Enhancing Productivity By Communicating Effectively - 5 easy tips from Stepcase Lifehack

Untold hours of productivity are lost every month due to simple misunderstandings and communication breakdowns. For some reason, many people seem to have a tough time organizing their thoughts and communicating their desires to their co-workers and employees.

I’m constantly amazed at the number of people who seem to have forgotten the basics of composing a written thought. Even some college grads have no grasp on how to speak/write in a way that moves a project forward.

If you are looking for a way to increase productivity and decrease stress, learning to communicate effectively can be the first step towards smoother workflows, faster turnaround times, and fatter bottom lines. Here are a handful of tips that will get you started.

1. Use clear, concise sentences.

Your goal, whether speaking aloud or composing an email, should be to make yourself instantly and completely understood. To that end, you should avoid using big words, steer clear of run-on sentences, and avoid any unclear phrasing.

You don’t need to use fancy vocab, Latin phrases, corporate buzzwords, or business acronyms to impress your colleagues…and nine times out of ten, using words like that won’t make you any friends. If a smaller, shorter word will do, then by all means, use that instead of whatever $5 word you just looked up in your thesaurus.

Avoid long sentences with multiple clauses and herds of commas. The longer a sentence is, the more confusing it becomes. Always keep that in mind when writing directions or project details for a colleague.

And for the love of God, make sure your phrasing is clear. There’s nothing worse than getting an email from a co-worker that’s so vaguely worded you have no idea what you’re supposed to do with it. If you aren’t sure that an email is clearly worded, step away from your computer for five minutes, and then look it over with a fresh perspective.

2. Keep a written record

Sometimes communicating effectively involves reminding people of what they’ve already told you, and when. Having a written record of all conversations related to a current or past account can be very helpful.

This is easy with email: just make sure never to delete old emails, and use filters for effortless organization. For meetings/calls, make sure you keep clean, easy to read notes that also include the time and date. Audio recording is also an option.

3. Make every comment actionable

Inevitably, there is a time in every person’s career where they get together with a group of colleagues to discuss a project or proposal, and give feedback as a group. It’s important that when you give feedback on a project, you give actionable directions…particularly you are at the top of the foodchain. Otherwise, the project can stagnate and people on your team can lose momentum.

It’s the difference between

“Someone needs to speak with our design team about using a new font.”


“Marcy, could you touch base with Jim in Design about our font preferences?”

This ties in with my next point…

4. Make all criticism constructive

“Constructive criticism” is one of those feel-good buzzwords we learn to loathe after high school English class. Nevertheless, learning to give helpful feedback to a colleague will not only improve your interpersonal relations, but also will help to improve the quality of your work.

Constructive criticism is more than just a nicer way of talking to people. By giving clear, focused feedback instead of vague, general notes, people you speak with can really learn to improve their methods and practices in the future.

It’s the difference between:

“This website is a disgrace.”


“I see a number of issues here, including the dark green background that makes the text hard to read, and punctuation issues in the first two paragraphs.”

5. Make sure you’re using the right word

Take a moment and review this list of commonly misused words and phrases.

See anything on there that relates to you? If so, you’re not alone.

So consider this: if you’ve been using the wrong words in your personal and business communications, how can you expect anyone to know what you really want? Spell check, grammar check, and the dictionary are your friends.

When in doubt, use them. If you aren’t in doubt, use them anyway.


Communication can be daunting. Many people are afraid of public speaking, for example, showing a link between fear of speech and ineffective communication. However, if you make a conscious effort to put some of these basic principles into practice, I’m sure you will see results very quickly.

So the next time you are crafting an email or preparing for a status meeting with your team, make sure that you are doing your utmost to communicate clearly and effectively. When everyone can understand what you are trying to say, you will find that your working life goes a lot more smoothly.

Migrating servers is like mountain climbing: painful but rewarding


We just climbed a great big mountain together! From here, everything’s going to be just fine. :) 

Your patience has been amazing this week. We apologize for the inconvenience with migrating our servers. We did our best to schedule the migration at an off peak time (11:59 p.m. in NY on Wednesday, February 2, 2011), and the team pulled an all nighter. 

Migration was complete around 4 a.m. Thursday morning and DNS propagation completed for most users around noon. Propagation did take longer than usual, however, and we are sorry that a small percentage of users (about 10%) did not have immediate acccess to the site.

Producteev should be accessible to everyone by the end of the day. You will find that the new servers are dramatically faster and more reliable. We really appreciate your understanding and are sorry for the discomfort from this week’s migration.

If you have any issues, questions, or comments, feel free to email support[at]producteev.com. 

Photo credit: Iwona Erskine-Kellie

The Secret of High & Low Energy Tasks | a #GTD principle

Let’s face it, sometimes you just don’t feel like working.

It seems that no matter what you do, that you can’t get into that productivity zone.

Maybe your energy level is low. Maybe your attitude is off.

You just don’t feel like doing anything.

What do you do when this happens? 

Sometimes You Feel Like it, Sometimes You Don’t

Sometimes you have all the energy in the world.  You feel like you could eat an elephant in one sitting.

Other times you don’t have the concentration or energy to get anything done.

(For me this happens most often on airplanes…)

One of the best strategies to deal with your high and low energy times is to sort your tasks by energy level, as well.

When your productivity is in high gear is the time to get done the things that require the most effort and concentration.

On the other side of the equation, when you are dragging, is sometimes the best time to get done the smaller miscellaneous low effort todos.

For When You’re “On”

When you are on fire, and nothing can stop you, this is the time to attack the big important things on your list.

This is your “in the zone” time, when you are knocking down todos like they are bowling pins.

Ensure that you prioritize your todo list to get to your most important tasks done during this time frame.

Here are some high energy tasks:

  • Creative Work – Creating new ideas takes time and high levels of concentration.
  • Writing – I find I write best when I am “in the zone.”  If don’t feel like writing, it can be hard to get anything down.
  • Brainstorming sessions – Staying on topic to hammer out a plan takes effort and works best with high levels of enthusiasm.
  • Meetings with Clients and Colleagues – You always want to be on your “A”game when meeting with clients and colleagues. Plan your engagements to match your energy levels whenever possible.

For When You Are “Not-So-On”

We all know what it is like to be “out of the zone.”

You don’t feel like doing anything. You feel like you could call it a day.

These are the times to take on low effort tasks that don’t require much concentration or follow-through.

Some great low energy tasks:

  • Reading – Reading is an activity that often gets pushed aside. But, it requires low levels of effort. I find that I actually get my reading done when I do it during periods of low motivation.
  • Filing – Filing papers and email is an essential task that requires low effort. When you aren’t motivated, this can be a great task to attack.
  • Cleanup – I don’t like to clean. But, this is my favorite low energy task. Whether it is the office or even laundry at home, cleaning is a great low energy task.
  • Working Out – Wait a sec, you say… if I don’t have energy, you want me to hit the gym?? Actually, yes! I find that even a short low energy workout can jump start your energy levels. You may surprise yourself once you get in motion.

Match Your Energy

Be prepared for when your energy is high and low.

By separating tasks by energy level, you can be productive during your high and low productivity times.

With a little strategy, you can maximize your ability to get things done …even when you don’t feel like it.

What are your high and low energy tasks?



Set your clocks: Scheduled server migration Wed Feb 2 11:59pm EST

The good news is: we are moving to an infinitely more scalable server infrastructure tomorrow night.

The slight inconvenience is: we will be offline for approximately an hour on Wednesday, February 2, 2011 beginning 11:59 p.m. Eastern. Please plan accordingly, thank you for understanding.

And thanks to Rackspace Cloud, our new hosting company, for helping to make Producteev a better place.


A new face at Producteev: Welcome, Attila!

Attila Sary, Sales Manager

Attila comes to Producteev from Stack Overflow, where he was the first sales hire - subsequently building and executing their Career and Digital Advertising sales. Prior to that, Attila worked in the Financial Services Sector as a Sales Manager for both New York Life Insurance and John Hancock - where he also developed a skill for hiring and managing sales teams.

At Producteev, has been tasked with building revenue and organizing the sales department so that Google will take notice and offer Producteev a $6 billion buyout. Off the record, he would be happy with $5 billion.

Attila lives within walking distance of the office, has two spoiled dogs, plays a vintage Strat, and collects 1st editions.

Staff picks: 10 links & tips for #productivity

Bem-vindo! Bienvenido! We’re in Portuguese & Spanish!


To enable, select the corresponding flag from the drop down in the far right corner.

Congrats to the team effort behind this multi-language release. Developers and volunteer translators, you rock!

The Portuguese team finished translations before the holidays, and the Spanish team worked through the holidays to make today’s launch possible. That’s dedication!

Cheers. Or shall we say saúde/salud!?!

New UI, I heart you

Find things faster

Search & Notifications

Search just got smarter. Not only did the search feature move from the footer to the top left, it’s also more powerful with the ability to search beyond task titles. It now looks through all workspace information. just your tasks. Search all task titles of all workspace members.

Notifications of team activity has moved to the far right. Collapse the feature and scroll. Notice anything different!?!

Move quickly and efficiently

View & Sort

List and calendar view are now just beneath the task line. You’ll also find the new sort feature there, giving you more convenient access to re-organizing your workspace.

Multiple Workspaces

At least one of our fans is crying tears of joy right now. Navigation between workspaces is much cleaner. Enable the multiple workspace drop down to show all your workspaces. Drag and drop to change the order. You no longer have to go to settings! Finally, add a workspace in the drop down. 

20 Tips for a Positive New Year

20 Tips for a Positive New Year

Written by Guideposts.org - 8 Comments
Categories: self improvement

1. Stay positive.
You can listen to the cynics and doubters and believe that success is impossible or you can know that with faith and an optimistic attitude all things are possible.

2. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement:
My purpose is_______________________.

3. Take a morning walk of gratitude.
I call it a “thank you walk.” It will create a fertile mind ready for success.

4. Instead of being disappointed about where you are…
…think optimistically about where you are going.

5. Eat…
…breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.

6. Remember that…
…adversity is not a dead-end but a detour to a better outcome.

7. Focus on…
…learning, loving, growing and serving.

8. Believe that everything happens for a reason.
Expect good things to come out of challenging experiences.

9. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control.
Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.

10. Mentor someone…
…and be mentored by someone.

11. Live with the 3 E’s.
Energy, Enthusiasm, Empathy.

12. Remember…
…there’s no substitute for hard work.

13. Zoom focus.
Each day when you wake up in the morning ask: “What are the three most important things I need to do today that will help me create the success I desire?” Then tune out all the distractions and focus on these actions.

14. Implement the NoComplainingRule.
Complaining is like vomiting. Afterwards you feel better but everyone around you feels sick.

15. Read more books than you did in 2010.
I happen to know of a few good ones!

16. Get more sleep.
You can’t replace sleep with a double latte.

17. Focus on “Get to” vs “Have to.
Each day focus on what you get to do, not what you have to do. Life is a gift not an obligation.

18. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements:
I am thankful for __________.

Today I accomplished____________.

19. Smile and laugh more.
They are natural anti-depressants.

20. Enjoy the ride.
You only have one ride through life so make the most of it and enjoy it.

This Post was originally written by Jon Gordon @ Guideposts

Unleash Your Inner Guru: earn swag and account credits!


Photo credit: Mocodragon

If you’re using Producteev, you’re probably a productivity guru. Perhaps you’re so busy multi-tasking that you’re not even aware of it!

Here are some signs of the Inner Guru:

  • You know the ins & outs of the web app, including what a Smart Filter is
  • You use Producteev on multiple platforms or devices
  • You have your own unique system for getting things done
  • You are simply awesome at task management

If this is you, we want to help share your infinite wisdom with the community. Add an article to the Productivity Gurus forum.

The five best entries this month get free swag and account credits.


Community members can indicate an article was helpful by giving the Thumb’s Up. Don’t be shy, Unleash Your Inner Guru. Hurry, while Producteev swag lasts!