Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: productivity

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

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.

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!

How IT Contractors Can Take Better Breaks

All IT contractors can relate to how easy it is to get caught up in a project and let time fly by. You pour back coffee and energy drinks to keep moving towards your end goal and eventually hours have flown by and you haven’t left your computer. You may end those days thinking you maximized your productivity, but did you really? Even if you did, was it enough to justify the negative consequences of skipping a break? According to a ton of recent research, you’re not doing yourself any favours.

Taking a Break is a Good Thing

Study after study has proven that taking a break throughout your day is indeed a good thing. On top of simply being refreshed physically, when you step away from a task that requires a lot of thinking power, it gives your analytical processing skills a break. When you return, your renewed energy — both mentally and physically — allows you to solve problems faster, which in return, boosts your productivity.

But delivering a better solution to your client shouldn’t be your only motivation to take a break. A pause from work is important to your own well being. Accepting that you should have time away from your desk means you’ll open up more time to exercise and eat properly through your day. You can also run some personal errands and tasks, which will free up your evening, ease a stressed out mind, and maximize work-life balance.

How to Take the Best Breaks

We understand. Taking a break is much easier said than done, especially in the IT industry when you have to deal with emergencies, outages and tight deadlines. IT contractors can’t just get up from your desk and leave… or can you? Keep in mind that you are a contractor, and not an employee — you are entitled to work any hours you please as long as you continue to honour the agreement between you and your client. Here are a few tips to take the most effective breaks:

  • Fully detach. When you take a break, turn your mind off completely from the task-at-hand and change your train-of-thought.
  • Move around. This will help with the previous point. Get away from your desk, go outside, and get some exercise.
  • Be social. Breaks are better with others and the social aspect will help you recharge. Just be careful not to distract your client’s employees.
  • Avoid all screens. When you go outside to recharge your batteries and get your mind off things, your phone is going to be a hinderance. If you must bring it with you, put it on silence and turn off email alerts.
  • Take a nap. Research has proven that a quick 20-30 minute nap can have significant health benefits for some people. Meditation is also an option that will clear your mind.
  • Do something else. Perhaps you don’t want to take a full break. Completing entirely separate, irrelevant tasks will let you stay productive AND temporarily break from your current project.
  • Take Microbreaks. Often when we think of a break it’s the traditional 1-hour lunch break, but productivity experts also encourage microbreaks throughout the day. For example, 90 minutes on/20 minutes off or 25 minutes on/5 minutes off.
  • Try any one of these 51 ideas to do when you need a break from The Muse.

Taking breaks isn’t just important at work but everywhere in life. Home DIY projects get done with more care when there are breaks, gamers see more success when they let their mind rest for a few minutes, and resumes are written much more clearly when you review them with a fresh set of eyes. How often do you take a break?

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 Easiest Way to Stay Motivated Every Day

Henry Stanley was a famous explorer who mapped out the Congo River. Despite running into a multitude of problems, he stayed motivated by shaving every day. Can doing something so simple really create motivation?

This video by the Improvement Pill suggests creating a cue, which is something that triggers an emotion or habit, is in fact the solution. It’s common to go through times when you feel unmotivated to get your tasks done at work and in your personal life. So, it could be worth a try to find something you do on your successful days and repeat it every day.

Should You Hire a Personal Assistant

Do you ever feel like you have too much to do in a day, like the tasks are never-ending? Maybe it’s time you considered finding someone to help. According to Polo and Tweed, personal assistants can help you manage the little things, so you can be more productive. Their infographic reveals how a PA can help with your workload and make you a better independent contractor in the long-run.

Should You Hire a Personal Assistant