Tag Archives: trello

Getting to grips with effective time management

Managing your time in a busy office can be an insurmountable task in and of itself. In this post Dyfrig Williams looks at the changes he’s made to the way that he works.

A change in personal circumstances has recently meant that I’ve been working more from home. Not my home in Cardiff, but my partner’s home in Exeter. Kelly is an incredible writer, so instead of outlining how this started, I’ll signpost you to her fantastic post on our relationship and digital romance.

At this point I feel that I’ve got to say that I’m incredibly lucky to be working in an organisation that has helped me to balance my work commitments with my personal life, and also that I’m fortunate to work within a fantastic team who are incredibly supportive. Project wise, everything has been pretty seamless. This might be because we’re already geographically dispersed – Beth lives and works in North Wales and currently half of Chris’ working life is spent on secondment with Bangor University. Fortunately for us, Ena also works incredibly hard from our Cardiff office.

What I’ve learnt

A photo of Dyfrig Williams' calendar, which shows Trello notifications

My calendar, which is integrated with Trello

Remote working has its challenges, but it’s enabled me to rigorously examine how I work. To put this into context, I’m so disorganised that I’ve been on two time management courses. Neither of these changed anything, and I’m not convinced that a training course was the most appropriate way to solve the issue. However I’m also acutely aware of my weakness, so I set up systems and processes to help me combat my poor organisational skills. I now set up a Trello board for each topic that I work on, and the Wales Audit Office’s recent upgrade to Office 365 means that I can sync these to my Outlook Calendar so that I have regular updates when tasks are due.

More than anything, working from home has highlighted just how much time I waste during the day. I’m a firm believer that social media should be social, so I log on to our work accounts a few times in the day to learn from others and share key messages. However my defacto purpose was to undertake the fun and social learning that I love, and to avoid some of the more monotonous yet essential tasks that keep the Good Practice Exchange’s show on the road. Cue some difficult conversations with myself. Now I’m focusing my work around effecting change and evidencing outcomes.

The Herculean task of managing emails

I’ve asked a fair few members of our staff how they would like to hear about changes to our systems for our Cutting Edge Audit project. A fairly typical response was that email was probably best, but that staff are facing an avalanche of them. I don’t think we’re alone in facing this challenge – Halton Housing found that their average employee spends 40% of their working week dealing with internal email that adds no value to the business before they switched off their internal email.

One person I spoke to questioned how people had the time to go on Yammer. What I’ve found interesting is that people see a clear distinction between two modes of conversation that could both be used for the same purpose. Answering email sometimes seems to be an end in and of itself. Surely it’s distracting us from productive work in the same perceived way as Yammer does? I used to have my inbox open all day, which meant that I dealt with emails as and when they came in. I now only open my inbox a couple of times a day to answer emails. After all, no one emails in an emergency.

After reading Oliver Burkeman’s article on time management (which is also available as a podcast), I’m convinced that Merlin Mann’s Inbox Zero, a rigorous approach to email that aims to keep our inboxes empty, leads people into answering emails at the expense of real work. And as Burkeman says, “becoming hyper-efficient at processing email meant I ended up getting more email: after all, it’s often the case that replying to a message generates a reply to that reply, and so on”. So email becomes a default mode of communication, whether it’s appropriate or not. The crux of everything is that by managing email in this way “you’re still Sisyphus, rolling his boulder up that hill for all eternity – you’re just rolling it slightly faster”.

Should we ditch the office?

Working from home also means that I have two days free of meetings per week, which gives me plenty of opportunity to undertake deep work away from distraction. I’m a social animal so I’m not advocating a move away from social interaction. Basecamp’s No Talk Thursdays and Library Rules sound like hell to me. I’m a firm believer that we need people to emotionally invest and buy in to the work we’re doing, and enjoying work is a key part of getting work done. However tools like Doodle can help us to think about what time suits us as individuals as we opt in to meetings, instead of scheduling based on time available in our calendars.

To me, Basecamp’s approaches show that there’s no such thing as a blanket rule for efficient working. By happenstance I’ve been able to look at what I do and make adjustments based on what works in different environments. This has all been written from a personal perspective, and not everyone works in the same way. It’s important that we look at what these tools can do in the context of how they can make us more productive as teams and individuals.

I started off this post by talking about work/life balance and how the Wales Audit Office has facilitated that. To me, this is at the heart of time management. If you’re forever looking to be more efficient so you can cram more work in, then the likelihood is that you’ll be unable to avoid the stress that you were looking to combat. But if you’re instead looking to better balance your life, you’re able to ensure that you’re focusing your work where it has the most value. This approach has made my work more fulfilling, and I’ve been able to focus on my personal life and do more of the things that matter to me. I’m at the beginning of my journey and I’m going to see how this develops. As I mentioned above, this isn’t a one-size fits all approach, so if you’ve got time management tips that work for you, I’d love to hear from you.

Ceisio rheoli amser yn effeithiol

Gall rheoli eich amser mewn swyddfa brysur fod yn dasg fawr yn ei hun. Yn y blogbost yma mae Dyfrig Williams yn edrych ar sut mae ef wedi newid ei ffordd o weithio.

Mae newid mewn amgylchiadau personol wedi meddwl fy mod i wedi bod yn gweithio mwy o gartref. Nid fy nghartref yng Nghaerdydd, ond cartref fy nghariad yng Nghaerwysg. Mae Kelly yn sgwennu’n lot gwell ‘na fi, felly fe wnâi’ch cyfeirio at ei blogbost gwych ar ein perthynas a rhamant ddigidol yn lle amlinellu sut y dechreuodd hyn i gyd.

Cyn i mi ddechrau’n o iawn, rhaid i mi ddweud fy mod i’n hynod o lwcus i weithio mewn sefydliad sydd wedi fy helpu i i gydbwyso fy ymrwymiadau gwaith gyda fy hapusrwydd personol. Rydw i hefyd yn ddigon ffodus i weithio o fewn tîm ffantastig sy’n hynod o gefnogol. Dyw hyn ddim wedi achosi unrhyw drafferth mor belled. Efallai bod hyn achos ni’n gweithio mewn sawl lleoliad yn barod – mae Bethan yn byw ac yn gweithio yng Ngogledd Cymru ac ar hyn o bryd mae Chris yn treulio hanner ei amser ar secondiad gyda Phrifysgol Bangor. Yn ffodus i ni, mae Ena hefyd yn gweithio yn anhygoel o galed yn ein swyddfa yng Nghaerdydd.

Beth rydw i wedi dysgu

Ffotograff o galendr Dyfrig Williams, sy'n dangos sut mae Trello wedi'i integreiddio iddo

Fy nghalendr, sydd wedi’i integreiddio gyda Trello

Mae yna sawl her i weithio o gartref, ond mae’r ymarfer wedi fy ngalluogi i i edrych yn agosach ar sut rwy’n gweithio. I roi hyn mewn cyd-destun, rydw i’n anhrefnus i’r pwynt ble rydw i wedi bod ar ddau gwrs rheoli amser. Ni wnaeth un o’r rhain gweithio, a dydw i ddim yn sicr mai cwrs hyfforddiant oedd y ffordd fwyaf priodol i ddatrys y broblem. Serch hyn, rydw i’n ymwybodol iawn o fy ngwendid, felly rydw i wedi setio fyny systemau a phrosesau i fy helpu i i drefnu fy ngwaith yn fwy effeithiol. Rwy’n sefydlu bwrdd Trello ar gyfer pob pwnc rwy’n gweithio arno, a nawr mae Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru wedi uwchraddio meddalwedd Microsoft i Office 365, rydw i wedi sicrhau bod fy nghalendr Outlook wedi ei ddolenni iddo fel bod gennyf ddiweddariad pan fod rhaid i mi wneud tasg.

Yn fwy na dim, mae gweithio o gartref wedi dangos i mi faint o amser rwy’n gwastraffu yn ystod y diwrnod gwaith. Rwy’n credu’n gryf y dylai cyfryngau cymdeithasol fod yn gymdeithasol, felly roeddwn i’n mewngofnodi ar ein cyfrifon gwaith sawl gwaith y dydd i ddysgu oddi wrth eraill ac i rannu negeseuon allweddol. Fy ngwir bwrpas oedd addysgu fy hun yn y modd cymdeithasol a hwyl yma, ac i osgoi rhai o’r tasgau hanfodol undonog sy’n sicrhau bod y Gyfnewidfa Arfer Da yn gweithio’n effeithiol. Roedd rhaid i mi gael sgyrsiau anodd gyda fy hun. Nawr rwy’n canolbwyntio fy ngwaith o gwmpas sicrhau newid a dangos tystiolaeth o ganlyniadau.

Y dasg aruthrol o reoli negeseuon e-bost

Yn fy ngwaith ar brosiect Archwilio Sydd ar Flaen y Gad, rydw i wedi bod yn gofyn i aelodau o’n staff sut yr hoffan nhw glywed am newidiadau i’n systemau. Yr ymateb nodweddiadol oedd mai e-bost oedd y ffordd gorau yn ôl pob tebyg, ond bod rhaid i staff ddelio a nifer mawr ohonynt. Nid ni yw’r unig gorff sy’n wynebu’r her hon – ffeindiodd Tai Halton bod ei gweithwyr yn gwario 40% o’u hwythnos waith yn delio ag e-bost mewnol sydd ddim yn ychwanegu unrhyw werth i’r busnes. Fe wnaethon nhw droi ei e-bost mewnol i ffwrdd.

Fe wnaeth un person cwestiynu sut oedd gan bobl yr amser i fynd ar Yammer. Beth rwy’n ffeindio’n ddiddorol yw bod pobl yn gweld gwahaniaeth clir rhwng dau fodd o sgyrsio a all arwain i’r un diben. Weithio mae’n ymddangos fel petai e-bost yn waith yn ei hun. Yn hytrach, nad yw e-bost yn tynnu ein sylw o waith cynhyrchiol? Roedd fy e-bost arfer bod ar agor drwy’r dydd. Roedd hyn yn golygu roeddwn i’n delio â negeseuon wrth iddynt ddod i mewn. Nawr rwy’n agor fy e-bost cwpl o weithiau pob dydd i ateb negeseuon. Wedi’r cyfan, does neb yn gyrru e-bost os oes yna argyfwng.

Ar ôl darllen erthygl Oliver Burkeman ar reoli amser (sydd hefyd ar gael fel podlediad), rwy’n sicr bod dull Inbox Zero Merlin Mann, sy’n anelu i gadw ein mewnflychau yn wag, yn arwain pobl i ateb negeseuon e-bost ar draul gwaith go iawn. Ac fel y dywedodd Burkeman, “mae prosesu e-bost mewn modd gor-effeithlon yn golygu fy mod i’n cael mwy o e-bost: wedi’r cyfan, mae’n aml yn wir fod ymateb i neges yn creu ateb i’r ateb hwnnw, ac yn y blaen.” Felly mae e-bost yn dod yn ddull diofyn o gyfathrebu, boed yn briodol neu beidio. Y dywediad yma gan Burkeman sydd wrth wraidd hyn i gyd: “Rydych chi dal yn Sisyphus, yn rholio eich clogfaen i fyny’r bryn am byth – ond nawr rydych chi’n gwneud hyn ychydig yn gyflymach”.

Oes angen cael gwared ar y swyddfa?

Mae gweithio o gartref wedi golygu bod gen i ddau ddiwrnod sy’n rhydd o gyfarfodydd pob wythnos, sy’n rhoi digon o gyfle i mi ymgymryd â gwaith dwfn heb ymyrraeth. Rwy’n person cymdeithasol tu hwnt felly dydw i ddim yn dadlau dros roi’r gorau i ryngweithio cymdeithasol. Mae Dydd Iau Heb Sgyrsio Basecamp a Rheolau Llyfrgell yn swnio fel uffern i mi. Rwy’n credu’n gryf bod angen pobl i fuddsoddi’n emosiynol ac i brynu mewn i’w gwaith, ac mae mwynhau gwaith yn rhan allweddol o sicrhau bod gwaith yn cael ei wneud. Fodd bynnag, gall offer fel Doodle ein helpu ni i ddewis amser priodol ar gyfer cyfarfodydd, gan fod rhaid i bobl optio mewn i amser penodol, yn hytrach na chreu amserlennu sy’n seiliedig ar yr amser rhydd yn ein calendrau.

I mi, mae dulliau Basecamp yn dangos does dim rheol blanced ar gyfer gweithio effeithlon. Dim ond trwy hap a damwain dwi wedi cael y cyfle i edrych ar sut rwy’n gweithio a beth sy’n gweithio mewn amgylcheddau gwahanol. Rydw i wedi ysgrifennu hwn o safbwynt personol, ac nid yw pawb yn gweithio yn yr un ffordd. Mae’n bwysig ein bod ni’n edrych ar y dulliau yma yng nghyd-destun sut allant fod yn fwy cynhyrchiol fel timau ac unigolion.

Dechreuais y blogbost yma drwy sôn am gydbwysedd bywyd/gwaith a sut mae Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru wedi hwyluso hynny. I mi, mae hyn wrth wraidd rheoli amser. Os ydych chi’n edrych i fod yn fwy effeithlon er mwyn gwneud gwaith diddiwedd, yna mae’n debyg na fyddwch yn osgoi’r straen rydych chi’n ceisio osgoi. Ond os ydych chi’n edrych i gydbwyso’ch bywyd yn well, mae’n gallu’ch helpu chi i sicrhau eich bod chi’n canolbwyntio ar ble mae gan eich gwaith y gwerth mwyaf. Mae’r dull yma wedi gwneud fy ngwaith yn fwy boddhaol, ac mae fe wedi fy ngalluogi i i ganolbwyntio ar fy mywyd personol a gwneud mwy o’r pethau sy’n bwysig i mi. Rydw i’n dechrau fy nhaith ac rwy’n mynd i gadw llygaid ar sut mae hyn yn datblygu. Fel y soniais uchod, does dim un ateb i bawb. Felly os oes gennych awgrymiadau rheoli amser sy’n gweithio i chi, fe wir hoffwn i glywed o chi.

Could you go without internal email?

Is email bound up in the future of the way we work, or can new ways of working help us to share information more efficiently? Dyfrig Williams spoke to Lee Mallon of Rarely Impossible to find out.

LocalGovDigital's Unmentoring Logo

We all know the feeling of returning to work after a holiday to find a mountain of emails waiting for us. I always have a nagging feeling that I need to get to grips with my emails before I can start with the “real work” that I have in front of me.

My colleague Beth recently blogged about the recent review of our Randomised Coffee Trials, which pair people randomly to discuss the topic of their choice.

Alongside that, I’ve been taking part in LocalGovDigital’s Unmentoring, which is their version of Randomised Coffee Trials. In my latest discussion I had the chance to see if email really is a help or a hindrance by catching up with Lee Mallon of Rarely Impossible, who have ditched email for all internal correspondence.

Why chat about email?

Email has some issues, and a lot of that is down to behaviour. Whether it’s sending unsolicited emails or a dodgy use of the cc function to justify a sense of importance (check out Chris Bolton’s series of posts on bad email practice), a lot of the problems that come with email are down to us as users. The latest Natter On podcast gives a good account of both sides of the Email: good vs bad debate.

Another issue with email is that it tends to focus on work that specific individuals do rather than teams. That’s where tools like Slack can potentially help, as the format encourages people to work in teams. Tools like Trello can also help – why don’t we just log in and check the current state of play instead of sending a long series of email updates?

That’s not to say that changing the means of discussion is an answer in itself. Adopting a new tool comes with its own issues. People may not be particularly happy about having another source of communication to check, and an informal work tool like Slack (which comes with Emojis and GIFs) may be an anathema to some organisations’ working culture.

But if society is changing, and people’s expectations of public services are changing, do we as public service providers need to change too? A lot has already been written about how we can’t continue to communicate in the same way when using social media (including Helen Reynolds’ great post on psychopathy and social media). Can we really connect with communities when our day-to-day staff communications are inherently different? There are already signs that young people are choosing to communicate through apps instead of email.

What are Rarely Impossible doing?

I found my conversation with Lee really valuable. Not only was he happy to share his experiences over the phone, but he was also happy to share resources afterwards. It was fascinating to hear about the channels they were working through after 6 months, and their “1 year on post” is a fantastic “How to guide” for reducing your reliance on email.

And in case you think that it’s one thing for a private company to go email free and quite another for a public service, check out the work that’s taking place at Halton Housing.

Although email is our current default means of online office communication, we’re in a fascinating time where new tools are being developed all the time. If your organisation is thinking of ditching email, we’d love to hear from you so that we can share the learning from your experiences and whether it’s helping you to deliver better public services.

Allwch chi fynd heb e-bost mewnol?

Ai e-bost yw’r dyfodol o fyd gwaith, neu gall ffyrdd newydd helpu ni i rannu gwybodaeth yn fwy effeithlon? Siaradodd Dyfrig Williams i Lee Mallon o Rarely Impossible i gael gwybod.

Logo Dadfentora LocalGovDigital

Rydyn ni gyd yn gwybod y teimlad o ddychwelyd i’r gwaith ar ôl gwyliau i ffeindio mynydd o negeseuon e-bost. Rydw i wastad yn cael y teimlad bod angen i mi fynd i’r afael â’r negeseuon hynny cyn i mi ddechrau gyda fy “ngwaith go iawn”.

Yn ddiweddar, blogiodd fy nghydweithiwr Beth am yr adolygiad diweddar o’n Treialon Coffi ar Hap, sy’n paru pobl i drafod y pwnc o’u dewis.

Ochr yn ochr â hynny, rydw i wedi bod yn cymryd rhan yn Dadfentora LocalGovDigital, ei fersiwn nhw o’r Treialon Coffi ar Hap. Yn fy nhrafodaeth ddiweddaraf cefais gyfle i glywed os oedd e-bost yn wir yn gymorth neu’n rhwystr trwy ddal i fyny gyda Lee Mallon o Rarely Impossible, sydd wedi rhoi’r gorau i e-bost ar gyfer cyfathrebu mewnol.

Pam trafod e-bost?

Mae gan e-bost ychydig o broblemau, ac mae lot ohonyn nhw achos ein hymddygiad ni. Efallai bod pobl yn anfon negeseuon e-bost i bobl sydd ddim wedi gofyn amdanynt, neu ryw ddefnydd amheus o gopïo pobl i e-bost i gyfiawnhau teimlad o bwysigrwydd (cewch gipolwg ar flogiau Chris Bolton ar arferion e-bost drwg), mae lot o’r problemau yn deillio o ni fel defnyddwyr. Mae’r podlediad Natter On diweddaraf yn rhoi ystyriaeth i ddwy ochr y ddadl e-bost: da v drwg.

Problem arall gydag e-bost yw ei fod yn tueddu i ganolbwyntio ar waith unigolion yn hytrach na thimau. Dyma le y gall offer fel Slack helpu o bosibl, gan fod y fformat yn annog pobl i weithio mewn timau. Gall offer fel Trello helpu hefyd – pam nad ydyn ni’n mewngofnodi i checio’r sefyllfa yn lle anfon cyfres hir o ddiweddariadau e-bost?

Dyw hwn ddim i ddweud bod newid y dull yn ateb ynddo’i hun. Mae mabwysiadu teclynnau newydd yn dod â materion hefyd. Mae’n bosib na fydd pobl yn arbennig o hapus am gael ffynhonnell arall o gyfathrebu i checio, ac ydy dull cyfathrebu anffurfiol fel Slack (sydd gyda Emojis a GIFs) yn anathema i ddiwylliant gweithio rhai sefydliadau?

Ond os mae cymdeithas yn newid, ac mae disgwyliadau pobl o wasanaethau cyhoeddus yn newid, oes yna angen i ddarparwyr gwasanaethau cyhoeddus newid eu ffordd o weithio hefyd? Mae lot wedi cael ei ysgrifennu am sut na allwn ni barhau i gyfathrebu yn yr un modd (gan gynnwys blogbost grêt Helen Reynolds ar seicopathi a chyfryngau cymdeithasol). A allwn ni wir cysylltu â chymunedau mewn modd priodol pan mae ein ffordd ni o gyfathrebu yn hollol wahanol? Mae yna arwyddion yn barod bod pobl ifanc yn dewis cyfathrebu trwy apps yn lle e-bost.

Beth mae Rarely Impossible yn gwneud?

Dyma pam roedd fy sgwrs i gyda Lee mor werthfawr. Roedd e’n hapus i rannu ei brofiadau dros y ffôn, ac roedd e hefyd yn hapus i rannu adnoddau ar ôl hynny. Roedd e’n hynod o ddiddorol i glywed am y sianeli roedd Rarely Impossible yn gweithio trwyddo ar ôl 6 mis, ac mae eu blogbost “1 flwyddyn ar ôl y newid” yn ganllaw wych ar leihau eich dibyniaeth ar e-bost.

A rhag ofn eich bod chi’n meddwl bod e’n un peth i gwmni preifat i fynd heb e-bost a peth hollol wahanol i wasanaeth cyhoeddus, edrychwch ar beth sy’n digwydd yn Nhai Halton.

Er mai e-bost yw’r ffordd rydym yn cyfathrebu ar-lein yn fwyaf aml yn y swyddfa, rydym mewn cyfnod lle mae dulliau ac offer newydd yn cael eu datblygu drwy’r amser. Os yw’ch mudiad yn ystyried ffyrdd o fynd heb e-bost, byddai fe’n grêt i glywed o chi fel y gallwn ni rannu’r dysgu o’ch profiadau ac i glywed os yw’n helpu chi i ddarparu gwasanaethau cyhoeddus gwell.

Failing to learn from failure

How can public services make use of learning and information that result from failure? Dyfrig Williams blogs on learning from failure.

Last week I attended the Learning from Failure workshop in Cardiff. Before I go any further, I should clarify that these reflections are very much on my own process of working, rather than the work of the Good Practice Exchange.

The event was a bit of an eye-opening session, as it gave us all as participants the scope to look at aspects of our work that are not traditionally discussed. But why not?

In her paper on ‘Strategies for learning from failure,’ Amy C. Edmondson shares the Spectrum of Failure, which shows that blameworthy failure rarely results from the actions of any one individual. So why do we still tend to think that an effective and productive workplace culture is one that shuns failure and casts blame at all costs?

Order, order!

In the group exercise, each table designed an enabling environment for innovation, and each one was an environment where failure was accepted. Which makes sense, because we’re not encouraging innovation by cracking down on failure, we’re cracking down on ideas for new ways of working.

I was given the task of feeding back our table’s thoughts, which were based around the point that an enabling environment is complex and messy. What I personally meant by this is that a traditional approach, and the way that I’ve tended to approach innovation, is messy. My own innovation has often been a by-product, rather than an outcome or focus I’ve chased. It’s not been something that’s been identified in my appraisals, and it’s not been something that I’ve had to report back on to measure success.

This messiness is complicated even further by the environment that we’re working in. There is no one-size fits all solution for issues around public service access and delivery. What works in one community may not work in another.

However, there are approaches to innovation in the wider world that are much more rigorous. It was interesting to look at the work of the Bromford Lab, who have got a much more structured approach to innovation by testing ideas. One of their founding principles is ‘to fail fast,’ which means that they uncover lots of information and learning from their tests.

This planned approach makes it much easier to measure the success of innovation. Whilst there is no doubt innovation taking place at Bromford outside the realms of the Lab, taking issues and ideas to the Lab gives scope to evaluate them in a more formal way. This is at its most obvious with their Trello, where evaluation is planned and built in to their testing process.

Making space to evaluate

Making the time to evaluate impact has been the main learning point for me. I’ve tended to treat evaluation as something I do when I get the chance, rather than a process to embed into my work. And if you don’t take the time to properly look into why something’s failed, then there’s little chance to learn from it.

And so my more rigorous process of evaluation begins. The dates are now in the diary – I’ll be taking some time out from my day to day work and getting on with my evaluation. I’ll be leaving the physical space of my desk, which will help me get away from the usual distractions like email and the pile of paper on my desk, and get me in the right headspace to approach a different aspect of our work. Wish me luck!