‘Wait But Why’ You read that right! This awkward phrase is indeed a part of this space where I supposedly tell you how to use technology to your advantage and improve your productivity levels.

It’s the title of a Ted talk by Tim Urban, a rather inquisitive session laced with humour, that talks about the panic monster who apparatus when a deadline is looming too close by to be comfortable.

Procrastination-And the Times When It Leads You on an Internet Adventure

We have all procrastinated at some point or other. However, when you begin putting tasks off now and then, it affects more than just your work. Then, you turn to the Internet to frantically look for apps to increase productivity. And when you land on one of the results, like this one I suppose, you are greeted with the message ‘technology can be your saviour’ wrapped in any number of words.
Here’s the real kicker though-technology is the tool, not the wielder. The productivity apps, you must understand, are great if you want your work to get in line with your objectives. It, however, demands initiative. Don’t look for apps to make you more productive only to let them sit in your phone for days. Get the point?

Seven of the Best Productivity Tools For Your Smartphone

1. Track My Life
It’s already 1 PM, and you don’t know where the morning hours went? This app lets you record the time you spent travelling or moving around. With it, you can figure out the spare time you have in a day and put that to good use.

2. Rescue Time
Each week, this app sends you a report about the time you spent online with details of the websites and the hours spent at each of them.
It’s an easy way to determine just how much of your ‘online day’ is spent ogling at useless information and cute cat videos when you should be doing something of value.

3. Venmo
No forms required. No commission charged. Venmo lets you send out payments to people. It’s quick. It’s secure. And it is a definite, possibly better, alternative to high-end payment solutions like PayPal.

4. Ink Flow
It’s one of the best productivity tools, a personal favourite of mine, I must say. You can capture ideas on your phone just like you would with pen and paper. It’s a wonderful app for doodling, jotting down random thoughts and ideas, etc. And it lets you organize your ramblings for better future use.

5. Google Keep
You can:
• Take notes
• Makes lists
• Record voice reminders
• take/doodle/pick pictures and add them to reminders
• Do it all for free

6. Aladdinpro
It’s a time-saving expiry reminder app. You can enter details for documents, contracts, bills, licenses, etc. that have to be renewed or paid on a deadline and the app will remind you of them well in advance. It also lets you upload the document in question. You can share the reminder entry with different groups of users. And you will get notifications on your phone as well as on email, twice before the deadline appears.

7. Focusbooster
It allows time tracking, Pomodoro style. You can set an alarm for a few minutes and focus on working until your phone rings. Perfectly designed with a simple interface and lovely visuals, you will love how this app seems to categorize your minutes into bundles of productivity.
But do remember, apps that help with procrastination still need you to take some initiative. So, buckle up and try these apps to help you be productive and hence, better utilize your time.

Pay Attention Administrative Assistants: 5 Workplace Challenges You Face Every Day and How to Conquer Them

Keeping an order from bursting into chaos is a daily struggle. From the dentist and banker to the grocery store, everywhere, an administrative assistant lives by this rule. You organize stuff. You maintain records. You answer your boss’s emails and post. You vet their appointments. Simply put, you are there to support their workflow.

And yet, Administrative challenges and barriers are hard to spot. Despite the fact that you are the cog that helps their wheels run, common administrative problems are overlooked by most higher authorities.
That’s not saying that you should let the uncomfortable circumstances fester. Since your job demands you to be hardworking, charming, efficient, go-getter, I suggest you use those qualities to fight the challenges facing administrative assistants.

Get a Handle on the Problems Faced by Administrative Assistants

Demanding coworkers who take the help for granted, urgent requests, unrealistic expectations, excessive workload, frequent interruptions-the job of an admin assistant has an unfair share of frustrating issues.

Before we talk about five workplace challenges for administrative assistants, acknowledge that you can cope with the problems. All you need is a good strategy.

1. Something Isn’t Working, and Somehow It’s Your Fault
The printer or copier is stuck. The break room is out of coffee. The food vending machine isn’t dispensing the right amount of change. The meeting wasn’t scheduled on time. The WiFi is faulty. The toilet has no tissue.
And everyone blames it on you. Divide responsibility. Prepare an alibi. Post instructions near every machine(fax, printers, etc.) on how they’re to be operated. Post instructions on every utility(coffee machine, snack vending, etc.) about office etiquette’s expected from people using them. Log every task you finish in a day, so you know the mistake you made and the ones you didn’t.

2. You Are Needed Always
You need breaks.You are an admin assistant, but you can’t be available at all times. Set this boundary loud and clear. Do not pick calls, respond to emails, or get to work if someone asks you in-person, while you’re on a break.
Set your work hours. Stick to them. Don’t break the consistency unless a critical task is forwarded from the right authority to you.

3. You Must Have Every Information
If everyone expects you to hand them things, like office supplies, minutes of any meeting, the wifi password, etc. repeatedly, just because they don’t care enough to learn that information, you’ll end up being frequently interrupted.
Don’t fetch. Show them the supplies. Label boxes with simple instructions. Remind them of meetings. Send out general emails addressing common issues to all employees.

4. You Must Do Everything
You handle many people, both clients and colleagues, at once. More often than not, that means a lot of work of varying priorities, all needed as soon as possible.
While you must have excellent organisational skills to be an administrative assistant, you should utilize more efficient organisation tools to deal with the massive workload.
Create a process. It’ll help you by asking the employees to organize the task before you can execute it. Keep a schedule organizer. Download an automated reminder app to keep track of all actions and remind you of priorities on a regular basis.

5. You Simply Can’t Make a Mistake without Being Ridiculed for It
It’s very probable that you’ll be the butt of jokes for a day or two if you commit a rather amusing mistake. That’s okay. Laugh along. But keep in mind, office bullying is a thing. Call out anyone who crosses boundaries or ridicules you. Keep your composure. But don’t be afraid of pointing out the bullies.
Challenges faced by administrative assistants can make you detest work unless you deal with them. So, don’t hold back. You help keep the totem pole standing straight. Use some of that charm to face the problems, and you’ll be golden.

Life Got Much Simpler -an HR Manager Testifies

As a Human Resource Manager, I often come across misguided folks, who carry a misconstrued idea of what I do.

Many have ignored all the efforts I put into position and structure the personnel, improve productivity, increase employee morale, etc. and called my job a cakewalk. An easy breeze. A piece of pie.

Do you get my drift? With a predicament similar to mine, Rachel Braganza, HR Manager, DMG Events Middle East, talks about his struggles as an HR. Rachel talks about why his recent days at work had been filled with dilemma and stress and how he discovered and divorced the obstacles.

“HR Is Almost Never the Boss.”

More times than he can remember, Rachel gets asked why the HR ends up taking the management’s side instead of protecting the employees and advocating for them, as he/she is supposed to?

Contrary to what many believe, Rachel responds, the HR too has a boss. HRs need to get in line with the company’s bigger picture regarding employee happiness and goal achievement as well. Their duties have also evolved, as have their methods of operation. As long as whatever is being asked of the HR is not immoral or illegal, and is likely to increase the company’s productivity and optimize the employee effectiveness,the HR is duty-bound to comply, says Rachel.
The conclusion-often, the functions of an HR manager is merely a reflection of the decisions made by the CEO and senior management. While HR may not agree with it, it is a part of their duties to deliver the news and have the employees follow suit.

The Rachel Conundrum

Until fairly recently, Rachel was saddled with more than she could handle. She had to-

• Monitor and manage the full-time employees as well as the freelancers and remote workers
• Make sure they receive their compensation on time
• Manage career developments
• Conduct performance reviews, testing, and training
• Adhere to larger business strategies
• Take the flak from disgruntled employees because of decisions that he had little to no part in making, like  a compulsory new schedule that was made without consulting the employees or the HR

“With too much logistics to take care of, my primary duties of recruiting, retaining, and managing capable employees often got either side-lined or botched.
I was dealing with queries on pay, perks, management decisions, performance reviews. I had to chase down data that wasn’t available readily. I was saddled with less critical yet more time-consuming issues. I feared a potential disconnect from the employees.”

Aladdinpro to the Rescue

The expiry reminder app solved some of Rachel’s most time-consuming yet least productive tasks.

• She could set reminders and be alerted about payroll day, contract expiry and renewal dates, project deadlines, contract/license renewal dates etc. well in advance

• Since the app offers both push notifications and mail options, Rachel found it easier to use on the move.

• Multi-user support let Rachel add collaborators to any category (eg: Freelancer Payments) and divide accountability easily among respective groups

• She could store the document in question with a due date, saving time and effort in looking for the right file at the time of need Chasing data-solved.

Checking up with timely employee payroll delivery-solved. Time-saving-accomplished. Increased productivity-eventual but definite outcome. The result was a more relieved Rachel with enough time on her hands to focus on the more productive tasks.
“The modern workplace is transforming. The millennial workforce is coming of age. The culture of technology and connectivity, cross-channel information exchange, mobile employees-so much has changed in how employees were handled a decade ago and how they’re treated now. Among such drastic shifts, Aladdinpro has made my job, and by extension my life, a bit easier.” –Rachel concludes.