Thursday, December 11, 2014

How the CEO of Nozbe uses... Nozbe

People have been asking me how I use the application. Well, here goes.

First and foremost, we don't use e-mails in our company. Our team consists of 15 people and we all work remotely. We only use e-mail to communicate with the customers and other people sending us e-mails with questions or offers. Inside the company - we just share projects and delegate tasks.

We simply communicate through tasks and comments in Nozbe.

Priorities

Let's start with my priority list. It is quite long - at the beginning of a day I have about 40-50 tasks on it. To get them done I go to the information panel (I tap on the "i" icon at the top of the Priority view) and filter my tasks. To speed things up, I filter them by categories and review the certain areas one by one. For example, I choose the one called "Finance". Usually, I have only several things to do here: some money transfers and payments which only I can make. The rest of tasks are delegated to our CFO. After I execute the tasks, I tick them as "done" and I disable the filter.

Then, I check all the tasks delegated to me by my assistant with whom I share a project called "CEO". I use the filter again - this time to view just the tasks coming from that particular project. I'm trying to get through them... What I usually do is click on a task and read what it is about. If it is a question awaiting my answer or confirmation, I reply within a comment and delegate the task back to the assistant.

Of course there are some tasks that require more of my time and involvement - if I don't have any meetings or other commitments scheduled, I work on them. This way, by the end of the day I manage to reduce the number of my Priorities to 10 or 15. I rarely zero it down unfortunately. Something is always left for tomorrow.

Inbox

Now, let's move to my Inbox. I keep all my loose ideas there. Every time I have a few items there, I try to clear it out. After all, the rule says to zero your Inbox regularly!

While working in my Inbox, I try to follow the 2-minute rule. Some of the ideas and tasks I have in there are closely related to already existing projects. In that case, of course, I move them from the Inbox directly to that Project. In order to do this, I enter the details section of a task on top of its view, I tap on the "Inbox" button to see the dropdown list of all my projects and, then, I choose the one I want the task to go to.

Inbox Project

This can be also done in the new Nozbe 2.0's "Edit mode", which I frequently use. I tap on the "Edit" button in the bottom-left corner of the Inbox view and choose several tasks to be moved to a certain project at once. After I am done, I tap on the "Done" button at the top of the window to exit the "Edit mode".

Comments

After I complete the most important and the easiest (quickest to do) tasks, I hurry to the "Comments" view to see what my team is up to. This is a very important place where we all actually communicate. I read all the comments that have been posted since I last viewed it. For example now, in the afternoon, I have 32 unread comments.

Here, the priority goes to the conversation in the tasks that haven't been done yet. I go one by one and read them carefully. Sometimes, I put my two cents in. This way I participate in my team, I make sure my colleagues know I am there for them.

If I still have some time left, I read through (or "scan") the comments from the tasks marked as completed. Once I am done, I go to the "info bar" (by choosing the "i" icon) and mark all comments as read to clear this section.

Let me emphasize once again that for me this is one of the most important panels in Nozbe. My team communicates here - we exchange our views, questions and answers. I can give my input to many tasks; also the ones that are not actually delegated to me but which may require my contribution and attention.

When I have some extra time, which doesn't happen too often, I tap on the "i" and go to "info bar". Then choose the Activity section where I can see what has happened in Nozbe, what people have been up to today.

Generally, the comments section is where I "live" in Nozbe throughout the day.

Projects...

... I have a few :) The list is really quite big. In order to organize them and not get lost I use Labels extensively. Let's take an example of "OneNozbe" label. The name comes from the working title of Nozbe 2.0 app. And so, when I need to find a specific task or comment, or just feel in the mood for working on Nozbe 2.0, I filter all my projects by this label. I go to the projects view and then click a label icon at the top of it. I choose the label I want and Nozbe shows me only the project marked with this particular "sticker".

Label

I also have a "Private" label for my private projects and "Marketing" label for the marketing and promo stuff. This way I can focus on certain areas of interest.

To make the viewing and working in general easier, I use colors a lot. I mark different projects with colors to have them stand out from the list and to be able to find them quicker. For example, my CEO project I share with my assistant is purple and my main marketing project is blue, Nozbe payments are green and accounting project is red etc.

Let's get back to the "Private" project I mentioned earlier. Actually, this is a place for the loose tasks related to my private life that don't fit in to any other project. I treat it as a list of private tasks. I have a similar project for the company-related tasks that won't match any other projects.

Calendar

I don't use it that much although it is very practical to view the overdue tasks and the coming deadlines. In the week view I can see what exactly is going to happen within the next days.

Templates

Personally I don't have many templates as most of them are created by my team members. One of mine own templates is a "Triathlon" one. Whenever I do the triathlon, I create a project out of it to have a checklist of the stuff I need to do in order to be 100% prepared.

Team View

Then, there is a team view where I can see all the tasks delegated to me as well as to other people from my team. These are the tasks from the projects that we share, not from their private projects though!

This is also where I add additional people to my team and invite the new guys to the projects on which I want to work with them. We have just hired three new people, so I created three new accounts for them and shared some projects with them here.

To wrap things up

Nozbe is my "control center". Here I manage my business and complete everyday commitments and tasks. I also use Nozbe to communicate with my team. To optimize all the processes I use Evernote and Dropbox when working in Nozbe - all the reference materials and documents I attach to my tasks and projects come from these two apps.

I spend much of my time in the Priority list. There, I use filters a lot to make my life easier and be able to focus on the matters I want.

I put all the ideas and incoming stuff in the Inbox.

I read all the comments and communicate with my team in the "Comments" section (that's why we don't use e-mail at all in Nozbe :))

Bonus: this is me explaining the whole process on video:

Loading...

Friday, December 5, 2014

Uses of Nozbe - Teachers

Nozbe users come from all professions and backgrounds. So far, we have presented you with solutions for doctors, real-estate agents, lawyers and students. This article is intended for elementary and high school teachers.

Teachers

The background

My experience has lead me to believe that planning by teachers can be difficult. It is a very complex issue, as it depends greatly on many factors. That's one of the reasons why I have decided to divide the post into consecutive two: teachers and professors.

Teachers in pre-schools, elementary or even high-schools have essentially the same student body to deal with, the same mixture of those who want and those who don't, the same level of stress and the same same amount of paper work, though the composition thereof changes as one moves from one end of the scale to the other.

Teacher's life in a pill

As a teacher your ultimate goal is to pass your knowledge using different type of materials to your students. You will usually have a given from above outline of what your classes should include and what is expected of your students at the end of semester/year.

So, though you might be very creative within the limits of this plan, you still need to stick to it and make your best to help students grasp it to the best of their capabilities. In lower grades you are free to play with them, but it is highly advisable the playing is educative. The higher you go, the less of the play, but educative part stays on (but none says you can't still teach them by play, it is a question of what kind of games are used).

Projects and labels

I imagine most effective use of labels in the lower pre-school and early elementary would be the subjects one has to teach, as in most systems of schooling - for grades 1-3 one teacher teaches all the subjects.

Such teacher needs to collect handsome collection of interactive and creative ideas to develop the young minds under his/her care, thus I would definitely add "tests", "creative ideas", "games/activities" as some extra labels.

Now for projects, I think specific chunks of material would do well, as I could plan each lesson as an action with materials attached directly to it. This structure would make things easy and fast to find.

On the other hand the higher grades, from 4th onto 12th, are divided per classroom and teacher. Most often there is one teacher who teaches just one subject, less often - two. He or she has many groups of students of different age.

Though some labels from the above descriptions would still be useful, like: "tests", "creative ideas" or "activities", most would be replaced by the specific group of students.

Here-again projects would be specific areas of material that needs to be explained to pupils e.g. if I were a math teachers I would perhaps have "geometry", "algebra", "functions" or some similar aspects on my plate. Those would serve well as my projects. The explaining thereof is never a one-hour class that one could tick off and forget about it. It usually takes several meetings, and it requires some practice afterwards.

Categories

What possible use would categories be of to teachers?

Simple. They can come in really handy if we want to get some extra material for particular student, or via specific tool such as "Internet", "computer" or even "phone". This way they also can speed up and help organize your day. You can also use them to help you out in administrative tasks you might have as buying materials or doing reports for the principal.

Summary

Some food for thoughts? I certainly hope so. This article is as usual just a spring-board. The possibilities are pretty close to limitless and I hope that some of you will be kind to share them here for benefit of others.

Nozbe for Education is free

Did you know? Teachers and school leaders can use Nozbe in classrooms for free starting from November 1, 2014!

In Nozbe we always believed everyone needed to get organized and learn good productivity habits. That's why we built Nozbe in the first place and that's why we keep improving it and bringing it to all of the most popular platforms people use (Web, Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, iPad and iPhone).

Teachers are teaching the next generation. They are helping the young ones grow up to become responsible adults. For the new generation to succeed we need them to be prepared for the real world by being well organized and having mastered the productivity principles.

Thanks to a free Nozbe account and free productivity training teachers, principals and other members of school staff can help the new generation succeed.

Starting November 1, 2014 - Nozbe is going to be free for teachers if they want to use Nozbe with their students to get projects done together.

Written by Delfina (Nozbe Support - CHO - Chief Happiness Officer)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Labels - organize your projects easily in Nozbe

We use labels in Nozbe to organize projects by tying together the ones that are similar or have something in common. This way projects can be grouped together. What's really useful, every project can be tagged with more than one Label.

Labels allow you not only to separate your private projects from business ones but also to tag the projects with customer names, the names of your family members, countries in which your company operates, etc.

How to add a label to a project

Let's suppose you have a project that you wish to label. Select it on your project list, go to its infobar (click the "i" icon) to see its properties and go to "Change labels" section.

labels

If you are new to labeling and haven't created any yet, use the "New" button to set up your first label:

labels

Once you've added a new label, select it and use the "Confirm" button to add it to the project. It's easy!

Grouping projects with labels

If you have at least one label set up, you can group projects by labels in your project list. Just click on the label icon and choose a label you need. What's the effect? Your project list will now only consist of the projects with that chosen label.

labels

You can go back to a general view anytime by clicking "x" on the yellow stripe you will see at the top of the filtered projects list.

Managing labels

To edit or remove labels, just go to the labels properties of a project in its infobar (click "i" icon). There, you'll see three dots "..." next to your labels. When you click/tap on the dots next to a particular label, you'll be able to edit or delete it.

labels

Assigning labels to several projects at a time

In Nozbe, you can easily add a label to several projects from your list. Just use the project multi-edit mode. Go to your project list and click the "Edit" button at the bottom. The edit mode is now on - there is a little box to tick next to each project and several other options are available. Tick the project you wish to label and click/tap the "Change" button at the bottom. Two new options will appear: "Labels" and "Colors". Click "Labels" and choose desired label or create a new one. Now you just need to "Confirm" your action and you're done.

labels

Keep getting things done with Nozbe!

How many projects do you have in Nozbe? How do you manage them? Let us know how you use labels!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Nozbe 2.0.9 - better, faster... nozbe'er :)

You think we slowed down? Not at all! After announcing Nozbe 2.0 we keep up with the hard work. Our three main goals are: improving Nozbe's performance, fixing bugs that our users report and introducing new features to make the app even more practical for you. We take note of all your suggestions and complaints. We have a long list of the feature requests from you that we are going to analyze in depth during our company meeting that is going to take place really soon in Polish Jurassic Highland (we hope not to be disturbed by any dinosaurs).

Nozbe 2.0.9

What's new in Nozbe 2.0.9

  • Performance improvements - long task list now render much faster on iOS and Android devices
  • Remove people from sharing projects with list - used to share project with someone but do not want to see him on sugestions list? You can hide him from the list. To do so, go to "Team" section in your Nozbe app, select that person and go to their infobar.
  • Project templates fixes - if you create a template based on a shared project, newly created projects will be automatically shared with people who are in that original one.
  • Small and not so small bug fixes (the full list can be found on our test blog)

Tell us what you think

Your Nozbe, no matter what device you use it on, will update automatically from 2.0.8 to 2.0.9. If you wish to share your impressions or report any issues, do not hesitate to drop us a line. We will be happy to assist you (and even more happy to thank you for any kind words :))

To be continued

After releasing 2.0.9 we directly move on to preparing 2.0.10. Our plans regarding that version include:

  • Totally overhauled printing feature
  • Some candies for OSX/iOS users (especially Yosemite!)
  • Even more performance improvements
  • Keyboard shortcuts improvements

Friday, October 17, 2014

How to manage your team in Nozbe

When using Nozbe with other people, in a "team" environment, we can divide Nozbe users into 2 groups that we can conventionally name: "owners" and "cooperators". The "owners" are those who own the multi-user account in Nozbe and can add people to their own team. The number of team members depends on the plan the "owner" decided to pay for. The "cooperators" are people who have been invited to the team by an "owner" - they can have their own projects but have fewer prerogatives than "owners" when it comes to team management.

Now, imagine Edward who is a manager in a big company. He has decided to use Nozbe to work more efficiently with his team. He bought Nozbe PRO plan (he became an "owner" :)). He also ordered 14 additional accounts for his subordinates and invited them to his team in Nozbe.

What Edward did in order to create his team in Nozbe

Add people to team

  1. First he entered the "Team" section in Nozbe
  2. There, he chose a green silhouette icon to add a new team member
  3. He entered his subordinates' e-mail addresses to send them Nozbe invitations
  4. He clicked ADD button

And so, Edward as well as his teammates (who obviously accepted the invitations :)) can now create projects and share them with each other, their clients and friends.

New employee on-board

Edward's company has just hired a new marketing specialist, Rob. He will have to cooperate with many people to do his job well. His duties will involve communicating with the IT, finance and product guys as well as Edward and his assistant of course. Thus, Edward needs to add Rob to their team in Nozbe. As this is neither the first nor the last person to join his team, Ed has created a project template some time ago. That was a smart move - all he has to do now is make a project out of the existing template. There, he has some simple tasks that will help him introduce Rob to the team and provide the new employee with materials and information he might need to get started.

This is Edward's project:

Template - new teammate

Edward needs to:

  1. Update template with
  2. Invite to the team (he does the exactly same thing he did when adding his 14 subordinates before)
  3. Invite all the subordinates to this project
  4. Set a date/time for the invitation task "To All" (5.)

What did Edward ask his teammates for?

One of the tasks Edward had in his template-project wasn't delegated to him or to anyone else (there was a question mark not a photo/avatar next to it <6.>). He set a due date for today and so the task jumped to the Priority list of everyone in the project - this way everyone in Ed's team could see it. This is what Edward wrote in a comment to this task:

Hi guys, today we are welcoming a new member - - to our team. will take care of marketing and promotion of our product, so please invite him to all the projects this job requires him to be in.

If there is a lot, remember you can share multiple projects with your colleagues by going to the "Team" section in Nozbe, clicking on a person you want to share several projects with, then clicking on the "i" icon and choosing "Invite user to more projects" option.

Feel free to use this project as you require to install Rob in our team.

When you are done, don't check this task, just leave a comment.

Thanks!

What exactly Edward's teammates need to do now?

To add Rob to several projects at a time Ed's colleagues need to enter the Team section in Nozbe (1.). There, they need to choose a person they want to share their projects with (e.g. Rob)(2.) and click the "i" icon at the top-right corner (3.) to open the infobar with details of the user. In the infobar, they will need to find an "Invite user to more projects" button (4.), click on it and choose the projects they wish from the dropdown list that shows up. Then, a quick confirmation and Rob has access to the certain projects and all the materials and attachments related to them.

Sharing multiple projects

What if someone leaves the team?

It turns out that Rob joined Edward's team because Carl is leaving it - he is retiring. In situations like this, it is recommended to remove a person who will no longer work for the company - mostly for the data-security reasons. What Edward is going to do is ask his team members to remove Carl from all work-related projects they created and shared with the retiring colleague. This time, Edward will simply add a task with no responsibility assigned (question mark instead of the avatar again)(1.) to a common project they all share in Nozbe (2.). He will set a date and time so that the task will show up in the Priority list of all his subordinates.

Remove Carl Task

This is a comment that Edward should write (3.):

Dear All, as of today Carl is no longer on this team so please remove him from all work-related projects that you have created.

In order to remove someone from your project, enter this project, click on the "i" icon to open the infobar, then go to "People in project" section and click. A list of people will appear. Choose the person you wish to remove, click on "..." icon and the click on "remove from the project" button.

When you are done, don't check this task, just leave a comment.

Thanks!

To make sure everyone removes Carl from their projects he places a checklist (4.) with the names of all the people from his team and asks them to tick once their are done. Good idea - nice use of a checklist option :)

A quick guide to removing people from your projects

removing

  1. Go to a project you've created and which you share with a person you wish to remove
  2. Click on the "i" icon to open the infobar
  3. Go to "People in project section and click on one of the avatars
  4. Find the person you want to remove in the dropdown menu
  5. Click on the "..." icon
  6. Click on "Remove from project" button

Final goodbye to Carl

Once Carl leaves the company, Rob should remove him from the team and from the projects he shared with him. Nozbe makes it easy - whenever the "owner" removes someone from the team, our app asks whether to remove him from the shared project too.

If you are an "owner", please take a look how to remove someone (eg. Carl) from your account.

Remove from team

Go to "Team" section and choose your "Carl" :) Then, click "i" at the top-right corner (1.) to see that user's details. Click the "Remove from team" button (2.). If you wish, tick the box (3.) to confirm removing Carl from all the projects you created and shared with your colleague. A final "Confirm" (4.) and you are done.

- post written by Magda, Nozbe's COO