Music for different tasks – a way to be more productive at work

8096422345_5282b9e8c3_o

I’m sitting at my usual desk, headphones stuffed in my ears, Spotify is playing new tracks from the Discover section, but I feel weird. I don’t understand why in the last two hours I’ve struggled so hard to put a couple of words together.

And I still do not understand why yesterday my articles were basically writing themselves, although I had the mellow and electro beat of Darkside pumping in my hears.

I turn off the music and get back to work: my hands are starting to type again on the keyboard.

However I decide to procrastinate and discover why it was so difficult to type even a single word: I love music and this is the first time that it’s causing troubles to me. After reading plenty of studies from various behaviourist and physicians, I understand that there is a reason why Darkside is fine as music to listen while at work while random music isn’t.

Does Mozart do it for you?

The so-called “Mozart effect” was made public in 1993: a team of neurobiologist proved that after 10 minutes of listening to Mozart’s Sonata subjects showed an improvement in spatio-temporal reasoning skills and temporary mental enhancement when listening to his composition.

When I first came across to this research while at college, I thought that I had found the perfect solution to my troubled relationship with maths. I started listening to Mozart while doing my homeworks and my marks got a bit better for a while but unfortunately I couldn’t avoid to end up the year with an overall F in that subject.

Why my marks got better? Listening to music, particularly pleasant music such as the one of the Austrian composer, increases the level of dopamine (a neurotransmitter that lifts the mood) in the brain, most likely the factor that improves cognitive performance. The body temperature rises, the conductivity of our skin increases and the internal reward system is activated. We can have the same effect by eating a chocolate bar, junk food or when we receive a new message from a recent Twitter follower – it drives us, makes us more creative and motivated to find out more.

How we should listen to music?

As New York Times recently reported, dopamine can help to do certain tasks more quickly and efficiently. They found that positive effects are to be expected on the quality and quantity of the performance, especially where employees pursue rather monotonous work or work in night shifts. However, if the job is mentally demanding, listening to music may have a negative result.

There are small tricks to maximize the effect of music on your productivity:

  • Listen to music at a moderate level: high volume level diverts attention from what’s happening around you and it may also cause hearing loss.
  • 20-30 minutes of music are enough to regain concentration and motivation – take a break and get back to the real world once in a while.
  • Avoid listening to random playlist – prefer repetitive, happy and easy listening songs.
  • Prefer instrumental music if you are writing a blog post – you don’t want to add words from your favourite hip-hop arti$t to your article. YO!
  • Choose your songs wisely according to your tasks: simple tasks can be done while listening to fast-paced music while more complex ones should be addressed in a quieter atmosphere.

Headphones or speakers? The first ones are more dev-friendly and are great if you like to engage paperball fights when calling a colleague at the other side of the office (your boss may not be happy about that though), on the other hand speakers are only accepted when the dj in your office is not a metalhead – it’s never a good starting point if a new client is welcomed with Raining Blood by Slayer playing in the background and he gets involved in a mosh pit with the whole marketing department.

What should we listen to

If you need to increase the concentration and isolate yourself from the office’s distraction, just select music that uses has a deep sound and a regular rhythm. There are loads of productivity playlists filled mainly by chill out music, loungy stuff and ambient sounds, that follow the same pattern: calm, smooth, monotone and extremely relaxing.

For those who don’t want to surrender to the classic, who are always looking for new mixtapes and artists, we have made a playlist on Spotify called: “Death to procrastination”.

Our playlist is a collaborative one, that means that you can edit it by adding or deleting and tracks that suits all your colleagues’ taste.

Timeneye Spotify Playlist- Death to procrastination

So try it out and let us know what you think – leave your thoughts in the comment section and send us your suggestions for the next playlist.

Why is time tracking essential for creatives?

5849655119_846a65179e_b

It is a well known cliché that developers and “non-conforming-hipsters” working within creative and web design agencies, work around the clock to hit deadlines. These individuals struggle between the desire to travel and work and therefore condense their job in long sessions that usually leads them to lose track of the time used to complete each tasks.

Monitoring creatives’ life

Nowadays, the concept of the “9-5″ shift pattern is gradually changing. Individuals now, for necessity or pleasure, follow the inspiration and creativity peaks of spending sleepless nights to work on projects. But how do project managers monitor the working hours spent by their employees to complete different projects? This seems somewhat impossible. A part time blogger contributor, for example, will always be acknowledged based on the amount of hours spent in the office, forgetting the extra work done at home to research data sources or learn about the latest trends. The project manager will therefore never have an exact report of the actual hours spent by bloggers to complete the tasks, resulting in an exhaustive revision of the contractual conditions that, in hindsight, could benefit the employee.

Time tracking or time wasting?

We can easily find a relevant number of “boring” arguments to support time tracking for the project manager point of view such as improved time sheets, better budget management and avoiding future project overrun, forgetting the real goal of next generation time tracking: creating a smart platform that constantly learns users’ habits.

Administrators are more likely to have fixed schedules, while creative workers are more likely to prefer flexibility in their work hours. Majority believe time tracking as constricting and a waste of time which ultimately disrupts their workflow. The result? Harsh penalties if deadlines aren’t met.

Why should creatives track their time?

The answer to this question lies in the apparently hidden feature of time tracking to improve the innovative side of creatives, in a bid to sustain project efficiency and maintain their personal style.

Managing the multitude of work-related activities such as brainstorming, designing, meetings, staff breaks and the constant analysis and comparison of recent projects, is key to ensuring weekly and monthly improvements in time redistribution during the development of a project.

Time tracking must also be perceived as a tool for personal improvement and a way to show fairness and build strong relationships between managers and employees: a reliable workmate with whom to structure work weeks to have more time to cultivate personal interests, as this happens more and more rarely.

 

Better suggested time entries and more

The new Timeneye is officially out of beta. This simply means that Timeneye is now stable and it contains the features we wanted to share with our customers. A lot of new features and improvements are already in the pipeline though, so keep in touch!

With the stable release of the new Timeneye, which contains some bugfix too, we focused on improving the suggested time entries interface and user interaction.

You can now scroll between days in the suggested entries list: this should make it easier to confirm previous suggested entries when you miss confirming them the same day they popped out.

We’ve reorganized the user preferences dialog too, adding the possibility to control the suggestion entries behavior: for each suggestions source (i.e. Basecamp, Google Calendar, etc.), you can set its mode to “auto” (meaning Timeneye will automatically hide suggestions coming from there if you don’t really use that source), to “on” or “off”.

Well then, happy tracking!

New native app for Android & iOS available now

The new and improved Timeneye app for Android and iOS devices is now available for downloading!

It integrates simple and intuitive timers to track your time wherever you are in just one tap.

 

Image app

 

Timeneye time tracking app features:

  • Timers
  • Overall view of your daily time entries
  • Customizable alerts to notify that you have an active timer each 15/30/60 minutes
  • Time entries are automatically saved to the web app (track.timeneye.com)

You can download it here:

iOS app storeAndroid app store

Notifications and getting started checklist

During the last few days we introduced a couple of important features on track.timeneye.com.

Notifications

To improve communication between Timeneye and users, we added a Notifications sections where users receive information about what’s happening “under the hood”: for example, notifications keep admins up-to-date with Basecamp and Redbooth sync status, notify them about the possibility to import a new project from Basecamp, etc.

In the next releases we will widen the scope of this tool.

Getting started checklist

A new user’s approach to Timeneye should be extremely simple. To achieve this, we have added a “getting started checklist” that walks new users throught the first steps.

getting_started_checklist

The new Timeneye is here

Twitter_p02_tx_head

Time management is the key to sustainable creativity. Creative explorations, side projects, personal passions – these are all vital to modern business innovation. Some companies even give this ‘personal project’ time a name (Google’s “20% Time” being the most obvious example). Whether or not it’s codified into company policy, many businesses are aspiring to encourage long term growth by nurturing innovation as a part of their process. But too often innovative and creative projects get sidelined because there’s a worry that they’ll take up too much time.

Enter the new version of Timeneye, developed to solve precisely this problem. I usually describe the position I was in before time management as being “in the dark”. Timeneye turned on the lights, letting the team see how much time we were spending on innovation, on client service and on business development.

Of course, proper time tracking helps a team budget time effectively (and correctly quote new clients / charge hourly-rate paying clients). But what makes Timeneye different is that it doesn’t stop there – it recognises that time tracking is dull and that to get real innovation you need to make it simple and intelligent.

That means integration with project management and calendar software like Basecamp. It means using your schedule to fill in your time sheet for you. Of course you can edit the suggestions manually – after all not everything you do will be in recorded in the cloud, but the point is that it’s fast and easy – words not usually associated with time sheet management…

The bottom line for our business is that Timeneye has allowed us to make sure we’re not neglecting the important, in favour of the urgent. That means more innovation, more creativity and a stronger long term business. And with this new version of Timeneye we’re ready to share our vision of intelligent simple time tracking with the world.