Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: productivity

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

Quick Poll Results: Are you an Early Bird or Night Owl?

The early bird gets the worm… but the second mouse gets the cheese! The time of day a person is most productive at work differs by the individual, but we were curious to learn if there’s an overwhelming trend among IT contractors. That’s why our contractor quick poll last month asked if you’re an early bird or night owl.

Now, a month later, the results are below. There was definitely a range of responses, but it’s interesting to see that the stereotype of IT enthusiasts staying up late and slamming energy drinks did not hold true for this month’s respondents. In fact, more than half said they identify as early birds more than anything else. What part of the day are you most productive?

Quick Poll Resulst: Early Bird or Night Owl?

Contractor Quick Poll: Early Bird or Night Owl?

Perhaps one of the top benefits of being an independent contractor is that you get you set your own hours. Certainly, your client will request you are available and on site for some meetings but overall, IT projects can be worked on during any time of day.

While the old “early bird gets the worm” adage holds true in many circumstances, studies have proven that all individuals are different when it comes to productivity. While many people are most productive when they wake up early and get a head start on the day, it still isn’t feasible for a large portion of the population. That segment prefers their sleep in the morning and are much more productive later into the evening.

In this month’s Contractor Quick Poll, we’re asking IT contractors which sleep schedule makes them most productive. Assuming you get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep (ha!), are you an early bird who likes to get up with the sun and go to sleep sooner, or do you consider yourself to be more of a night owl who does phenomenal work well into the night and then sleeps in the next day?

The Benefits of Working Remotely for IT Contractors and their Clients

Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Delivery Manager, Eastern Canada at Eagle

Are you looking for a way to improve your work/life balance? Or are you looking for ways to increase your productivity and lower the number of unpaid sick days you have to take? Then maybe the introduction of remote work should be considered. Each day, more and more independent contractors are joining the “working from home” bandwagon.

The reality is that commuters face delays on a regular basis. Whether it’s because buses are late, trains are delayed or cancelled or there is congestion on the roads, it causes our commute times to double or even triple in length. This is one of the strongest reasons why more IT professionals are implementing flexible working schedules and working from home on client projects.

We all know commuting can often be time consuming, stressful and expensive. The modern business model includes more flexibility for their workers. Companies are providing their employees with an incentive to work from home a certain number of days each week, which allows the workers to avoid long commutes and is saving them the transportation costs. So why not do the same for yourself?

In this technological age, even educators are paving the way to learn from home. Students often have the option to listen to seminars remotely or take quizzes online from the comfort of their home. And even though they are doing a large majority of the work from home, they are still successfully graduating, proving that people can be successful from wherever they work.

Many of your clients and their employees are already on board with this way of thinking. An article from WomensPost.ca shows that a 2017 FlexJobs study of 5,500 people found that a work-life balance was critical to the productivity and success of a company. Out of all the survey respondents, 62 percent said they have left or considered leaving a job because of the lack of work flexibility. An even higher response of 66 percent said they were more productive working from a home office as there were less interruptions from coworkers, fewer distractions, less commuter stress, and they were removed from any office politics.

So will you be more productive when working remotely? You’ll be able to work (and therefore bill) extra hours in the time you’re not commuting. The better work-life balance also means you are less likely to get ill in the first place because stress levels are typically lower. And since you are not commuting, you’ll find more time for your activities, such as going to the gym or spending more quality time with your family. According to an article from the Telegraph, a study by Canada Life found that home workers took fewer sick days compared to those based in the office. The study found that employees working in an office took on average 3.1 sick days last year, whilst homeworkers only took 1.8 sick days and employees who have a cold or are mildly sick can still get work done at home, while office workers are more inclined to take the entire day off to avoid leaving the comfort of their home.

There are, of course, some challenges in working from home:

  1. First of all, the job itself must have the necessary tools to allow for remote work.
  2. Secondly, you must be independent and self-directed in order to be productive while working without guidance.
  3. Thirdly, trust is a big factor for this. If there is no trust between you and your client, then they will begin questioning your timesheets and you will lose out on future references.

Personally, I think a mix of both models is best. One in which you work from home on a certain day or days, but otherwise spend time at the client site to connect with the employees and managers for face-to-face meetings and collaboration. Even one or two days out of the work week spent working remotely does wonders for your mental health, morale, and productivity.

The world of work is dramatically changing. In a competitive world, flexible working schedules are creating healthier and happier workers and increasing productivity. The evidence so far suggests that working remotely benefits clients just as much as it benefits their independent contractors.

It’s Alright to Quit and You Need to Know When

It’s healthy to set complex goals that are a stretch but will force you to step outside your comfort zone and work extra hard to accomplish that goal. Sometimes those goals are personal and sometimes they’re professional. Sometimes they’re attainable and sometimes… they’re never going to get completed. So, is it alright to quit? According to this video from Med School Insiders, it’s not just alright, it’s encouraged!

An important step to working on any project is knowing when to evaluate and know when you need to keep pushing through or when it’s time to quit. As the video explains, the decision is not easy and requires many considerations, but it’s an important question to ask yourself in order to maintain maximum productivity and, more importantly, your health.

As Kenny Rogers says “You gotta know when to hold’em, and know when to fold’em.”

Clean Your Office and Boost Productivity

Did you know that a typical office keyboard can carry up to 7,500 bacteria at any given time? That’s according to this infographic by Early to Rise, in addition to a few other disturbing facts. The fact is, aside from avoiding a disgusting environment, a clean office has also proven to boost productivity and lead to more success at the office. The infographic provides all of the details, plus some simple tips so you too can have a clean office!

How a Clean Office Helps Productivity

These Terrible Habits are Destroying Your Productivity

Last Monday we shared an infographic about productive meetings, touting the importance of hosting meetings that don’t waste everyone’s day. Being respectful of your colleagues’ time is certainly a positive trait in an independent contractor but maximizing your own time is an even higher priority if you want to optimize your income.

It’s easy to fall into terrible habits during your everyday work-life that eat your time and destroy your efficiency. For example, how many distractions are in your office or how frequently do you skip breakfast? There are plenty of terrible habits we pick-up that we don’t realize are costing money and this infographic from luxafor points out 10.

10 Bad Habits That Kill Your Productivity #Infographic

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)

A Surgeon Teaches Us How to be Super Human

One of the top reasons clients hire independent contractors is because they’re the best in the field. When an organization needs something developed in a specific way, they find an expert IT contractor with a niche skill set. That contractor will not only deliver the solution most efficiently, they will also transfer knowledge and provide more in-depth knowledge to the client’s IT department. It’s safe to say, if you want to improve at any skills, it’s best to ask an expert and those with the most experience.

With that said, we can all learn something from doctors and surgeons. Before you get concerned that this post is advocating learning about medicine and performing surgery through a video, we’re referring to another skill that all successful medical professionals have proven to be experts at: productivity.

In this video, plastic surgeon Dr. Jay of Med School Insiders provides some of his own productivity and efficiency tips that have allowed to get through med school, continue a successful career and still balance a fun life. Watch the video to learn how you can maximize your time efficiency and start getting more done today!

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.