How to Develop a Successful Remote Work Policy

A lot of CEOs, higher-ups, and business executives in charge of policy change hesitate to incorporate remote workers into their company dynamic. There are a few reasons for this hesitation. For one, a lot of people traditionally think that remote work weakens the office dynamic. Another reason executives hesitate to have remote work options is because they aren’t able to monitor the employees who work from home. However, remote workers are quite beneficial to employers if they can develop a successful remote work policy.

Remote workers allow for companies to reduce costs by downsizing their office space. Productivity also increases when remote workers are involved. There is less time spent commuting and fewer opportunities for distraction when employees work from home. The talent pool also opens up when employers consider opening up certain positions to remote workers. However, incorporating remote workers into a company’s dynamic can only be successful when a remote work policy is developed and enforced. So, how does a CEO or a group of executive develop a successful remote work policy? There are many ways to do it and we’ll outline some of those further in this blog.

4 Ways Employers Can Develop a Successful Remote Work Policy

1. Executives Should Set Clear Expectations for Remote Workers

Setting clear expectations for remote workers from the beginning will make incorporating remote workers into office life much easier. Remote workers should be clear on when they are expected to check-in for work and when they are able to check-out for the day. Any remote employee should also be fully aware of their role and their day-to-day responsibilities. Employers should outline clear guidelines on what is expected of remote workers. This will make it easier for them to do their job efficiently and effectively. Executives who create ways for their remote workers to easily show what work they’ve completed open up a line of communication that allows for workers to document their tasks and show their worth. When executives set clear expectations for their remote workers there is a higher likelihood that remote workers will succeed and bring the company success.

2. Executives Should Prioritize Getting Face-to-Face with Remote Employees

Despite remote workers being out of the office, an executive should not allow them to feel out of the loop. Executives can host video chats that aren’t work-related with their remote employees. They can also have face-to-face meetings. However they do it, executives should prioritize face-to-face time with their remote employees. Facetime with remote employees will make them feel just as included as in-house employees and, with that mentality, they are more likely to deliver their best work.

3. Employers Can Make Everyone “Remote” for Meetings

There aren’t many things that make remote workers feel so far away as video conferencing into a meeting where everyone else is together in the same room. One way for employers to make remote workers feel more comfortable with their long-distance positions is to ask all workers, in-house and remote, to video conference into meetings. The loose rule “if anyone is remote, everyone is remote” can go a long way in and out of the office. When remote workers don’t feel quite as alienated in their day-to-day responsibilities, it shows in their work and their attitudes.

4. Employers and Employees Should Remain Flexible

One of the most important things that employers and employees, alike, can do when remote workers are being integrated into the workforce is to remain flexible. Remote workers are each their own person with their own workflow, approach, and time management skills. Therefore, it’s unlikely that remote workers will succeed if an executive implements a rigid set of requirements. If employers, and fellow in-house employees, are flexible with remote workers schedules, turn around times, and the like (without the work suffering) then introducing remote workers into the office dynamic is much more likely to succeed. One of the best tools that in-house employees can use is cloud-based programs to share information. From notes to assets, if remote workers have the same access as in-house employees, they are likely to succeed.

Develop a Successful Work Policy Today

Remote workers are hugely beneficial to companies large and small alike. They bring diversity, flexibility, and an increase in productivity without a decrease in office space to companies. Though executives may hesitate to hire remote workers if the executives themselves set standards the workers often succeed.

At Number8, we have an office in Louisville, Kentucky and a nearshore office in Costa Rica. Our team of remote workers located in Costa Rica is a huge part of our operation. Additionally, they deliver top-of-the-line work in software development. To learn more about what we do at Number8 or how we can help you, contact us by calling 502-890-7665!

The Best Cybersecurity Practices for Remote Employees

While some companies are becoming more and more open to the idea of remote employees, a lot of corporate companies still have reservations. When a company opens up to the idea of remote employees, a few things happen. People who are efficient in-house workers become interested in moving their work to a home office. And corporate starts to worry about data breaches on their remote employees’ computers. A study done by the popular company Shred-It showed that over 85% of C-Level executives thought that the risk of getting company data breached was more prevalent when employees were stationed at home. And these executives aren’t worried without cause. Data breaches affected an entire third of remote workers in the United Kingdom over the last year which has put companies at risk left and right. 

However, data breaches should not deter all companies from allowing workers to work remotely. The benefits of remote employees far outweigh the downfalls. When a company chooses to allow employees to work from home they not only open up brick and mortar space but also widen their search area when looking for qualified employees to hire. And there are ways to practice safe cybersecurity and prevent data breaches from affecting remote employees. This is what we’re talking about on our blog today, so follow along to learn more about the best safe cybersecurity practices for remote employees.

5 Essential Cybersecurity Practices Remote Employees Should Follow

When it comes down to it, once an employee is working remotely there isn’t much the company can do to protect their devices and data from being hacked. However, there are plenty of safe cybersecurity practices that employees can apply to their work routine to keep themselves, their equipment, and the company’s data secure.

1. Keep Track and Control Of All Devices

One of the main reasons that data breaches occur is because an employee loses their device that holds their work-related information. Across airports in the United States, a laptop is stolen every minute and the majority of those stolen objects are never reunited with their owners. As a remote employee, it is crucial to understand that hackers, and other cybercriminals, are keeping an eye out for the opportune moment to knick a laptop or tablet in hopes it has sensitive information on it. Therefore it is critical to keep track and have control over all your devices when in public. There are multiple ways to do this including:

  • Use the highest level of security to lock and unlock your devices. Touch IDs, 6-digit passcodes, and double factor authentication should be activated.
  • Enable the “Find My Device” feature, so if your computer, laptop, or phone is lost then it may be easier to find if it is lost or stolen.
  • Keep your phone, tablet, or computer with you at all times with no exceptions.

2. Be Careful Using Public WiFi

It can be tempting to take advantage of free WiFi in cafes, restaurants, book stores, and the like; however, it is not always a safe option. Public computers and WiFi connections are easily hackable and, if cracked, hackers can gain access to all files and stored credentials you accessed while on the computer. It is better to avoid public computers and password-free WiFi connections altogether, but if you absolutely must use it then be sure to remember the following:

  • Obscure the view of your screen as best as possible. In an ideal situation, you are able to have your back facing a wall and limited space to your sides.
  • Do not go to any websites that store sensitive information in regards to your job. This includes usernames, passwords, client information, etc.
  • Manually clear all documents you downloaded while using a public computer. This is so others cannot see what files you downloaded and access them, as well.
  • Make sure that the computer is not storing any of your login credentials permanently and restart the device after you are done using it to remove temporary files.

3. Setup and Use Encrypted Email

If you’re in a position that requires you to send sensitive information through email then email encryption is a must. 90% of email is sent as plain text which is not secure in any way and susceptible to spies and hackers. However, with email encryption, any information sent over email is scrambled. This way it is only able to be read when the recipient receives the email and decrypts it.

If you’re working from home and it’s been approved by your employer, they should be able to install email encryption software onto your remote work technology. It will ensure that your computer, tablet, and phone are more secure and their information is safe.

4. Do Not Use USBs That Have Not Been Proven Safe

It’s not uncommon for remote employees to use USB drives. Whether they are needing something from the office or need to send something to the office, USB drives help. However, USB drives from unknown sources can contain malicious software. It’s important to remember to never insert an unverified USB into your remote work computer. This even includes USB drives that you may pick up at work-related events. Risking a security breach is not worth waiting to verify the USB or get the files another way (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.)

If you want to go further into safe cybersecurity practices, it’s also important to not let other users plug their USB drives into your computer. There is no way to know what is on their USB drives. They may or may not be aware of a malicious file. Even if you know the person, do not allow it.

5. If Any Issues Arise, Get Your Company’s IT Team Involved

If you fear that the device you use for work has been compromised, notify your company’s IT team immediately. It is so important to be aware of what a breach looks like:

  • Increasing amounts of pop-up ads and spam while you’re browsing or using programs.
  • Slowing down of the computer despite it not running a lot of programs.
  • More and more error messages when trying to perform simple tasks.
  • A change to your homepage, search engine, or browsing settings.

While the company’s IT team may not be able to save your computer, they need to know that data has been breached. This way they can take the necessary steps to further protect the company’s data and servers. It is best practice to tell your IT team everything you can about the breach. Try to remember when exactly it could have occurred, how, and why.

There are a lot of benefits to companies having remote workers. However, concerns of a cybersecurity breach can deter executives from taking the leap. By being aware of ways to prevent cybersecurity breaches through common practices, workers can further prove remote work is safe.

At Number8, we have offices in Louisville, Kentucky and Costa Rica where we employee remote workers. With the proper training, awareness, and precautions, we are able to employ remote workers without any trouble. To learn more about what we do at Number8, visit our About page. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and how we can help your business, contact us today.

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.

Preparing for the Remote Work Culture

If you’re making the transition to remote work after working in an office from 9-5, 5 days a week, you’ll quickly learn a notable difference in the work culture. Whether you’re looking to work from home or are an employer wanting to outsource tasks, getting familiar with the customs of those who work remotely will help you know what to expect.

Here are 3 unwritten rules of remote work:

1. Everything starts on time.

Because you’re not sitting in traffic during your morning commute, there’s really no excuse for being late. In the remote world, meetings start on time down to the minute. One of the biggest benefits of working from home is that it allows you to better manage every minute of your day. Couple that with the fact that you could be collaborating with someone in a different time zone, and every minute really starts to count. To make sure you don’t experience a technical delay, get used to checking your equipment early each morning.

2. Communication is key.

Sure, communication is key in any work situation. But when you’re communicating with someone who isn’t sitting in the next cubicle, it becomes even more prudent. In fact, 90% of how we communicate is nonverbal, so if you’re working remotely online, it can be easy for a few things to get lost in translation. Expect to over communicate by being prompt in your responses and utilizing the many tools available to you. Remember that the tone of online communication tends to be straightforward and casual. When it applies, provide links or visual examples for full transparency. Shared calendars and collaborative applications can help to keep everyone on the same page, whether it be project deadlines, tasks or vacation days. 

3. Nurture workplace relationships.

Yes, workplace relationships are still a thing when you work from home. While they can be hard to cultivate because of language barriers and time zones, a good workplace dynamic is an invaluable asset and can help ensure a project’s success. Taking the time to build camaraderie through friendly correspondence can go a long way. When possible, opt for an in person meeting, video or phone call, and consider using a chat app for water cooler talk.

As an employer, think about implementing a remote work policy to help establish standards and keep everyone accountable. A company mission can help communicate your vision and values, and as a result keep remote employees motivated.

At Number 8, we help companies connect with qualified remote employees to help with software development. We also focus on helping companies improve their internal IT processes. 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 here!

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.