Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Time Management

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

“Having a Great Week Does Not Start on Monday… It Starts Sunday Night!”

Sunday night. A night full of great weekend memories (or regret) and next week blues. Everyone’s heart drops at the reminder that in 12 hours they will be in their car, on the bus or on the train commuting to their office. Even if you are going to your dream job, it’s human nature to feel a bit reluctant to be a slave to the office hours.

Things might be stacked against you but if you are able to channel your productivity, there are 5 simple things you can — and should do — every Sunday night to make sure that you start your week on the right foot. Just watch this video from The Art of Improvement.

5 Different Strategies to Be More Productive

Last week we shared an infographic outlining 12 bad habits you should break if you want to be more productive. Productivity is a massive asset for an independent contractor. The faster you deliver quality work to clients, the more likely they are to want to hire you again or, at the minimum, give you a glowing reference. As an added bonus when you’re productive, you have more time for yourself to either make more money or accomplish other personal goals!

Everybody is unique and different approaches to productivity work better for different people. This infographic created by NFIB summarizes five options:

  1. Eat That Frog
  2. The Seinfeld Approach
  3. Getting Things Done
  4. The Pomodoro Technique
  5. The Action Method

Do any of these work for you?

5 Different Strategies to Be More Productive

AI Assistants for the Independent Contractor

AI Assistants for the Independent ContractorIt’s no surprise to any IT professional that Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is growing at a crazy pace. Companies are investing heavily in it and creating more and more job opportunities for those who specialize in it. But new jobs are not the only way AI can benefit you, as an IT contractor. There are a number of tools out there that you may not be taking advantage of to help you navigate your job search and manage your business. Some are common and right in front of you (ex. Siri, Alexa, Google, Cortana) and you may need to dig a bit more for others. Here are just a few ways your AI Assistant can help you today:

General Organization

Knowing what’s in your calendar, and more importantly making sure everything is actually in that calendar, is one of the most valuable things your personal assistant can do for you. With the proper settings, Google or Siri will even add information into your calendar for you based on emails. All you need to do is ask your assistant at the start of the day what’s happening when and where, or what tasks are due soon.

Job Hunting and other Research

It’s also common to use the big-name personal assistants for research. You can win an argument with a group of friends or seek directions, but on a professional level, you can also research jobs. With the Canadian launch of Google for Jobs, their assistant is a sure bet to find what you need. In addition, there are AI assistants designed specifically for your job hunt. For example, tools like Mosaic and LinkedIn’s MS Word tool can help you build resumes, and newer AI assistants like Wade, Newton and Woo are helping job seekers find new opportunities every day (Canadian content is minimal at this point, but the technology is out there).

Collaboration

AI assistants are also willing and ready to help you collaborate and work with team members. Tools like x.ai provide assistants who just need to be copied on emails and given an order like “schedule an update meeting with Bob”. With access to your calendar, they will continue talking with Bob to finalize the plans.  And that’s just one example. Howdy, Yva.ai and Collaboration.ai all provide similar but varying collaboration abilities like tracking skills and performance, organizing tasks and sending reminders, and working in Slack.

Working with Job Boards and other Online Tools

Being aware of AI assistants is another important step to using them to your advantage. There are many job boards and other online tools who use chatbots to qualify sales leads or candidates and decide how to proceed. Their technology is advanced with the ability to recognize phrases and patterns, but they do not read minds or always understand nuances as a human does. That means you could be talking yourself out of a job if you’re short with the chatbot or forget to mention certain keywords.

There are so many AI tools helpful for IT contractors and their clients in all specialty areas — just check out this article from Nudge and this older one from Medium. Both demonstrate how whether you’re working in Data, Finance, Development, Cybersecurity or nearly any industry, AI is coming into your life, if it isn’t already. You just need to be prepared.

Yet Another Post About Productive Meetings

The ability to host and/or be a part of productive meetings is an important skill to have. In fact, we believe it’s so important that we’ve shared tips to do so at least once every year since starting this blog: How to Host Productive Meetings (2014), Tips for Running Effective Meetings (2015), How to Improve Your Meetings (2016), Believe It or Not, Meetings CAN Be Productive! (2017). And now, in 2018, we’re back with yet another post to help you get maximum productivity out of what can be long, dreadful, useless wastes of time.

It’s crucial that IT contractors know how to run productive meetings. First, you bill your clients by the hour and they want to know that they’re getting the most out of you and that you’re not wasting their employees’ time. But what about the time you’re not billing? Now you’re sitting through meetings that are costing you money! This infographic from Wrike provides ideas to host productive meetings and you could use some of the tips when you’re not even the host (for example: confirm if you really need to be there or at the end of a meeting, take the initiative to ask the leader who is assigned to action specific tasks).

9 Proven Strategies to Make Your Meetings Highly Actionable (Infographic)

Strategies to Start Having More Productive Meetings Today

It’s time to take unproductive meetings where your team is constantly wishing for it to end and leave them in the dust! As a leader, ensuring meetings end with specific action items will keep your team members productive and create collaborations that result in beneficial new ideas.

And while you may be thinking that it is easier said than done, Wrike has it all laid out for you with 9 proven strategies to make your meetings highly actionable.

9 Proven Strategies to Make Your Meetings Highly Actionable (Infographic)

Get into the “Zone”

Picture this: You’re at work and all of a sudden a wave of motivation hits you and it feels like within the span of a couple of hours, you’ve completed a number of tasks off your to-do list. This is what it means to “get in the zone.”

Getting in the zone can be challenging. But according to NetCredit, with the right environment and attitude you can begin to maximize your productivity on a regular basis and complete what before seemed like an impossible task!

Boost Performance by Starting and Ending Every Day with This

Summer has unofficially started and for many of us, that means our lives are going to start to get busy as we plan family vacations and attend more social gatherings. As we enjoy the warmer weather, it’s important to continue putting focus on work. In fact, if you want more time to enjoy the Summer you should strive to be even more productive.

This infographic from Fundera has some helpful tips that IT contractors can use all year-long. It provides 5 simple tasks to do at the start of your day and 5 more to do in the last 15 minutes that will skyrocket your productivity, improve client satisfaction, and let you enjoy your non-working hours.

Infographic - First and Last Minutes at Work

Best Productivity Tools to Save Time

Guest Post by Chanell Alexander

Describing the life of an independent contractor as busy is an understatement. Managing deadlines, producing quality work, distributing invoices, scheduling appointments, collaborating with clients, and everything else in between can be more than overwhelming. An independent contractor in IT is a one-person band, and while technology is not necessarily a cure-all, it can help to accomplish daily tasks more efficiently. Here are five productivity tools to save time.

Best Productivity Tools to Save Time

1. Flipboard – Stay current on industry trends

 

If an independent contractor specializing in IT knows one thing, it is that staying up-to-date on technology industry trends and emerging developments is essential. Flipboard is an app that individuals can use to receive curated news by selecting topics they want to see. This app collects news from various news outlets so that users do not have to take the time to comb the web for issues relevant to them.

2. JibberJobber – Keep track of the job search

Looking for new clients and ongoing assignments are a regular part of the life of an independent contractor. After multiple emails and job submissions, it can be challenging to keep track of the job application process. JibberJobber is a platform that enables the user to keep track of jobs applied for, track relationships and follow-up opportunities, and relevant company news. Contractors will never have to worry about whether they already applied for a position, or when they should reach back out to check a job status as JibberJobber takes care of this guesswork.

3. Harvest – Time management and invoicing

Keeping track of hours worked, projects started, and deadline can be a day’s worth of work in itself for an Independent Contractor in IT. Harvest allows users to track the amount of time they have worked on a project, ensure they are staying in budget, track expenses, and turn billable time into invoices that can be emailed directly from the application in PDF form. Users can also do a bit of forecasting to ensure projects meet budgetary and time requirements.

4. Hubspot – Customer Relationship Management

An independent contractor makes an excellent contact at a networking event. Great! Now, how can they continue to stay on top of nurturing this person from contact to customer without the hassle of an Excel spreadsheet? Hubspot is a free customer relationship management system (CRM). Contractors can keep track of appointments scheduled, conversions, and sales activity. All information and every interaction with a potential (or actual) client can be recorded in Hubspot. Many Hubspot users mention how easy to use the platform is and how simple it is to set up email campaigns.

5. Asana – Project and Workflow Management Tool

Asana is an all-in-one project management program. If contractors are collaborating with multiple staff members in one company, or are working side-by-side with clients to develop a deliverable, Asana is a great place to begin the journey. Contractors can track progress, assign tasks, set deadlines, and report on work progress. Users mention that Asana can even integrate with Harvest to turn tasks into billable hours for invoicing. This program also has a mobile application so contractors can manage tasks and productivity on-the-go.

The Wrap Up

The life of an independent contractor is anything but easy, but having an arsenal of tools to stay on top of the workday can go a long way to make life a little bit easier. As long as contractors intelligently map out how these applications and those like them can increase their productivity, then the day can unfold a bit more smoothly.

Chanell Alexander currently resides in Atlanta, GA. When she’s not traveling and trying new restaurants in the Metro Atlanta area, she writes about the latest technology and tools for TrustRadius.

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.