Mention. Mention offers a media monitoring app for brands to obtain filtered, organized and prioritized information from the web and social networks.

In this interview, you can read more about his work at Mention, favorite marketing tools, productivity tips as well as his advice for budding startup marketers.

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Top 9 Gmail Hacks to Save You Time

Daniel Tay
By
July 22nd, 2014 // Productivity

Ah, Gmail – love it or hate it, more than 500 million users worldwide and I all just cannot live without it. All it takes is a cursory search on Google, and you’ll find a myriad of websites with long lists of Gmail hacks. Having read through multiple websites on these hacks, I’ve finally come out the other end, and compiled a list of top 9 Gmail hacks to save your time.

1. Canned responses

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This is really handy when you need to give a generic reply to multiple emails because really, no one has the time to type out the same email again and again.

To access, click on the gear icon in the top right corner of Gmail for the “Settings” menu. Go to the “Labs” section and there you will find the option to enable canned responses. After enabling, save and compose a new email. There is an arrow at the bottom right of the email box, next to the trash icon. Click it and a list of options pops up, including “Canned responses”. You can now save all your canned responses and use them!

2. Use tasks to connect your email and to-do list

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We all get important emails we cannot attend to immediately. Fear not, you will never forget an important email again thanks to “Tasks”.

Look up the menu bar above your emails and click on “More”. A list of options pops up including “Add to Tasks” and when you click on that, a Google Tasks to-do list opens at the bottom of your screen with the subject line of the email as a to-do list item. You can edit the to-do list text and due date. Each list item is automatically linked back to the email so you will never forget what each email is about.

3. Inbox count in your browser tab

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If you are like me, you probably have a dozen tabs open in your browser at any point of time. My friend, this hack will change your life.

Once again, the “Lab” section of the “Settings” menu comes into play. Scroll down and you will find the “Unread Messages Icon” option. Enable it and save. A little icon will pop up in the tab and you will never have to click on the tab to find out how many unread emails you have ever again.

4. Search attachments only

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Somehow, whenever we need a certain attachment file, we can never seem to find it. Do we really have to scroll through the thousands of archived emails in our database just to locate that one attachment?

This is a game changer if you do not already know about it. Locate that long-buried attachment in your inbox by adding “has:attachment” to your search box. The code will sift through your inbox and pull out the relevant emails containing attachments.

5. Figure out which senders are legit

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Ain’t nobody got time to stare down each email trying to figure out if you need to change your Paypal password for the tenth time, or if it is just a hoax. This is where this brilliant tool comes in.

Once again, you will need to head to the “Labs” section of the “Settings” page. Scroll down till you come across the “Authentication icon for verified users” option and enable it. Authenticated users will have a key icon next to the email in your inbox.

6. Mail Timer add-on

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Image from: http://blog.musubimail.com/post/33715626157/gmail-timer-schedule-when-to-receive-new-mail

This add-on is the best way to make sure you spend less time on an email. Dawdling on an email when you can be attending to another will suck up more time than you realise.

Mail Timer allows you to designate how much time you wish to spend on each email. It starts the moment you open an email and a notification pops up when time is up so you know to move on to the next task at hand.

7. Create a filter by creating alias emails for yourself

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We all sign up for mailing lists – only to regret when we have to sift through 50 of them every morning before finally getting to the important emails. Here’s a little something that might just blow your mind: dots and plus signs do not register in Gmail.

So what? Well, this is how it works: you sign up for a gym membership, for example, and the gym asks for your email so they can send you newsletters. You sign up as myname+gym@mymail.com and it works out to be exactly the same as myname@mymail.com

Or you wish to sign up for a store newsletter so you sign up as m.y.n.a.m.e@mymail.com and it still works out the same!

When the first email from your alias email comes through, open it, click on “More” and select the “Filter emails like these” option. A pop-up appears and you enter your alias email into the “To” field before clicking “Create filter with this search”. Next, decide what you want to do with those pesky emails. If you do not ever want to see them, click “Delete it” and click “Create Filter” to save setting. Now you will have more time for the emails that really matter.

8. Colour code your emails with stars

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Ever wondered what all those lovely stars at the side of your emails are for? What you can do is to color code your emails with different coloured stars for different categories. You might have organised your whole wardrobe according to their colours in a rainbow spectrum (if you’re a girl, that is). Now, you can also organise your emails in the same manner.

Head to “Settings” once again and scroll down to “Stars”. There, you can choose which stars and symbols you want and you simply drag them into the “In use” section.

9. Use Smartlabels

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Here’s a quick way to sort out your shopping/ecommerce mailing list emails from the more urgent work emails.

Smartlabels can be found in the “Lab” section once again. Enable it and automatically categorises incoming messages based on your predetermined labels. Your Smartlabels can be viewed on the left of your inbox under “Categories”.

This list of Gmail hacks available is by no means exhaustive but it is a good place to start. The more you learn about your Gmail, the more you can get it to work for you instead of working for it. After all, your Gmail account should be making your life and communications easier and faster, rather than the opposite.

How Startup Marketers Stay Productive: Alexandra Tachalova of SEMrush

SEMrush

This week we feature Alexandra Tachalova, Corporate Communication Manager at SEMrush. SEMrush shows you which keywords that your websites rank for and the number of searches done for those keywords per month.

In this interview, you can read more about her work at SMErush, favorite marketing tools, productivity tips as well as her advice for budding startup marketers.

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6 Must-Read Quora Questions on “Getting an Early Start to the Day”

Meeta Sharma
By
July 15th, 2014 // Productivity

QuoraI think one of the best things about a website such as Quora is that you can always stumble upon some really cool information and first-hand knowledge on just about anything in the world. In such question- and-answer websites where users themselves ask, answer and edit, you can be assured of finding some fun facts, unknown ideas and DIY hacks that are guaranteed to make your life just a little bit easier.

One really interesting topic I stumbled upon was on “getting an early start to the day”. It’s an interesting thing of wonder this business of waking up early and getting a head start to your day’s work. And I came upon some really fun discussions pages on this topic. Here are my top six picks:

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