Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Personal Development

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to personal development.

How to Stay Productive All Day Long

Are you a morning person or an afternoon super star? Is there any part of the day where you’re more productive or are there days when you drag your feet from start to end? Naturally, every IT contractor’s goal is to maximize productivity to get the most amount of work done in the least amount of time. This is how you get more tech gigs, serve more clients, build your IT consulting business and justify a higher rate!

There is no doubt that starting your day properly will drive your performance. In fact, a recent article from FastCompany spoke to a brain scientist who claims what you do in the morning will make or break your brain’s performance. They provide six different habits you should do every day between the minute you wake up and your lunch break:

  1. Prioritize getting 8 hours of sleep
    9 hours is too much but 7-8 hours of sleep will regulate your appetite, mood, alertness and overall resilience.
  2. Hydrate first thing, and don’t mask it with caffeine
    When you wake up tired, you’re probably dehydrated and caffeine just takes more water from your body.
  3. Stretch
    A few minutes of yoga can enhance blood flow and redistribute nutrients.
  4. Meditate for 12 minutes
    This will improve your focus and executive function, as well as decrease rumination.
  5. Eat the same breakfast at the same time
    In addition to sustained energy, regulate your circadian rhythm and digestion to get peak performance out of your brain.
  6. Start your day with the most difficult tasks
    Your brain functions best early in the day so take advantage of those crucial hours.

Already a morning person and practicing these routines? That’s great! But how’s your performance after lunch? The afternoon slump is common and Inc. has some solutions to help you get past it:

  1. Get a 20 minute walk in
    Get your blood flowing and your brain working to create positive emotions and solve problems with more creativity.
  2. Review your mission and objectives before starting back working
    Regain the motivation you had before lunch by reviewing your objectives and creating some urgency.
  3. Ruthlessly guard your environment
    Create the right energy with a clean and organized desk, including items that calm and motivate you (ex. Family pictures).

Are you slow to start in the morning or do you tend to drop-off in the afternoons? If so, which one of these tips do you plan to implement today? If you’re already super productive, what tips can you add?

These Morning Routines Are Destroying Your Day

We’ve all heard the great pieces of advice that talk about the magical morning rituals we should do to have a more productive morning — exercise, eat a healthy breakfast, take a cold shower. These routines may seem easy (or ridiculous), but even with the best intentions, adding something new to an already hectic morning is no easy feat. So instead, why not eliminate a few bad habits?

We’re all guilty of at least one of the 8 items Thomas Frank lists in this video. For example, if you regularly hit the snooze button, check your smart phone immediately when you wake up, or eat an unhealthy breakfast, Frank claims you’re destroying your day before it even starts. Interestingly, he also believes that planning your day is a bad idea. Take a look and see what you can do (or not do) to have a better morning.

Using Digital Minimalism to Simplify Your Online Life

Minimalism is a lifestyle that, as theminimalists.com describes, “helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.” The website explains that there are no specific rules to being a minimalist and can help people eliminate discontent, live in the moment, focus on health, and discover purpose in life. Overall, it’s a way to find happiness.

When clearing the clutter, it helps to consider digital minimalism to have less materials, as well as save plenty of money. In this video, filmmaker Kraig Adams provides insight into the technology techniques he uses to live a minimalist lifestyle. Whether it be organizing his desktop, storing files or managing email, Kraig has a strategy for everything on his computer.

How to Stay Loose and Healthy When Working in an Office Setting

Guest Post by Ryan Tollefsen, founder and team leader of Unity Home Group

Exhaustion at the end of each workday is a familiar feeling to many who work in an office. Most are quick to blame the stress from difficult clients, a too-tall workload, or a draining commute. One culprit typically overlooked is the sedentary nature of office work.

The Telltale Signs

Feeling physically and mentally drained could link to a lack of physical activity while on the job. This translates into tension and a lack of initiative to make evening or even weekend plans. Nighttime activities might include eating, maybe some TV, and falling into bed.

Common physical symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Throbbing legs
  • Backache
  • Tingling or numbness in fingers
  • Dry, tired eyes
  • Sore feet
  • Tension in the hips, shoulders, neck, and back

Sometimes it’s hard to remain healthy while working in an office, whether you commute to a job or use a home office. Workers who sit most of the day must be proactive to stay healthy and keep their bodies loose.Here are three helpful steps.

Start With Posture

Sitting for extended periods often leads to slouching and other poor posture. The first step to solving problems with posture is becoming aware of your body’s position. Your goal is keeping the ears lined up with the shoulders when seated to avoid leaning too far either backward or forward. Making sure the computer screen isn’t too high or low can help with this issue.

A number of quick exercises can help posture. When you can get up, stand against a wall with legs spread apart, hold arms at a 90-degree angle to the body, and raise and lower them.

While seated, you can shrug your shoulders and prop your feet on some office supplies for comfort. Whenever possible, pull back the shoulder blades to avoid rounding. A lumbar pillow is a helpful spinal support. Also investigate the possibility of using a standup desk.

Avoid the Obvious

Physical activity for staying healthy is a real challenge if you’re too busy to make it to the gym after work or at lunch. Fortunately, there are easy ways to work exercise into your workday without being obvious.

Consider cutting your commuter ride short and walking part of the distance to the office. After arriving, pace while talking on the phone. Substitute a stability ball for a desk chair. Whenever possible, take the long way when walking to a meeting, move during short breaks, and speed walk on errands. Try to get away from your desk and move, even for a five-minute walk, when it’s time for lunch.

Looking at a focal point away from a screen and periodically moving your hands after taking them off the keyboard are helpful actions without being obvious. Other tips include crossing and uncrossing your legs, flexing and tightening your abs for 30 seconds and 10 reps, and periodically moving your shoulders.

Enjoy Those Stretches

Desk stretches are valuable ways to release tension that accumulates while seated. Try sitting sideways on your chair with feet on the floor and hands on the chair’s back. Use your arms to twist and pull your body toward the chair to stretch your neck, chest, and spine. Loosen hamstrings and avoid lower back pain by standing, bending at the hips, and allowing your head to drop loose and arms to dangle.

Pamper shoulders and back while seated by flapping your arms like an eagle and performing neck rolls. Counteract the toll of texting and typing by placing hands on your desk with the palms down while standing. Lean forward to stretch and release tension from wrists and fingers.

It’s possible for those who work in an office to help out their body by taking just a few easy steps to increase physical activity. Best of all, your co-workers will have no idea what you’re up to — unless you decide to share your tips to help them, too.

Ryan Tollefsen is the founder and team leader of Unity Home Group.

A Faster Way to Learn New Technologies

Technology is always changing with new advancements becoming more and more frequent. Sometimes it can be hard to keep up. This can especially be the case when working in a technology career. As an independent contractor searching for IT jobs, it’s important to keep yourself up to date on the new skills, such as new programming languages, needed for these positions.

Practical Psychology has published a video that suggests using the Feynman technique to help you learn faster, which is ideal when you think about all the new technology that is being created. Take a look at the technique’s four step process to make you a quick learner.

7 Tips to a Good Night’s Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is an essential part of a happy and healthy lifestyle. No matter what industry you’re in, not getting a good night’s can affect your performance in anything from a job interview to a typical work day. And that can have long-term consequences.

There are a lot of approaches you can take to make sure you’re well-rested and the Mormon Channel summarizes the top seven. Take a look below!

Google Calendar Tricks You May Not Know About

Stop using Google Calendar just to keep track of appointments or meetings and take advantage of some great features that can make your life easier and more productive.

Sharing or publishing a calendar can make planning a meeting around another team member’s schedule easier or simply lets your client’s employees know what you’ll be completing for the day. As an independent contractor searching for IT jobs, you can keep track of what staffing agencies you’re in contact with and for what position by scheduling reminders with the email included in the description.

Steve Dotto further explains the five “hidden gems” of Google Calendar in this video from Dottotech.

The Science of Relaxation and Stress

Everyone has felt stressed at some point in their life, but too much stress (aka chronic stress) can have several negative effects on our life. The problem is that sometimes this stress becomes so routine, you stop noticing it.

This can be prominent in the IT industry, just as much as others. As an independent contractor, you may find that constantly seeking new contracts and entering new working environments adds additional stress points to your daily life. If that’s the case, then it’s time to find a method to de-stress!

TheBackStore.com makes it easy with their infographic on how to discover your type of stress and reduce it.

The Science of Relaxation and Stress #infographic

4 Habits of Highly Successful IT Contractors

What’s your definition of professional success? Is it having a high income? Working with the best clients? Or working enough so you can enjoy all other aspects of life? We’re not going to debate that in this post (because it’s Friday and nobody wants to have that discussion) but we do want to help you achieve your goal with the help of this video from Proactive Thinker.

The video reveals four habits that they say every successful person shares, and they can all be applied specifically to independent IT contractors. The video is just under 5 minutes and provides more details, but here’s a quick summary:

  1. Learn to Say No: You can’t work on every project and you can’t do other team members’ work while still expecting to serve your clients to the best of your ability.
  2. Accept the Reality: Things go wrong in IT projects and in your job search. Accept what you can control and work with it.
  3. Manage Your Energy: The healthier you are and better you eat, the more productive you’ll be.
  4. Take Ownership of Your Environment: You can’t control the people a client hires, but you can control your friends. Do everything you can to surround yourself with others who support your goals.

What else would you add to the list?

Motivational Quotes to Kick-Off Your Monday

Regardless of how much we love our jobs, let’s face it, Mondays can suck! Weekends are often busier than the week itself, taking away all motivation to wake up that first day of the week to drag yourself into a client meeting. It’s times like these to remember Benjamin Franklin’s quote “Do not squander time for that is the stuff life is made of” or perhaps the words of Dee Dee Artner “If you have time to whine then you have time to find a solution.”

History has provided us with numerous quotes to help motivate IT contractors throughout their career and get them over any hurdle. Recently, international recruitment agency Armstrong Appointments put together this infographic showcasing 96 of their favourite motivational quotes. It contains some classics and some you may not have heard of, but we guarantee, there will be something in here that will help kick-off your Monday the right way!

96 Motivational Quotes To Keep You Going
Please include attribution to Armstrong Appointments with this graphic.