5 Signs You Desperately Need a Productivity Tool

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What does productivity mean to you? How do you manage to handle the tight deadlines and appointments that keep coming up? We are all terrible at maintaining a consistent level of productivity. You may find yourself juggling lots of responsibilities, workday spinning uncontrollably, feeling distracted, and simply procrastinating.

The best thing that can happen to anyone is being productive. In the words of Shawn Achor, “Happiness inspires productivity”. According to the Bureau of labor statistics, productivity in the business sector since 2007 has been consistently dropping.

We need productivity tools to streamline everything that needs to be done. How do you know if you need a tool?

Here are some signs that show you should start investing in a productivity tool to manage your productivity.

1. Your tasks are not running efficiently

There are some tasks of your job that are dull, repetitive and boring. You have to push yourself doing these tasks. When it comes to doing the work amazingly, you have to make sure you meet deadlines, reply to emails, and spend the right time in meetings. All of these things and more can be easily done, thanks to productivity software. If you don’t have productivity software and you are facing a steep fall in your efficient performance, it’s time to get one. You will be able to create tasks on your own efficiently and avoid an extra leg work on your already busy day!

2. No one knows what anyone else is doing

How do you know what you and your team is working on day in and day out? How do you know if they are overloaded or sitting idle browsing social media. It is required to have a quick glance over the workload to make the process of assigning tasks much simpler. If so, using a productivity tool will allow project managers to know who is working on which tasks, and if everyone is in loop. The tasks will be distributed equally, avoiding overloading and missing deadlines. In addition, it will also prevent employee burnout.

3. There are a lot of status-related questions

Often, it becomes frustrating for project managers to daily ask for updates on the status of the tasks. If you have to hold meetings just for checking the status of the project then you really need to get a software that displays the status of every ongoing and completed task. Everyone in the team, project manager and clients can have a quick look at the ongoing status of every task and know who is responsible for what. It saves a lot of time, effort and misunderstanding to have a check on which tasks are running late and who is not on track.

4. You are just cranking through

Today, more and more people are over occupied with various tasks that keeps them switching between tasks in order to complete faster. And in this process they lose focus and productivity. You get very little done and will mostly postpone doing some important things. This is why you need to have a project management tool where you can assign tasks based on priority to avoid multitasking. Whether working remotely or in the office, you will know when you need to focus.

Tip: Productivity tools come in a wide range of software to reduce the time you spend and increase the productivity.

5. You are using too many tools

There are countless number of tools coming up in the market, but it makes no sense to use more than one for your work. It just creates confusion and clutter. A project management tool will keep up all your needs of productivity, time tracking, maintaining a task list and everything you may need. Switch to one tool so you don’t waste your time hopping from one tool to other and get solutions at your fingertips.

Productivity is your duty

Pick a tool that fits your needs and you will be amazed to see the outcome when you combine productivity with technology. The true benefits of productivity tools will be visible the more you incorporate it into your workflow. Realize the full power of tool to make it possible for you to complete more projects in less time.

How do you increase your work efficiency without increasing your hours? Leave us a comment and let us know.

 

Vartika Kashyap is the Marketing Manager at ProofHub and has been one of the LinkedIn Top Voices in 2017. Her articles are inspired by office situations and work-related events. She likes to write about productivity, team building, work culture, leadership, entrepreneurship among others and contributing to a better workplace is what makes her click.

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Remote Work Digest: July 18, 2018

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

The Rising Digital Workforce: Six Tips for Small Business Owners Managing Remote Workers | Chanell Turner, Myasbn.com

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Allowing employees to work from home is proven to lower the turnover rate and decrease real estate and overhead costs, two things from which small business owners can benefit. So, how do you help your employees manage this perk? Read on for six tips for working with and managing workers who work at home.

Establish Expectations

If done correctly, remote work can increase productivity and the overall employee performance. However, you have to be clear about what you are looking for from these workers. Is there a specified period during the day that they need to be accessible for calls? Are there specific programs you need them to use to track time worked? Whom do they need to contact if they need to take time off? It is crucial to be upfront about what you are looking for from them to ensure everything runs smoothly from the beginning.

Set-Up Regular Meetings and Short Check-Ins

It helps to carve out at least five to ten minutes a day for remote workers to ask questions and reveal what their projects are throughout the day. It also helps to meet with the entire staff at least once a week and involve remote workers through video or conference call. This act can help everyone feel they are on the same page.

Utilize the Right Tools

One of the best ways to do this is to invest in project management and virtual communication systems. Project management software programs allow you to delegate tasks, monitor progress and even project how long a job would take to complete. Many of these can be integrated with virtual communication systems that enable workers to talk with each other as they complete tasks. These programs allow remote workers to stay in the loop and reveal their progress throughout the week.

Be Wary of Time Zones

Communication is probably the most crucial part of ensuring a smooth and well-run work environment, and time plays a considerable role in this.

Make Sure They Feel as If They Are a Part of The Team

It is easy for remote workers to feel invisible, so take as many moments as possible to let them know you see how they are assets to the company. Also, make a point to include them in fun office activities creatively.

Final Thoughts

While sometimes challenging, the process of managing employees who work from home does not have to bring chaos. By setting clear expectations, putting communication front and center, and ensuring they feel like a part of the team you can set remote workers up to thrive in your company.

5 Foolproof Strategies To Find And Land Your Next Remote Gig | Abdullahi Muhammed, Forbes.com

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Before you can enjoy the benefits of being a gig worker, you have to get some of those gigs lined up. Quantity isn’t the issue. There are plenty of low-paying gigs out there. What can be challenging is finding jobs that are consistent and that pay a decent wage.

Then there’s the matter of competition. Predictions are that the freelance workforce will increase to 43% by 2020, and you can be sure a good number of those workers will be remote workers. To find good positions, you have to be savvy. Here are five foolproof strategies to help you get started.

1. Conduct a skills inventory first
The most effective way for a freelancer to land remote work is to think of herself as a small business and focus on marketability,” said Nancy Van Brunt, Director of Freelancer and Agency Success at Upwork. “The skills needed today are constantly evolving so those who are proactive about skill-related education and development are more likely to possess the skills businesses are seeking today.”

2. Browse both job search boards and communities
Don’t ignore the potential of niche online communities and organizations to help in your job search either. Many of these are a great source of advice and insights about the job search. Some even have job listings for members. You can also find recommendations from more seasoned gig workers. There are multiple subreddits dedicated to remote/freelance work on Reddit as well.

3. Develop you CV and portofolio
Your portfolio should include detailed information and images of your best work. Remember to keep it up to date. Don’t forget to optimize your portfolio for relevant search phrases as you’ll want it to be findable by potential clients. You’ll also want to create a great CV that lets potential employers know exactly what you can do for their business. The key here is to ensure that the most important elements stand out.

4. Research a company before signing on
Before you accept a gig, always research the entity behind the offer. If you’re going through a gig worker platform, check the poster’s profile. This is often easy as most gig worker platforms, which exist to match, create trust between and protect parties to a gig project, make it easy to see the track record of the job poster.

5. Plan and work for sustainability
There are two categories of gig workers. First, there are those who are happiest picking up one short term job after another and doing one off assignments. If this is you, chances are you don’t need to sweat the interview process. Just build your reputation and you’ll be in business for the long term. Then there are those gig workers who seek long term relationships with companies who hire remote workers. If you want to pick up longer term work with companies that hire remote workers, you should expect the recruiting and hiring process to work just as it does with regular employment. This includes being interviewed.

Be prepared to work the gig you land

It does no good to land that next gig if you aren’t prepared to work it. Make sure you have the following taken care of:

  • A workspace that allows you to be productive. Consider a home office, coffee shop, or coworking space.
  • An internet connection that you can count on. It may be time to upgrade to a business package if you plan to work from home.
  • The tools that you need. Is your computer up for the job? Do you have the right productivity apps, word processing software or video conferencing app?

Follow these tips, then ensure you are prepared to be effective and productive.

Wasted Employee Time Adds Up: Here’s How to Fix it | John Rampton, Entrepreneur.com

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This guide is for everyone else. While occasional breaks are great for the mind, excessive time waste leads to lost productivity, lower morale and decreased employee retention. Even employees who would otherwise be high performers can get caught in time-wasting traps, so leaders need to step in before things get out of hand.

To avoid low productivity and improve employee time management, follow these tips.

1. Set specific productivity goals.
People who don’t feel like they have the support of their managers are more likely to feel stressed than they are to feel motivated. Give workers the tools they need, and make yourself available for questions and feedback; then, step back and let employees work toward the goals you helped them set.

2. Schedule tasks in chunks.
The same type of work should take about the same amount of time to complete. Help employees create timelines for different types of projects so they know how quickly things should move across their desks.

When employees understand how long projects take and how long it takes to complete each piece, they don’t have to scramble at the last minute. This steady stream of effort prevents workers from falling into a cycle of working overtime to compensate for earlier procrastination.

3. Show employees how their work affects the whole.
Employees who waste time typically do so because they don’t see the point in working faster. To them, the company and their co-workers do just fine, no matter how well they do their job.

In this case, the issue isn’t about time management — it’s about employee engagement. Keep employees in the loop about what the company is accomplishing, and tie their work to those achievements. Recognize the contributions of outstanding employees and departments. Constantly communicate the mission of the company and how employees help further that mission.

Financial bonuses for a job well done are nice, but people respond even more positively to personal praise. Write handwritten thank-you notes to employees who go above and beyond. Include employees on customer communications when they solve a problem or provide great service. The more employees see the effects of their work in action, the more motivated they become to work hard.

Employee time management has a cumulative effect. Engaged employees who get things done inspire others to follow suit. Those who have little to do (and those who don’t do what they should) bring others down. Use this advice to develop an office filled with productive, time-conscious teammates.

11 helpful tips on how to balance working from home + #momlife | Danielle Braff, Mother.ly

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If you dream of being a working mom and stay-at-home mom, take some tips from these mothers who’ve made the most of flexible work options (and a whole lot of inner drive).

1. Be honest with your clients
If you’re working from home, be transparent about that from the get go. That way, if a child does burst into your office or the dog starts barking while you’re taking a call, you can just keep going without having to explain away the background noise.

2. Get a gym membership
A gym with on-site childcare is essentially an on-call babysitter, says Traci Kantowski, communications director with Trust Transparency Center. “I regularly take advantage of gym childcare when I need to be able to focus, or have an important call because I know my kids are cared for,” Kantowski says. Bonus: You can also actually just hit the gym.

3. Designate an area of your home for work
Kantowski’s children know they need to knock before entering her office, but not every family can devote an entire room to mom’s workspace. If all your bedrooms are full, you can still carve out a designated area just for your work, even in small spaces. Closets can make great compact work spaces, thanks to DIY ideas and products like this closet-to-office conversion kit from the Container Store.

4. Get a hotspot plan
For many mamas, working from home is appealing because it also allows us to be away from our desks. Ballet practice, carpool duty, library time—these are all things you can make time for when you’re not commuting, but you might have to squeeze in some work while chauffeuring the kids around.

Make sure your cell phone plan includes hotspot access, so you’ll be able to sneak in work time from the carpool line, the pool and the indoor playspace, Kantowski says.

5. Use electronics in case of emergency
Screen time guidelines suggest parents keep video time to a minimum, but, one work-at-home mom, Julianne Robicheau says sometimes a little screen time goes a long way to helping mama get her work done. Robicheau started her skin care company, Robi Luxury Skin Care, when her child was a year old, and says that, in a pinch, Ryder and his team of pups have come to save the day.

6. Let them help
Robicheau often lets her 4-year-old help her when it comes to photoshoots and putting together shipments. “I’m raising them to just roll with it,” she says, explaining that she even brings her kids to most business meetings. “I shot a marketing video with a videographer from home with both kids around,” Robicheau says.

7. Reserve special toys for key work moments
When her children outgrew napping, Stephanie Woodson, who writes sewing and craft tutorials for her web site, Swoodson Says, transitioned them to quiet time with audio books and puzzles in their room so she still had a chunk of the day to herself. “Reserving special toys or crafts for busy days is key: A sensory bin or magazine collage activity can keep them happy for a long time,” she says.

8. Share childcare with other work-from-home parents
If you know of other work-at-home-parents, you can swap children with them, giving each parent a day to work while the other parent watches everyone’s kids, says Swoodson, who did this many times.

9. Wake up early
Allison Carter, creator of Confetti Party Plans, wakes up an hour earlier than her children to set her daily goals, check her email and plan her social media so that when her children wake up, she gets to focus on breakfast knowing that she already accomplished something before she actually started her day.

10. It doesn’t matter where you’re working from
Sonja Thompkins is a homeschooling mother of a 5 1/2 -year-old and an online business coach for brick and mortar boutique owners. She says she uses her gym, the library, fast food restaurants or even the car to work—as long as her child is entertained, and even takes video calls.

11. Batch work when you can
Thompkins’ husband is an army reservist and a firefighter who works in 48-hour shifts. But when he’s home, he takes over so she can crank out as much work as possible. “I use a project management app to keep me focused on the tasks I need to accomplish, which is great for my productivity,” she explains.

If you’re just starting out as a work-at-home parent, you’ll soon figure out that you’ll need to adjust your expectations, your technique and your methods as your family grows.

In the end, it’s all about flexibility. And isn’t that what working from home is all about?

Remote Work Digest: June 16, 2018

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

How to Overcome the 5 Top Challenges of Remote Freelance Work | Andrew Medal, Entrepreneur.com

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Working remotely can feel isolated and lonely. You are no longer operating in your area of expertise and are constantly challenged by the burden of self-promotion and the struggles inherent in time management, travel between clients, invoicing and chasing after payments, to name just a few.

Here are some solutions to five of the top challenges I myself have faced:

The burden of self-promotion

Marketing doesn’t come naturally to many freelancers, yet a business cannot continue to grow without it. This means that a freelance cake decorator, dog groomer and technical writer all need to worry about ways to advertise their services.

The solution if this applies to you? Start creating content, whether it be video, audio (podcast) or written. Content is the key to showcasing your expertise. Content will allow people to discover you, and content will help solidify your expertise.

Follow contributors who write about topics you’re looking to provide your expertise on, and reach out on social platforms like Twitter or Instagram (Instagram DM still being the absolute best way to reach someone you’re hoping to connect with).

Working in a lonely solo void

While the freedom in remote freelance work may appeal to many, working in solitude may not, as FastCompany documented in a recent article. Human nature requires support and interaction, and constant isolation can wear you down. Our bodies only work at an optimal level for approximately 90 minutes at a time, so take your laptop and head to the nearest cafe for some company.

Co-working spaces are also all the rage these days, Harvard Business Review reported, as freelancers and small business owners are often looking to become part of a community. A well-designed work environment combined with a well-curated work experience enables coworkers to thrive in a way that office-based employees cannot.

Struggling with your calendar

I like to follow the Pomodoro rule for completing tasks. This technique can help you power through distractions, keep you hyper-focused and help you get things done in short bursts while taking frequent breaks to clean your brain and refocus. It’s sort of like short high-intensity weight training, versus long, slow cardio. The Pomodoro Technique consists of short bursts of work followed by a short rest break. You:

1. Create your list of tasks.
2. Prioritize the list.
3. Set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes (the Pomodoro in this context being a timer).
4. Work on the task until the timer rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper.
5. Take a short break (5 minutes is recommended, but play around with what’s best for you).
6. After every fourth Pomodoro, take a longer break (like 20 to 30 minutes).

The goal is to accomplish your tasks in short bursts. Ideally, each task can be done in one to two Pomodoros. The goal is to hold a limit to how many Pomodoros you do per day. Then, repeat the cycle the next day. I’ve found that my productivity shoots up under this technique. Here’s a great web app to track your progress called the Pomodoro Tracker.

Scope creep

What is scope creep? Scope creep describes those extra little client requests here and there. The need that that website you just created suddenly has for extra pages at the time of delivery. That graphic-design gig you took on that keeps accruing more and more changes …

Sometimes the creep is subtle, and sometimes it’s massive. But, if you let the scope creep once, it will never stop creeping.

The best, most obvious way to deal with scope creep is a thorough contract which clearly states that any additional work will be billed accordingly. I love BidSketch for quick, effective, template-rich contracts. If you create a contract once, you can save it and reuse it.

Chasing clients for payment

Payments are undoubtedly the most aggravating and awkward part of freelance work. So, protect yourself: Ensure a contract is in place for every job, and stipulate that you charge interest for late payments. Set up automated email reminders upon invoicing.

A software like Invoicely can help you with invoicing, with reminders to make sure you are on top of your finances. Invoicely works well because it allows you to set up late fees for invoices that are paid late or not at all. This is another tactic to help make sure clients pay on time.

The best tip I have learned is that you should always wait to deliver the final project until you have the final invoice paid. That way you retain ownership of the work before a client can run off without paying.

Remote freelancing presents as many challenges as it does benefits, despite the allure of flexibility. But, if being a freelancer brings you one step closer to fulfilling your dreams, then don’t allow any obstacles to deter you. If you’re the type of person who dreams of working for yourself, you will have what it takes to make it. Stay focused, stay inspired and stay hungry — to learn and grow.

Convert Your Office Job To A Work-From-Home Arrangement | Manon DeFelice, Forbes.com

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A recent survey of over 5,000 workers by FlexJobs found that telecommuting 100% of the time is the most desired type of flexible work arrangement among job seekers. Such arrangements appeal strongly to working parents and others seeking better work-life balance.

Before you ask to switch to a telecommuting arrangement with your boss, consider the following tried-and-true tips.

1. Build your case with solid research. Instead of just listing all the personal reasons why you want to work from home, present your boss with a face-based presentation on how remote work arrangements can be a benefit to the company.

2. Offer examples of other companies’ flex policies. When you show your employer that other companies are going flex, he or she might be more inspired to implement a flexibility policy at your workplace. Present your boss or manager with sample flexibility policies, such as the nine examples included in this article from 1MFWF.

3. Try working flex once a week on a trial basis. If your manager needs convincing, let her test-drive your telecommuting capabilities one day a week to see how it goes. If your boss goes for it, use that day as an opportunity to show just how productive you can be when you work from home.

4. Be a communication whiz. Convince your boss how easy it is to stay closely in touch with you, no matter where you are. A wealth of technology can help teams stay connected around the world, from Skype and Google Chat to Basecamp, Slack and many more.

5. Offer to take a salary cut. Many people feel that working from home is a reward in itself, saving you the hassle of commuting and increasing your quality of life. You can assign a monetary value to it, and suggest a pay savings for the company by letting you telecommute.

6. Get another flexible job offer, and let your boss match it. A job offer from another company can be very motivating for your boss to let you switch to a work-from-home arrangement.

What if your boss can’t match the competing offer? Then maybe it’s time to make the move to a more forward-thinking company—and start living the work-from-home lifestyle that you envision for yourself.

4 Entry-Level Jobs That Will Prep You for Entrepreneural Success | Deep Patel, Entrepreneur.com

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If you crave the life of an entrepreneur, don’t let the barriers to entry get you down. Take one of the following entry-level jobs and use your time in the workforce to get the experience you need to launch your own business.

1. Sales
A job in sales will teach you to stop trying to convince people that they need what you have and start listening to what they want. Once you recognize that the market dictates what you sell, and not the other way around, you’ll be prepared to run a successful startup.

2. Human Resources
HR pros keep businesses running. If you work as one, you will quickly learn how much things like timely payment, accurate sick-day counts and health insurance matter to workers. To keep your team happy, you’ll need to know what employees consider to be important. What better way to learn that than to take a job where they let you know?

3. Customer service
Customers range from the kindest people you will ever meet to those who become enraged when they can’t double their coupons. As an entrepreneur, you and your team will deal with all of them. Learn how to respond to customer complaints on someone else’s dime, so that when it’s your turn to do so, your learning experiences won’t have a negative impact on your bottom line.

4. Leadership
To be a truly successful entrepreneur, you must learn how to lead a team. Leaders invariably learn some tough lessons at the helm, but if you wait until you are running the whole operation, those lessons could cost you some of your best workers.

These positions and skill sets provide invaluable lessons for entrepreneurs, but they’re hardly the only ones. Reporters, insurance adjusters, accountants, teachers and consultants — these jobs and many others are full of learning opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs.

If you have to work for someone else before you found your own company, don’t treat the opportunity with disdain. Learn everything you can on the job, so that when your time comes you can use those lessons to lead your company to success.

8 effective time management tips for entrepreneurs working from home | Toby Nwazor, e27.co

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If you are working from home, you will understand how challenging it can feel at times to manage your time effectively so as to increase your productivity. Below are eight points that can help you do that.

1. Prepare your to-do list every night before you sleep
If you really want to manage your time effectively, then you should wake up with tasks on your mind. And the best way to do this is to make a list of the next day’s tasks at night before you go to bed. That way, you can maximise your morning hours and achieve a lot more before the rest of the world get to work.

2. Prioritise your tasks
It is not enough to prepare a to-do list, you need to prioritise your goals. Divide your tasks according to what you must do, what you should do, what you want to do just because it’s nice, what another person can do for you, and what must not be done.

3. Work out a schedule, and maintain it
Assuming you had to go to work, what would your schedule look like? Duplicate it for the house. If you decide to work from 7 am to 4 pm, so be it. Make the people you live with understand it. This means that there will be no running of errands around that time, neither would you decide to hang out with a friend that just came into town.

4. Define and own your workspace
A few weeks ago, I hired someone to redesign my office. I told him I wanted to have an ‘office feeling’ whenever I entered that particular room, and he did it. After that, I noticed that I work faster when I get into the office and focus on a particular task.
You should do likewise. This will help you more if you live with a someone. In that case, let them know that unless it is very important, your office is where you work and there should be no distractions.

5. Work when you are the most productive
Although you work at home, you need to find out when you are the most productive. The secret is to schedule your most important tasks at that period. That way, you will accomplish more in less time.

6. Cut off distractions
Cut off every distraction. This could entail telling your family, or the people you live with not to disturb you when you are at work. Make them understand your schedule.

7. Avoid clutter
Don’t allow your workspace to be cluttered. This includes arranging your system files and folders and managing your email better too.

8. Take brain breaks regularly
You must try to avoid having burnouts at all costs. This is especially important if your job requires creativity. Work at a stretch for some time, but make sure to schedule breaks into your plan. This is the time you get to rejuvenate, listen to music, call a friend, or maybe just read a novel.

When you do this, you will come back rejuvenated and ready to take on more tasks.

 

Remote Work Digest: May 9, 2017

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

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Image from https://www.pgi.com/blog/2017/07/why-remote-work-policies-fail-some-employers/

These 10 tips will help you enjoy working from home | Joshua Trudell, Rare.us

Having a home office and working from home can be a blessing and a curse. Here are 10 tips that’ll help you enjoy working in your own space.

1. Figure out tax repercussions

To write off home-office costs, you must use the area for work only and on a regular basis. You should be able to write off 100 percent of costs associated exclusively with your home office — everything from buying a work computer to office supplies.

2. Create a daily work schedule

If you work for one company, try to set well-defined work hours to avoid phone calls and emails without boundaries on your personal time. If you are a well organized self-starter with time management skills, you’ll be better off.

3. Keep your visibility high

People who work from home are often saddled with an unfair label that they can’t really manage others while working from home.  To help ward that off, make an effort to show-up on a regular basis for meetings and other office gatherings.

4. Be an extrovert

Co-workers can also be envious of your freedom, so make the effort to get out of the house and get in an out-of-the-office lunch or coffee with them to avoid the hard feelings.

5. Network electronically

Look into judicious use of social media – particularly those outlets that can relate to your profession, such as LinkedIn. Comment on posts and contribute your own to display your expertise and get that connected feeling.

6. Get dressed (or not)

If you’re going to be more comfortable and can stay focused on work while in jeans and a T-shirt – that’s one of the benefits of working at home. if you are going to be meeting or videoconferencing with co-workers or clients, you should dress appropriately.

7. Be prepared to be your own IT department

If you’re an employee, try to butter up someone in the IT department, who you can reach out to in a pinch. If not, invest in some training – possibly an inexpensive class at a community college or know the quickest route to the Apple store in your neighborhood.

8. Become familiar with web-based applications

Know the cloud, love the cloud – it’s your friend.

9. Don’t forget about insurance

Most home-business owners have little or no coverage from their homeowner’s policy. What’s more, if you file a homeowner’s (or renter’s) claim for losses that stemmed from an undisclosed home-based business, your insurer may not cover it.

10. Set up your computer so you don’t waste time online

Try setting up two user accounts – one for work, which allows the apps and sites you need to get work done, and another for personal use. If you continue to have issues, try getting a laptop for personal use and put it somewhere inconvenient during the day.

Make Your Workforce Smarter By Letting Them Work Remotely | Boris Dzhingarov, TgDaily.com

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In a society that has mostly valued hard work in the form of manual labor over the creativity and problem-solving of the mind, it’s rough being creative when your skillsets and talents don’t function on the typical work cycle of Monday through Friday from the crack of dawn until sunset. Thankfully, many tech industry employers are catching on to the need to allow their workers more freedom both inside and outside of the office. Companies like eBay, Facebook, Google, and even Apple – with their relaxed environments and remote work forces – are all setting an example of what it looks like to prepare for a future of absolute genius.

Problems are solved unconsciously

If you’re like most businesses, you probably have creative team members functioning in various roles who need to solve problems as part of their jobs. The dilemma is that solutions are not likely to come while they’re sitting at their desk looking busy. Solutions are found when the mind is not engaged in rational or deep thought. These solutions come at times when the conscious mind is free – in the car, in the shower, while taking a walk, or upon arising from a nap.

Getting the conscious mind out of the way

When the conscious mind is running the show, the prefrontal cortex is in charge. The prefrontal cortex provides the ability to focus and meet deadlines; however, it also kills creativity because when logical and rational thought are engaged, the brain brushes off creative solutions before the conscious mind picks up on them.

How freedom affects productivity 

Remote workers have been proven to be happier and more productive than those who work the traditional 9-5 schedule. Statistics show that the average 9-5 office worker only gets about 3 hours of work done per day. That’s a huge difference!

Traditional schedules don’t work for all-around

If you want to see better results in your business, before you buy the next best system for success, try allowing your staff to work from home a couple days out of the week. You’ll probably be surprised to see your staff’s happiness and productivity rise at the same time.

3 Ways Virtual Workers Make Organizations More Effective | Munira Rangwala, Yourstory.com

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Technology has made it possible for startups to hire the best talent from all across the world at sensible rates. Startups are recognizing the importance of creating and managing virtual teams and the big billion dollar companies are soon following suit. One survey reports that 73 percent of employees believe that the challenges that virtual teams pose are overshadowed by the benefits. Today, entrepreneurs are readily outsourcing duties that are not within the main scope of their business to virtual employees.

Here are three ways in which virtual workers make organizations more efficient.

Best talent available

If companies begin to feel that managing a virtual team is creating more work for them, they are bound to give up on the idea of remote working. The solution to this is to create a common framework so that managers as well as virtual employees can work together effectively once they have found each other. Virtual assistant companies do just that. They add an important layer of management to the freelance economy which benefits the companies that hire them and the talent that works for them.

Effective administration

Virtual employees are often better at operating social tools that help streamline teamwork and collaboration. This allows virtual workers to be effective at tasks that generate maximum value for their company.

Allotment of resources

By reducing the number of on-site employees, a lot of small and mid-size organizations are reconsidering the traditional office expenditures. However, virtual talent doesn’t come cheap. If companies want to hire the best, they should be open to shelling out larger paychecks.

If you still aren’t sure about outsourcing work, look at your motivations and see if they align with the benefits of outsourcing. Consider the amount of time, money, and management efforts outsourcing will save your company and only then go ahead with the decision.

How to Make an Awesome Remote Team | Kirsten Helvey, Fortune.com

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Here are some strategies for helping your own team work effectively, wherever its members may be:

Use the best collaboration tools

It can be easy for people to begin to feel disconnected and thus disengaged, so make sure you utilize the best technology to enhance your remote workplace.

Foster team spirit

The office should be a social place where relationships are built. Although it can feel awkward at first, video conferencing can really help remote teams get to know each other. Also, try to partake in employee celebrations for major milestones, such as birthdays, work anniversaries, and big accomplishments.

Flex your work schedule
Remote workers should have the freedom to choose not just when they work, but how they spend their work hours.

Engage with your manager

Regular check-ins with managers are foundation to successful remote working relationships. The more a manager understands your day-to-day activities, the better. I find that documenting tasks and goals for both the near term (weekly and monthly) and the long term (quarterly and annually) is crucial to staying on track.

Working remotely requires strong communication, established goals, and clear expectations. If you can stick to these guidelines, you’ll end up a happier and more engaged employee.

41 Things You Should Say “No” To To Become The Person You Want To Be In Life And Business

This article was written by Danny Forest, founder of Power Level Studios, an Ontario-based independent video game development company. With him (and his team) being full-time, remote workers currently creating the studio’s flagship game titled “Soul Reaper: Rise of the Unreaps” and “Soul Reaper: Unreap Commander,” he has seen his fair share of productivity and motivational issues. Find out how he combats these problems and how you can too with these tips.

Bonus: Say “No” to scrolling through photos of cute puppies on the internet.


A lot of people think “success” is about saying “yes” to the right stuff. Well, that’s one side of a coin. There are many things we say “yes” to that we really should be saying “no” to.

I do many things in life, and all that started with the 3 skills I learn every month. If you read the story, you would think I’m a “yes” man, but truth be told, I’m a professional “no” man.


Personality

1. Mediocrity

You’re almost always better than you think you are.

“I’d rather choke on greatness than nibble on mediocracy” — https://boldomatic.com/p/SRmdTA/i-d-rather-choke-on-greatness-than-nibble-on-mediocracy

2. Procrastination

Stop thinking, start doing.

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” — Marcus Aurelius

3. Talking Shit About Yourself

Be positive. Don’t seek loathing, seek improvement.

“Don’t wish it was easier wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge wish for more wisdom.” — Jim Rohn

“Just remember; someone loves everything you hate about yourself” — Frank Ocean

4. Selfishness

Be a giver. Be happier.

“Selfish people end up having only their self.” — http://www.lovequotesmessages.com/selfish-quotes/

5. Perfection

Don’t waste time on perfection. Great is good enough.

6. Excuses

Ask why three times and you’ll know the real reason.

“Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses” — George Washington Carver

7. Always Comparing To Others

Spend time on self-improvement over fascination over competitors.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” — Theodore Roosevelt

8. Impulsive Decisions

Think deeper.

“Impulsiveness is the enemy of deep thinking” — https://www.askideas.com/60-best-thinking-quotes-and-sayings/


Health & Sleep

9. Unhealthy Food

The more you eat healthy, the tastier the food gets.

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live in.” — http://www.quotesofdaily.com/quote-on-eating-healthy/quote-on-eating-healthy-nice-and-funny-food-quotes/

10. Skipping A Meal

Your brain needs all the good nutrients it can get to function optimally. Eat better, not less.

11. Taking The Car

The grocery store is 15 minutes walk away? Walk to it!

12. The Snooze Button

Be so focused on achieving your goals and set tight deadlines and you won’t ever think about snoozing anymore!

“You Snooze, You Lose” — smart people

13. Partying Every Night

Enjoy a party, but don’t forget your goals, and resting of course!

“Everything in moderation, including moderation.” — Oscar Wilde

14. Stimulants Before Bed

Don’t get in the way of a good sleep.

“Sleep is the best meditation” — Dalai Lama


Productivity

15. Long Commute

Waste as little time as possible on non-productive activities.

16. Distractions

When comes time to be productive. Shut any distractions down.

“You can’t do big things if you’re distracted by small things” — http://www.picturequotes.com/distraction-quotes

17. Blockers Of Personal Progress

Bad friend? Block. Netflix? Block. Video Games? Block. Unblock when comes time to unwind.

18. Reading Things You Don’t Enjoy

Seriously. You don’t have to finish everything you start! The author won’t know. Stop reading shit things, there’s too much great stuff out there!

19. Completing Useless Things

Plan things. Organize priorities. Do the ones that matter.

“Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” ~ Peter Drucker

20. Planning Things That Don’t Need Planning

Planning is great and all, but don’t forget to execute!

“Just do it!” — Nike


Relationships

21. Takers

Say “yes” to givers. Give yourself.

“Know the difference between those who stay to feed the soil and those who come to grab the fruit.” — https://www.pinterest.com/explore/takers-quotes/

22. Social Media

Uninstall the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram apps from your phone. BAM! I gave you back an hour of your day!

23. Talking Shit About Others

Always be honest. Don’t be a hater.

“Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.” — unknown

24. Listening To Complaints About Others

Gossiping is poisonous. Avoid people who spread it.

“Who gossips to you will gossip of you” — Turkish Proverb

25. Naysayers

If someone doesn’t have time for you, don’t find time for them. Relationships are mutual.


Work-Life Balance

26. Bad Routines

Don’t get stuck in a non-productive routine. You can change things around.

27. Meetings Without An Agenda

These tend to last too long and have no focus. No sense of direction. Avoid them.

28. Overly Long Team Meetings

Bring people back on track or leave. Seems rude, but in the long run, people will thank you for it.

29. Bad Clients

To hell with the good money. If a client is not good to you, focus your energy on the good clients.

“It is better to starve than get a bad client.” — Massimo Vignelli

30. Good

Say “yes” to great.

“Good is the enemy of great” — Jim Collins

31. Cluttered Environment

Have a clean workspace, both physically, mentally and on your computer.

32. Responding To Messages Ad-hoc

As much as possible set blocks of times to answer messages.

33. Doing Life Stuff At Work

Give your full attention to your work, it won’t go unnoticed.

34. Doing Work Stuff At Home

Give you full attention to your family, it won’t go unnoticed.

“When you work, work. When you play, play. Don’t mix the two.” — Jim Rohn

35. Doing Things You Can Delegate

Find your superpower, delegate the stuff that’s outside of it.

36. A Bad Business Partner

Communication is key. Work things out or walk away.

“I can’t control your behavior; nor do I want that burden… but I will not apologize for refusing to be disrespected, to be lied to, or to be mistreated. I have standards; step up or step out.” — Steve Maraboli


Other

37. Your TV And Couch

Make your environment uncomfortable so you can focus on the things that matter.

38. Waiting For Things You Don’t Need To

Coffee machine? A traffic light when there are other options? A file upload? Just do something else!

39. Things That Don’t Work Towards Your Goals

Question the things you do. Better yet, question it before you start it.

“If it’s not a Hell Yeah!, it’s a no” — Derek Sivers

40. Comparing Apples To Oranges

Don’t waste time comparing things that don’t compare. It’s it’s quantified or qualified using a different set of attributes, it’s not the same thing!

41. Your Cellphone

Top productive people set their phones on Airplane mode for most of the day. For me, it has become a brick of sorts.

“Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.” — Steven Spielberg


Conclusion

Feel like saying “no” now?

You can start right away!

Learning to say “no” is a skill. Practice it. Master it. Become who you want to become.

You can do this!

Remote Work Digest: April 24, 2018

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

How to Transition Your Business from an Office-Based Company to a Remote One | Russell Smith, Business.com

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Remote working is becoming increasingly popular in business. It can drive down costs and improve employee happiness. But how do you make your company remote?

The desire for employees to work remotely is on the rise. Workers value the flexibility, and employers can save thousands on operational costs. If your employees all work from home, that means no office space to rent, no bills for food, no more electric bills to power your office equipment. It can also open you up to new avenues of online business.

Can you actually make your business remote?

Companies considering a move to remote operation need to perform an analysis of their brand and establish whether or not it is actually beneficial, or even realistic.

Considerations to make include:

  • Efficiency and practicalities. How will remote working impact your ability to complete the tasks you and your workforce normally perform? Will it speed things up, slow them down or maintain similar output levels?
  • Consumer satisfaction. Is an office or storefront part of your core service delivery process? If so, moving remotely may impact how your customers perceive the value of your company.
  • Investment. Going remote may require investment into staff, equipment and work tools.
  • Growth opportunities. Could going remote hinder your ability to grow? While it could be beneficial in some circumstances, operating a physical location within vibrant, industry-leading areas can be important to attracting investors and building relationships.

Consider your transitional strategy.

How should you go about doing this?

  • Identify goals. What are your goals for going remote?
  • How will you achieve those goals? Establish how you will use remote working to achieve the goals you’ve set.
  • Timeframes and deadlines. Set broad deadlines for establishing your remote business. Then set firm schedules and timelines for specific steps of the transition within those deadlines.
  • Announcement. Inform clients and employees of the change. Allow enough time for questions to be asked and decisions to be made. Some employees and clients may be against the shift. They must be given time either to adjust to the change or to move on from your business, allowing you to fill gaps now. This is beneficial to both them and your company.

Establish your software platforms.

Software exists to manage all facets of remote working life, covering everything already in place in your typical workplace headquarters.

  • Work connectivity. Cloud-based software allows you to connect your business to any location in the world. Many applications provide helpful tools for maintaining long-distance workplace connectivity.
  • Industry-specific software. Most industries have specifically tailored cloud-based software that supports remote work. You just have to do your research and find what works for your brand.
  • Task management. Task management apps enable management to establish task lists, set deadlines and monitor progress for both themselves and their team.
  • Time management. Time management apps exist to track everything from work logs to activity levels.
  • Client and team communication. There are many apps that work well for online workplaces, enabling multiple channels of conversation that range from direct messaging to large chatrooms with hundreds of individuals. You can also use video conferencing to add that personal face-to-face touch when chatting with clients or engaging in important internal conversations and meetings.

Test your remote work structure.

Plans on paper rarely translate perfectly to real-world scenarios. Therefore, to ensure your shift in direction doesn’t lead to calamity, a trial period is recommended. During this time, partial remote work should be exercised.

Depending on your business, this will take different forms:

  • If you have a large roster of clients and employees, split them up. Assign some clients and employees to continue working under the current office-based structure while others are moved to a remote work structure and practices.
  • For smaller companies, instead of transitioning some individuals to the new system, make a switch to part-time remote work and monitor the difference in processes.

Any issues that come up you can then evaluate and decide to either scrap the project or revisit the planning process, assessing better avenues based on feedback and performance. For example, you may find your software choices are ineffective in practice or that clients who initially responded positively to the idea are making the transition more challenging.

If you find remote working to be a triumph, now is the time to make the full commitment.

The 15 most surprising flexible jobs, according to Flexjobs | Kathleen Lavine and Rebecca Troyer, Bizjournals.com

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Not the 9-to-5 grind, these flexible jobs may surprise you.

Listed by Boulder-based Flexjobs, these varied positions — which go far beyond general office work or data entry — could involve telecommuting, freelance gigs or part-time work.

Here are 15 of the most surprising flexible jobs:

  1. Senior Food Stylist. Responsible for styling food and kitchenware products for photo shoots.
  2. Music Researcher. Handles responsibilities including recording music performances, conducting in-person research in businesses, photographing locations, and completing detailed reports.
  3. Gameplay tester. Responsibilities include helping discover creative approaches to various game features, identifying bugs, creating & executing test cases for specified features, and communicating issues & risks.
  4. Medical illustrator. Develops editorial imagery required for new products.
  5. Senior voice recording transcriber. Transcribe 30 to 60 minute audio files into transcripts that are near verbatim, differentiation between interviewer and participants’ remarks.
  6. Animal behavior counselor. Handles tasks such as providing on-scene behavioral trauma documentation, conducting behavior evaluations, reviewing and editing forensic behavior reports, participating in media interviews, and other assigned duties.
  7. Archivist. Lead projects, convert data and work to engage audiences.
  8. Mammalogist. Develop survey and research projects, identify informational needs, communicate information, and assist land managers.
  9. Opioid program specialist. Assists with developing or revising contracts, grant applications, and/or state and federal reports.
  10. Investigator – Civil rights. Responsible for completing investigative and mediation activities.
  11. Oceanographer. Lead, analyze, interpret, portray and input technical data, prepare environmental impact statements, serve as program lead.
  12. Organic certification specialist. Performs technical reviews of crop, wild crop, livestock, or processor applications.
  13. Pig idea and policy officer and stakeholder coordinator. Manages and supports implementation initiatives and queries that arise from users.
  14. Role player, assessment practice. Conducts phone-based role-play exercises and rates participants at a virtual assessment center.
  15. Construction control representative (civil). Responsible for overseeing dam modifications and civil construction projects.

Flexjobs also maintains a list of 50 current “surprising” flexible jobs as well as a database of the 50 most surprising jobs based on 10 years of aggregated research. Here’s the full report.

How To Tune Out Distractions & Get Things Done With These 6 Simple Tricks | Caroline Burke, Elitedaily.com

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When you work in an office, there are plenty of distractions that can get in the way of you doing your literal job, from noisy co-workers, to blasting music, to that “open workspace” vibe, which basically invites everyone to come talk to you at your desk every five minutes. But even if you work from home, there are distractions you have to avoid there, too, like playing with your pet floof, or toggling over to Netflix for 10 minutes or so for a “quick” break.

Here are six quick tips for drowning out the daily noise of your life and getting sh*t done faster.

  1. Invest In Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Sometimes the easiest way to get rid of distractions is to literally block them out. Investing in a clutch pair of headphones that block out the external noise of your life doesn’t have to bankrupt you, either; there are plenty of noise-cancelling headphones under $100 for you to consider.

  1. Schedule A Work-From-Home Day When Things Get Really Hectic

Working from home ensures you can actually run your day the way you want to, without dealing with unexpected meetings or co-workers who drop by “for a second” just to talk. You probably won’t be able to work from home all the time, depending on what you do, but taking that day for yourself every once in a while can definitely help you get back on track with your productivity.

  1. Use Your Calendar To Block Out Time On Your Schedule

Even if it’s purely for the visual aspect of it all, blocking out time on your calendar could be enough to a) keep people at work from bothering you, and b) organize your time in a way that ensures you get everything done, distraction-free.

  1. Map Out Exactly What You Need To Do Before You Do It

Consider taking time each evening to write down a set of notes about what you need to get done the next day. That way, you won’t have to waste time scrolling through calendars or asking your co-workers what they need from you.

  1. Organize Your Workspace With A Minimalist Vibe

Unless your brain only works via a series of sticky notes, try keeping your desk as minimalist as possible, allowing you to move through your workday without feeling totally overwhelmed by the clutter. Or keep it totally messy, if that’s what makes you feel better! It’s all about finding the environment that makes you feel best as you work.

  1. Be Honest With Friends and Co-Workers

Although it might feel awkward to tell someone to go away, everyone understands the feeling of being overwhelmed by the amount of work you need to get done, and for that reason alone, it might be best to be totally honest with your co-workers and friends about needing that distraction-free time.

Consider telling them you need an especially quiet day to get through all of the bullets on your to-do list, or opting to work during lunch to take advantage of the quiet and taking your break when everyone else comes back.

Tips to manage remote employees | Chris Smith, Knowtechie.com

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Remote work and freelancing is not all guts and glory and can become quite stressful for people. While this is rarely the case, there are ways to fix these issues and improve the relationship between managers and remote employees. Let’s explore some strategies.

Optimize Your On-Boarding Process

With proper expectations in place, remote employees are equipped with the skills and knowledge they require to succeed at a job. Create goals and timelines for projects and run new remote employees through the ropes to see how well they handle it and how on time each task comes in.

Create a Unified Culture

With a unified company culture, you can immediately weed out the weeds who don’t fit into your organization and don’t believe in its mission.People are motivated to work for companies they feel are larger than themselves. Create a sense of pride and direction for each employee, regardless of their status, to motivate them to do more. Loyalty and community lead to leadership and increased collaboration.

Leverage the Right Telecommunication Tools

There are so many tools out there to keep up with remote employees and communicate in real-time. Skype is an obvious one, but Slack is another great alternative that many companies now leverage. 43% of the nation’s richest 100 companies use Slack. For companies that rely on remote crews, crew trackers and attendance management systems allow managers to keep track of employees by location and project status.

Communicate Emotion in Chats

When you can’t communicate in real time, try to keep communication light and fun. It may sound stupid, but use gifs and emojis to convey emotion to freelancers and remote workers to make them feel a part of the team. Be sure to give praise when earned through emojis and announcements on Slack.

Be Flexible, But Keep a Backbone

Finally, it’s important to set schedules and deadlines for remote workers to adhere to. But you mustn’t forget the purpose of remote work, which is the ability to complete assignments freely and on your own timeline. Offer remote workers the freedom they need to work a night shift busting out content instead on the 9-5 grind. Of course, don’t let that mean remote workers are too free to give you the work months behind because they finally got to it.

Remote Work Digest: March 20, 2018

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

How To Become The Type Of Manager People *Actually* Like Working For | Erin Bunch, Wellandgood.com

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Some seriously successful boss babes weigh in on how to conquer the imposter syndrome most first-time managers experience and become the type of leader that your team (it’s your team now!) would be excited to work for.

Tips on how to successfully transition into a management role:

1. Avoid micromanaging
Stephanie Horbaczewski, founder and CEO of the Marketing Services Agency and Media Company StyleHaul, first and foremost calls out an all-too-familiar misstep she’s watched new managers make: micromanaging. “The most consistent misjudgment I see in managers is not recognizing when to have enough confidence in their teams to work autonomously to produce great results,” she says. To remedy this, she suggests allowing individuals to have more ownership and accountability for their own projects. “When team members grow, the company does, too,” she says.

2. Become “radically candid”
Communication, my boss babes say, is also key. “One of the biggest management challenges is [learning how to be] radically candid, or giving feedback that is direct, thoughtful, and ongoing,” says Katerina Schneider, founder of the buzzy supplement company Ritual. “I’m still learning how to do this, but the best mentors and leaders I’ve ever encountered are masters at helping their team constantly evolve and grow through feedback that is honest and caring.”

3. Tailor your management style to each person
It’s also important to recognize that cookie-cutter techniques may not be the most efficient way of dealing with individuals, says Sakara Life co-founder Danielle DuBoise. “Each person needs to be managed in their own unique way, and you have to adapt your communication styles accordingly,” she says. “This way of building a team is very effective because people feel seen and heard as individuals, rather than as worker bees.” Getting to know a person’s specific strengths and weaknesses will also, she says, help you to assign projects accordingly.

4. Teach, don’t tell
Meanwhile, Meg He, co-founder of Aday, posits that the most effective communication sometimes involves less talking and more doing. “Telling rather than teaching [is a big mistake I see new managers make],” she cautions. “This approach does not enable an employee’s growth.”

5. Allow others to be “smarter” than you
Whitney Tingle, co-founder of Sakara Life, agrees with this approach. “One of the biggest mistakes I see managers make is thinking they have all the answers instead of asking the right questions,” she says. “True leadership isn’t about having all the answers; it’s about surrounding yourself with amazing and intelligent people and making sure all that effort is aligned with the company’s mission.”

6. Start slow
Bandier founder Jennifer Bandier, meanwhile, cautions against a management mistake that can rankle a new team right off the bat. “New managers tend to come in and want to create immediate change; however, I believe that you should first learn about the existing processes and listen to your teammates and employees,” she says.

7. Celebrate success
In today’s fast-paced work environments, it can be tough to slow down enough to appreciate progress, Aday co-founder Nina Faulhaber says. She tells me that she loves to be “in the weeds” with her team, from creation to execution of a project or idea, but that sometimes she’ll move on too quickly once a project’s been completed. “This means I often forget to celebrate wins,” she says. “I’m so grateful when our team reminds us of successes and the moments we should cherish together.”

9 traits of successful programmers that kids can develop now| Mike Melnicki, Venturebeat.com

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Qualities like curiosity, perseverance, and empathy are critical and, frankly, harder to learn the older we get. If you want to equip your kids with the skills and traits they’ll need to make it as a software developer, start early and get them to go beyond the keyboard.

1. Focus
While there are lots of ways to foster focus in kids, I encourage parents to go the route of giving their child unstructured time to dive deep into whatever they enjoy doing. Let them understand what it feels like to be totally absorbed in something. Whether they’re shooting hoops or drawing, they’re building the muscle memory they need to see a task through to completion.

2. Collaboration
Making software is a team sport: It takes developers, designers, product managers, marketers, and customer support engineers. So what better way to learn how to work with others toward a common goal than by playing a team sport? Or if your kid isn’t interested in athletics, they can form a band, build a clubhouse with friends, or team up to work on a project. All of these collaborative activities teach kids how to divvy up the work, play their positions, and support each other.

3. Leadership
Providing opportunities to practice leadership at home can also lighten the load for parents. Find something your child can be in charge of: a flower bed, one day of your next family vacation, Grandma’s birthday gift, etc. It’s not about making them do it all themselves (delegating is an important skill, too!), it’s about giving them ownership of something. Let them make decisions about what gets done, and how.

4. Emotional Intelligence
Empathy is the key not only to creating software your customers love but to being a great teammate as well. Experts have written extensively about how to build empathy in kids, but I have a few favorites. The classic game of “what does that cloud look like?” introduces young kids to the idea that different people have different perspectives.

5. Curiosity
If you aren’t constantly learning and growing, your skills will atrophy and you’ll eventually be left behind. As with focus, unstructured time to explore an interest is a good way to foster curiosity. Better yet, parents can nurture their child’s curiosity by connecting them with books, activities, and documentaries on whatever subject they’re into. Bonus points for parents who demonstrate passionate curiosity about their own interests.

6. Growth mindset
Kids whose parents set an example by admitting what they don’t know (and inviting their child to come along and find the answer) have a leg up when it comes to developing a growth mindset. See also: kids whose parents take the time to explain complex concepts or systems to the best of their ability. Answering tough questions with “Well, that’s just the way it is” is expedient in the moment but does no good in the long run.

7. Writing
Very young kids can get a head start by telling you about what they did at school (and don’t hold back on the follow-up questions!). Parents of older kids can encourage journaling or writing short stories. When they’re ready, encourage them to write to companies whose products they use or to their representatives in government to advocate for things they are passionate about.

8. Storytelling
Asking kids to recount things that happened at school is a good way to foster this skill. So is making a short adventure movie with a smartphone for their friends – the more drama the better. As a bored teenager, I and my group of friends started organizing a show-and-tell event in the neighborhood where we’d tell a story about an object and why it was meaningful to us. It began with five attendees and grew to beyond 50 people on a monthly basis.

9. Teaching
Most kids love to show off what they know, so channeling that energy into teaching usually isn’t a hard sell. They can help younger siblings learn how to tie their shoes, fold clothes, braid hair, skateboard … whatever. Older kids can hone their teaching skills even futher by becoming peer tutors at school.

Learning and enrichment are the keys to future success, but burn-out is real. Heed the warnings of those child-athlete-gone-bad documentaries and encourage your kids to find their own path through early life and then send me their resumes in 10 years so I can hire them! A well-rounded childhood sets them up for a fulfilling career in software development, or wherever they ultimately choose to go.

Avoid Making These 7 Mistakes When Designing Your Home Office | Annie Pilon, Smallbiztrends.com

A home office can offer entrepreneurs a low-cost, convenient and comfortable place to run a business. But if it’s not designed well, it can also lead to plenty of distractions and loss of productivity.

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Blake Zalcberg is the president of OFM, a furniture manufacturer and distributor based in North Carolina. In addition to his design acumen, Zalcberg is also familiar with the importance of an effective home office due to the fact that a good portion of the OFM team works from home on a regular basis. So he’s familiar with a lot of the concepts that go into designing an effective workspace, along with some of the most common mistakes.

If you’re working to design your own home office, here are some missteps to avoid.

Designing Your Office as an Afterthought
Zalcberg says, “A lot of people just end up putting the office in that old formal living room that used to have plastic over the couches because it’s just not really used or they think they don’t need a dedicated office space at that time, even if they will in the future.”

Even if you don’t have a ton of space options for your office, try to choose or outline a space that will actually be conducive to good work, rather than just throwing a desk in the corner of the dining room.

Putting the Office Near Distractions
Distractions can be different for each worker. Some people can work with the TV on but get distracted if they see people walking down the street. So while it may not be possible to eliminate every potential distraction while working from home, think about the things that are most likely to derail your work and try to limit those as much as possible.

Failing to Soundproof your Office
No matter what your distraction levels might be, there’s value to having some level of soundproofing to your home office, whether that involves acoustic wall tiles or a solid wood door to shut out the rest of the house.

Zalcberg says, “Think about if you’re on a conference call. Do you want the person on the other line to hear the dog barking and doorbell ringing and kids running around, or do you want them to feel like you’re really focused on what they’re saying?”

Include Subpar Lighting
Poor lighting can also be a major hindrance to good work. If your office is in a room with minimal windows and you don’t have adequate overhead lighting, you’re likely to strain your eyes and get tired or worn out quickly. However, even if the only space you have is the basement, you can install bright LED bulbs in your overhead fixtures and then add table lamps to your space to make a big difference.

Forgetting About Comfort
Another source of distraction for some home office workers is the furniture. If you have an old desk and uncomfortable chair, it can make your office an unwelcoming space and even lead to back and neck problems. Instead, find an ergonomic chair that feels comfortable for you.

Failing to Plan for Avoiding Clutter
Once you outline the space to use and eliminate potential distractions, you then have to think about how to lay everything out effectively so that all of your items and documents have a set space. Think about your typical workday and the items you use most often to make sure that nothing will be left just floating around your desk or workspace.

Automatically Going with “Office Style”
According to Zalcberg, there’s been a major shift in home offices over the past several years. Before, offices in the home strongly resembled traditional offices, with similar furniture styles and generic office decor. But now, more entrepreneurs and professionals are taking the opportunity to get creative and make the office feel more like a part of the home. This doesn’t mean you should avoid generic office furniture. But you certainly don’t have to opt for this style just because you’re designing an office space.

The BEST lifehacks for a good night’s rest – including exercise and sex | Jeff Parsons, Mirror.co.uk

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According to The Sleep Council, nearly half of Brits are only getting about six hours of sleep a night. And an alarming four out of five people complain of disturbed or inadequate (or ‘toxic’)sleep.

Thankfully there are a range of techniques compiled by that can be used for a better night’s kip.

Here’s ten of the best from GPDQ, the UK’s first GP on-demand app:

1. Develop a sleep routine
Start developing a sleep routine a couple of hours before bed, to get your body and brain prepared for a restful night.

Firstly ensure that you go to bed at the same time every night, and as tempting as it may be to have a lie-in, it is also important to get up at the same time each morning.

Secondly, become a creature of habit, repeating the same bedtime routine every night to help to regulate your inbuilt body clock, (the circadian rhythm) and give your brain the cue it may need to know when it’s time to unwind and go to sleep.

2. Avoid white light before bed
Watching TV or using your computer or phone before bed may be considered a good way to relax before bed, but it can sometimes be detrimental. Namely because the bright light emitted, may act as an environmental cue to your body that it is wrongly day time, and therefore hinder any biological desire to fall asleep.

3. Take a warm bath
As well as the relaxation-factor it provides, research has shown that if you take a warm bath one to two hours before bed, the rise in temperature, followed by the drop-in temperature when you then enter a colder room induces sleep.

4. Listen to electronic music
A state of relaxation can be achieved in many ways including by reading, or listening to music. The influence of music in relaxation has becoming increasingly studied – most will listen to classical music or piano playlists; however an acclaimed DJ is encouraging people to turn to electronic music. DJ Tom Middleton, has created a sleep album called ‘Sleep Better’ designed to help Britons drift off, and it’s backed by science.

5. Reschedule your potential nightmare worries
If anxieties keep popping into your head, stopping you from falling asleep, acknowledge and accept them, but avoid feeding them with too much of your time. Rather than ruminating over these worries, write them down and pick them back up in the morning with a fresh head.

6. Learn relaxation techniques
Gentle relaxation exercises like simple yoga stretches, combined with steady breathing can reduce your blood pressure and heart rate to help you relax. Other practises such as mindfulness and meditation may be useful to get into a calming state.

7. Pamper yourself
Self-care can also be a big part of relaxation – pampering yourself in the evening with soothing oils or body lotion can make starting a bedtime routine an enjoyable process.

8. Exercise regularly
Exercising is an important part of our physical and mental health, and is a good way to manage stress and anxiety through endorphin release.

We also know that exercising in the day can improve sleep quality, however if you’re having difficulty sleeping and considering hitting the gym a couple times a week to help catch some Zs, just keep in mind that you need to make exercise a more frequent activity for a prolonged period before you begin to see tangible results.

9. Sex will make you sleepy
This is thought to be due to the production of oxytocin, a hormone that will counteract the stress hormone cortisol, allowing you to feel more relaxed and transition nicely into sleep.

According to nhs.uk: “Unlike most vigorous physical activity, sex makes us sleepy. This has evolved in humans over thousands of years.”

10. Optimise your diet
In general, avoiding eating heavy meals before bed and reducing caffeine intake (ensuring none is consumed for at least 6 hours before bed) is likely to help.
We also know that whilst alcohol is likely to send you off to sleep, it is also likely to result in poor quality sleep, waking you up several times through the night.

What experts say:

“The most important myth of sleep is the 8-hour rule,” said Nick Littlehales a sport sleep coach that recently partnered with Braun UK. to help people lower their blood pressure.

“If you tap it in your browser you’ll realise that when that lightbulb was invented, we always slept in a polyphasic way. This means to sleep in shorter periods more often. People worry about sleep and try to do it all at night for 8 hours or more, which is really difficult,” he added.

“In sport we use a polyphasic approach where you sleep in shorter periods more often, by using naps at midday and early evening. We should aim to change our perspective of sleep and view it as recovery in 24 hours, instead of recovery eight hours at night.”