Have you always feel frustrated at the end of the week that you have accomplished nothing despite being busy for the entire week?
I was inspired by Barking up the Wrong Tree to write how using an issue tracker can improve the way of getting work done by incorporating behavioural science theories.
1. Attention is equal to Time
First, you need to be aware that your smartphones and inbox are huge time suckers to your productivity.
Each new email or a notification is likely to distract you from what you are doing. Mobile notifications is the new evil with a constant flood of notifications from your group chats and apps.
People who do a lot of attention switching, they believe they can focus when they need to, but the reality is they have lost that ability.
When you give them a task that requires focus, they perform worse than people that don’t spend a lot of time fragmenting their attention.
Therefore, you might want to check your mails and mobiles after completion of a task.
2. Maintaining a list
According to research, an average human can only keep track of 7 ± 2 tasks in working memory.
Therefore it is better to use computers to keep track of your tasks. It helps to keep you organised and ensure no tasks get missed.
3. Setting up a routine
Have you ever wondered why people will always remember to log in to check their Facebook or to play their mobile games?
Well, they all send you notifications periodically to remind you to do so.
So you can set up a reminder for yourself to check on the tasks that you need to do at the start of the day/week.
4. Create small wins for yourself
The biggest difference between working and studying is there aren’t regular tests to tell you how good you are performing and to let you move to the next level.
You need to create small wins for yourself to and your team have the feeling of progress.
People’s inner work lives seemed to lift or drag depending on whether or not their projects moved forward, even by small increments.
Small wins often had a surprisingly strong positive effect, and small losses a surprisingly strong negative one.
Start having a report to see how many tasks you have accomplished at the end of the week.
You will not feel nothing is done at the end of every week.
5. Start to reduce shallow work
A mentor once shared with me the concept of “Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts”
Similarly, small insignificant tasks consume your time and distract you from getting the real work done.
Shallow work is little stuff like email, meetings, moving information around. Things that are not really using your talents.
Deep work pushes your current abilities to their limits. It produces high value results and improves your skills.
Instead of spending time to compile reports and filling time sheets, use tools to automate this to free up time to do meaningful work
6. Learn how to say no
Do you know that a common characteristic of successful people is that they know how to say no at the right time.
By asking your co-workers to log a task in the system for you, it makes them think harder whether it is necessary.
This either helps you to filter unnecessary tasks or prepare the information for the task upfront.
It also helps your superior to see your workload and balance the assignment accordingly.
7. What gets measured get done
Usually most of us work together as a group. Sometimes you need someone to complete a piece of work before you can work on it.
If the task is passed over to you late, you will have less time to work on it. The worse scenario is that it interrupts you
Try to set a due date when assigning out a task and send automated reminders to chase them.
8. Use the correct tool
A major limitation of using the Inbox to keep track of your tasks is that emails are sorted with the latest first.
It creates a natural tendency to read and react to newer emails than to follow up on the earlier emails.
Work should be FIFO (First In First Out), not LIFO (Last In First Out).
If you keep on reacting upon those newer incoming tasks, your older tasks will eventually become urgent and get on top of you.
Then you will be pressured to rush finish those late tasks.
You might want to use a To-do list tool or issue tracker to manage your tasks.
You can find more useful tips and related information for the quotes and links referenced in this article below:
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Recently, we completed a project for a bank. Their original idea was to build a system for tracking but they decide to leverage on JIRA since they were already using it. The requirements can be met by adding a few new JIRA projects and customised plugins.
However, there was a big challenge to quickly deploy changes on an existing JIRA Production system. The changes had to be replicated across 3 separate environments (DEV, QA and PROD). This meant that the users had to wait a longer time to use the new features. Luckily, we discovered the Configuration Manager Plugin. It is a JIRA add-on that enables automated deployment of configurations across JIRA instances.
With this plugin, we managed to replicate the configuration in 1 environment within 1 day instead of a week. We managed to shave 8 days of effort for QA and PROD environments. It eliminated human errors which could not have been avoided if we took the traditional method. There were just too many steps to replicate with zero errors.
We were very impressed and want to share our experience with fellow JIRA users.
How we did it
Due to confidentiality, the steps are listed using the screenshots taken from the plugin author’s page.
- The initial configuration in DEV had to be done manually. We cheated! Using our in-house Project Creator plugin, we created hundreds of custom fields from a MS Excel file
- After the schemes and workflows were set up, we got ready to create a configuration snapshot for export
- The Configuration Manager can only be accessed by a JIRA Admin under the admin console
- Select the Add Snapshot button (or Create Snapshot for newer version)
- We used System Configuration to capture all the configuration so that we can deploy multiple projects at the same time
- After the snapshot was created, we downloaded the xml file by selecting Download from the gear icon on the right side
- The file was copied to the UAT environment to be deployed
- Similarly, the JIRA Admin had to log into the admin console to access the Configuration Manager page
- To play safe, we did an backup of the UAT environment before applying the changes so that in event of error, we can still restore the UAT environment to the previous setup
- Click on the Deploy link on the left sub-menu to access the Deploy Configuration Snapshot page
- Click on the From Snapshot File button to upload the xml configuration file created from DEV
- The snapshot will be added to the list of snapshots available for deployment
- Click on the Deploy link under the Actions
- The list of configuration changes will be listed. The additions are identified by whereas modifications are identified by
- We spent more time verifying the changes identified with the changes to ensure they do not affect existing configuration.
- When the changes were confirmed, we proceeded with the automated deployment
- Once completed, the changes could be viewed in the Audit logs
Interested users might want to consult the plugin documentation page at https://botronsoft.atlassian.net/wiki/display/CMJ/Configuration+Manager+Documentation for details.
Feedback for Improvement
We were very glad such a plugin is in existence. However, there are some limitations or possible improvements
- The configuration stored using ActiveObjects had to be replicated manually. This is because there is no easy way to differentiate the configuration settings from the issue values
- The selected role for the Issue Alternative Assignee custom field had to be re-configured after it had been added automatically
We recommend Configuration Manager Plugin to JIRA Administrators who need to implement many changes across multiple JIRA environments frequently. It’s a time-saver!
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