6 Hackathon Innovations & Startups

Hackathons are known to be breeding grounds for innovation. Often put on by an organization or university, these collaborative computer programming events are a great way to empower young entrepreneurs and thinkers alike.

What is a Hackathon?

A hackathon takes place over a set period of time, usually a weekend. During this time, teams set out to develop a solution to a problem in the form of a prototype that they will then pitch to whoever is hosting the hackathon. While primarily coders participate in these hacking marathons, people from all backgrounds including designers and marketers are encouraged to be involved during the software development process. Often many successful applications arise as a result!

Here are 6 recent hackathon innovations & startups: 

E-Farm

E-Farm is a service that was developed at Be-Bound. It is online produce market that allows consumers to purchase directly from farmers.  Shoppers can source food from multiple farms and get to know the story behind both the farmer and their farm before their order is delivered to their home.

StartTalking

StartTalking is an app that connects users with counselors, coaches and doctors. Originating out of Kansas City’s Hacking the Gigabit City event, users can send messages, video conference or participate in group sessions with their providers from anywhere anytime. The app is secure, affordable, and guarantees privacy.

PowerWells

PowerWells came out of a Techstars Startup Weekend. The service provides light and mobile phone charging from electronic waste and commercial solar panels to those in remote communities that don’t have access to electricity.

Piece of Mind

Piece of Mind is a wearable device for patients with Alzheimer or Dementia. Created during an Angelhack, the app allows caregivers to monitor a patient’s movements in real time and prevents loved ones from getting lost.

EchoLoco

EchoLoco is an app that was developed during the Urban-X Hackathon. It provides audio maps for the visually impaired; helping them to safely navigate cities with the aid of real time cues.

CropSafe

CropSafe is an online platform that was created during an Angelhack in Dublin. It works to predict impending diseases and crop contamination by surveying plots of land via satellite imagery and machine learning. The service even offers solutions to affected landowners.

Our dedicated team of software developers at Number9 are located in Louisville, Kentucky. Together, with our nearshore office in Costa Rica, we have worked to launch countless software projects successfully. Contact us today by calling 502-890-7665 to learn more about what we can do to help you complete your project.

 

When Small Businesses Should Turn to Outsourcing

Outsourcing is a buzzword right now. Companies, large and small, are seeing the benefits of outsourcing and taking advantage. However, more often than not, the larger companies are the ones who truly take advantage of outsourcing. This is mainly because they have the funds and the work to do so efficiently. That doesn’t mean small businesses can’t benefit from outsourcing. They just have to approach outsourcing for small business wisely. And be sure to only use it when it is sure to benefit the company. So, where does a small business owner start when considering outsourcing? With just that – a consideration.

Pairing the consideration that business could benefit from moving work outside the office with an assessment of the business practice is a good place to start. This way of thinking will ensure that small business owners are making the right decision at the right time. Only once a lot of thought has gone into how outsourcing can help your business will it be time to look into outsourcing options. Follow along to learn what should be considered when looking into outsourcing for small business and where to start.

Four Signs Outsourcing for Small Business Could Help Your Company

1. The Same Problems Keep Coming Up

Every business, big or small, experiences a problem that continues to come up. Maybe it’s a part of a quality assurance checklist that is constantly overlooked. Or, perhaps, the team is unable to effectively deliver one of its promises time and time again. If there’s a particular aspect that the company continues to struggle with, it may be time to outsource that aspect.

There are a couple of questions business owners can ask themselves to determine if outsourcing is the best option. First of all, is there someone within the company who can take the work on? Can they do so without compromising their own set of day to day tasks? Secondly, can the company afford to pay this worker less than what it would cost to hire an outside agency? It’s time to outsource that work and keep the company moving forward if “yes” is not the answer to both questions.

2. Requested Work is Out of Your Wheelhouse

Another time to consider outsourcing is when work requests are coming in that your team cannot handle. Perhaps they don’t have the bandwidth to get it done effectively. Or perhaps the experience just isn’t there. Regardless of the reason, if there is work that needs to be done and your employees don’t have the ability to do it, it may be time to outsource that work. Another opportunity to outsource when work is not in your wheelhouse is when it concerns a chief officer within your company. There are plenty of agencies that supply CMOs, CFOs, or CISOs to companies struggling with filling those positions or functioning without them. That’s one of the beauties of outsourcing — no matter what it is you need, someone out there has it.

3. A Lot of Your Time is Spent on the Same Tasks

Do you find your day-to-day within the office is spent on the same tasks that could be chalked up to housekeeping? Perhaps you’ve observed that some of your most competent workers are spending too much of their time on tasks below their skill level. Regardless of the reason, if you can automate mundane tasks then do so by all means. Find programs to help with social media posting, billing, and additional clerical work, data entry, and the like. For all other tasks that you’d like to delegate to someone that is not a crucial member of your team, outsource. Some tasks can be outsourced to interns, so look at local colleges for interns interested in a career in IT. Other tasks can be outsourced to third-parties, both nearshore and offshore, depending on what kind of turnaround time you’re needing.

4. Your Creativity is Not Meeting What’s In Demand

Most companies that deal with website design, inbound marketing, or social media management have a grasp on creative tasks. Whether it’s an entire design team that remains in-house or a single person who is an expert in all things creative, if your company is cranking out design work, there is a designer on staff. While a single creative member or a team of designers can get a massive amount of work done, what will you do if a client requests video work? It’s not feasible to hire an entire video department for a one-off project, but you can adjust your pricing to cover outsourcing a video project.

Outsourcing may add a few lines to your company’s month-to-month balance sheet, but the benefits of it often far outweigh the cost. When applied correctly, to the appropriate aspects of a small business, outsourcing can be extremely beneficial. At Number8, we offer nearshore outsourcing services to a variety of business across the United States who need help with developmental work. If you’re looking for a team of experienced developers to help your small business churn out software development, contact us by calling 502-890-7665 today!

How to Develop the Digital Skills Necessary for Remote Work

Remote work can offer an employee the flexibility needed to be a caregiver, world traveler or student; making it an ideal form of work for most of the population. For an older employee however, the idea of working from home can seem overwhelming and fraught with technological difficulties.

Luckily, many of the skills needed to succeed in the office translate quite easily to working from home. Time management, self-sufficiency, communication and teamwork for example are all key remote work skills. And chances are, anyone whose had office experience, is familiar with a computer. However, there is a level of tech savviness required to operate out of the office full time.

For those looking to make the transition to remote work for the first time, but are afraid of getting left behind in this new digital age, here are some of the most popular web applications to get up to speed on before you apply for the job.

It’s worth noting that many of these applications have free tutorials, videos, and training available as well as free versions to help you get your feet wet.

File Storage & Sharing Platforms

When you’re working on the go, you can’t be tied down to your desktop. Instead it’s common for remote workers to operate exclusively from online or cloud based platforms such as Google Drive, Dropbox or Apple iCloud. These make it easy to access your work files no matter where you are or what device you’re on. As long as you have the app downloaded, you can work from anywhere.

Long gone are the days of losing your work because your computer crashed. These applications automatically save and sync everything as you go. Not to mention, you can effortlessly share files with others by giving them access via a link or email address. Google even offers a full suite of applications including word documents, slide shows and spreadsheets well suited for every field of work.

Video Conferencing

Unfortunately, even remote workers can’t escape meetings. Zoom and Skype are popular video conferencing options for meeting outside of the office.  Zoom offers free video calls with up to 50 people as long as you don’t talk for more than 40 minutes and Skype is free as long as both parties are using the app. Both of these applications (and many others) offer chat options, screen sharing and recorded calls. Just make sure you’re well equipped with the right headset for the job.

Collaborative Applications

While email is everyone’s go to in-office communication platform, remote workers often utilize project management software to stay in touch virtually. Both Trello and Slack are excellent examples and offer many collaborative features for working with a team remotely. These shared applications make it easy to generate a task list and delegate the workload. They also show each member’s progress as well as what stage any given project is in and give the option to offer feedback to one another. Additionally shared calendars ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to meetings and out of office time periods.

At Number8, we provide high quality technical talent to businesses of all sizes and sectors. We specialize in application development, custom software, website development, mobile solutions, database design, client/server, web application development and Q/A testing. Learn more about what we do and how to get started with Number8 by calling 502-890-7665 today!

How Costa Rica is Leading the Way Towards Sustainable Tourism

Costa Rica is a gorgeous country in Central America. With lush jungles and pristine beaches, the country boasts a multitude of sights to see. With the breathtaking landscape and the friendly locale, Costa Rica is a great spot to consider for your next vacation. There are so many things to do and see when traveling to Costa Rica that it can be hard to do everything in one trip. Because of the abundance of sights to see and activities to do, Costa Rica has become a popular tourist destination. As the number of visitors traveling to Costa Rica grows, their practices have changed. Costa Ricans have adapted their sustainability practices to now include tourism. And now Costa Rica is leading the way in sustainable tourism and acting as an example for other countries.

Efforts to Counteract Waste Produced by Tourism

In 2018, in an effort to counteract the additional waste that tourists produce, Costa Rica committed to completely ban single-use plastics by 2021. The ban will include plastic cutlery, bags, straws, cups, and bottles. While the three-year goal may seem steep, Costa Rica is well on its way to fulfilling the commitment on time. This shouldn’t come as a surprise consider Costa Rica is known for fulfilling environmental promises. Over the last 30 years, the country has completely reversed its deforestation. In fact, they have doubled their forest cover from 26% to 52% of the country. Seeing that Costa Rica has been committed to reversing environmental damage since the late ‘80s shows that they are not playing around when it comes to sustainability.

The commitment to banning single-use plastics by 2021 stretches further than simply helping the environment. Despite Costa Rica’s efforts toward sustainability, the country still improperly disposes of 800 tons of solid waste daily. This improperly disposed of trash often ends up on beaches, shorelines, and in landscapes across the country. The discarded trash does not do anything positive for tourism. Because the country cannot afford the environmental loss or loss in tourism, their efforts to clean up their waste disposal methods are twice as important to the country’s future.

Investing in Renewable Energy

Outside of waste disposal and plastic bans, Costa Rica is also investing time and money into renewable energy. In fact, they are one of the most advanced countries in the world when it comes to using renewable energy. Costa Rica announced in 2007 that it had set a national goal to become the second carbon-neutral country in the world after Bhutan. To be considered carbon neutral, Costa Rica must balance all carbon emissions with removal efforts. They will be carbon-neutral when the country produces zero carbon dioxide emissions. And they are well on their way to doing that. In January of 2017, ten years after announcing the national goal, Costa Rica’s entire population of 4.9 million people ran on power generated by renewable energy for 75 consecutive days and nights.

As a carbon-neutral country, Costa Rica would be able to take in as much tourism traffic as possible and not negatively impact the environment at all. As the country continues to work on making infrastructure and transportation more environmentally friendly and sustainable, it appears they have tourism in mind.

Costa Rica’s efforts towards sustainable tourism should be a model for other countries, both big and small, to follow. Redirecting a large number of their national funds towards sustainable efforts has helped catapult them to one of the leading countries in the world in regards to sustainability. By incorporating sustainability into every aspect of the country’s makeup — from tourism to what is available or unavailable to citizens — Costa Rica has made sustainability one of its main pillars. So far that pillar is supporting the country quite soundly.

3 TED Talks to Listen to When You Need Motivation

We’ve all been there. The point in the day, week, or month where the steam that’s been powering our engines seems to disappear. Losing motivation is never convenient. Often it comes at the most inconvenient times, such as, when a large project is due or a new endeavor is just kicking off. So, how do you overcome that lack of motivation and continue to power through the work you’re obligated to deliver?

There are many ways to regain motivation. Sometimes taking a short break of 5-10 minutes to get away from your desk is all it takes. Other times it may take a little more space from the office, perhaps in the form of a personal day, to get back into the right headspace for work. And that’s okay. Managing burnout is important in everyone’s career. We have to do what’s necessary to deliver our best performance as often as we can. For those times when you can’t get away for even five minutes, but you need a little more motivation to keep going, listen to one of these TED Talks on staying motivated.

3 TED Talks to Help You Get Motivation

1. A Powerful Way to Unleash Your Natural Creativity by Tim Harford

Harford opens this TED Talk with the quote, “to do two things at once is to do neither”, and it leads the listener to think that his entire talk is going to focus on how multitasking kills creativity. However, Harford quickly clarifies that he is not on stage to debunk the benefits of multitasking. Instead, Harford discusses a practice common among highly creative people, including Albert Einstein, and that practice is called “slow-motion multitasking”.

It may sound counterintuitive. For most people, the entire point of multitasking is to be able to get multiple things done quickly and efficiently. Slow-motion multitasking does not have the same end result. Slow-motion multitasking is not about getting things done as quickly as possible. It is about getting multiple things done at once without feeling burnt out by one project. By slow-motion multitasking, one is able to hop from project to project as their inspiration strikes or creativity sparks. Harford explains multiple studies that prove highly creative people have multiple projects going on at one time and allow themselves to move between these project at their own leisure.

He also discusses how athletes benefit from cross-training and how Michael Crichton created the world’s most commercially successful book, television series, and a movie with the help of slow-motion multitasking. Listen to the full TED Talk here and the next time you find yourself overwhelmed with a project and losing motivation because of your feelings, try shifting gears to another task. Working on, or even completing, another task will help the negative thoughts you’ve associated with your more daunting project dissipate, making room for productive and motivational thoughts to come in.

2. How to Make Work-Life Balance Work by Nigel Marsh

As we stated earlier, one of the biggest triggers for lack of motivation is burnout. Being tired, and even fed up, with your day-to-day work life can really affect your work ethic and your drive. In this TED Talk, Nigel Marsh discusses work-life balance and how incentives like “dress-down Friday” and “flexi-time” don’t make up for the fact that some career paths are fundamentally incompatible with being present at home. However, if you’re in one of those job fields, all hope is not lost.

As long as you can recognize this, and understand that your boss or higher-ups will not correct the imbalance for you, then it’s possible for you to create that balance on your own. Being aware that your employer may not have your best intentions in mind will allow you to set your own boundaries on how much time you dedicate to work and how much you dedicate to your home life.

Marsh suggests (quite hilariously) that if you’re feeling unmotivated, or burnt out, to write down your ideal day. How much do you want to get done? In order to get all those things done, how long do you need to be awake? Because, let’s not forget, sleep is just as important to motivation and productivity as work-life balance is. Is your day jam-packed? That’s Marsh’s point and, according to him, in order to balance work and life, you must “approach balance in a balanced way”. By tending to the intellectual side, emotional side, and spiritual side of one’s life, a person can create a more balanced life quite effortlessly.

You can listen to the full TED Talk here to see how Marsh’s realization that slowing down and investing the right amount of energy into the right tasks can transform a person’s day-to-day life.

3. Want to Be More Creative? Go for a Walk by Marily Oppezzo

It’s no surprise that we lose motivation. Almost any project is a long process from start to finish and takes an exorbitant amount of time and energy. So, how do you ensure your creativity does not falter and your motivation does not dry up? Marily Oppezzo recommends going for a walk. She’s not saying that you’re going to get stuck during your project, go for a walk, and come back with all the solutions. But she is saying that walking during the brainstorming process of a project can boost creativity.

During her TED Talk, she discusses a study that measured if people were more creative while sitting or walking. By asking four test groups to come up with alternate uses for a specific object (like a key) she was able to deduce that the members of the study who walked while brainstorming ideas came up with twice as many ideas as those who remained seated.

Now how can this help you stay motivated? Well, you can apply Oppezzo’s approach to brainstorming to your motivation. Ask yourself what your problem is? Why are you losing motivation? Then take yourself for a walk and brainstorm around these questions. Continue to come up with ideas and try for as many as you can. By not getting stuck on your first or second idea you’re allowing your creativity to flow. As it flows, it will help you find more motivation to continue your project. Listen to Marily’s entire TED Talk here to learn more about the study and its interesting results.

Next Time You’re Losing Motivation…

Motivation ebbs and flows, like most things in life, and sometimes the best way to regain it is to forget it. Go for a walk and try to get your focus back. Shift from one task to another to allow your mind a break. Consider how much time you’ve put into the project for the past day, week, month, and step away completely. Or listen to a TED Talk. It may give you the motivation you need to continue working or take a break.

5 Programs That Can Help You Stay Organized At Work

organized at workNo matter how organized you may be, there comes a point where you get overwhelmed at work. Whether it’s due to growing responsibilities or a surge in clientele, we all get there. Thankfully there are a lot of helpful programs available to stay organized at work. From your evergrowing to-do list to client management, there’s a program for everything. Due to being busy, you may not have the time necessary to see what programs work best for you. This is why we’ve outlined 5 programs that can help you stay organized at work. Take a look at our list below and see if any of these programs will help you stay organized and manage your workload.

Stay Organized at Work with These 5 Programs

1. Trello

Trello is a great way to manage projects and tasks within those projects. Users can set up “boards” to denote projects, so each project is a separate entity. Within each board, users can create “cards” to represent tasks and “lanes” to track progress of tasks. With an easy-to-use interface, almost anyone can use Trello to their advantage. Trello also has an app that can be used on phones or tablets and features a compatible interface. Even more beneficial are the desktop and email notifications users can set up to make sure they don’t miss anything. If you’re feeling like you’re being pulled in too many directions, try Trello. With this helpful program, you’re able to keep all your projects in one place and track their progress.

2. Tomorrow.do

Do It Tomorrow may sound like the procrastinator’s dream, but it’s not quite that. This easy to set up and even easier to use program is a quick signup away and completely free. With Do It Tomorrow, you’re able to consolidate your to-do list in one place (and even set it as the first page to open when you get to work!) The way this program works is quite interesting. First you fill up your to-do list with all your tasks. You can set tasks that need to get done today and tomorrow. Once your tasks are all in place, start marking them off as you complete them. Anything that doesn’t get done automatically gets pushed to the top of the list the next day. It’s a great little program that can really keep you focused on the task at hand and the task ahead.

3. Google Drive

If you’re aware of Gmail then you’re probably aware of Google Drive. However, what a lot of people don’t know is the limits you can push Google Drive to in order to work it to your advantage. With Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Calendar, and Gmail, Google Drive really has everything you need to manage your work. And it all stays in one space which can be accessed from any computer, phone, or tablet. One of the best things that Google Drive offers is practically endless storage space. So, if you’re looking for a storage program that you can access from your home, office, or vacation spot and offers a wide variety of functions check out Google Drive. It’s another user-friendly platform that most office workers utilize for at least some sort of organization tool.

4. Dropbox

Dropbox is another great tool for file management and photo storage. This program has been around for quite a while and has a large following, so it’s likely you’ve received a Dropbox link from someone trying to share files or photos with you. While Dropbox is a great platform for sharing documents, photographs, and large files, the platform has memory restrictions. If you find yourself falling in love with Dropbox, you’ll need to be on top of managing what you store in it or ready to upgrade your file storage size.

5. Hootsuite

If you work with social media at all, it can get overwhelming and that can happen quickly. Almost all social media managers use some sort of online program to help stay organized. Hootsuite is one of the most popular programs for just that. Hootsuite is a social media management tool that allows users to schedule social media posts well into the future for publication. With the ability to manage Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more from one place, Hootsuite saves users time and headache. Hootsuite, like most of the programs we’ve covered, also has a user-friendly app that can be used on phones and tablets alike. This allows you to take your social media management with you on the go and never miss a post.

While these are five tools that we’re familiar with, there are tons of other programs to help you stay organized at work available. We recommend looking around and finding the programs that work best for you. Most are free and those that don’t offer a free trial for some amount of time. Try out different programs until you find the right fit for you and your workflow. Being organized at work can help to reduce stress and increase job happiness, so find what works for you and use it to your advantage!

At Number8, we offer onshore and nearshore product development support to companies large and small. Throughout our company, we hold high regard for job happiness and find that being organized at work helps to keep our employees happy. If you are interested in learning more about what we do or getting in touch with us, visit our Contact Us page or give us a call at 502-890-7665.

How to Be More Sustainable at Your Office Job

how to be more sustainableAs the environment becomes a hotter topic around the world, so does sustainability. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) we have less than 15 years to significantly cut carbon emissions without causing irreversible damage to the planet. While the “we” in the special report released by the IPCC may sound global, it is not so. A report by The Guardian recognized that “just 90 companies cause[d] two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions” including Exxon, Chevron, and BP. While most of the responsibility to cut back on carbon emissions falls on corporations, every bit of sustainability counts.

For most people, there are two places they spend the majority of their time — at home and at work. Introducing sustainability into the home starts with a few simple steps. Actively recycling, taking more showers than baths, air-drying clothes in the warmer months, and installing a programmable thermostat are a few ways to start. Being sustainable at work can be more of a challenge. In your place of work, you don’t have control over the electrical usage, water usage, or the ability to enforce building-wide recycling initiatives. So how can you be more sustainable at your office job?

One of the best things you can do to be more sustainable at your office job is assessing how you consume while you’re at work.

There is room for improvement if you are constantly ordering food to be delivered or going out to get pick-up orders. You can make a huge environmental impact by bringing food from home in reusable containers. By bringing your own meals in containers that can be cleaned and used again, you cut down on carbon emissions and produce less waste. Some great containers that can be used to bring your lunch include Mason Jars and Tupperware. Both are durable, easy to clean, and can be used again and again instead of plastic bags, plastic wrap, or aluminum foil.

You can also look at how you stay hydrated. Are you going to the fridge for a bottle of water every time you’re thirsty? Or are you using a drinking glass and refilling it at the water fountain or tap? By using a glass that can be refilled instead of one-time-use plastic bottles, you’re able to reduce waste and work more sustainably. Most employers will supply dishware to their office workers; however, if you must bring a glass, or reusable water bottle, from home.

Another great way to be more sustainable at your office job is to monitor when your computer is powered on.

Do you find yourself rushing out of the office on Friday after a quick CTRL+SHIFT+DEL to lock your computer? You’re able to save quite a lot of electricity by taking the extra five minutes to save your programs and shut your computer down for the weekend. Powering your machine on and off once a week won’t do much damage. Lasting wear and tear would occur if you power your computer off every evening and back on every morning, so we don’t recommend that.

If you’re not too keen on completely shutting down your computer, even on the weekends, look into the system’s sleep options. Sleep will put your computer in low power mode while not turning it off. The Sleep options on most computers are located in the Shut Down menu.

Regardless of if you put your computer in Sleep mode when you’re out of the office or completely power it down, this is some of the easiest energy conservation you can achieve.

You can also make an environmental impact by shying away from using paper and using your computer for documentation.

Most of the time legal pads or Post-It notes are used for note-taking. But what a lot of people don’t realize is how many trees are cut down to make pads of paper. According to the Rainforest Action Network, anywhere from 3.5 billion to 7 billion trees are cut down each year. Out of that number, almost 40% goes towards timber harvesting which includes papermaking. It was also recently reported that there is now more CO2 in the air than planting more trees can reduce.

Instead of using paper at your office job, consider turning to your computer for note-taking and other documentation. By not consuming accessive paper products, you can rest assured that you’re living a more sustainable life in your office.

These are just a few, easy ways that you can start to be more sustainable at your office job. Bringing indoor plants into the office will improve air quality. Recycling plastic bottles and cans whenever possible will also help the environment. There are a lot of great resources out there with more tips on how to incorporate sustainability into your workday.

One of the easiest to understand resources is this infographic from Greener Ideal. Try sending that out to your office, via email, to see how other people react to sustainability. If you can get more people on board, you can make some larger moves to create a sustainable office environment. Then it will be easier for everyone to be more sustainable at work.

At Number8, we have office locations in Louisville, KY, and Costa Rica. Both of these locations are working towards becoming more sustainable areas. Louisville is doing everything it can to become a more environmentally friendly city. One of the biggest efforts in the city is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the year 2050.  Costa Rica, on the other hand, is one of the most advanced countries in sustainability in the world. To learn more about what we do, how we stay sustainable, and how to join our team, contact us today!

7 Tips on How Stay Productive at Work and Avoid Distractions

With the Internet right at our fingertips, it can be hard for those who work in front of a computer all day to not get distracted. From social media, to the news, to online retailers, there are plenty of outlets available that can keep you from working. As online marketing continues to advance and advertising appears everywhere it can seem impossible to escape. However, there are certain steps one can take to stay productive at work and avoid distractions.

At Number8, we have almost two decades of experience in software development. From working with Fortune 100 companies to tech start-ups, we have vast experience in the IT sector. Our project managers and nearshore development team want to deliver the best product and customer service in a timely manner. In order to achieve the timeliness we’re so well known for, our team has to stay productive at work and avoid distractions. We’ve decided to share some tips on how our development team avoids distractions at work when having a world of distractions right at their fingertips.

7 Ways to Stay Productive at Work and Avoid Distractions

1. Unplug from Social Media

Social media is, without a doubt, a huge distraction at work. While you may prefer to pass your time at home scrolling through news feeds, at work it’s not the best use of your time. There are a few ways to go about unplugging. For some, setting a schedule of when they are allowed to check social media and setting a time limit is enough. For others, they need to get more drastic because they can’t stop checking in. There are some helpful extensions that will block social media for you including StayFocusd and WasteNoTime. Freedom is another extension that will block social media sites on your work computer and allow you to stay productive during office hours.

2. Keep Your Desk Organized

A messy space usually reveals a messy mind. By keeping your desk and workspace neat, you remove a lot of distractions. Experts recommend taking 5 to 10 minutes at the end of your day to pick up your desk. Organize your papers, wash your dishes, make sure your calendar is up-to-date, and anything else you may need to do before leaving for the day. This ensures that when you walk into the office the following morning, your desk space and headspace will be ready to get started on the day’s tasks ahead.

3. Break One Large Task Into Small Tasks

It can be easy to find reasons to distract yourself from a large task at hand. Perhaps you don’t have enough time to get it all done before you clock out. Maybe you have a lot of smaller things that will be easier to knock out, but don’t have the urgency of the one large task. When you find yourself avoiding a large task, it’s time to change your approach. One of the best ways to tackle larger projects is to break them into smaller, more manageable tasks. This will help you to not waste time worrying about where to get started. This approach also allows you to take a few days to complete the large project without getting burnt out or overwhelmed.

4. Harness Optimism

Positivity breeds productivity. This has never been a truer statement than when you’re at work. Being positive in the office has so many benefits. Your coworkers will respond better to you when you’re positive. Your positive attitude will keep the stress away. And your optimism will make it easier to stay focused on your tasks because you’ll enjoy them. There are a couple of ways to harness optimism in the office.

One of the best things to do is mentally remind yourself you are capable of doing your job correctly and well. Develop a mantra that helps you focus on this thought. Something as simple as “I am capable” will work. Smiling when you walk into the office also helps associate optimism with your workplace. When you aren’t stressed or sad, it is a lot easier to focus on the task at hand instead of looking for ways to avoid getting your work done.

5. Quit Multitasking

Once, long ago, multitasking was marketed as the bee’s knees of the office world. This somewhat coincided with the mass-market of the home computer. The computer was seen as a tool that could allow you to do multiple things at once; however, in this day and age multitasking can be detrimental to productivity. If you’re looking to be more productive at work, it’s time to focus on the task at hand then move on to the next full task. Going back and forth between projects will only hurt your productivity. And it may show in your finished projects, too.

6. Don’t Neglect Your Health

Just like optimism can make you more productive at work, so can being in good health. Experts say it is especially important to exercise daily, eat well, and get enough sleep to perform your job to the best of your abilities. Exercising regularly and getting the recommended 8-hours of sleep makes it a lot easier to overcome stress. Healthy eating literally fuels your body, so being in good health is important in regards to being productive at work. When you can overcome stress and get through the day without tiring, it’s a lot easier to take on a task at hand instead of procrastinating.

7. Keep a To Do List

For some, keeping a task list at hand can seem like an old fashioned way to manage time. However, starting your morning by taking 10 minutes to write up a list of what you’d like to achieve that day is one way to plan a productive day. Whether you want to write it down so it is with you wherever you go or use an online application, like Do It (Tomorrow), outlining your day will help you to be more productive. Additionally, by having each task laid out in front of you, it will be easier to go straight from one task to another without getting distracted between and losing precious work time.

If you’re feeling less productive at work, the first thing to ask yourself is “what changed?” Did your job take a turn towards something that doesn’t interest you?  Try to focus your to-do list on aspects of your work that do. Are you feeling burnt out? Try getting more sleep and changing your diet. Or are you spending too much time on social media? Try setting boundaries for yourself or using a social media website blocker.

Naturally, your productivity will ebb and flow throughout the year. This is especially true around seasonal changes, but that doesn’t mean it has to stick. If you’re finding yourself easily distracted and less productive, the first step is to acknowledge it and the second step is to be aware of it moving forward. Then you’ll be able to find the best ways for you to stay productive at work and avoid distractions.