Author Archives: Julia Gifford

About Julia Gifford

Julia writes about productivity, business, marketing and ecommerce.

5 Reasons to Have Fine Art in the Workplace

Guest post by Andre Smith

For years, millions of employees and customers across the nation have been consigned to working in drab, uninteresting offices with painfully bare walls. Fortunately, times are changing: business owners are beginning to realize the tremendous benefits to decorating their workplaces with fine art. Last year, a study from the British Council for Offices found that over 90% of employees believe that featuring art prominently in the workplace boosts overall productivity, while 86% of those surveyed explicitly agreed that art is “more relevant than ever” in today’s office environment. While the reasons to display artwork in the office are endless, today we will be focusing on just five, as follows.


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Build a culture of high performance – start looking at your staff’s needs

This is a guest post from Christopher Austin from

Several years of practice and research have been devoted to improving performance management in companies worldwide. However, the conventional understanding of the performance review process is inefficient in the eyes of employees, managers, CEOs and company owners. Studies have shown that annual reviews are not helping increase employee engagement and performance; what really makes employees happy is the day-to-day process of offering feedback, leveraging talent and communicating expectations.


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3 simple resolutions to maximize productivity in 2014

It’s a new year, a time for looking back at your previous year, and looking ahead to the next. Here are three very simple resolutions that will keep productivity high in 2014.

1. Focus on the few vital tasks

Have you ever heard of the Pareto Principle (a.k.a. the 80/20 rule)? It states that 80% of results come from 20% of the causes. This means that of all of your daily tasks, you will get 80% of your total daily results from those 20% of tasks.

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20 Minutes, 3 Steps, Higher Productivity

Don't make more work for yourself

Don’t make more work for yourself

Believe it or not, there are three easy steps you can do at the end of your workday to make make yourself more productive. All it takes is to take 20 minutes to prepare. Here’s what you’ll do:

1) Arrange for the next day

Place everything you need for the next place in the place you’ll need it. Things like pulling out the files you know you’ll have to work with, putting the things you won’t need farther away from yourself, and things you will need, closer.

2) Clean your desk

Start the day off with a clean slate. The less knick-knacks, memos, old bills, and stacks of paper will only serve as another possible distraction. Get rid of it. Or put it all in a box until you can deal with it – whatever works for you.

3) Write down the top 3 things that are a priority for you for the following day

And start off right away with those! Don’t even open your email, because we know what a bottomless pit of time-sucking that can be. The feeling of knocking-off a must-do priority item off your to-do list at the very beginning of the day will make sure that not only have you actually done something of value today, but the feeling of getting things done will be so exhilarating that you’ll gladly fling yourself into the next assignment.

Hit the ground running!

Making an open-plan office productive

Office layout is the underestimated warrior of workplace productivity. It has the power to either stimulate or undermine the ability for an individual to work at their best. Rows of grey cubicles can stifle creativity, while an open-concept office can be an invitation to distractions. Though there’s no correct answer, the most recent trend is to work in an open-concept space. Here are some suggestions for maintaining productivity while working in an open-concept office.

Don Fornes, CEO of Software Advice, took his employee’s productivity into consideration when designing the layout of their new office. In a conversation we have with him, we found out some things they learned.

The open-plan layout at Software Advice

The open-plan layout at Software Advice

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office productivity

Calm and focused: how office lighting and color affect productivity [UPDATED]

There are countless studies proving that office lighting and color choice have a great effect on employees’ productivity.

In the movie Joe vs. the Volcano, the only light Joe had in his dreary basement office was a tropical lamp that cast revolving images of beaches, coconut-heavy palms and dancing Hawaiian girls on the windowless, concrete walls. Every day he plugged it in with a kind of devout reverence as if it were the only bright, comforting thing in his world.

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Industries that benefit the most from time tracking

The average size of a company using time tracking is 18 people. However there are companies with 100 or 200 employees successfully using DeskTime (the productivity and time tracking software), the largest coming in at 430 employees. Working in the time tracking sphere, we’re often confronted with the question “well, who uses time tracking software anyway?” And so we’ve decided to give you a look into the different industries using time tracking, and why it works so well for them. To do that we’ve surveyed them all to find out what industries are already successfully using time tracking software in their companies.

Unsurprisingly, the top industries using time tracking are Marketing and IT tied for first place (both making up 21% each of the industries using DeskTime). In second place comes Web Development, and in third place comes Web Design. Together they make up about 3/4 of all the industries using DeskTime.

Here are the results from the DeskTime survey for a better look:

The top industries used by DeskTime

The top industries that use DeskTime

The results are significant.

What is it about these industries that make them want to use time tracking and productivity tracking software, and what are they gaining from it?

1. Accurately billable hours – it saves them time and money

What marketing, IT, web development and web designers all have in common is that they often work on a “project” basis. A certain project is expected to take a certain amount of time, and that amount of time is what will determine either the salary for said project of the employee, or the sum that will be asked of the recipient for the receiver of this project.

Tracking time, therefore, becomes a very useful tool. In stead of ball-parking an estimated amount of time it took to realise a project, you’re able to give a specific amount of time, which results in being paid exactly what you needed to be paid. We often round the amount of time down, or estimate less time. This gives you a fair and accurate figure of what you’re owed.


On DeskTime it’s possible to use the “Projects” function in order to track the amount of time spent on a very specific project. For projects that involve several employees (for example a designer and a programmer), you can even have the time spent on said project by cumulating it. All they have to do is both name the project exactly the same. (If the second person begins to type in the same name into the “create a project” category, they’ll see it already pop up as a pre-existing project). In this way, the administrator will see the total amount of time spend on the concrete project.

2.  Real statistics on their personal productivity

The industries, which use time tracking successfully happen to be industries, where you’ll find the most technologically advanced, the most willing to apply technology to their everyday lives. Programmers, IT specialists, marketers and designers tend to be part of the group of people who are on top of the trends, and aren’t afraid of trying the latest software out there. This is why these industries are the first to say goodbye to ancient time sheets, and to embrace the online solution. People who are friendly with technology also have a tendency to look to the tech for a solution to an every day problem.

These people are also getting used to having measurable statistics readily at their fingertips – some examples include Google Analytics for those who manager web pages, Facebook Page Insights for those who manage corporate Facebook pages, and Facebook Graph searches for the generally curious. People want the data, so why wouldn’t they want data on how they spend their time at the computer? This is one of the reasons that we’ve made sure that the DeskTime reports section provides as much possible information.

3. Remote working becomes an easily implemented tool

Particularly with a job that can be done at a computer, remote working is becoming more and more common. Some startups and companies are even hiring talent from different companies. What makes this possible and easier is;

  • Connectivity through the internet
  • The possibility to collaborate online

Collaboration and knowing that your colleagues or employees are really working is important, and that’s exactly what an automatic time tracking software like DeskTime does, regardless of different time zones and being in different offices.

So some industries that would absolutely not benefit from time tracking would be those that spend a minimal amount of time at the computer. Say, agriculture, retail, (as in store clerks) and post officers. Because they wouldn’t track any time at a computer. For these industries there are alternative time tracking solutions, like clocking inelectromagnetic swipe ID cards, and time sheets. All of these require you to be physically present to complete the job. 

Conclusion – not for everyone, but ideal for some

Time tracking and productivity software is not for everyone. However it is perfect for those who would benefit financially from the precise data, who are interested in different kinds of data, who work from a computer and possibly even from a different country.

*Because we only tracked industries for companies using DeskTime, we don’t see the data for individuals. Some may be interested to know that the highest “industries” for individuals are students, writers, and consultants.

time tracking software DeskTime

How to explain time tracking to your employees

To managers it’s obvious – time is money. So, it’s important to make the most of the work hours, and that’s probably the reason why you use time tracking to keep up with your employees.

And you’re not alone.

A new study found that 80% of major companies in the USA monitor their employees’ use of email, Internet or phone. The most common reasons for employee monitoring is productivity and attendance tracking, as well as to prevent misuse of the company’s property. Read more 4 min

Practical uses for exported data from DeskTime

By consistently using DeskTime for automatic time tracking, you’re creating a vast database of accurate, insightful and invaluable information. DeskTime offers many options to export this information, but simple number don’t mean anything until they’re put into context. Here we’ll go over some practical uses of exported DeskTime data, and how to make it happen in your Excel spreadsheet.

The images of this tutorial were taken from a Mac computer using Open Office, the free software. Other excel versions may be a bit different, but do have the same functions available.


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How to Find Your State of Flow

Flow is the ultimate level of productivity. It’s that moment when everything is just flowing effortlessly out of you – be it words, music, or code. To anyone who’s interested in getting more done – flow is the object of wonder, fascination, and aspiration.

Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity

These moments are rare, which is why it’s important to target them and understand how you can access these pockets of ultra-productivity. Read more 3 min