Productive People is a new blog series I'm starting where I profile people to learn about how they use productivity to achieve more.
I recently had the opportunity to talk to Mitko Ivanov from Swipes about productivity and how the Swipes team gets the most out of their day. Swipes is a popular task management app for iOS and Android that's was recently been nominated for a Webby Award for top Productivity app. It's incredibly simple and easy to use. One of my favourite features is that it integrates with Evernote. By adding the “Swipes” tag to any Note inside Evernote, you can send that note to your Swipes account where it appears as a to-do. Better than that, Swipes will then scan the note for any checkboxes and turn those into subtasks. As you tick off your subtasks, Swipes will push the completed tasks back to Evernote, keeping everything in sync.
I wanted to learn more about how a productivity company works and what they're doing to achieve more…
1. Mitko, could you give us the background on who you are and what Swipes is?
Sure – I’m in the internet marketing field and I’ve been involved in the development of a couple of websites. I had had the chance to join the Swipes team and since getting involved I’ve learnt a lot about how to improve my personal productivity. I was captured by the energy and the positive attitude at Swipes. They focus heavily on quality and have a special attitude towards every single one of its users. This really captured my attention and so I decided to join them.
Swipes is a task management app that lets you quickly manage your tasks by swiping through them. You can swipe to complete, swipe to snooze for later and swipe to delete. So it's really quick and easy to manage your task list and stay on top of your work.
2. Congratulations on the Webby Award, I was stoked to see you were nominated for Top Productivity App.
It’s a great competition and we’re currently fighting for 3rd place with the Boxer app. We’ve really enjoyed the contest and with everyone’s help we’d like to finish at least third which I think is something we could be really proud of.
3. Working at a company like Swipes, do you consider yourself to be a productive person?
As a person I’m always trying to improve myself in every aspect. Joining a productivity company has definitely helped me to improve my productivity in general life and I’m constantly trying to improve myself further. For example, last year I was involved in an ecommerce business and I was working from home. Working like this was hard to stick to an agenda. When I started at Swipes I started waking up earlier which was a big improvement. I also started going to bed early, which is basic, but it gave me so much more energy and makes me a lot more productive in the morning. I was amazed at how changing such a simple thing could improve my productivity so much. This is just something I learned from talking to people at Swipes and adopting their advice.
As a team we have a lot of goals and a lot of features and improvements we're working on. Managing our workload and prioritising the most important features and fixes is really important. We want to make sure that we spend time on the features that are going to provide the most benefit to our users.
4. So, you get up nice and early, what else does your morning routine consist of?
When I arrive in the office, I spend the first few hours working on something really important. I like to get my important work out of the way first so I can focus on smaller tasks later. After a few hours we then have a “scrum meeting” where everyone shares their goals for the day and reports on what they achieved yesterday. They also talk about what might stop them from achieving their goals today. This motivates everyone and ensures we achieve everything we want. It's also great for making sure we're all held accountable for what we say we're going to do. This takes about 5 minutes between the 6 people we have in the office and it’s an essential part of our daily ritual.
After the scrum meeting, we do the humming song from the Wolf of Wall Street to fire ourselves up and boost our motivation. It's a lot of fun!
5. How do you plan your day? When you arrive in the morning, do you already know what you’re going to work on? How does planning fit into your routine?
When I leave the office we already know what we’re going to do tomorrow. We use Trello to plan our workflow and organise tasks based on things we’d like to do, things we’ve started and things we’ve completed. When I arrive at the office I open up Trello and I already have a list of tasks I can start working on. There's always lots to do. Of course I use Swipes as well to plan more of my personal to-dos.
6. What others app or tools do you use to manage your work and to increase your productivity?
We use Evernote, Swipes, Trello, Gmail and Google Calendar a lot. I use Google Calendar to plan our editorial content and work out when I’m going to publish what blog post. We use Trello with the Kanban system to outline everything we’ve got to do, everything we’re doing and everything we’ve done. We use this within our team and assign the tasks to one another. This way we can coordinate who does what and track everyones progress. Our co-founder Yana will decide which tasks to work on next and assigns the tasks to the various people. Using the Kanban system like this is a great way of making sure we are completing tasks before starting new ones.
7. And what is the #1 productivity app you couldn’t live without (apart from Swipes)?
It would have to be Evernote. Everyone has their own way of using it, but personally I use it for writing all of our blog posts. I use the tags to keep things organised and then I’ll share notes to get feedback from our team. We also combine Evernote with Slack to share notes and communicate within the team. When I’ve finished a blog post and I'm happy with how it looks, I’ll copy a link to the note and add this to an appointment in our Google Calendar. So when it comes time to publish a post, I can quickly grab the content I’ve written from Evernote and upload it to WordPress.
We also really like Google Drive. It’s great for brainstorming in teams and working on documents at the same time. Evernote is great, but doesn’t support this kind of real time collaboration yet so we use Google Docs and Sheets instead.
8. Could you finish by giving us your #1 productivity tip for achieving more?
I recommend getting lots of sleep and going to bed nice and early. Don't forget to spend time with your family before bed to relax and unwind. I find doing this and getting enough sleep gives you so much more energy for the next day and it’s incredibly important for staying productive.
9. Thank you Mitko, it's been a lot of fun interviewing you and learning more about Swipes!
The pleasure was all mine!