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When Small Businesses Should Turn to Outsourcing

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

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

Four Signs Outsourcing for Small Business Could Help Your Company

1. The Same Problems Keep Coming Up

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

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

2. Requested Work is Out of Your Wheelhouse

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Overcome 7 Common Software Development Obstacles

Launching a newly developed software is as challenging as it is rewarding. Developing software from the ground up is no easy feat. It takes a lot of planning, time management, and knowledge of the ins and outs of information technology. When the launch of a software development project goes off without a hitch, it’s an IT miracle. It’s known that with software development, as with most IT projects, there can be some obstacles to overcome. More often than not, things go wrong within the coding or through a development process that must be fixed. Sometimes developers even have to go back to square one and start the entire project over. However, that is not always the case. Developers prepared to overcome obstacles are often successful in doing so. The key is knowing how to overcome common software development obstacles. This way you can ensure that the launch of your software goes smoothly.

You may be asking yourself if every software development project is different, what are common software development obstacles? And that’s what we’re here to help you with today. Follow along to learn how to overcome 7 common software development obstacles before starting your next project.

7 Common Software Development Obstacles You Can Overcome

1. Poor Time Management Sets Unrealistic Expectations

Mismanaged timelines and missed launch dates are common obstacles that people overcome during a software development project. Whether it’s due to unforeseen roadblocks or issues that were expected to come up, there’s not much worse for a project than an extended delay. One of the best ways to avoid missed deadlines is to brainstorm with your team before starting the project. What could go wrong? Which pieces are expected to break? Where do you foresee there being delays? Being prepared for the inevitable bumps in the road is the best way to get over them smoothly and without too much delay. When a problem does come up that threatens the timely delivery of a project, stay calm, get the team together, and work as a group to find the best way forward.

2. Issues with Integration

Compatibility can be an issue with any project. When developing new software from the ground up, how do you ensure it pairs with all the tools the client already uses? One of the best ways to go about integration is through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs). Another option is to partner with the other tech brands that the client is prone to use. Find ways to work together with already utilized tools and teams of developers experienced with said tools.

3. Breakdowns in Communication

No software development program was launched alone. Depending on the size of the software development project, the team working on it can be as small as 5 people or as large as 20. When a communication breakdown occurs, it can have disastrous effects that could put the entire project in jeopardy. One of the best ways to avoid a communication breakdown is by hiring an effective project manager. Someone who can divide tasks among the team then ensure each of them is done and any changes which may affect the entire development outcome are communicated effectively is imperative to a successful project.

4. Overloading the Software with Features

While some features are necessary, others can be downright frivolous and simply load a software down. There is such a thing as too much and, when it comes to software, the line between just enough and too much is very thin. One of the best ways to circumvent overloading your software is to focus on features that truly embellish the core goal of the program. Less is always more in software and features that help the software rise above other programs are useful, but the goal of the software is to solve a problem, not create more, so keep features slim.

5. Not Understanding Exactly What the Software is For

One of the best ways to succeed in software development is to have a clear vision of what success looks like. Being able to completely understand how your software should work if it is working well will make it much easier to get to that finished point. Determine the “why” of the software before beginning the development process. Once you start, do not waiver from that why without good reason.

6. Not Realizing the Importance of Quality Assurance

Customer satisfaction is dependent on extensive quality assurance. Sending a software development project out into the world without assuring it is working as well as it possibly can is IT suicide. In order to achieve a high-performance product, the quality of the coding needs to be reviewed and tested continuously throughout development. Consider hiring a tester from a third-party source or create your own quality assurance checklist, in-house, and employ it repetitively.

7. Not Having a Target Audience Defined

While you, and your team, may think that your new software project is the best thing since sliced bread, not everyone will. Defining a target audience can help to avoid wasting time and money once the project is launched. Outline the demographics of the ideal user of your software. Then build a marketing plan that will appeal to that demographic. There are third-party companies available to complete market research, including focus groups, which can help identify the perfect consumer and what rings true with them in regards to marketing.

There are a lot of dos and don’ts to consider when developing new software. These are some of the software development obstacles our team has learned to avoid.

The more dos you can accomplish and don’ts you can avoid, the more likely your project will launch smoothly. All in all, the more planning you can put into your project prior to starting, the better. The tips above will help you to avoid a variety of issues, but there are always unforeseen circumstances.

If you are in the middle of a software development project and have hit a roadblock, Number8 can help. Our dedicated team of software developers located in Louisville, Kentucky and at our nearshore office in Costa Rica has worked together to launch countless software projects successfully. Contact us today by calling 502-890-7665 to learn more about what we can do to help you wrap up your project.

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.

How Costa Rica is Leading the Way Towards Sustainable Tourism

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

Efforts to Counteract Waste Produced by Tourism

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

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

Investing in Renewable Energy

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

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

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

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!

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.