Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: productivity

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian IT Contractors relating to productivity.

Stay Focused and Impress Your Clients

Clients, phone calls, email, social media — there are so many distractions around our office that prevent us from getting work done faster.  And if you work from home, you can expand on those distractions when you factor in family, pets and (for some of us) the kitchen.

A common criticism we hear back from clients at the end of a contract is that a contractor wasn’t focused on their work enough, and they felt they were sharing their time with personal phone calls, emails or social networks.  Sure, the client’s employees do the same, but companies hold independent contractors to a higher standard. After all, how would you feel if the carpenter billing you by the hour took 45 minutes each morning to check Facebook instead of building your deck?

Because independent contractors can stand out with exceptional customer service and high productivity, you should make it a priority to remain as focused as possible, regardless of all of the distractions around you. Almost everyone can improve in this area to some degree, so have a look at this infographic from On Stride Financial for ideas to impress your client.

Does Coffee Really Make You More Productive?

How often have you been up all night because you lost track of time binge watching Netflix, gaming, or working on a tech project? It happens to the best of us. And after just a few short hours of sleep, our solution in the morning and throughout the day is to pound the coffee or energy drinks into our bodies, with the hope that productivity will be as superior as it is any other day. Even on an average day, with a good night’s sleep, many IT contractors still start the morning with a cup of joe or break up the day with a coffee break, often saying they can’t function without it.

What are the realities of all of this? Is coffee really that miracle drink? According to this infographic from TollFreeForwarding.com, not quite. Check it out and learn the real facts about coffee, so you can still enjoy your favourite hot drink and maximize your productivity.

Does Coffee Really Make You More Productive at Work?

What COULD You Do With 20 minutes?

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on November 21, 2012

If you were to invest 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week towards “self development” what could you do?

Health & Fitness

I have a weight routine that takes me exactly 20 minutes. When I do it, I usually do 20 minutes of cardio first but if pushed for time I just do the weight routine.  There are 9 upper body moves that I execute one after the other as a circuit.  I do a set of abs before the first set, a set of abs between the sets and again after the second set… it all takes 20 minutes!  I can tell you that when I started doing this it had a dramatic affect on toning my upper body, and I only do it twice a week!  In addition to toning your body, weights increase muscle mass which increases the amount of calories your body burns!

A 20 minute brisk walk every day burns calories, builds some muscle, exercises your heart and gets some “fresh” air into your lungs.

20 minutes exercise each day for 5 days a week is more than 85 hours of exercise a year!

Brain Work

I can read an 8 page summary of a business book from Executive Book Summaries in 20 minutes.   If you read one book summary a week you can cover off the main concepts of more than 50 business books every year.

I can do a tough Sudoku or a crossword puzzle in about an hour… or 3 * 20 minute sessions.  If I devote my brain to that activity three times a week I am spending 50 hours a year exercising my brain.

Relationships

I can have a 20 minute conversation with my mom (sisters, friends etc) and we all enjoy it.

I can write 4 cards with hand written notes in 20 minutes . They might be to friends or clients, but they are always appreciated.

I can take 5 minutes to share a good business read on LinkedIn and enhance my personal brand as a knowledge expert.  If I invest 20 minutes over the course of a week I can share 200 stories in a year and the Kevin Dee brand gets noticed.

I can spend 5 minutes sending an email to a friend or relative to let them know how I’m doing, and that I’m thinking of them.  Again a 20 minute investment each week means 4 times a week (200 times a year) I am reaching out to people I care about.

How much time do you spend watching “mindless TV shows”?

How much time do you spend sitting on a bus or train?

How much time do you spend sitting in a hotel room while on business travel?

How much time do you spend sitting at the rink while your child skates?

There are lots of “20 minute opportunities” out there and you don’t need to cram them all with activity, but just maybe a small investment in 20 minute activities could give you a good return on that investment.

PS.  This is just scratching the surface … if you really think about it there are a million high return ways to use 20 minutes!

How to Improve Your Meetings (Infographic)

How much time do you waste on useless meetings? Most people will tell you too much and, for independent contractors, wasted time can have negative consequences. Not only will your projects fall behind, but you also lose out on time doing work you may have committed to doing for other clients. Eventually, all of that creeps into your personal time and you find yourself consumed in work all because of inefficient meetings. Then there’s the fact that clients will start questioning all of the hours you’re charging when, in their eyes, little progress is being made.

Certainly, everybody can work harder to improve their meetings and step up efficiencies. You may not know where to start, you may think your practices are already “good enough,” or you may be somewhere in between. Regardless of where you fall, check out this infographic from Meetin.gs to for some pointers to help you in your next team meeting.

Improve you meetings infographic

How to Be Productive at Work? Master Your Sunday!

This post by Karin Eldor first appeared on the Monster Career Advice Blog

How to Be Productive at Work? Master Your Sunday! Sunday has two different identities: there’s #SundayFunday and then there are the Sunday Blues.

Well, I’m campaigning to create a new image for Sunday: #SuperSunday.

The timing is actually perfect. With Labour Day having come and gone, September has become the new month for turning over a new leaf and having another go at your New Year’s resolutions (author Gretchen Rubin has even coined September the “other January”). Maybe it’s the back-to-school vibe and back-to-work feeling — likely both — regardless, it’s nice to get a second chance to make those resolutions work.

And does this look like one of your resolutions? Be more productive.

It seems many of us are still learning how to be productive and take control of our days — and one of the ways to do this is by mastering your Sunday.

If you flip Sunday on its head and make it more about looking forward to the week ahead rather than dreading it, your entire perspective changes. (Pro tip: start to perceive Monday as an opportunity to make changes during the upcoming week rather than counting down the minutes to Friday).

It starts with feeling refreshed, rebooted and reorganized enough on Sunday, that you don’t head to work stressed and already overwhelmed by the massive to-do list you need to tackle.

Of course there are the obvious Sunday activities, like doing the laundry, getting groceries, and watching football or Netflix.

Below are the other important tasks to check off your list, which you should try to finish before Game of Thrones starts.

The Sunday success plan

1) Map out your week

Sit down with a calendar and task list, and map out all your deadlines, checkpoints, meetings, and appointments.

Take it even further and block off your gym time and/or sports activities for the upcoming week. This will help ensure that your fitness plans don’t fall by the wayside.

The other key thing about this practice is that once complete, you’ll be able to see where you have some breathing room and can schedule social activities. Conversely, this will help you visualize your challenging days that are chock-full of deadlines; as a result, you might need to plan ahead in order to complete your tasks on time.

I once heard someone say this and I am compelled to share: If something is not blocked off in your agenda by the time you get to the office Monday, it’s not happening that week. So as ruthless as this sounds, it’s important to be disciplined. Of course this doesn’t apply to projects your manager is assigning for that week, as it’s challenging to give that kind of pushback. But it does mean that if a friend texts you to go for coffee, it will have to be shifted to the following week if there is simply no wiggle room between events.

2) Reach out to contacts

Networking is one of those “always on” activities. Sending friendly “How are you?” emails to former colleagues, mentors or even a previous manager that you had a great rapport with is simply good practice — and there’s no better day to do it than Sunday.

You want to avoid only emailing contacts when you need them, so keep cultivating your relationships by touching base every now and then. (BTW: no need to email them every week…)

3) Read up about your industry

Sunday morning is a great time to sit with a hot drink while tackling your favourite magazines and/or papers. Or even all the articles you bookmarked throughout the week and finally have time to get to!

This helps you keep abreast of industry movers and shakers, and any disruptive news you need to know.

4) Work on your hobby

Make time on Sunday to dedicate to a passion project. Studies show that hobbies are important in order to be successful as they help you relax and unwind, which leads to greater creativity.

A recent article published in Quartz magazine, fittingly titled “If you want to be a better person, find something to do outside of work,” makes a strong case for having a hobby: “Hobbies are of central importance to our psychological well-being.”

The article quotes a recent study by Kevin Eschleman at San Francisco State University, which found that workers recovered more quickly from the day-to-day stress of their working lives if allowed to indulge in hobbies in their free time. The Quartzarticle also mentions that Google has a 20% rule, which allows employees to spend 20% of their work time pursuing projects of their own choosing — a perk that leads to more fulfilled and productive employees.

So whether your thing is painting, gardening or playing sports, allow yourself time to dedicate to the personal activities that energize you.

5) Work out your body and/or mind

Speaking of hobbies, perhaps yours is weightlifting, yoga or meditation. Dedicate some time to your deadlifts or downward dog — it will help revitalize you and will make you feel less guilty about all the food you indulged on all weekend.

6) Make time for a digital detox

Whether you go device-free for 10 minutes in the morning or during your mindfulness / fitness session, it’s important to let go of your digital reliance at some point throughout your Sunday. So make a habit of either not checking into your social media feeds for a determined amount of time, not checking your email all day (Meep, is this even possible?!?) or best yet, being away from your phone completely for a couple of hours, at least.

In France this is known as “the right to disconnect” — and you can also exercise this right when it comes to evenings and weekends!

7) Plan your meals

OK so the idea of cooking for the entire week might be totally overwhelming — I get it. At least prep your menu so that you can get the ingredients in one shot when you do go grocery shopping. Planning your lunches in advance is efficient, healthy and a cost savings.

8) Write your Monday to-do list

In the same vein as mapping out your week, take a few minutes to write your Monday to-do-list, so that you’re ready to tackle the new day and week the second you arrive to the office.

It’s also a great way to do a “worry list” — i.e. a brain dump of all the minutiae on your mind, which might be keeping you up at night.

Sunday strong

Many of these habits are important for every day of the week, but especially on Sundays. It also goes without saying that getting enough sleep is key in having a successful, productive week — so make sure to decompress before going to bed by reading (not your email though!).

By flying through your daily to-do lists and feeling more productive, Mondays will feel less manic — and even enjoyable.

Every Independent Contractor Can Be More Productive

Clients love productive contractors. It means they get IT projects done faster, save money, and look good in front of their peers.

When a client loves you, that means you will get more work. If not with that client, then the glowing feedback received by the recruiter will ensure that recruitment agency keeps sending gigs your way.

More gigs mean a steady flow of income and less stress.

When you do the math (productive contractor = happy client = more work = more money), being productive is a pretty awesome thing for an independent contractor.

If you’ve set some goals to be more productive but it isn’t happening, then review this quick video from Entrepreneur. It not only provides some advice on how to get more done in a day, but it also touches on some common habits that you may think are helping, but are actually wasting time.

Focused People Find Success

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on July 26th, 2016

Focused People Find SuccessMost people want to enjoy some success in their life.

Perhaps they might define success as having a balanced life, enough money, a challenging job, good relationships and a manageable amount of stress.

NOTHING comes without a price.  You need to EARN that success.

It IS worth it!

So …

Here are some things that will distract you …

  • Your personal life when you are at work.
  • Your work life when you are at home.
  • Video games, pokemon Go, excess TV and other such distractions.
  • Facebook, Twitter and the 101 other social media sites.
  • Your smart phone, with warnings about emails AND texts AND news AND sports scores etc.
  • Your colleagues latest drama.
  • Anything that looks remotely interesting that might distract you from real, hard work.

What do you NEED to do?

Focus on what you should be focused on!

“Never confuse motion with action.”   Ben Franklin

  • When at work … work!
  • When with your family … focus on them.
  • When out playing … play!

It is NOT easy.  It should not BE easy.

It is VERY manageable if you are prepared to put in the work.

It is all in your hands.!

“Work is hard.  Distractions are plentiful.  And time is short.”  Adam Hochschild

Get More Done in a Day with This Infographic

Science-Backed Advice for Independent Contractors to be More Productive

Work smarter, not harder — that’s what this infographic from OfficeVibe preaches, and we agree. Clients often hold independent contractors to a higher standard than they do employees when it comes to productivity. They’re paying what they believe to be premium hourly rates for your IT expertise and want to know they’re getting their money’s worth all of the time. If that’s not a good enough argument, consider that the more productive you are on a tech project, the more time you have for yourself to take it easy or to take on more work and earn extra income.

If we have your attention and you’d like to increase your productivity, review the infographic below. Some of their tips may need some consideration (a client wouldn’t appreciate you billing while you take a nap in their office), but none-the-less, there is some very good advice for independent contractors in here… and it’s all backed by science!

9 Ways To Be More Productive (Infographic)
This infographic was crafted with love by Officevibe, the employee engagement survey software that shows you how to improve employee engagement so that they’re more productive.

50 Productivity Tips to Boost Your Brainpower

At one point or another in your day, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll hit a wall where your mind decides that working is no longer an option and turns off. Instead, you find yourself browsing social media, getting coffee, or chatting with co-workers.

Sometimes the option is to take a break for a couple hours and independent contractors, more than permanent employees, often have that freedom. Other times, though, the work has to get done and you need to get your mind back into the flow of things so you can focus on your project.  To help you stay on track, we found not one, not two, but 50 ways you can boost your brainpower in this infographic from Wrike.

50 Productivity Tips to Boost Your Brainpower (#Infographic)
Infographic brought to you by Wrike

7 Productivity Hacks for Work From Home Newbies

This post by Kiera Abbamonte was originally posted on the Freshbooks Blog on May 2, 2016.

7 Productivity Hacks for Work from Home NewbiesHaving the flexibility to work from home is a blessing. You get to tailor your workday to what works for you — so that means you’ll be super productive, right? Well, this isn’t always the case. Working from home (WFH) has its own way of messing with your schedule and making it difficult to get real work done.

When you work in an office all the time, a snowstorm or other excuse to WFH for a day is exciting; it’s a novelty, and you can indulge and allow yourself to be as productive as you want to be. You might have certain tasks that lend themselves to working from home, that you can focus on for that day.This can even create the impression that you’re more effective when you work from home.But when working from home becomes your new normal, you simply have to find a way to get all kinds of tasks done in that setting.

Now, there’s a lot of content out there about how to work from home effectively. And most of it all says the same thing — put on pants, have a designated workspace, communicate expectations with roommates and children, etc. Those tips probably work for some people, but they weren’t enough for me when I made the transition. Here are the few hacks that helped turn my apartment into my temple of productivity.

  1. Know Your Personal Rhythm

A lot of literature will tell you that getting up super early is the key to being productive. Today’s “most successful executives” supposedly wake up at 4am,work out and get 5 hours of work under their belt by 7am. I tried this for about 2 days before giving up. Getting up at 6am left me groggy and ready for a nice, long siesta by lunchtime — not exactly a recipe for doing good work.

The truth is that everyone has their own natural rhythm. Find out when you’re most productive and schedule your day around that time. If that means hopping out of bed at 4am, do that. If it means snoozing until 10 and working a little later in the day, go with that.

  1. Use Tools That Work for You

The best part of working from home in 2016 is there are so many tools to help you ace time management and productivity. You can find tools to help you schedule your day, write to-do lists, communicate with coworkers, and create the ideal environment for productivity, among other things. The trick is to find the optimal mix of tools that work for you.

Think about what areas you struggle with — is it prioritizing? Keeping track of long projects? Focusing? Once you know what you need help with, you can start experimenting with solutions. Find a recipe of tools that helps you be your most productive self. For example, I use Trello to manage projects, TextEdit to build my to-do list, and Rainy Mood to help me focus.

  1. Don’t Underestimate the Benefit of Distractions

When you’re in the office, distractions are all around you — the fully stocked kitchen, your coworker dancing at his desk, watercooler gossip, you name it. Working from a quiet room in your house can seem like a dream for productivity. But the truth is, those little office distractions can actually give your brain the quick breaks you need to dive back into work.

Sometimes a good distraction-filled environment is exactly what you need to get work done. It’s important to be able to recognize when your at-home environment just isn’t working today. When those days happen, simply relocating to a Starbucks or coworking space can make a huge difference. Remember, you have the flexibility to make a decision about what works for you every day: Don’t replace the office by shackling yourself to a home office that isn’t stimulating enough!

  1. Use Flexibility to Your Advantage

When I first started working from home, I was worried about keeping work and life separate. It was easy to do when I left the office at 5pm and didn’t have access to my work materials until the next morning. I was hyper-vigilant about when I stopped working for the day, but that sometimes meant interrupting the flow of my work. The reality is, some days it makes sense to work 10 hours instead of 8 — other days, 6 hours will do the trick.

Working from home gives you the flexibility to decide when it’s time to work and when it’s not. Some people will thrive on a super regimented schedule. But for me, allowing myself to work a little longer some days — without worrying about work-life balance going up in smoke — has helped keep productivity running.

  1. Be Deliberate About Taking Breaks

This is connected with the point about distractions being hidden blessings. Our brains can only focus on one thing for so long. In an office, all the distractions create inadvertent little breaks. When you don’t have those, it’s important to be very deliberate about taking time for your brain to relax during the day.

For me, that time is my lunch break. I make sure to take a real, genuine break (as in walk away from the computer) from 1-2pm. It’s easy to find yourself thinking about work even when you aren’t at the desk, so I try to be active during the break — reading or running errands — so my mind is always on other things.

  1. Don’t Stress Over an Off Day

Off days happen. You had them when you worked in the office, and you’ll have them working from home, too. While we work toward being super productive all the time, it’s natural to experience a lull in productivity every now and then. The danger is when you stress over it and let yesterday’s (un)productivity impact today.

The key to overcoming an off day is just to let it go. It’s cheesy but tomorrow really is a new day — and if you shake off yesterday, you can more than make up for any lost productivity.

  1. Fall in Love With Working From Home

Being able to work from home has its positives and its challenges. Getting it right doesn’t always happen immediately — but knowing yourself and your habits will take you a long way when it comes to settling into home work. You’re sure to fall in love with the flexibility and benefits of working from home once you do.

About the Author: Kiera Abbamonte is the Content Marketing Specialist for Citrix Grasshopper. She loves a good New England fall and finding new ways to make content awesome. Catch up with her on Twitter @kieraabbamonte.