Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Time Management

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to time management.

The Snooze Button is NOT Your Friend

Have you ever woken up even more tired after hitting the snooze button on your alarm? Perhaps you continue to press it in hopes that next alarm you’ll feel refreshed, sometimes to the point where you’re late – and still tired. The truth is alarm clocks are messing with our natural sleep cycle and a video by AsapSCIENCE shows how our body is actually programmed to wake up itself. Find out what you can do to get a better sleep and be more productive as a result.

How to Manage Your Time More Effectively (according to machines)

We can all get better at managing time in one way or another. The more efficient we are, the more we’re able to get done, including projects for clients, job searching, invoicing and, or course spending personal time with friends and family.

As an IT professional, you’re well aware of the efficiencies of computers and likely already have some knowledge in how they’re programmed to behave so efficiently. Have you ever taken a step back to see if you can apply a machine’s prioritization and time management strategies to your own personal life? That’s exactly what this video from TED-Ed covers and the concepts that result are very interesting.

Be More Productive (even when you don’t feel like working)

Today is Monday. How great your weekend was or what you have coming up this weekend is irrelevant. It’s time to work, whether we’re in the mood for it or not.

Depending on what kind of person you are, Mondays may not be a bad thing for you. Perhaps you love what you do and enjoy the start a fresh week and the challenge to conquer it. Or, you may be dragging your heels, drinking coffee and reading this post as a way to procrastinate from working further.

Regardless of how you feel, we strongly recommend being productive today, especially if you plan to bill your client for a full day of work! As usual, the Talent Development Centre is here to help. Take just one more minute to procrastinate and skim through this infographic from NetCredit. It gives you 14 super tips to focus, get down to work, and accomplish more… even when you don’t feel like it.

How to Make Yourself Work When You’re Not Feeling It #InfographicYou can also find more infographics at Visualistan

Contractor Quick Poll: Do you check social media at work?

Don’t worry, responses to this quick poll remain anonymous! Social media is one of the greatest tools for job seekers and independent contractors who want to network with like-minded job seekers, professionals and employers around the world. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the greatest time-wasters in today’s workplaces.

This month’s contractor quick poll, we’re digging to learn how often our readers check social media at work (be honest, we won’t tell). Do you think social media is a hindrance on the office where you work or should it be accepted as a necessary evil? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

12 Ways That Music Makes You More Productive At Work

Although rarely the same taste, everyone has at least one musician or genre of music that gets them into the perfect mindset. We’ve all had those situations when we’re caught singing and/or dancing on our own because of getting lost in a song.

Do you want to add more music in your life, specifically at work? According to this infographic from ZING Instruments, you should! It provides 12 reasons why music will make you more productive while you work.

12 Ways That Music Makes You More Productive At Work

An Independent Contractor’s Guide to Organizing Email

An Independent Contractor's Guide to Organizing EmailIndependent technology contractors have email coming in from all angles — clients (past and present) asking for updates on projects, colleagues asking for referrals or to catch up, recruiters of all sorts sending job opportunities, invoices and communications from suppliers, and of course friends and family looking to connect for unlimited reasons. Failure to keep up with these emails can damage relationships, result in lost opportunities, or give you a reputation for being disorganize and unhelpful. Here are a few simple ways you can get your email under control so you can excel at serving your clients and reducing stress in your life.

Split Your Emails into Separate Inboxes

When all of your emails go to one place, you’re asking for a disorganized mess of clutter. You’re also sentencing yourself to distractions, mixed priorities and brutal time management. We suggest independent contractors have 3+ inboxes:

  1. A personal inbox: This is where emails from family, friends, volunteer groups, and home-related bills should go. Any email that comes here should either require a response or an action of some sort.
  2. Your contracting business’s inbox: Give this email address to recruiters, colleagues, past and potential clients, suppliers — anybody relating to your business. To maintain a professional image, you may want to purchase a domain name related to your business and use this for your email address.
  3. The bulk mail inbox: We don’t want to say “SPAM”, because this inbox may contain information you like receiving, but nothing that’s priority or requires an action. For example, this is a great email address to use for social media notifications and newsletter subscriptions.

+     Client inboxes: When you start a project, clients often provide you with an inbox for their organization. This this for everything related to the specific project, but avoid using it for anything else. Continue emailing recruiters from your business inbox and don’t give your client’s address away for personal emails.

Schedule Time to Check Each Inbox

Each inbox will have different priorities and should be checked at different times to ensure you’re managing your time well. For example, your bulk mail inbox may be checked only on Sunday morning, your personal inbox in the evenings, business inbox a few more scheduled times per day, and the client inbox only while you’re on the clock.

Work towards Inbox Zero (or some form of it) By the End of Each Day

We recently shared a post with the concept of Inbox Zero, which is the theory that your stress will be significantly reduced if you’re not always staring at a full inbox. Set a goal to empty your inbox (or set a number of 10 or 50, depending on your personal volume) by the end of each day. Inbox Zero can be achieved with a few simple tricks:

  • Unsubscribe to everything you do not read.
  • If the email does not require further action, archive it.
  • If the email is just sitting as a reminder, add a task or calendar reminder somewhere else, and archive it.
  • If the email does not need to be replied to immediately, move it to a “Respond next week” folder, and archive it (just remember to set time to review that folder, and respond to the sender letting them know when you will review their email).

Take Advantage of Labelling and Searching

Finding email is as important to organizing as responding to it. With advanced search tools available in email, it is no longer necessary to create a complex folder system, which often makes it more difficult to retrieve an email. Instead, popular online email services like Gmail and Outlook let you add labels before archiving an email. When you also use as many keywords in subject lines as possible, you can find an email using a search based on labels, keywords, recipients, and date.

Review the Email Tools Available to You

In addition to various plug-ins and extensions that can make emailing easier, check out what’s already available to you. Canned responses and email templates are great to quickly respond to emails you always get (ex. The “Thanks, but no thanks” email you send to recruiters), and automated rules will help you quickly label or archive emails as they come in.

Stop Emailing So Much

Sometimes we email much more frequently than necessary. Back-and-forth strings trying to tie down a time to meet or arguing over a solution are settled better over the phone or in-person. These long strings are only cluttering your inbox and causing you to miss important emails.

Every IT professional has to use email in their life and independent contractors must be organized to be productive and better serve clients. How can you improve your email habits? Is there anything you can add to the suggestions above?

Be an Office Hero with These Time Management Tips

Every memorable Thanksgiving dinner has at least one hero. The person who managed to lead the way in bringing everyone together, whipping up a delicious feast, cleaning the house, and sending everyone home with full bellies and a smile. It may seem like some sort of magic is required to pull all of that off, but reality is, among other skills, time management is probably one of your Thanksgiving Hero’s biggest strengths.

You may never be your family’s Thanksgiving Hero, but the right time management skills can help you become the project hero for your client. People will think you used witchcraft to get the entire team to deliver their work on time, all while going above and beyond to ensure no detail is spared. To get started, have a look at this infographic from Everwise.

Infographic: 8 Secrets for Mastering Time Management

Add More Productivity to Your Second Half of Summer

Now that we’re more than half way through the summer, we have a tendency to slow down and it might be time to think about some ways to improve your productivity. Making some small simple changes to your everyday tasks can make a big difference in your efficiency. It can be as easy as getting some extra hours of sleep, or even having a change in attitude.

This infographic from Social Caffeine, gives us some tips and tricks to keep us productive in both the office, as well as, our personal lives. Keep up with your daily tasks by keeping your days organized and productive!

Courtesy of: Social Caffeine

Contractor Quick Poll: How Do Independent Contractors Waste Time?

Entrepreneur recently published a slideshow outlining to be what they believe are the biggest time wasters, based on how much time the average person spends on each.  To no surprise, TV, Facebook and YouTube made the top 3, with cell phones, gaming, traffic, parking and meetings completing the list.

This sparks an interesting discussion and the perfect topic for June’s contractor quick poll. What are your top time wasters? Feel free to select up to three of the options below, or add one that we may have missed.

Believe It or Not, Meetings CAN Be Productive!

Most people will agree that meetings can be one of the more brutally time-consuming parts of one’s day. There’s nothing worse than having to sit through a meeting with a client’s team, discussing matters that don’t pertain to your project or going in circles on the same subject.

Depending on your role as an IT contractor, you may have little control over how a meeting is facilitated and you must suffer through it. Other times, though, you can plan how the meeting is run and which process tools will be used to ensure it’s productive.

You never want the other people on your team thinking that your meetings are dull and useless, so you should always consider new ideas. Take a look at this extensive infographic about running meetings from Active Presence. It describes 16 proven process tools for effective meeting facilitation. Use it to increase your team’s productivity by either implementing some ideas into your meetings, or casually slipping it under the door of the manager who keeps wasting your time.

Believe It or Not, Meetings CAN Be Productive!