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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.

3 Ted Talks That Will Change the Way You Think About Work

Sometimes we all need a little pick me up during the work week. What better way to reboot the mind and motivate ourselves to keep carrying on than a really good Ted Talk? Here are our favorite talks that will help change the way you think about stress and work.

Kelly McGonigal- How to Make Stress Your Friend

In her 2013 Ted Talk, Psychologist Kelly McGonigal challenges the idea that stress is the cause of all our problems by siting a study that illustrates stress is actually only harmful if you believe it is. In this study, participants who experienced stress, but didn’t believe it was harmful, had a lower risk of death than those with less stress.  According to McGonigal, “How you think and act can transform your experience of stress.” Instead of viewing signs of anxiety and stress as the body failing to cope, think of it as the body getting energized and rising to a challenge. Re-framing the way we perceive stress often results in a healthier stress response, or what McGonigal calls a “biology of courage.”

Stressed at work? Watch it here: 

Shawn Achor- The Happy Secret to Better Work

Psychologist Shawn Achor’s 2011 Ted Talk aims to reverse the status quo when it comes to our formula for happiness and success. According to Achor, “Success is predicted by optimism levels, social support and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat.” Though we tend to think that working harder will give us more success and more success will make us happier, we are always changing the definition of success. “If happiness is on the opposite side of success,” says Achor, “your brain never gets there.” Instead, we should make use of what he calls the “happiness advantage.” When we’re happy, our brain performs better. This is because in addition to making us positive, dopamine also turns on all the learning centers in our brain. As a result, we’re often more productive when we’re happy and every single business outcome improves.

Interested in the happiness advantage? Watch here:

Theresa Glomb- Let’s Make Work Better

Organizational Psychologist Theresa Glomb’s Ted Talk addresses the negative conversation we so often have around work and offers advice on how we can take more power over our work lives. According to Glomb, the bad things that happen at work can have as much as 5 to 10 times the impact on our mood than the good things. To remedy this “asymmetry affect,” Glomb offers a few tricks to make us happier at work. Namely, work hard, have fun, choose kind and be present.

Looking for a fresh perspective at work? Watch here:

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 give us a call at (502) 890-7665. 

How to Approach Project Management the Agile Way

An agile approach to project management has become prolific within many industries ranging from software development, construction and even marketing. Approaching a project the agile way ensures the product meets the client’s needs in a timely manner. The agile method also specifically makes room for improvements along the way rather than at the end when a lot of effort has already gone into the finished product. The result is often a shorter development cycle and quicker product release.  

However, an agile project manager’s duties differ from that of a traditional one’s. While the typical project manager is tasked with communication and quality control and manages the scope, cost, risk and personnel, many of these responsibilities are spread throughout the team in an agile workforce. 

Agile encourages team members to determine how to best achieve their tasks, report on their progress and determine their own schedule. Instead of a project manager, teams evaluate their own time and cost as they move through their work. Project goals are set by what is called a “product owner” and an agile project manager is referred to as a “scrum master.” 

The scrum master (or agile project manager) deals with problems as they arise and handles interruptions so his or her team can focus on the work at hand. This often comes in the form of facilitating meetings and discussions, removing progress blockers and setting priorities.

While traditional project management dictates a detailed master plan that must be followed, the agile way aims to determine the requirements as the project progresses. For this reason, an agile project manager tends to only be utilized in particularly larger complex projects. 

When approaching project management through the agile mindset, one must:

Be Flexible

Agile is built to incorporate regular feedback, updates and changes in requirements. While it’s important to understand the end goal and overall scope of a project from the start, an agile project has many cycles to it’s completion. Therefore, an agile project manager must be flexible enough to work with what is thrown their way rather than adhere to an unchangeable itinerary. 

Prioritize Client Satisfaction

At the end of the day, project management has always been done in the name of customer service. This is perhaps exemplified in the agile model as a project manager is in constant flux when it comes to meeting a client’s ever changing needs. It’s important therefore to remember that the end goal is to ultimately satisfy the client even if it’s at cost to the original plan.

Embrace Meetings

Coordinating with team members, stakeholders and clients still remains a large part of an agile project manager’s role. The agile methodology embraces daily meetings often called “scrums” where everyone participates in team transparency. During these scrums, everyone shares what they accomplished the day before as well as what they are working on that day. These are brief workflow updates and can even be done standing up. If not done in person, video conferences are another way of establishing accountability. 

Be Prepared to Problem Solve

Central to an agile project manager’s responsibilities is the ability to quickly adapt and correct course when need be. Continuous improvement ultimately saves valuable resources by reducing the risk of a larger scale failure in the end.

At Number8, we help project managers connect with highly trained and efficient IT support to help reach company goals. 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!

6 Tips for Keeping & Motivating Your Employees

Building a good team is hard, keeping it intact and running full speed ahead can be even harder. As employee retention rates drop across all industries, getting the most out of one’s team, while ensuring they’re all satisfied with their jobs and invested in the outcome of the business is becoming quite the balancing act.  

Because every person is unique in what drives them, taking advantage of multiple strategies is key. Here are 6 techniques to keeping a team focused, happy and inspired.

1. Make time for everyone.

While team meetings are worthwhile in their own right, nothing is as effective as individual attention and feedback. Routinely speaking with each and every team member helps to build a sense of accountability and allows for mentor ship when needed. Everyone wants to feel as if they are contributing something worthwhile. It can help immensely to recognize a team member’s work and show them how their efforts are being utilized. 

2. Provide opportunities for growth.

One of the biggest reasons employees leave is a lack of advancement. Even employees who come in feeling ambitious and excited may start to look elsewhere if their role has no evolution, the company doesn’t promote from within or they’re not being challenged enough. Growth can come in many forms. Sometimes it’s as simple as bestowing a team member with more autonomy, new responsibilities, or additional training. Allowing staff to innovate and take ownership of their tasks often means they are inspired to go the extra step. 

3. Cultivate an open office environment. 

When it comes to making people happy and getting the job done, communication is king. Creating a culture of openness means employees are more likely to speak up and be proactive about potential problems because they feel comfortable doing so. In an office where everyone feels that their perspective is valued, it’s easier as a leader to meet the needs of a team and fulfill project requirements. 

4. Lead by example.

Employees, good and bad, tend to look to their superiors when it comes to work ethic and office habits. In order to instill job satisfaction and motivate one’s team to achieve great results, those in leadership positions need to exemplify the kind of behavior they believe it takes to get there. This starts with striking a good balance between one’s work life and personal life. Instead of expecting the whole team to work long hours, look for them to come in on time and limit personal activities while in the office. These ideals begin and start at the top. Even taking some much deserved time off is a great way to show one’s team that diligent work is rewarded and that self care is valued as well as understood.  

5. Design the office for productivity. 

Everything from lighting, to furniture, noise control and decor can impact a team’s productivity. Take a look at how your office is designed. Does it enable collaboration or distraction? 

6. Create a team atmosphere.

Even if everyone works well on their own, it can boost moral and productivity to act as a cohesive unit. A simple routine lunch or team outing where everyone get’s to socialize and interact on a more personal level can improve how they communicate and work together. 

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in agile 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!

Unexpectedly Losing a Key Team Member- How to Keep Things Moving Along

It happens to the best of us. Things go wrong in business, sometime the best employees quit, and it can be hard for any team to move on.

Preparing for the loss of a leader is good practice to ensure that things get back up and running as smoothly as as possible, as soon as possible, should such a situation befall your company. Here’s how to handle the unexpected exit of a key employee, and minimize any disruption to the day to day operations.

1. Decide privately who is going to fill what role before breaking the news to the rest of the team.

Take the time to fully evaluate the company’s needs and explore all the options available. Whether you decide to promote internally or take the time to find an externally qualified candidate, having a clear direction and temporary solution in place will help prevent a drop in morale and overall productivity.

2. Tell everyone at the same time so they all receive the same information.

Clear communication is necessary in order to avoid inaccuracies and gossip from spreading around the office and instill a sense of leadership.

3. Remain positive and grateful for the lost team member’s contribution.

While everyone is essentially replaceable, you want your remaining team members to feel valued and supported professionally as well as personally. Exhibiting excitement for the lost employee’s success, even if it’s not with you, not only prevents future turnover, it leaves the door open for opportunities yet to come.

4. Conduct an exit interview.

Even though they are leaving, it’s important to find out why. This is a great moment for constructive criticism. Ask them how they would describe the culture as an employee, and what changes they would make if they could, etc. Gaining such insight allows for your team and company to improve and continue to keep employees that are integral assets.

Lastly, be prepared to offer support to your team as roles change, or take on more yourself to make up for the gap during this transition. Doing so will be key in succeeding with as well as finishing current projects.

At Number8, we help project managers connect with highly trained and efficient IT support to help reach company goals. 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!

5 Benefits of Stakeholder Interviews

There’s no denying it, for developers and project managers alike, stakeholders can have a somewhat looming presence throughout the duration of a project. It’s only natural considering they are often deeply invested in the project’s outcome and can even greatly influence the development of it. However, simply taking the time early on to interview those who have a stake in the outcome of the project can have numerous benefits. Here are 5 reasons why you should carve out some time in the planning stages of your next project and chat with your stakeholders.

1. Craft a Cohesive Vision

Often there are a lot of key players involved in any given project. What better opportunity than the early stages to come to a common consensus on execution? Chances are there may be more than one stakeholder, so sitting down with each one and shedding light on their own unique perspective can help your team anticipate how they will each influence the process and enable you to drive alignment right from the start. 

2. Set the Right Goals & Priorities

Consider this part of the research stage. Stakeholders can provide much needed context for what the success of a project will look like as they are part of the user audience. Therefore, inquiring about each stakeholder’s goals, agenda, and purpose will provide immeasurable insight in terms of delivering a satisfactory end product.

3. It Saves Time & Money

When you don’t have to rely on assumptions, you save your team from having to do time-consuming and costly rework. Having a conversation with stakeholders at the beginning, is proactive and will help to establish a realistic project plan and scope. 

4. Collaboration

Collaboration and communication is just good business. Having a rapport with your project’s stakeholders builds trust and credibility. The relationship with stakeholders should be viewed as more of a partnership in which each side feels validated and helps drive the project forward.

5. Proactive Problem Solving

Stakeholders are a valuable asset to any project not only through their monetary support, but their ability to voice concerns and identify challenges. Interviewing them from the start is a great way to see the constraints your team may be facing and bring things to the surface now rather than later. Structure the development process like a walk through, and allow them to aid in the decision making process. 

At Number8, our philosophy is to empower our clients to produce better software, faster. We are experts in augmenting scrum teams with senior consultants that can help increase team velocity immediately. 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.