Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: productivity

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

At Least 1 of These Websites Will Improve Your Life

Today, there are over a billion websites that exist on the Internet. With thousands of websites being launched every day, it can be hard to filter out poor websites to get the practical and handy ones.

In this video, TechGumbo shows us 10 useful websites that can be helpful in our everyday lives. Who knows? You might have wished you had known about these earlier! From quick and easy photo editing sites to free coding courses, one of these websites might just catch your interest. Tell us about your favourite websites in the comments below!

Make Every Weekend a 3-Day Weekend!

In our society, working overtime is not an uncommon practice. According to recent research, picking up all those extra hours might be negatively impacting our health and putting us at risk of various physical and mental health issues. InvestmentZen believes that instead of making employees work an entire 5-day week, we should be giving them an additional day off. Latest scientific studies support the idea that we can resolve this ever-growing problem with 3-day weekends which have proven to be beneficial to not only employees, but companies as well.

There is already a multitude of companies giving an extra day off to their employees in Japan, America, United Kingdom, and Sweden. If companies are doing it for their employees, why aren’t you doing it for yourself. As an independent contractor, you’re your own boss, so it’s just a matter of negotiating it into your next contract. In addition to increased productivity as these studies show, working different hours from your client’s employees will also help separate you as a contractor in the eyes of the CRA.

Why Every Weekend Should Be A 3 Day Weekend

Via: InvestmentZen.com

15 Time Wasters Successful People Avoid

Time management has a massive influence in an independent contractor’s success. You need to be able to juggle multiple projects, all while building your network, seeking new job opportunities, filling out grids, managing your business and balancing the rest of your life. It’s true that any contractor can lead a good career without this ability, but those who can master their organizational skills are those who are most successful.

It’s one thing to know what needs to be done to manage your time, but you also need to know what not to do. There are so many distractions throughout the day and it seems like there are an infinite number of ways to waste time and interrupt productivity. In this infographic, n2growth put together 15 of the most common time wasters that you need to avoid if you want a shot at being successful.

15 Time Wasters Successful People Avoid

10 Cool Command Prompt Tricks You Should Know

How much do you use Command Prompt in Windows 10? If you’re an in-depth Windows user, you’ve most likely used CMD many times throughout your career, but you may not using it as efficiently as you could be.

This video from Beebom provides ten cool command tips for topics such as shortcuts, encryption, customization, Wi-Fi hot spots, and even a way to watch Star Wars! At least something in here will be new for you. If not, and you have even more tips, please share them in the comments below.

Take a Break, Gain a New Perspective!

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President, Western Canada at Eagle

Take a Break, Gain a New Perspective!When determining whether or not to go the consulting route (vs. finding a job as an employee), there is an old adage often used: Which fallacy do you prefer? The one that suggests employees have more job security or the one that suggests that consultants have more flexibility in choosing their own work hours?

Of course, there is some truth to both but anyone who has been a part of the IT industry for any length of time also knows that neither is always the case! As my blog entry today is aimed at contractors or aspiring contractors, I thought I would share a few thoughts on the topic of using some of your “flexibility” by building in some down time for yourself.

This, it turns out, is really quite hard to do. It takes planning and conviction; and potentially some negotiating as well. A common prairie saying is “Make hay while the sun shines“, meaning that while you’ve got the work, you should be doing it. Especially for those working here in Calgary, given the down-turn in the economy, it is really hard to set some time aside for yourself knowing that many others don’t have the work opportunity that you are enjoying. Additionally, as a contractor, if you’re not working you’re not billing, and that can be a powerful detractor as well.

That said, many contractors have been “running hot” for a long time. Burn-out is becoming more common place, as are mental health issues which can range from being slightly irritable to limitless issues that can be caused by working too hard for too long in a too stressful a situation. There are rare individuals who are truly (and healthily) motivated and invigorated by this lifestyle, but most people would benefit from some respite. Most companies demand that their employees use the vacation time given to them each year and, as an incorporated contractor, you are running your own business. Part of your responsibility as a business owner is to look after the health of your employee(s)… which in most cases is just you.

How would your client/agency like you to plan time off? The key is to begin discussing this early. It gives them a chance to work it into their schedules. Also, being as flexible as possible shows that you are intent on your project’s/work’s success and will make it easier to accommodate your absence. Finally, look at the milestones set for your project and speak with your management contact to decide where your absence might have the least negative impact. There will be times/projects/clients where they simply cannot accommodate an absence request for a certain period of time, but those are more rare and most people are quite reasonable… especially if they recognize that there is likely to be a productivity and/or quality boost to your work when you return fully recharged!

One of the aspects of taking a break from work that has made the biggest difference to me is that it helps to regain a sense of perspective. When you’ve been head down/tail up working for many weeks/months straight, one tends to lose a broader perspective or, rather, your perspective becomes fixed and rooted in the day-to-day problems and issues. Creativity suffers and you can quickly find yourself in a “rut”. Some ruts are straight-up bad while others can become “comfortable” and these are the ones that can last a long, long time. The daily grind becomes routine, you aren’t as bothered by your failures, and you can become numb and ambivalent to both your work and your life outside of work. A good break changes things up, it allows you to see the bigger picture and your role in it, and it both refreshes and regenerates. That way, when you return to your work, you do so with renewed enthusiasm and energy.

If this last paragraph at all rings true for you, you may be overdue for a vacation. Instead of trying to decide whether you can afford to take a break, consider whether you can afford not to. There are plenty of benefits to taking a vacation, and this article perfectly summarizes 7 of them.

Summer is coming soon! What are your plans??!

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.