It takes only half an hour and little effort to start utilizing Jira. Before we get started, it’s important to remember that a lot can happen in 30 minutes: A spider can spin an elaborate web, a surgeon can perform an appendectomy, or a conductor can bring Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 to a dramatic crescendo.

Using Jira isn’t rocket science (or web-spinning or surgery), so imagine what you can get done in 30 minutes or less. We’ve put this Jira user guide together to make those 30 minutes even more efficient.

Perhaps you’re taking Jira’s free trial out for a spin, or maybe your small business has just purchased a new license of this popular bug tracking software. Whatever the case may be, this Jira user guide will help newbies like you make the most of your first 30 minutes with Jira.

But first, why should your small business use Jira—or any one of the many bug tracking software products?

You’ve probably heard about how bug tracking software helps you smooth out bugs, glitches, and other imperfections of your apps.

Bug trackers like Jira are also known as issue trackers and can work as project management tools for app development. Positioned this way, Jira helps ferry tasks to developers, alert them to problems or new ideas, and keep their eye on scheduled sprints and deadlines.

But maybe you didn’t know that bug/issue trackers help with a major business pain point: flatlined employee productivity.

 CHALLENGE:  According to GetApp research, 40 percent of small business decision-makers say one of their top business goals is to increase employee productivity. However, nearly 40 percent say difficulties using the right technology hold them back from powering up their people.

 RECOMMENDATION:  Share this Jira user guide with all your company’s new users to help them hit the ground running in Jira. By understanding technology better, users can focus on specific objectives to become more productive contributors.

How to spend your first 30 minutes in Jira:


  1. Learn keyboard shortcuts
  2. Personalize your user interface
  3. Make a dashboard

1. Learn keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard Shortcuts in Jira
Keyboard Shortcuts in Jira (Source)

There’s no better badge of software mastery than a frightening display of dexterity—and productive employees use keyboard shortcuts. There are dozens of shortcuts available in Jira; remembering them will pay off down the line.

Some helpful shortcuts to remember include:

/: Press this anytime while traversing Jira to jump to the time-saving search function.

i: There’s no “I” in team unless you’re collaborating in Jira. Press “i” in the issue tracking hub to assign a task directly to yourself.

1: While on your project “board” tab, hit the “1” key to jump to your backlog and prioritize your overdue assignments.

z: If you pick only one shortcut during your time with Jira, make it the “z” key. While navigating issues in Jira, press “z” to toggle full screen—a lifesaver for users with an external monitor or multiscreen setup.

2. Personalize your user interface

Jira's default color schemeJira’s default color scheme (Source)

According to research conducted by Haddleton Knight, a U.K.-based research group that solves business problems with psychology, employees who put at least one picture or a plant in their cubicles are 15 percent more productive. Employees who are given free license to personalize their workspaces are 25 percent more productive.

Jira is extremely customizableJira is extremely customizable (Source)

What can I say: My productivity leaps 30 percent when my background is lime green with red-cherry font. Little touches to customize your workspace help employees work more productively.

Personalization matters to productivity, and Jira has the personalization options to meet even the most esoteric tastes. Go into your “look and feel” settings, and mold your Jira experience to your heart’s content.

 RECOMMENDATION:  Encourage your employees to engage their inner Picasso and go wild with personalization options in their Jira sessions. Not only will this increase their willingness to be productive, it will also make a walk through your office a visual treat!

3. Make a dashboard

Drag-and-drop tools make it easy to create dashboards in JiraDrag-and-drop tools make it easy to create dashboards in Jira (Source)

I’ve seen that face before: You’re analytics-intolerant. But Jira’s dashboard creation tools treat the very worst analytics allergies.

In 30 minutes or less you can create a slick Jira dashboard to keep an eye on your progress. A good dashboard is like a data IV pumping you full of project updates, and it also provides the insight to diagnose problems such as overworked developers and messy project deadlines.

Jira’s drag-and-drop tools allow you to organize your charts, dials, and progress meters for the most visually stimulating dashboards.

Dashboard elements—the panels, charts, reports, and benchmark tools adorning your Jira dashboard—are called “gadgets” in Jira.

Be sure to include these three useful Jira gadgets in your dashboard:

  • High priority issues: a list of the most important issues that require immediate attention.
  • Two-dimensional filter statistics: displays data based on an issue filter; use this to set up custom tables.
  • Road map: shows the issues assigned to your next release and how far along they are to being competed.

 RECOMMENDATION:  What you should focus on when making dashboards is personalization. According to recent research from Sapho, an employee experience solution provider, 74 percent of employees report that they prefer access to a subset of personalized data rather than a comprehensive data set.

To improve employee productivity, give employees personalized access to the information they need. Twenty-eight percent of employees believe a personalized feed of updates, tasks, and individual actions would improve their productivity when leveraging data.

Pro tip

Find out how the personalization of analytics will change business intelligence (BI) as we know it in 7 predictions for the future of business analytics.