Outta time MinuteDock Blog

Make this year your most productive

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Happy new year! What better time to start some good habits?

Settling yourself into a good work routine is easier than you think, and tracking your time correctly will make you infinitely more efficient and productive all year long.

Track as you go, not after

A smart way to do this is to start thinking differently about the way you approach tracking your time. Use it to keep yourself focussed on the task at hand, rather than writing down later how much time you think you spent on something a few days ago (you’re bound to forget or just fudge the numbers). Turn your timer on right before you start something, write a short description of what you are about to do, and finally - this is the hard part - go and do only that.

Focus on one task at a time

Every time you switch tasks your brain has to shut down the part you were using, and turn on the part you need for the new task – so just imagine the amount of brainpower you waste trying to do two small tasks at once! To keep productive, when your timer is running you should be focussed on just one task at a time. It can be really hard to stop yourself from multitasking when you’ve got a lot of work to do, but try focussing on one activity for, say, a 10-30 minute chunk of time, and then see how much faster you get through your to-do list.

Avoid the biggest productivity killers

Are you someone who checks their emails every 10 minutes? This is a major focus killer! It might be the year to set a new rule for yourself: only check your inbox twice a day and dedicate 20 minutes or so for replying to the important ones, instead of checking it all day long in between all your other tasks. This takes some serious discipline, but will pay off!

Keep your timer honest

When you’re making a cup of tea, or calling a friend, or scrolling through your twitter feed – be honest and pause your timer. This will give you a little reminder that you’re no longer working, and make your tracked time more accurate if you make it a habit. After no time at all, you’ll be able to see exactly where your time is going.

Good luck!

It’s a wrap: 10 simple ways to boost your business for the new year

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The festive season is a prime time to catch up on some business-related housekeeping. Before you completely switch off for the holidays, run through our to-do list and get a head start on 2017.

1. Send an original gift

Gifts are a great way to graciously acknowledge the people you’ve been billing all year, and remind your dormant clients that you’re still out there.

While in the past a lacklustre ‘Happy Holidays’ card and a bottle of sparkling wine might’ve cut it, these modern times call for something inspired and creative. After all, your client may abstain and has probably received 20 other identical gifts. Instead, why not opt for a contribution to Kiva.org or a donation to a charity like UNICEF in the client’s name? It’s a simple, feel-good option that’ll suit everyone.

Also, nothing says thank you like a personally-designed card or a handwritten note (especially if designing or writing is your profession; if it’s not, you may want to shoulder-tap someone to help you).

Avoid: Animated snowman e-cards, those cheesy digital relics from the Y2K era.

2. Upgrade your software

You’ve been meaning to do it for months, right? Carpe diem and say goodbye to all those eye-watering ‘system failure’ crashes.

Avoid: Doggedly sticking with your desktop accounting software because it’s “like an old pair of slippers”.

3. Review your digital toolbox

Have you got everything you need to be super-effective? Now’s a good time to install some new apps. Ask around, do some googling, and stock up for the New Year.

At the same time, you should purge your desktop, tablet and smartphone of unwanted applications, thereby freeing up a few extra gigabytes for the more important stuff.

Avoid: Installing Pokemon Go because you’ve heard it’s a highly addictive time waster, and you’re determined to be the exception to the rule.

4. Refresh your online profiles (yep, all of them)

Update your website’s About page, your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, etc. What have you achieved this year? Share any work-related milestones with your audience and prospective clients.

Avoid: Over-enthusiasm (multiple exclamation marks may induce headaches). And don’t brag; just keep it casual, as if you regularly win Developer of the Decade awards.

5. Add a classy headshot, too

How’s your profile photo? If it’s still a pleasant but slightly blurry picture you took yourself last year with a webcam, now might be time to get a professional headshot taken.

Avoid: That photo of you holidaying in Bali in 2003, or - worse - ‘borrowing’ a pic of someone else from Google Images because they look more approachable.

6. Revive your website content

When was the last time you updated the words on your site? Use the Christmas lull to squirrel away some fresh blog posts and add any new information.

Avoid: Leaving outdated content on your site and in automated emails (e.g. copyright 1996, We’re planning some big things for 2008, etc.), even if you’re going for a retro feel.

7. Stock up on referrals

Landed any big clients this year? Request a testimonial for your site while they’re in a festive mood.

Avoid: Uploading character references from your family. Creating that website for your mum was a lovely gesture, though.

8. Declutter your workspace

I know, boring… but think how relieved you’ll feel in the New Year when you burst into your office and all the paperwork has been filed away, the rotten apple cores disposed of, and those pesky coffee stains Spray & Wiped into oblivion.

Avoid: Dramatically sweeping everything into a rubbish bag, then desperately hunting for that Very Important Document five days later.

9. Organise your desktop

The virtual equivalent of the job above, but way more important. Your work has been backed up to the Cloud, your receipts and invoices are meticulously filed for the tax man, and you’ve created some cunning email rules to prioritise actual work over the latest Amazon deals.

Avoid: A smug, out-of-the-office autoreply about your trip to Fiji. Some people are still working, y’know.

10. Write down your career goals

This one is last, but certainly not least. You might not be the type to earnestly scribble down your hopes and dreams, but it’s worth taking stock of where you are in your career and what you want to achieve in the next 12 months. How will you grow your income? Are you going to expand your business into new areas, or cut back to focus on other things?

Avoid: Penning several pages’ worth of resolutions, complete with legal clauses and disclaimers. Just outline your top five.

Happy housekeeping, and enjoy your New Year!

How do I get my staff to track time?

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Tracking your time can give you real insight into your business, help you to set realistic goals and keep your team on track. But how do you get your team tracking their hours for the first time, in a way that creates the value you want?

Communication is key

If you’re planning on implementing a time tracking product for your team for the first time, you need to explain exactly what you want to get out of it. Asking your team to track time with no explanation as to why is likely to be met with a fair amount of anxiety and pushback from staff, unless they’re used to recording their hours for payroll. What is your main intention? Can you clearly articulate it?

Do you want better visibility over clients who are letting projects drag? Do you want it purely for payroll? Do you want to know which of your services is the most lucrative? Or do you just want clarity about where you need to focus?

Letting your staff know the reasons will not only help your case for tracking time, but will encourage them to track their time in a way that best meets your needs and gives you the data you’re looking for.

Pick the right product

It all comes down to what you’re tracking the time for. To gain insight on where your team is spending clients’ time and money, you’ll want to sign up for a free trial of MinuteDock! If you want to schedule & track staff on shifts for payroll, then your team might be more suited to something like Tanda.

Picking something that actually suits your staff’s workflow will make a huge difference – they might even like it! Try and look for a time tracking product that is suited to your particular industry, rather than something claiming to be one-size-fits-all.

Keep your word

If you tell staff that your main intention is to track time for reporting purposes, then aim to regularly share those reports with the team so that they see the fruits of their labour. Sharing the insights you gain from reporting on the team’s data is the best way for everyone to see if you’re actually making a change and meeting targets.

If you told staff you wouldn’t use time tracking to monitor individuals’ day to day efforts, then don’t use your time tracking for that. Being open and honest will earn your staff’s trust and respect, and you’ll find that they’ll be more honest when tracking their time. This means – bonus! – the data you collect will be more accurate.

Rome wasn't built in a day

You’re probably going to have to keep on top of your team for a while, until they adjust to including time tracking as part of their workflow. Picking a product that isn’t too intrusive when you’re working will help your case for tracking time immensely.

Summary invoice grouping option

We’ve added a new grouping option for your invoices, for those of you who’d like to combine all your time entries into one – just click ‘summary’ in the grouping option! Perfect for minimalists.

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New reporting shortcut

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Now you can run reports straight from your contact/project/task or goal. You may have noticed that we've added a shiny new button to help you run reports faster and easier. It’ll take you straight to the report for that specific contact/project/task/goal.

Happy reporting! Drop us a line and let us know what you think.