Is Work-Life Balance a Myth?

Tim, our head for growth and marketing, introduced me to Seeking Wisdom, a podcast featuring David Cancel, an experienced entrepreneur and investor. David is a highly successful marketer, entrepreneur, and I am always interested in his perspective. The podcast’s 12th episode focuses on the myth of work-life balance. This episode sparked some internal discussion.
David believes that trying to achieve work-life balance in the traditional sense will only lead you to stress and make you feel like a failure. He doesn’t believe people can just start their day at 8:15 am and finish it at 5:05 pm. Then they can go outside to do other things. He believes it’s more complicated.
David makes some very interesting points. My experience was quite different.
It sounds impossible to find work-life balance.
TeamGantt has been setting boundaries for when we work since day one. It’s a great thing and we encourage everyone at TeamGantt.
My day begins at 8:15 AM and ends at 5:00 PM. Other employees in the company have similar schedules. We need to be able to shut off at the end, and also have a set start time. This has many benefits.
Remote companies are more valuable because you don’t need to commute to separate work. We all know that what we do is rare and that many people fail to try it. It’s not.
This argument may be disputed by some. I would argue that we have greater control over our schedules and lives than we realize. It can be difficult to manage your schedule with children, but it is still possible.
Since the beginning, work-life balance has been a part of our culture.
This has been our daily routine at TeamGantt since 2009. John and I were the only ones working 4 hours a week when we started. We also had day jobs. Yes, it’s true, only 4 hours. This is not a typo. TeamGantt was an unrelated side project that we started together on Saturday mornings.
We increased the time from 4 hours to 40 hours later in 2011, when we became full-time. It felt like we had infinite time. We learned a lot about productivity and focus when we worked only 4 hours per week.
We can now work 40 hours per week and no longer feel the need to work more. We even reduced our team’s workweek to 36 hours, and still manage to be super productive!
We are not the only ones.
Although it may seem unusual, what we do isn’t the only one doing it. Treehouse, one our customers, is exploding and only works 4 days per week!
Ascent Architecture and interiors has found a way for clients to be satisfied without causing burnout. Their secret? Flexible schedules.
How to make it happen
Remote working is a great way to keep a healthy work-life balance. Because it allows us to be laser-focused on what needs to be done. Here are some ways to make it work.
How can I complete my work in 40 hours?
Working 8 hours a day, 5 days a weeks is a lot of work. You can accomplish a lot if you can reduce distractions and get real work done in 40 hours.
It’s also important to focus on the Big Rocks. Franklin Covey is an example of this. David mentions this in his podcast and I couldn’t agree more. The Big Rocks idea stuck with me ever since I took the Franklin Covey course at a previous job. It’s a simple strategy that identifies your most important tasks and allocates time to them. You should block out your calendar and avoid interruptions. Turn off email, Slack, and your phone for 1.5-2 hours. You can do a lot with that m

Is there a science to building great teams (or is it just random)?

Have you ever seen a team that looked flawless?
I have seen teams work so well together that anyone who saw them would have assumed that they were best friends or had known each other since childhood.
They are efficient, productive, and highly motivated. They are able to have fun together and focus on their tasks. They are the perfect team.
You might be wondering why your team isn’t able to match them. They are often plagued by poor communication, indifference, and poor performance. You don’t know how you can create a high-functioning team.
This brings us to an interesting question: Can there be a science to building great teams? Is there a secret formula to building a great team? Or is it just luck?
There is no magic formula for fixing a dysfunctional team, as with many things in life. There is solid research that can help you identify the components of a high-functioning group.
Researchers have found certain commonalities in almost all of the successful teams. These teams share certain characteristics. This is not an accident. These characteristics are part of what makes a team successful.
This doesn’t mean that great teams can be created by chance. They aren’t. Your team and the best team in the entire world are very similar. Both have a wide range of people and sometimes experience conflict. Conflict isn’t always a bad thing.
They are able to solve problems and make teams great. They know how to improve their team.
Great teams don’t consist of highly-skilled individuals with exceptional teamwork skills. They are made up of everyday people like you and I who have learned to be better team members.
These fundamental qualities will help your team quickly and easily improve if your team members are taught them. Let’s take a closer look at these important factors for team composition.
Factor 1: Great teams are composed of balanced members
What would you answer if someone asked you to name the kind of people you would like to have on your ideal team?
It seems obvious. It seems obvious that you would want the best prodigies possible.
According to a 2014 study in Psychological Science, this is a bad idea. Too many superstars on a team can make it more difficult to work well together and compete with each other.
Too much talent can lead to team disorganization as members of the team scuffle with each other to establish intragroup standing. In many cases, too much talent can be the seed of failure.”Interestingly, an abundance of talent didn’t affect baseball teams too much, because baseball isn’t very interdependent. Too much talent can be detrimental to any type of teamwork. You also need to have a certain number of highly skilled people.
It is important to form teams of people who complement each other’s personality types.
First, avoid falling for the “too many talent” trap. Author Liz Wiseman believes that rookies can be valuable members of your team. Wiseman says that rookies can be valuable additions to your team because they have significant knowledge gaps or skills gaps. “They are alert, move quickly, and work smart,” Wiseman said.
Wiseman observed rookies in action, and discovered that they excel at innovation and networking. They can be an asset, no matter if they are fresh out of college or if they are from another division.
A second tip is to ensure you have a balance between introverts, extroverts, and both. (Ambiverts too.) Many people believe introverts and extroverts are at odds in teams. But that’s often not true.
Harmony is about creating opportunities for introverts. Leaders need to make it easier for introverts to shine in a workplace that is already designed for extroverts.
Francesca Gino, a Harvard Business School professor, recommends creating reflectiv

Introducing PM Matters: A Q&A series

Although project management is a common topic, it is rarely discussed in a personal way. While we often talk about process-driven topics and the analytical aspects of project management, we often forget that the people behind them make the projects happen. What’s the best way for us to start the conversation? We will talk one-on-one with them about the issues that are important to them.
This is the first episode in PM Matters, a Q&A series that examines issues that are important to project managers and the wider project management community. This series was a pleasure to produce with TeamGantt. I know it will bring to light some of these issues and, more importantly, the solutions that we develop, but it will also give the community a more personal voice. Each interview will be customized to the interviewee’s background and interests. To get to know these people and get their insights, I am having conversations with them. I hope you enjoy this series. Please get in touch if you would like to be interviewed or have suggestions for topics or questions.
Episode One: Rachel Gertz
Rachel Gertz is a trainer for digital project managers and coowner of Louder Than Ten. Louder Than Ten is a school for creative people who manage their projects. She is very active in the field of digital project management and brings a lot of great ideas online and in person. She is currently:
A co-blogger at Every Day DPM
Co-chair of the Vancouver DPM Meetup Chapter
At events such as the Digital PM Summit, a speaker
Writer for magazines such as.net
Coax is a digital magazine for project managers.
Louder Than Ten is a teacher, project manager, and all-around force of nature.
This episode features us discussing the issues that are important to us. We talk about digging in and being the real project manager. Rachel offers great advice to PMs just starting out and those in difficult situations. It was a great conversation that I look forward to re-watching in a future episode.
You can read the complete transcript here
Brett: Hello everyone. This is Brett Harned. I’m here to help Rachel Gertz with her furry microphone. Hi, Rachel.
Rachel: Hi. How is it going guys?
Brett: It’s there. It looks like a head of a Muppet, and it’s what I love. Rachel is a digital PM trainer and lover. Louder Than Ten is a school that trains people in creative projects. Rachel is a close friend of mine. She is currently in Vancouver, British Columbia and does a lot of great work for digital project management. Rachel, how are you?
Rachel: I’m doing great. Thanks so much, Brett. How are you doing?
Brett: Thank you. It’s so nice to have you. I have had the pleasure of talking to you many times, but never in this formal setting.
Rachel: We usually send giphys back-and-forth. This is quite nice.
Brett: Let’s get started. I know people who love podcasts that are short. I have many questions for you. Let’s have some fun. Let’s start with this question, which I haven’t asked you before. How did you get started in project management?
Rachel: I believe I started digital project management by accident, just like many other digital project managers. My story is that I was in the stomach of a Winnebago while I was traveling North America, when I started digital project management. My husband and I decided that we were done living with picket fences. We had enough with condos. We bought a Winnebago, and ended up working from the road for nine months on digital projects.
Brett: That’s awesome. Brett: That’s awesome.
Rachel: It’s evolved a lot. We now run a school for creative project managers. We are focusing on digital, but our ultimate goal is to create a school that allows people to come in, even if they have never heard of digital project managing, and leave feeling like an expert.

Get Faster Answers to All Your Project Management Questions

You should be able find the answer to any question you ask without stumbling. We are proud to announce TeamGantt’s new and improved support site!
You now have many options to quickly get answers–all from one streamlined source.
All your support needs can be met in one space
Let’s take you through the TeamGantt resources that are available to you.
Search by keyword
Want to see all of our tutorials on a particular topic? This handy tool will help you narrow down your search.
Browse by topic
We’ve made it easy for you to find what you need if you’re in a exploring mood.
Register for upcoming classes
Each week, there are free learning opportunities.
Get free project management and planning guides
You can become a project management expert by receiving in-depth advice that you can access on your own schedule.
Get in touch with our team
To reach our Customer Success team, click the Contact Us button at top of the page.
It’s easy on the eyes. Even easier to use.
Since a while, we’ve had helpdocs. Why not go back to the drawing boards?
Although a new, sleek look might be the first thing you notice about our new support site. However, we didn’t set out to make the pages look better.
Brandon Tully, creative DirectorTeamGantt’s Creative Director Brandon Tully said it was all redesigned with your limited time and in mind.
“Our customers are busy and require quick answers to their questions. Brandon explains that Brandon was the one who reorganized and created the new support site.
It’s not fun to spend time waiting for pages to load or trying to figure which button to click to get the right information. While Brandon gave the pages a facelift, Brian Scaturro, our in-house engineer, worked behind the scenes to improve the site’s speed.
Brian Scaturro engineer “We optimized the new support website to load quickly and be easy to navigate from all devices,” Brian says. “We hope that our customers enjoy this new experience.”
Please share your feedback
We are very excited about this new resource. We want to hear from YOU!
Visit our support site and let us know what you think. Your feedback is the secret sauce that makes TeamGantt the best possible!
The easiest way to create a project plan
In just 10 minutes, you can create a beautiful project plan. You can switch between gantt and calendar views with a single click.
Get your free plan

Checklists: The Easier Way To Track Task’s To-Dos

Do you like to-do lists and wish to use them? Checklists, our newest feature in TeamGantt, allows you to use them in your TeamGantt Account.
Checklists allow you to add multiple actions to each task.
A quick example
Let’s say that you have a task to update your homepage. This project has a task to create a header image. The header image task requires several actions, including design, copy editing and approval.
In order to track each step, you would have to create a task in your project plan. This could lead to a chaotic timeline.
This is no longer true with checklists. You can now place action items inside a task. This makes it much easier to organize your project and timeline.
This is just one example of the many uses checklists can have. This feature has many uses. Checklists are very useful for teams that use a hybrid agile/waterfall approach in project management.
How to make a checklist
To create a checklist, click theChecklisticon just to the left of your task’s title in either theGantt chart View or theList View (see below).
You can also create your checklist using theMy Taskspage. Click the Checklisticon icon that appears when hovering over your task.
Register to create checklists now.
Please share your thoughts
Do you like the feature? Do you have suggestions? We would love to hear from you so that we can improve TeamGantt.
Enjoy a wonderful rest of the week!

The easiest way to create a project plan
In just 10 minutes, you can create a beautiful project plan. You can switch between gantt and calendar views with a single click.
Get your free plan

What is the difference between Task, Project and Process Management?

It can be difficult to know where to begin when it comes to purchasing the right technology for your business.
There are many software products that promise to revolutionize your business.
Website after website offers program downloads that claim to help you innovate in accounting, marketing, or sales.
Task, project, and management of process all look almost the same. How can you tell the difference?

Below, we’ll separate task management, process management and project management.
What makes task management unique?
Task management is essential for creating a productive workflow within organizations. It’s often part of both process management and project management, which is why people often confuse the two. Task management is not meant to replace either project or process management. It’s more of a foundation for them both.
Task management is a process that allows for the complete life cycle management of tasks. This process is used to help an individual or group achieve a goal. Tasks are accumulated and ranked according to their complexity. These tasks require planning, testing, tracking, and reporting to be successful.
Task management is a basic activity that involves keeping track of status, priority, time, status, time, financial and human resource assignments, notifications, etc.
Task management can be described as a list of tasks. Managers set a project goal and then create a list of tasks that will help them achieve it. Once they have identified the tasks, they prioritize them and assign them to people. Finally, they give deadlines. This is the best way to determine when a goal can be achieved and hold team members accountable for their roles in achieving it.
When should you use task management?
Task management is a key tool for success. With less than a third completing projects within the budget and timeframes, it has become a key tool. Task management should be used for every project or goal a business is working towards. It doesn’t have to be directly related to the company’s products and services. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a temporary project. It can be “business as usual” work that is done on an ongoing and permanent basis.
Software development companies should use task management (and task-management software) to manage the production of each piece of software being developed. This also allows for updates and patches to be added. Each phase of software package development can be broken down into tasks. These tasks are assigned to team members and given deadlines. Task management is also important for marketing and advertising each piece of software.
Task management is an option for every marketing campaign. They can be broken down into the content that should be created, when it should have been created and who should do it.
Task management can help with long-term goals. You can turn the objectives into tasks, then assign the task to the person who will complete it over a longer time period.
What makes project management unique?
Project management is the process of initiating, planning, designing, execution, construction monitoring, control and closing a specific goal. This is a short-term goal that has very specific success criteria. It can be a service or product that has a defined beginning and ending. This management is different from general management, which involves repetitive and permanent activities. Project management is limited in scope, budget, quality, time, and duration.
Software that is used for project management (project management program software).

Five Biggest Project Management Trends for 2017

2016 was a great year by all measures.
Trainers of Pokemon finally caught Pikachu without a console.
Beyonce created a new standard in exposing cheating husbands to all of the world.
Our sweet prince was too soon taken from this world.
There was also all the other bad stuff that occurred, but that’s not why you’re here. You are here because you want to learn how the field of project management will change in the next twelve months.
You are right to be curious. 2017 will be a huge year for project management.

We compiled a list of 2016 project management predictions. The growth that can be derived from the integration of traditional project management and change management. We predicted that PMPs would increase in popularity, as well as the emphasis on risk management.
We are confident that 2017 will be the year of project management excellence. Some of these may surprise you.
1. Agile project management is accepted outside of software development.
Although software development has been the mainstay of agile project management for many years, we have been watching agile slowly leak into other industries. There is an agile marketing manifesto already, editorial staff use Kanban software to organize articles, and Scrum has been used in finance almost a half-decade.
These examples are a small selection of industries that are not familiar with project management. This is about to change.
Agile project management has risen in all industries in the past few months. It is being used by UX professionals and graphic designers. Agile is revolutionizing pet food product development. Agile has been adopted by construction management. IT does not have the sole right to project management.
2. A pivot will emphasize nontraditional collaboration tools over traditional software for project management.
You might expect that agile’s popularity will lead to more industry-specific software. However, we are not there yet (with the exception of marketing and design).
2017 will see a shift away from project management software to collaboration software like Slack, and other alternatives, such as Slack. Gartner says that the “applications” are already in use, which encourages adoption and change management within employees. They are used to Yammer and Jive so they will likely stick with them.
The trend will be in effect in 2017, but Gartner warns that these collaboration tools are not designed for project management. Users will need to adjust their settings. Gartner suggests that employees agree on the basic methods of communication such as “@” mentions to include team members, and hashtags for red flags. The project manager will need to be skilled in change management to adopt these systems.
3. “NPD PPM” will not be just jargon anymore.
NPD PPM is the new product development portfolio management software. (See why there’s an acronym? ) has slowly begun to creep into enterprise product design organizations. Some examples brands include Decision Lens and GenSight, PDWare Planview, Sopheon and UMT360.
Gartner attributes the merging of NPD/PPM to agile’s widespread adoption as well as the Internet of Things. It states, “Consumers pitted with talented product developers drive product innovation that cannot ever be ‘fast enough’ or ‘agile enough to meet market demand… The Internet of Things, digitalization, and strategizing are pushing product companies and their product innovation teams to strategize and prioritize, select, source, and execute projects.

5 Reasons Project Management Software is a Must-Have

Oh January.
It is snowing.
Martin Luther King Jr. is top-of-mind.
The United States is home to National Blood Donor Month and National Braille Literacy Month. National Hobby Month and National Soup Month are also celebrated.
We all go to the gym and purchase a new membership.
In fact, January is the month that 12% of all new gym memberships are signed up. The average number of new membership sign-ups for other months is 8% per year.
These new gym rats should have known the secret to weight loss success.
It’s not a super-recommended diet, a quick exercise program, or a fad diet. Instead, it’s project management software.

There are many free tools for project management that you can use to help you lose weight. But, what if you want to know why this method works?
Continue reading to discover the five reasons that project management software is so important for a healthy diet.
1. Grundsätzlich, diets are projects.

Let’s take a look at what a project is. The Project Management Institute defines a project as a temporary effort to create a new product, service, or result. Temporary projects have a defined beginning and ending time and therefore a defined scope and resource.
For a second, think about how this aligns with our weight loss goals:
Project management software was designed to help with projects similar to weight loss. This sentiment is also applicable to other physical goals. Consider:
2. Project management concepts are already being used by weight-loss websites.

It doesn’t really matter if your dieting strategy is using MyFitnessPal or SparkPeople, Lose It! or Excel (c’mon guys!
This is how you can think of it: Gantt charts look exactly like this.

What does projected weight loss look?

Are you starting to notice a trend in your industry?
They are essentially the same thing except that weight loss is more redundant. Lose five pounds: first block. Ten pounds: second block. Fifteen. Twenty. And so on.
You can also use the project management features to manage daily tasks such as calorie counting, exercise, macronutrient advice, and collaboration options. You’ll be able to “like” and “comment” on statuses that overlap. Project management is all about team building, or in the case for weight loss, building a community to share effort.
3. Existing wellness apps won’t help you lose weight.

Habit management apps like Habitica and Habit List are great for weight maintenance but not weight loss.
Why?
Because they take out the “project” part of it!
Once a goal is taken off our checklist, it becomes a business process. And business processes or quotidian routines aren’t always exciting. They don’t produce results, they just predictably lead to more of them.
You would think that weight loss apps would do better, right?
Nope.
Take into account the research on the effectiveness of weight loss apps.
A study published in American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that 81% of mobile weight-loss apps don’t help dieters. A study by Public Health and Nutrition found that app users can expect to lose only three to six centimeters in their waistline over the course of a single year. Non-app users? It’s not much different, a reduction of between two and four centimeters.
These apps are failing, that’s all.
Do we need to try something different?
4. Mobile is still the best way to lose weight.

Don’t panic sweaty, sad panda! I don’t recommend that you lose your phone to access an on-premise or online project management software option.
Despite the modest success of weight loss apps in helping dieters lose weight, there are still some successes to be proud of. Those centimeters reductions mentioned in section last are still reductions.
The most important factor in determining the efficacy of a diet is its ability to be tracked on mobile.
Mobile

[Podcast] Why Emotional Intelligence is Vital for Engaged Teams

This episode of Thrive explains why emotional intelligence (EQ), is crucial for leading engaged and successful team members. It also offers tips on how you can improve your EQ.
This episode features: Brian WestfallHost, Principal HR Analyst at CapterraOlivia MontyGuest, Associate Principal Analysis at CapterraIn a recent Capterra poll, 78% of project managers reported using emotional intelligence more often than ever in the last two years. Why is EQ so hot? How can high EQ managers improve employee engagement and overall project success?
Brian Westfall, principal HR analyst, sits down with Olivia Montgomery, Capterra associate principal analyst to discuss how emotional intelligence can be used by project managers to lead engaged and successful teams. Olivia shares insights from her research as well as tips for improving your own EQ.
You can listen or watch this episode on Thrive below.
Register for Thrive today
Subscribe to the Thrive podcast via any of your favorite platforms
Apple PodcastSpotifyYou also have the option to catch up on new episodes of Thrive via our YouTube channel. These resources can help you get more help with employee engagement.
Podcast transcript

Five Ways to Teach Agile Methodology to Your Tech Team

Sometimes I feel like an evangelist.
After returning from lunch, I ask my colleagues: “Have your heard the good word about Alistair Cockburn?” They ignore me. I press. “You know, he was part the team that wrote the IT worker’s sacred text: The Agile Manifesto.”
Silence.
(I don’t understand why anyone would want to go out for lunch with me.

Sometimes I get a reaction from Capterra’s IT department. “Oh yes, Scrum!” “Crystal!” “Ugh, DSDM.”
Engaging with someone is nerds gone wild.
It’s just as exciting as it sounds. All things are exploding, including code, snacks, standing desks, and code.
I am aware that my peers may not be as enthusiastic about agile as I am. If they only knew how effective (and enjoyable!) agile management can be, it would be a great thing. If they knew how effective (and fun!) agile project management can be, they would be just as excited about it as I am.
What is Agile methodology? How can you use it effectively?
Agile is an iterative approach for project management. Agile methodologies are flexible and adaptable to changing requirements, rather than focusing on a single approach.
Agile software development requires customer feedback and cross-functional teams to succeed. Agile is a real-time method of project management that allows you to manage your development as it happens, in an evolving way. The Agile methodology allows you to create, integrate feedback into, test and manage all your projects simultaneously.

According to Project Management Institute market research, agile organizations performed significantly better in performance metrics than non-agile counterparts. Take, for example:
There are many benefits to agile methods and tech teams can reap the benefits of this project management approach.
If you are ready to learn how to teach Agile to your team, then read on.
1. Use the Agile Manifesto to create assignments and exercises
Introduce your team to the Agile manifesto as the first step in becoming agile. Its core is made up of 12 principles:

These principles can be taught through exercises and assignments, such as the ones on Growing Agile.
These exercises are geared towards self-discovery and not teaching.
Begin by asking your team about their manifesto. Let them discuss the principles together. Next, have a brainstorming session where your team can identify the principles that will work well in group discussions. Then, you can give your team a written assignment that will allow them to apply the principles to their current software development methods. These assignments are designed to help you learn and remember the principles.
A simple fill-in the blanks exercise is a great way to teach basics, especially for new tech teams.

2. Instead of focusing on theory, focus on live training
Real-life examples are the best way to learn about Agile. Although your team may be well-versed in agile concepts like Scrum, XP and Crystal, it is still beneficial to see examples. For intermediate and advanced practitioners of Agile methodology, live training is appropriate. These steps will help you teach your tech team agile through live examples.
(Hint: You can use agile project management software in order to get this system right first time.
These are just a few examples of how to do live training on agile methods. Apply agile to your current project is the key. Live project training is a great way for knowledge transfer, not just teaching.
3. Online Kanban and Scrum course certifications
Online certifications are a great way to implement Agile. Although it is more costly than running a program in-house, the benefits include time savings.