7 Ways to Become Happier and More Productive at Work

According to Shawn Achor, author of “The happiness advantage”, a company with happy employees can increase their productivity by 31 % and sales by 37 %. In addition, happiness at work builds positivity, reduces stress, increases innovation, and improves quality of life. It’s a win-win situation, where your happiness benefit both yourself and the company you work for. Let’s go through seven ways that you can increase your happiness (and productivity) at work.

1. De-clutter your workspace

«The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.» – Hans Hofmann

Why?

The environment around us can have a big impact on how we feel, which again can affect our performance at work. When our workspace is a mess, it’s hard to focus. Clutter is simply delayed decisions. It can induce stress and anxiousness, which again affects our productivity.

Simplicity and de-cluttering however, brings peace and tranquility to the mind. Less clutter means less distraction and allows you to focus on the task at hand.

How?

1. Identify the necessities.
What do you absolutely need to get your work done?

2. Get rid of everything non-essential.
This goes for physical items piling up on your work desk, like paper copies, but also digital files and emails on your computer.

3. Make a habit of cleaning your desk at the end of every day.
Starting your day with an uncluttered workspace goes a long way to freeing up your mental space!

2. Plan your day the night before

«The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.» – Stephen R. Covey

Why?

Planning gives you peace of mind by knowing you have created action steps to reach your goals. An hour of planning can actually save you 10 hours of doing! When you plan your day the night before, you will be mentally prepared to start working the moment you wake up, because you know exactly what to do.

How?

1. Set your goals for tomorrow
At the end of each day, gather your thoughts, go through your tasks and set your goals for tomorrow. This way, you know exactly what to do when you get to work the next day.

2. Decide which tasks you need to do tomorrow and schedule them.
Which tasks do you need to do in order to get closer to your goal? Your most important tasks are usually the tasks that you are most likely to procrastinate on. Schedule to do them during the period of the day when you have the most energy and the fewest distractions.

3. Use a task management system.
One way to help you plan, organize and prioritize your tasks is to use a task management system, like Upwave.

3. Work on one task at a time

«Task switching means you aren’t getting the full benefit of anything. There is a cognitive need to monotask.» – Amy Brann

Why?

Multitasking is basically just switching back and forth between multiple tasks, which makes you lose focus, reduces your productivity and increases the chance of mistakes. In fact, it’s physically impossible for your brain to multitask. Focusing on one tasks at a time will both help you perform better and feel better.

How?

One method to help you combat multitasking is the “Pomodoro technique”. It’s based on the concept of using a kitchen timer to manage your work sessions. A Pomodoro is a 25 minute, uninterrupted work session. When you finish a pomodoro, take a short break before you start a new one. Just pick a task, set the timer and start working!

1. Pick a task to work on.

2. Use a timer and set it to 25 minutes.

3. When the timer rings, take a 3-5 minute break.

4. After completing 4 work sessions, take a longer break.

4. Connect with your coworkers

«The greatest predictor of long-term happiness is social connection.» – Shawn Achor

Why?

Quality work relationships provides a sense of “we’re all in this together”, which is essential for increasing both happiness, engagement and productivity at work. Connecting with your team on a personal level simply makes going into the office more fun. A happy team is a successful team!

How?

1. Give feedback and acknowledge efforts.
Offering feedback, acknowledging efforts and expressing your gratitude for the work your coworkers do is a great way to build a deeper connection.

2. Find things to celebrate at work.
Birthdays, tasks or projects completed on time, and individual achievements are great causes for celebration.

5. Make self-improvement a habit

«When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.» – Paulo Coelho

Why?

If you want to change or improve any aspects of your life, you should start with the on thing you have control over – yourself. Self-improvement is about mapping out how to get to where you want be and taking charge of your happiness. It’s basically an investment in your future self. Examples on personal development can be learning something new, improving existing skills or becoming a better person.

How?

1. Identify your personal and professional goals
Which skills or areas of your life do you want to improve?

2. Find resources that can help you achieve your goals

Depending on the goals you’ve set for yourself, find out what kind of resources could be useful to you. It could be courses, books, articles, ted talks, videos, podcasts or audiobooks. Whatever works best for you!

3. Commit to 15 minutes of learning every day

Make personal development a priority by scheduling a time for it. This way, you create a habit of personal growth.

6. Celebrate your progress

«It’s the small wins on the long journey that we need in order to keep our confidence, joy and motivation alive.» – Brendon Burchard

Why?

We have a tendency to focus more on negative outcomes than positive ones, which is called the negativity bias. In a work setting, this means that we are more prone to pay attention to our mistakes and setbacks than we are our achievements. This bias is likely a result of human evolution, where the brain emphasizes dangerous and negative experiences to keep us safe. Due to this bias, we need to put an extra effort into remembering the positive experiences – to celebrate our daily accomplishments.

How?

1. Make a habit of tracking small achievements every day.
Did you finish a task? Got a compliment on your work? Had a good idea in a meeting? Helped out a coworker? Write it down, and store it in your memory.

2. Do a weekly review to reflect and celebrate the progress you have made.
Once a week, review all your small wins. Take it all in and savor these positive experiences. After a while you will see that a little progress each day adds up to big results!

7. Prioritize your health

«It is fine to be committed to work, but our minds need time to recover and our bodies need to move.» – Annika Sorensen

Why?

Our mental and physical health has a big impact on our happiness – and vice versa. A healthy lifestyle can both transform your mind and body, reduce your stress-levels, increase your energy and boost your mood. Without making health a priority, it’s difficult to perform well at work. Try to create healthy habits that involves both exercise, rest and recreation.

How?

1. Do 20 minutes of exercise daily
Physical exercise not only changes your body, it also promotes a positive self-image and higher productivity,  by changing your mind, attitude and mood.

2. Spend time outside
Fresh air and nature bring balance to your life, soothe your worries help recharge your batteries and studies show it can even improve your memory. 

3. Get enough sleep every night
According to the National Sleep Foundation the optimal amount of sleep is 7-9 hours.

4. Train your brain to see the positive
Practice gratitude. Stop your mind from wandering. Make a habit of speaking to yourself as you would to a friend.

Filter your cards by colors

Working on larger Boards just got much easier! Categorizing cards based on colors makes it easier to visually assess a board, and now you can also filter your cards based on colors.

Using colors for updating help desk articles

Just click on a color on your Board, and you will only see the Cards associated with that color. Click twice on a color to exit filter-mode. This feature is very practical, especially on more complex Boards with a lot of Cards.

Using colors to prioritize marketing content

Colors on a Board can be used for any purpose to give a visual overview. Colors are commonly used to see priority, but they can also represent a department, a project or an individual, to mention a few use cases.

Start filtering and get a better overview of your cards!

Event: Make it with G Suite, Symfoni Next and Upwave on the 7th of November

On behalf of our partner, Symfoni Next, we welcome you to join us at Google HQ in Oslo on the 7th of November. This will be a half-day event where you can experience firsthand how G Suite, Upwave, and Happeo among others can help streamline your organization’s collaboration.

Our CEO, Kjetil Moløkken-Østvold, is looking forward to take the stage and showcase how you can use Upwave and G Suite in combination to increase your organization’s productivity.

Thanks to Symfoni Next for inviting us!

See here for more information, agenda and sign-up.

Partnership Announcement: Upwave + Symfoni Next

We are excited to announce our new partnership with Google Cloud Partner and authorized G Suite Reseller, Symfoni Next. With years of experience developing software, implementing and delivering services in Europe, Symfoni Next is now focused entirely on Google Cloud and delivers everything from basic cloud hosting to custom development projects on desktop and mobile devices on the GCP platform.

“The collaboration with Symfoni Next means that we are now taking our G Suite offering to the next level. Upwave has been a Google Cloud Technology Partner since 2018, and offer several G Suite integrations. Symfoni Next, in turn, is a Google Cloud Platform Collaboration Partner and authorized G Suite reseller. Together we can, therefore, offer our customers the right expertise and a solid overall collaboration package.” says Kjetil Moløkken-Østvold, CEO of Upwave.

Upwave integrates with G Suite, Google Drive, Google Calendar and Google Hangouts Chat, enabling effortless collaboration on tasks and projects throughout your organization.

“We’re excited about our collaboration with Upwave because it means we can extend our package of collaboration solutions. G suite provides a ton of benefits of its own, but it doesn’t offer collaborative task and project management functionality. Upwave’s seamless integrations with Google, and the visually pleasing look and feel of the platform, makes it a perfect complement to G suite. Together with Upwave, we can offer expertise on a platform that can be used by the whole workplace.», says Tord Ripe, CEO of Symfoni Next.

We look forward to taking our G suite offering to the next level and delivering a solid overall collaboration package together with Symfoni Next!

Upwave launches Microsoft Teams app

We are happy to announce that our Teams app is available on Microsoft AppSource and as an app within Microsoft Teams.

This integration comes in addition to the existing Office 365 Single Sign-On and OneDrive for Business integration. You can now use Office 365, Teams and Upwave in combination for a seamless collaborative experience.

Manage and collaborate on tasks and projects directly inside Teams

Upwave is a productivity platform that lets you organize, plan, track, collaborate and get things done – all in one place. The intuitive and user-friendly interface makes it easy to get everyone onboard – no extra training needed. You can easily and securely involve outside collaborators.

Add Upwave boards as Teams tabs

Visual boards helps you focus your attention, both at the task at hand and on your workflow as a whole. Keep all information in one place, and simply drag and drop tasks to visualize progress.

Inside your channels in Teams, you can embed Upwave boards as tabs by clicking on “+” and selecting Upwave. When using Upwave inside Teams, you will have access to all board features, including time-tracking and progress reports.

Collaborate on tasks and projects in real-time

Create teams for various departments, project groups or external partners. Break down silos and share knowledge across different teams. Assign tasks, comment, drag and drop files, and get feedback from your team.

While working with your colleagues in your Upwave board in Teams, you can also chat in real-time by clicking on the text box icon in the right corner.

Track time, set estimates and create reports

Easily track hours and set estimates on tasks inside Teams. See where time is spent and turn the data into insightful reports. Export timesheets to CSV or PDF with a single click.

Work with strategy canvases like Business Model Canvas

Upwave lets you brainstorm, collaborate and innovate in real-time with a growing number of predefined strategy canvases, including Business Model Canvas, Lean Canvas, SWOT and Risk Matrix.

See the big picture and discover new opportunities in a visual manner – without leaving Microsoft Teams!

How to use Upwave for Microsoft Teams

1. Sign in to Microsoft Teams and add the Upwave tab

Open the Microsoft Teams, go to the channel where you want to link an Upwave board, and click on the “+” symbol in the toolbar. Select Upwave and click “add”.

2. Sign in to Upwave or create new account

Click on “Sign in with Upwave”. In the next step you can either log in or create a new account. Setting up an account takes just a few seconds via Office 365 login.

3. Select your board or create new

When you are logged in to Upwave, you will see a list of all boards in your workspace. Select the board you want to connect to Teams or create a new one.

4. Start working!

Voila – you’re all set up! When actionable items comes up in your Teams channel, put them right into your Upwave board without having to switch between apps. And whenever you need to discuss something related to an Upwave board, just start a tab conversation. Now, go get things done together!

What Is Productivity And How Can You Increase It?

«Productivity is the deliberate, strategic investment of your time, talent, intelligence, energy, resources and opportunities in a manner calculated to move you measurably closer to meaningful goals.» – Dan S. Kennedy

The concept of productivity has existed since the late 1800s in both verbal and mathematical forms, but all the different definitions and interpretations out there can make the term hard to comprehend. To understand productivity, let’s start with some definitions.

The general definition of productivity is related to output and input:
Productivity = the amount of output created per unit of input

A different approach to defining productivity by Jackson and Petersson (1999) takes into account both efficiency and effectiveness:
Productivity = Efficiency x Effectiveness

Efficiency vs. Effectiveness

Let’s have a closer look at efficiency and effectiveness. According to professor David Sumanth, efficiency reflects how well resources are utilized to accomplish results, while effectiveness reflects how well a set of results are accomplished.  

Peter F. Drucker (1964) has an easier way to explain this: “ Efficiency is doing things the right way; effectiveness is doing the right things”.

Example:

Productivity - Efficient vs effective-01

Let’s say the goal in the image above is to move as many of the square-shaped objects over to the assembly line in the shortest amount of time.

  1. Effective: By simply shoving the square, you are effective, because you will reach the goal eventually. However, it’s not the most efficient way.
  2. Efficient: By shaping the square into a circle, you can move the objects over to the other side faster, thus being more efficient. However, you are not being effective, since the goal was not to create circle shapes.
  3. Productive: By using a trolley to move the shapes, you can move several squares at the same time and at a faster pace – making you both effective and efficient, also known as the definition of productive.

We can translate this example into a real-life situation. Let’s say that you’re working on a marketing campaign. If you have done everything right in setting up the campaign, creating the content and analyzing the results, then you’ve been efficient. However, if this campaign has been targeting the wrong customer group or has the wrong Call-To-Action based on your business goals, then you haven’t been effective. You can be super efficient by executing numerous task in the correct manner, but it doesn’t make you productive if these tasks shouldn’t have been prioritized in the first place. 

Peter Drucker-quote
Peter Drucker image source: http://54ventures.com/demo-images/fuse-slide-4-11-1800×800.jpg

To summarize, in order to be productive, you must be both effective (do the rights things) and efficient (do things the right way). This leads us to the following explanation of productivity: Productivity is doing the rights things in the right way.

So, how can you be more productive?

One way of increasing your productivity, is to implement tools or methods that help you prioritize the right things (increase effectiveness) and/or execute tasks in the most optimal way (increase efficiency).  Some frameworks that can help increase your productivity are:

Infographic showing different methods to increase personal productivity, including Personal Kanban, One Minute To-Do List, Eisenhower Matrix, Action Priority Matrix, the Pomodoro Technique, Getting Things Done and From Zen to Done.

You can either use a physical version of these methods, by using pen and paper, or you can use a digital tool, like Upwave, that supports these frameworks. We have written an eBook that explain the most popular methods to increase personal productivity – you can get it for free by clicking the banner below.

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Upwave + Unsplash

Brought to you by the world’s most generous community of photographers at Unsplash, you now have the option of choosing from over 1,000,000 high-resolution photos as backgrounds for your Upwave boards. 

Use board backgrounds to make your work more enjoyable! Select images that motivate you, make you laugh, suits your current mood, or images that are just visually pleasing to look at.

Whether it is to add a splash of color to your to-do list or an inspiring background to motivate your project team, all you have to do is go to your board settings and select image gallery. Here, you can either choose from our collection of Unsplash images or you can search for the perfect image in the Unsplash Gallery. When you click on an image, you will get a preview of how it will look on your board before you decide on a photo. With over 1,000,000 photos to choose from, we’re sure you’ll find something that suits you.

Now, go splash some color on you boards!

Christer Husstøl appointed as VP of Business Development

We are excited to announce our newest member of the Upwave family, Christer Husstøl, joining as our new VP of Business Development. His expertise within project management and sales will be a huge asset when scaling Upwave globally .

Christer is an avid reader who is passionate about traveling and sailing, in addition to project management, technology and startups. He holds a degree in Management from the BI Norwegian Business School. His background includes both supply chain and project management within the oil industry, as well as sales and business development for the hydro power sector.

The combination of his experience and his interest in the use and implementation of task management tools will be very useful in helping Upwave drive further growth.

 

Interested in finding out more about Christer? Then visit his linkedin page – here.

 

How to Export and Import Data from Trello

In this article we will show you how to export your Trello boards as JSON-files, and how to import these files to another tool.

Export a board from Trello

Trello board - before export

Step 1: Go to the board menu and click on “more”

Trello export-step 1

Step 2: Select “Print and export”

Trello export-step 2.png

Step 3: Select “Export as JSON”

Trello export-step 3

JSON stands for JavaScript Object Notation and is a lightweight data-interchange format. The Trello board will be displayed in your internet browser in JSON-format looking something like this.

Skjermbilde-2019-06-17-kl.-13.50.10.png

Step 5: Download the JSON-file

To download the JSON-file, just right-click on the page, select “Save as” (or “Archive page as”) and choose format “File source”.

Trello export-step 4

Since you’re looking at how to export your boards from Trello, you might want to know how to import your boards somewhere else. Let’s go through how you can import your Trello boards to another tool.

Import a board from Trello to Upwave

If you’re looking for a visually pleasing and powerful alternative to Trello, where you can easily import all your Trello boards and continue working on them, Upwave might be just what you need. Now that you’ve exported your Trello board as a JSON-file, just follow these simple steps to get that board into Upwave.

Step 1: Create an Upwave account

Skjermbilde-2019-06-17-kl.-14.35.06.png

Go to www.upwave.io and sign up – and don’t worry, you don’t have to commit to anything! The 14-day free trial lets you try and see if the tools is right for you, no credit card needed.

Step 2: Select (or create) the team you want to import your board to

Skjermbilde 2019-06-17 kl. 14.40.13.png

Step 3: Click on the three dots next to the team name and select “Board import”

Upwave import_step 3.png

Step 4: Select the JSON-file you downloaded and click “Start import”

Upwave import_step 4.png

Trello does not include user information in their export. Therefore, when you import your board to Upwave, you get the option to add name and email address for your Trello board members, inviting them to your Upwave board. This ensures that comments and assigned cards will be mapped to the right person.

Voilá – your board is now imported!

Upwave import_finished board.png

PS: Upload your own background to make it even more visual!

Upwave import_finished board with background.png

What gets imported?

  • Cards (including cover photos)
  • Subtasks
  • Due dates
  • Members (by manually linking names of Trello users to Upwave members)
  • Comments
  • Attachments
  • Labels (turns into color categories)

Do you need to export and import multiple boards from Trello?

If you have a Trello Business or Enterprise account, you can export all your Trello boards and data in a single export. Contact us directly and we will help you select, import and organize your data into Upwave.

C2A - Import trello boards

Introduction to Kanban

The Kanban method was originally invented as a part of the famous Toyota Production System in the 1940s. In the 2000s, Kanban was adopted into software development when Microsoft’s software development team wanted a better system for fixing bugs in their product. Today, Kanban helps teams manage both daily tasks, big projects, bug tracking, editorial workflows, hiring processes, marketing scheduling, UX design and much more. 

What Is Kanban?

Kanban_illustration

Kanban is a popular framework for managing your workflow in a visual way. The underlying concept of Kanban is that all work starts as «To-do» and ends up as «Done».

The word Kanban (かんばん) is Japanese and means «Visible card» or «Signal card». In manufacturing, a fixed number of cards was set in circulation based on capacity. Each card was then attached to a physical work item. When this piece of work was finished, the card was detached and recycled, freeing up capacity for starting a new work item from the queue. In other words, work is pulled from the queue and into the system only when there is free capacity, which is known as a pull-system.

In software development and knowledge work,  the cards are the actual work items, and they’re not used a a signal card attached to physical items. The cards are usually placed on a Kanban board, with different columns representing the different stages of the work. This lets you visualize your entire workflow. The signal to move a card from “To do” to “In progress” incurs when the visual quantity of work in progress is less than a set capacity.

Advantages of using Kanban

  1. Visual boards provides more information than just text
  2. Kanban is intuitive and easy to use
  3. Can be adapted to fit almost any process
  4. Increase productivity and reduce workload stress
  5. Improve team communication and collaboration
  6. Eliminate bottlenecks and optimize everyone’s capacity

How To Get Started with Kanban

5 steps - kanban

In his book, “Kanban – Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business”, David Anderson identified five key properties for a successful implementation of Kanban:

1. Visualize Your Workflow:
A workflow is a representation of the different stages in your work work from start to finish. A typical workflow is “To do”, “In progress” and “Completed”. Some people prefer to have several stages between “To do” and “Completed”, for example plan, test and deploy. This visualization helps you see the big picture, enabling better decision-making and increased effectiveness.

2. Limit Work In Progress(WIP):
A WIP-limit is the amount of tasks you can handle at once. Start with a number that is realistic, and adjust as you go. If your WIP-limit is 3, you should never have more than 3 tasks in the “in progress”-column.  Limiting work in progress enables you to focus on the tasks at hand and increases your efficiency.

3. Manage the Flow of Work:
By flow, we mean the movement of work items between the various stages of your process. The flow should be fast, smooth and predictable. The goal is to maximize value delivery, minimize risks and avoiding delays. Identifying and addressing bottlenecks and blockers are therefore important aspects of managing flow.

4. Make Process Policies Explicit:
It’s key that there is a common understanding of how works gets done in the various stages of the process. This makes it easier to discuss issues and come to an agreement on what needs improving. Examples of policies include: the definition of done, capacity allocation and WIP-limits.

5. Improve Collaboratively:
When everyone focus on the workflow, ideas about improvement will start popping up, especially if the WIP-limit is reached. It forces the team to focus on resolving issues regarding bottlenecks and blockers that impede the flow of work.

Digitize your Kanban Board with an Online Tool

Product Image
Screenshot from Upwave

In our modern day world, where employees are scattered in different locations, we need digital solutions for collaboration. There are a lot of tools based on the Kanban method, that lets you create the workflow that fits your need, collaborate on cards in real-time, and drag and drop cards between columns to represent progress. One of these tools is Upwave, which lets you create beautiful Kanban boards customized with your favorite colors and background images.  Get started for free with our 14 day trial!

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