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.

How Prolonged Screen Time Can Affect Your Health

Prolonged Screen TimeLiving in the 21st Century has a lot of benefits. We live in a world with modern medicine, modern transportation, and the most advanced technology the world has seen. However, like most benefits, there are hindrances that accompany them.

Thanks to modern medicine we can prevent the spread of dangerous diseases, but we can also choose to not vaccinate our children and risk disease spreading rapidly. With the help of modern transportation, we are able to travel from place to place faster than ever before, but we pollute the planet and harm the environment through most of these modes. And, while technology has brought the entire world closer together, it is also in front of us through one screen or another throughout most of our days. This is especially true when you work in the IT sector and subject yourself to prolonged screen time. It is important to know how prolonged screen time can affect your health and how to prevent further damage.

Before the mass marketing of in-home computers, most people did not spend a lot of time in front of technology. Besides the occasional time spent watching television, at a safe distance from the television itself, people were not subjected to technology like they are today. In the last 30 years, the rise of the digital age has put screens in front of more people for longer amounts of time. Throughout the last decade, studies surrounding how prolonged screen time can affect your health have started to appear.

Multiple studies around screen time discuss the effects that prolonged screen time has on children, teens, and adults. Children can suffer from learning and problem-solving delays when exposed to excessive screen time under the age of 30 months. Too much screen time has also proven to affect children’s language skills, emotional development, sleep schedule, and vision. Teens suffer from a lot of the same effects. However, screen time can also affect a teenager’s self-confidence, social skills, and emotions drastically.

So, how does prolonged screen time affect the health of adults? The answer is — in many ways. Adults who work in the IT sector undoubtedly subject themselves to the most amount of screen time among professions. Anywhere from 8-10 hours of time spent working in front of a screen is only part of it, too. The hours these same adults spend at home on their phones, personal computers, or watching television also factor into how screen time affects their health.

4 Ways Prolonged Screen Time Affects Adults’ Health

1. Vision

Vision is the first thing that people most often think of when contemplating how screen time affects your health. This may be because it is obvious that your eyes will be affected by continuous exposure to light. Or it may be because most people start to feel the negative effects of prolonged screen time in their eyes first. The most common symptoms of the effects prolonged screen time has on vision include fatigue, blurred vision, eye dryness, and headache.

2. Sleep

Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep are two additional ways that prolonged screen times can affect your health. The screens themselves stimulate the brain which makes relaxing and falling into a restful sleep hard. This is especially true for those who use their phone in bed at night and turn them off right before they go to sleep. The blue light that radiates from a phone’s screen has been proven to suppress the hormone, melatonin, that promotes sleep. This, in turn, prevents those who use their phones soon before going to bed from falling into a restful sleep and cycling through REM sleep and non-REM sleep.

3. Weight

Numerous studies in the past have linked as few as two hours of television a day to an increased risk of weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes in adults. While there aren’t many studies that find the same direct correlations between screen time and these risk factors, it is safe to assume there are correlations. They may not be as prevalent because a lot of people are active while on their phones, but prolonged screen time does lead to less time being active and less sleep. These are both factors that contribute to weight gain and weight-related diseases. In addition, prolonged screen time makes people more susceptible to advertisements for unhealthy foods. This exposure leads to unhealthy cravings and eating habits resulting in weight gain, as well.

4. Posture

Proper posture can be hard enough to maintain without prolonged time in front of a computer or excessive phone use. Spending a lot of time in front of a touch device can result in neck and shoulder pain which can lead to scoliosis. Touch devices also have adverse effects on the hands and can cause early-onset carpal tunnel. What a lot of people don’t know is how computer keyboards, mice, and screen heights can also negatively affect posture. Excessive use of keyboards and mice can lead to inflammation in the arms, hands, and wrists. Viewing computer screens that are not at eye level can cause neck pain and issues with proper posture.

While prolonged screen time cannot be prevented for those working in the IT sector, those who do spend a lot of time in front a computer screen can modify their work environment to not be as harmful to their health. Blue light glasses are becoming more popular, especially among younger IT workers, and for good reason. They block the harmful blue light that comes out of screens and causes both vision trouble and disrupted sleep. Altering the height of your computer screens, so they are eye level, can help prevent posture problems from developing.

Being mindful of how often you are on your phone or in front of a computer is the first step. Learning how prolonged screen time can affect your health is the second step to prevention. Overall, taking breaks from your screen usage is the best way to prevent health issues from arising. Experts recommend for every hour you spend looking at a screen, you spend 15 minutes away from a screen. By taking walks during those 15-minute breaks, you can prevent weight gain, eye strain, posture trouble, and more.

There are some situations where prolonged screen time is unavoidable. So, it is important to balance screen time with non-screen time. Pay attention to how much time you’re spending in front of screens and how your body is reacting. With the right measures, you can continue your IT-based job and not suffer from health issues that can arise from too much exposure to technology.

10 Things to Do and See When Travelling to Costa Rica

travelling to Costa RicaTravelling to Costa Rica can be such an enriching experience for many reasons. Costa Rica is a gorgeous country nestled right in the middle of Central America with Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. Sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Ocean, the country’s close proximity to water and the Equator has allowed for lush rainforests to cover the country with greenery. Because of Costa Rica’s exotic terrain, beautiful beaches, abundant animal life, and friendly community, it is a tourist destination for people all over the world.

There aren’t many countries where you can climb a volcano, relax on a remote sandy beach, and zip-line through the rainforest in just a few days. You can do all of this, and much more, when you visit Costa Rica. Whether you decide to travel during the wet season, or the dry season, the country will not disappoint. To ensure that you get the most out of your trip to Costa Rica, we’ve outlined ten things to do and see when travelling to Costa Rica.

5 Things to Do When Travelling to Costa Rica

1. Experience Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve

Whether you want to walk the forest floor or zipline through the forest canopy, experiencing Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve should be on your list of things to do when travelling to Costa Rica. Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve was named for the nearby town of Monteverde and consists of 26,000 acres of cloud forest – a subtropical forest known for having consistent cloud cover due to moisture. With over 850 species of flora and over 150 species of fauna in the forest, you are sure to see some interesting sights on your visit.

2. Enjoy Nightlife in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

The Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a popular destination for tourists visiting Costa Rica. At night, the city comes to life with bamboo bars, Reggae music, and vivacious nightlife. There is something for everyone in this town. Whether you want to adventure inland to the rainforest, enjoy surfing and drinks on the beach, or visit the black sand beach of Playa Negra for a more offbeat adventure, all can be done in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.

3. Explore La Paz Waterfall Gardens

The La Paz Waterfall Gardens promise to wow even the most travelled explorer. The Gardens features five waterfalls that are all accessible by safe and easy hiking trails. If hiking is not your thing, you can check out the aviary that features a vast number of bird species. You can also see monkeys, jaguars, pumas, other large cats, frogs, and orchids in this one park. Established in 1998, the entirety of the Gardens opened to the public in 2000. Since then it has become a thriving tourist destination nestled on 70 acres of beautiful Costa Rican jungle.

4. Relax in Tabacón Hot Springs

On more than 900 acres of reserved tropical land, the Tabacón Hot Springs are a modern marvel. The water is heated by a stream of hot springs that run through marshes and grasslands from the Arenal Volcano. Thanks to one man’s adventurous attitude and ability to think outside of the box, the Tabacón Hot Springs Spa was established in the late 1980s. After a complete overhaul in 1991 that took over two years, these relaxing hot springs are now surrounded by acres and acres of Costa Rican native flora, a restaurant, and spa making this one of the most beautiful and relaxing tourist destinations in the country.

5. Take a Tour of a Coffee Plantation

A lesser known fact about Costa Rica is that coffee beans are a huge export and one of the country’s most profitable crops. Thanks to the country’s location and climate, coffee plantations are abundant which gives tourists multiple opportunities to take a tour. Most of the coffee plantations are in the Central Valley of Costa Rica and each plantation offers a different experience, so if you’re a true fan of coffee you may want to check out more than one.

5 Things to See When Travelling to Costa Rica

1. The Nicoya Peninsula

The Nicoya Peninsula, which juts out into the Pacific Ocean, is a well-known spot in Costa Rica for its beautiful beaches. While it is a popular tourist destination, and will be crowded, it is worth a visit. The Nicoya Peninsula is one of the world’s Blue Zones and there are numerous nature reserves and wildlife refuges to visit on the peninsula itself. During certain times of the year, you can even see Leatherback turtles come to nest and hatch at Playa Grande on the peninsula.

2. The Arenal Volcano

If you are in the Tabacón area visiting the hot springs we mentioned above, you will definitely see the Arenal Volcano in the distance. The volcano is a sightseer’s dream from its almost perfectly symmetrical shape to its frequent activity since the 1960s. The Arenal Volcano has been inactive since October 2010; however, it could turn active any time and erupt soon after due to its placement and the high amount of water in its magma. Regardless of its activity, if you are in the area then you will be able to see the Arenal Volcano from afar or take a closer look with a guided tour.

3. Corcovado National Park

Further south in Costa Rica lies the “crown jewel” of Costa Rica’s system of national parks — Corcovado National Park. Encompassing the largest primary forest on the American Pacific coastline, the park gives vegetation and local fauna a place to thrive. The waters in and around the parks also promote ecological diversity. Baleen whales, including humpbacks, winter, and breed in Drake Bay which is relatively close to Corcovado National Park.

4. Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge

The Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge is another area of Costa Rica that promotes the preservation of wildlife and local flora; however, the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge sits over wetlands unlike other national parks and reserves mentioned in this article. This makes it a unique site for migratory waterfowl. It also makes it a unique experience for travellers as you can only explore the area by boat. In addition to migratory waterfowl, this wildlife reserve is also home to large cats, monkeys, and many other native species.

5. Tortuguero National Park

People know about the Tortuguero National Park in Costa Rica for a few reasons. For one, the park is extremely remote and is only accessible by airplane or boat. Regardless of how difficult it is to get to Tortuguero National Park, it is still the third most visited park in the country. With 11 different habitats within the park, it boasts a massive variety of biological diversity. When you visit Tortuguero National Park you can experience the rainforest, mangrove forest, swamps, beaches, and even lagoon environments in a single trip. While visiting Tortuguero National Park, try to observe the egg-laying of both green and leatherback sea turtles which occur in the park.

Traveling to Costa Rica can be an enriching experience thanks to the variety of environments available to explore. A Costa Rican vacation can be made even more wonderful by the friendliness of the Costa Rican people, called Ticos. With so much to do and see in one country, there is something for everyone. If you are looking for an exciting vacation that can be a learning experience and a relaxing getaway, make sure to visit Costa Rica.

At Number8, we have a nearshore development office in San Jose, Costa Rica. Our development team travels throughout Costa Rica, for both business and pleasure, to enrich their lives with the country’s endless beauwildlifelife, and conservation efforts. If you are interested in learning more about our company, and what we do in Costa Rica, give us a call at (502) 890-7665 today!

How Business Practices in Costa Rica Differ from Those in the United States

business practices in costa ricaBusiness, like language, varies from country to country across the world. From common practices to appropriate communication techniques, there are a lot of nuances to take into consideration when working with someone from another area. In some countries, like Japan, silence is valued over constant conversation. In others, like Germany, punctuality is preferred over flexibility. While some differences are vast, others are minor. When it comes to how business practices in Costa Rica differ from those in the United States, the differences are vast.

Costa Rica could not be much more different than the United State. From the landscape to the climate, there aren’t many similarities to be found between the two. However, both countries have growing populations with even faster-growing interests in web-based work and software development. Because of this mutual interest, Costa Rica is quickly becoming a go-to for U.S.-based companies needing nearshore development. Due to this growing interest centered around international business, it is important to understand business practices in Costa Rica and proper business etiquette.

7 Important Business Practices to Remember When Working with Costa Ricans

1. Appointments Are Always Flexible

Costa Ricans are not known for being the strictest of people when it comes to punctuality. Due to their more relaxed approach to time management, business appointments do not always start right on time. In fact, some websites who cover business practices in Costa Rica recommend bringing a book to your next meeting in case you have to wait for an extended amount of time. Due to this approach, business meetings often last longer than scheduled.

2. Consistent Reminders of Meetings Are Necessary

This differentiation between Costa Ricans and Americans stems from the Costa Rican pura vida lifestyle and their flexibility with time. Due to their busy lifestyles, Costa Rican business partners need constant reminders of pre-scheduled meetings. It is recommended to send appointment reminders a week before the meeting then two days prior to the meeting, with a final reminder going out the day of.

3. Put An Emphasis on Small Talk

Most differences between how business is done in the United States and Costa Rica stem from their pura vida lifestyle. While businesspeople in the United States often get straight to the point, Costa Ricans like to take their time. It’s important to emphasize small talk during business meetings with Costa Ricans. Speaking on topics like the weather, general news, or the latest sports scores are completely acceptable and welcome.

4. Networking is Highly Important

When compared to the United States, the population of Costa Rica is small. With only 5 million people in the country, networking plays a huge role in business growth. It’s important to get out there and discuss current business ventures and possible future business endeavors with the community. The small, tight-knit community can open up partnerships and opportunities with fellow businesspeople that may have gone unnoticed without networking. Due to the closeness of the Costa Rican community, and the importance of networking, it is crucial that you keep your comments respectful and your intentions honest.

5. Business Attire is Still Preferred in Professional Settings

Costa Rica’s beautiful beaches and lush jungles may lead you to think that casual attire is acceptable throughout the country; however, the opposite is true in a business setting. Despite their laid back lifestyles, Costa Ricans still hold looking professional to high regard. Men are often found in dress pants paired with long sleeve shirts. Most opt for a jacket over a tie, unlike businessmen in the United States. Women’s wardrobe choices vary from business suits to more fanciful dresses, with plenty of accessories, depending on the event.

6. Titles Are Very Important To Costa Ricans

Titles are very important to Costa Ricans, especially those that hold professional or political titles. While professional titles are important to businesspeople in the United States, too, the titles of Costa Ricans differ greatly. Costa Rican men use both their father’s and mother’s names in correspondence, but only use their father’s names when introducing themselves. While businesspeople in the United States often have one surname and are fine with being called by their first name, in Costa Rica one must be invited to refer to the other by their first name. It is even seen as rude to call a Costa Rican by their first name without being invited to do so.

7. Negotiations Will Take Time

Business decisions are expected to take longer in Costa Rica than they are in the United States. This is because business decisions are made between all involved parties within the business which means there is a lot of bureaucracy to navigate. Additionally, because of the close community of networkers, business decisions and negotiations are often made over dinner, in a more relaxed environment, which can stretch out the process.

While Costa Rica is not on the other side of the world, business culture in Costa Rica is quite different when compared to the United States. With the more relaxed approach to time management and decision making, Costa Ricans do business at a slower pace. The close-knit community throughout the country means that there is a personal level to the business whereas there is often a strict line between business and personal life in the United States. Despite the differences, partnerships between businesses in the United States and Costa Rica continue to thrive in web-based work and software development.

At Number8, we connect businesses in the United States looking for development work with nearshore developers based in Costa Rica. We focus on assisting companies with improving their internal IT processes to ensure smoother business for everyone. If you are interested in learning more about what we do at Number8, give us a call at (502) 890-7665 today!

5 Programming Languages for Beginners

There are so many programming languages in the tech industry, that for the average layman it can be overwhelming. Generally speaking, these languages are how we communicate tasks to a computer. They’re a tool to help computers quickly and efficiently process data no matter how large or complex it may be.

As technology evolves, so do it’s languages. Whether you’re looking for someone who can code or are interested in learning yourself, starting with a basic understanding of the languages used to code is important in order to stay up to date with most relevant methods of programming. 

For beginners, it’s best to focus on languages that inherently teach basic computer science concepts. Languages that are dynamic and don’t have any strict rules on how they have to be written tend to be the most suitable for those just beginning to dip their toes into the world of coding. 

Here to help you get started, are 5 programming languages we recommend for beginners:

1. HTML

While HTML is considered the most basic and commonly known language, everyone has to start somewhere. Used to create web pages, HTML is a markup language that defines the structure and layout of various electronic documents. For example, when formatting the content on a website or email, HTML is utilized to ensure that both the text and graphics are displayed correctly. 

2. Python

Perhaps the most popular introductory language, Python is object oriented and used to integrate systems or automate tasks. Known for it’s easy to learn syntax and flexible semantics, Python is a good beginners language because it focuses on readability. It’s a script language that reads like English. With Python, programming is often more manageable because fewer lines of coding are required. 

3. Ruby

Ruby is also an easy to read general purpose scripting language and therefore similar to Python. It features a web application framework called Ruby on Rails that provides some shortcuts. While Ruby is more flexible when compared to Python, it is also less direct and explicit in it’s approach. 

4. JavaScript

JavaScript is a fully compatible scripting language and as such is already built into most web browsers. It’s used to create dynamic and interactive web pages for a more user friendly experience by translating static elements into animations.  JavaScript code also helps load new content without having to reload the entire page and is run on only a browser.

5. Java

Java gets it’s syntax fro C and C++. (While these are more difficult to learn, they do impact most programming languages and as such are also a good way to place to start in order to grasp the basic concepts of multiple coding languages.) Java has it’s own platform and is known for it’s ability to run in any virtual machine or browser. It’s a standalone programming language, and is statically typed; meaning it has more structure than the others listed above and needs to be compiled before it can be executed.

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page.