15 Habits to Boost Your Productivity When Working Remote

15 Habits to Boost Your Productivity When Working Remote

Who doesn’t want to improve their productivity? After all, you get more things done in less time. That gives you more time for more fun and for rest. However, boosting your productivity isn’t about easy one-time fixes. It’s about developing the right habits that you continue to do day in and day out. When these habits become instinctive, the increase in productivity is sure to follow.

Here are the 15 habits you need to start developing so your productivity gets a boost:

1. Get enough sleep

This means not too little, and not too much either. Studies have found out that sleeping too much can actually lead to as many absent days as sleeping too few hours during the night. Researchers found that people who slept an average of 7 to 8 hours a night had the fewest days absent than people who slept fewer or more hours.

2. Take a daytime nap

Since we’re on the subject of sleeping, a nap during the day works wonders too. Studies indicate that people who take a few minutes off to nap during the day can actually become more productive. Studies found that it can increase your tolerance levels for frustrating situations, and it also helps tone done the impulsive behavior.

3. Exercise after you wake up

Working out right after you wake up is a great way to start the day. You don’t have to go to a gym for hours. A 20-minute jog can really wake you up. One study found that a daily run like this may help you finish problem-solving challenges faster and more efficiently.

4. Neaten up your work desk

A disorganized desk can easily lead to a disorganized mind. The chaos just lessens your capacity to concentrate. You may have non-essential items nearby, and that can lead you to procrastinate. Clean up your work desk, and the organized setup can somehow calm down your brain and help you focus.

5. Organize your entire workspace

Once you’ve tidied up your desk, you may as well declutter your whole office. A study published in the Harvard Business Review revealed that people with messy desks and workspaces are less persistent and less efficient than their neat-desk counterparts. When you’ve got a mess around you, you’re more likely to be more frustrated, and you’re probably feeling more tired as well.

6. Reserve 90 minutes for the most crucial tasks

This is one of the more well-known productivity tricks in the workplace. Everyone knows that you can’t work at full blast every minute of the workday. But if you can do that for just 90 minutes to focus on the most important work, then you don’t ever waste a single day. Even if the rest of the day gets muddled and wasted, at least you got the most important tasks done.

7. Know the most common distractions

One survey identified the top 5 attention-killers in the workplace as texting, Internet surfing, gossiping with colleagues, social media, and email. Be aware of how unproductive these distractions are so you can consciously know how to avoid them.

8. Turn off your phone completely

In fact, turn it off and then put it out of sight. A study discovered that mobile phones are distractions even when you resist them. If it buzzes, it breaks your thought. Even when it’s turned off, the sight of your mobile phone may make you wonder what texts and calls you’ve missed. So hide it away so you can forget about it.

9. Ignore your emails

Most of the time, these emails aren’t really important anyway. However, it can be a major distraction if you’re waiting for an important email. But you can do a little bit of research so you can set up the emails from a specific sender to your cell phone via text. So you can ignore all your emails, and know that your phone will alert you when the crucial email comes through.

10. Do what’s easier for you

It’s easy enough to understand that you’re more efficient at tasks that come naturally to you. So reserve those tasks for yourself. What about the other tasks that don’t come naturally to you? Those you can delegate to someone else or you can negotiate a “trade” of tasks with other coworkers. It’s the kind of trading that can actually foster team spirit, since what’s difficult for you may be much easier for someone else.

11. Prioritize properly

What if you can’t trade the tasks that you don’t like? In that case, you can concentrate on the most crucial tasks when you’re feeling at the top of your game. When you’re tired, you may want to stick to less challenging tasks like dealing with email. Even procrastination isn’t always bad when you put off dealing with email and junk mail.

12. Optimize your meetings

It’s a long-running joke in business circles that meetings are largely a waste of everyone’s time. But you can make your meetings more productive with a few tips. You should make a plan and limit the agenda to 3 items. When people in the meeting bring up suggestions that aren’t necessarily on topic, write them down so they can be discussed at another time. Finally, set a timer to 30 minutes, at which point people are required to stand up and move around. This lightens everyone up and helps people to focus.

13. Get out of the office

Actually, get out of the building and get some sun. If you can’t, then at least work near a window. A study found out that the workers who worked near a window performed significantly better on tests and processed calls much faster than their sun-deprived counterparts.

14. Complain the right way

The “wrong” way to complain is when you want to lay blame on someone else. The right way to complain is to point out a problem and a possible solution. This way doesn’t lead to strife and tension.

15. Engage your workforce

You can help make your whole team more productive simply by defining your expectations clearly while you also regularly offer positive feedback. These Management 101 methods can really decrease turnover and boost productivity and customer ratings.

As you can see, these habits aren’t all that hard to adopt. You just need to do them every day, and you’ll keep doing them out of habit. Once these habits are in place, you’ll find that your workplace productivity will improve as well.

Author Details
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.
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Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.

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5 Best Ways to Motivate Your Employees in 2019

5 Effective Ways to Motivate Your Employees in 2019

Every entrepreneur should know just how crucial motivation is in the success of their business. This inner drive can easily push your business to reach new heights as it’s the very key to productivity.

While you might have all the reasons in the world to work hard for your business, your team members might not be in the same boat as you. Your employees can be motivated by lots of things to do well in their jobs but there are instances that they lose sight of what drives them. This can then cause some lagging in your venture’s progress.

Effective Techniques to Motivate Your Employees

What can you do when you hit a snag like this? The first thing would be to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Try to determine whether you’re providing an ideal work environment for your workers.

It is said that it’s all about balance if you want to stay motivated.

Just think about it: lots of leaders and entrepreneurs get to enjoy a good balance between work and rest because they have already achieved a certain amount of success. The relative freedom that comes with success is pretty much a reward for the hard work required for the achievement.

As a result, you’re freed to focus on other things and even relax a bit since you don’t have to do everything anymore. This gives you ample free time to balance work and play to help you stay leveled and in good shape to focus with work the next day.

Not all workplaces offer the same thing to all of its employees and it can kill their motivation and hurt their productivity. So how do you remedy such an issue? Here are five ways that you can try:

1. Offer a salary increase

If your employee has consistently worked hard to provide great results for your company, then, rewarding them with an increase in salary would be the best way to keep them motivated. This is the most popular form of expressing your appreciation for their efforts.

By providing a slight increase in their salary, they’ll know that their hard work is not in vain. They’ll feel fully acknowledged for persevering to achieve and exceed company goals.

As a lot of experts say, your best investment is your people, so you should look at this technique as another solid investment for your business. With a group of highly motivated and highly productive people, you can be sure that your business will move forward.

2. Incentivize regularly

Can’t afford to increase your team’s salary just yet? Then incentivizing achievements could be a great alternative. This doesn’t have to come in monetary form all the time, though. Sometimes you can just host a fun activity or a celebration instead. It can also come in the form of vacation days and even small gifts.

The best time to incentivize your crew is when they successfully achieved something as a team. If it’s not exactly a major feat, hosting a celebration of sorts would be a good way to express your appreciation for their hard work. You can take the whole team out for dinner, drinks, or even an actual vacation. You can decide depending on what their accomplishments are.

Small incentives can also be great motivators. Some companies like to give out gifts to their top performers from time to time so you can also do that if your business requires individual work.

Giving your team ample time off can also be a good way to keep them in high spirits. This will help them achieve a healthy work-life balance, so you should also look closely into this kind of incentive.

3. Be expressive in your appreciation

Commending your team members when they did a good job is possibly the simplest way to keep your people motivated. It’s also one of the most overlooked techniques, so as a team leader, you should keep this trick in mind.

The most effective way to execute this trick is by having one-on-ones with your team members after they performed well. Doing this can easily validate their hard work which can work wonders on their mood and how they look at their job. These talks can also help you establish a better connection with your employees and improve your professional relationship so it’s a win for everyone.

4. Offer free food

If your operations allow it, why not offer free food as well? It’s proven that free food can lighten the mood in any setting, so it would be a great idea to add it to your workplace.

Being well-fed while taking on important challenges can really help boost a person’s mood. It can make your team feel like they’re being cared for. It can also provide some financial ease since they don’t have to spend money to fill their stomachs.

5. Create learning opportunities

Aside from accomplishing tasks and getting recognized for it, it’s also important to make your team realize that they’re not headed towards a dead-end. They shouldn’t feel like they’re stuck or that their careers are headed nowhere. This will make them lose all of their motivation and it will be tough to gain them back again.

Countering this shouldn’t be a tricky thing to do. You can always find ways to show them the bigger picture that they’re a part of. Your employees can surely see how the business is progressing thanks to their hard work.

Aside from this, you should also create opportunities for their growth. This is the very reason why companies send their top people to seminars and training. These can better hone their skills and teach them new skills that can be beneficial for the business.

Promotions are also essential. Even in smaller businesses, it could help if you can increase the responsibilities tasked on your top performers. This will not just make them feel rewarded for their hard work but it can also help them move ahead in their professional life.

Motivating your employees may be tricky but it’s highly necessary if you want your business to succeed. All of your efforts will prove to be well worth it in the end if you do manage to motivate your employees as it can lead to productivity and low turnover numbers.

Here are a few other ideas

Author Details
Editor-In-Chief
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

john@lastartups.com
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Editor-In-Chief
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

john@lastartups.com

How is Coworking Great For The Los Angeles Tech Scene

100 Shared Office And Desk Space to Work in Los Angeles

Check out these 100 coworking spaces in LA.

Co-working spaces have started to take off recently, and it’s all thanks to the need of business locations. A city like Los Angeles tends to have very high rent and purchase prices for real estate, and that means you need to find a great way to acquire new business locations. But if you’re a business or a freelancer that needs a business presence yet which lacks the necessary amount of money, it’s super hard for you to get the job done properly and not worry about possible problems.

And that’s where the need for co-working places comes into play. These locations are very different when compared to a regular office for example. And that’s because there are multiple businesses all residing in a single place.

How is co-working great for the Los Angeles Tech Scene?

Tons of startups want to grow and evolve. And they can totally do that with the right amount of help and support. Even freelancers need a proper business location as they want to avoid working from home. Juice bars and coffee shops are ok for them, but they can end up being problematic as time goes by. You are much better off going for a shared workspace. You do have plenty of space to share with others, yet at the same time, you can fulfill your tasks and just enjoy your time without that much of a problem too.

The Los Angeles co-working spaces are designed with affordability in mind. They are quite affordable, way more affordable than a rental. That’s why most freelancers and startup owners gravitate towards such a place. They also encourage networking, which is why a lot of people enjoy co-working in the first place. It just offers you a way to connect with business professionals in the same industry.

And since the tech industry is booming in Los Angeles, it’s easy to see that the co-working spaces are amazing networking places, to begin with. On top of that, they do offer flexibility. You are free to come and work at any given hour during the day or night. And you also have amenities like coffee machines, fully equipped kitchens and so on. The only difference is that you don’t have to worry about the leasing formalities anymore. And the costs are way lower, which is what makes this entire process very convenient and amazing in its own right.

Who uses co-working spaces in Los Angeles?

It might sound a bit cliché, but every business that wants to grow and save money tends to focus on this type of spaces. And the benefit is that they can easily make quite a lot of money while also avoiding lots of expenses. Every tiny expense matters if you plan on saving money, so it certainly makes a lot of sense to use such co-working spaces.

But the interesting thing is that even some of the large organizations are coming onboard with this. It makes a lot of sense to use co-working spaces especially when they want to transition to a new building. Plus, they can cut the expenses if they want to downsize and use a smaller team, then outsource some of the other tasks.

The great thing is that tons of companies in Los Angeles see co-working spaces as an opportunity, and that’s great for them. Even companies like Merck, KPMG and many others are actively involved in using co-working spaces. So it’s safe to say that there’s a lot of interesting in using such working spaces, and it’s something that you will enjoy and appreciate quite a bit due to that.

How does this affect the rental prices?

Since we are talking about Los Angeles, the rental prices are still very high and they are not going to be lower anytime soon. There’s a huge demand for office spaces in the town, so companies that create co-working spaces are the right solution especially for smaller businesses that want to grow and which need to establish their own presence in the city.

An interesting thing about co-working spaces is that they also provide virtual addresses. That means customers or business partners can easily send inquiries or packages to the company and they will be received at the co-working space. It’s a great way to acquire a Los Angeles office address, and the best part is it costs way less than regular rent prices.

Do these co-working spaces replicate a traditional office?

In some ways they do, because you do have amenities and immediate access to features that are a part of any office. These include printers, scanners and any utilities needed by various companies. Some co-working spaces in Los Angeles have 3D printers too, not to mention they have small conference rooms too. So you can actually create or attend a conference in there without any problems.

You do have to wonder, who is the target for these co-working spaces? As we mentioned earlier, small companies and freelancers are extremely important for those persons that create co-working spaces. However, if we talk about the age range, most of the time the interested persons will be millennials. They are the ones that have lots of great ideas and which lack the funds to create a large business.

The co-working spaces in Los Angeles provide them with enough space to work on their projects, all while still being able to connect with other business professionals. However, you will also find older and more experienced business professionals and freelancers that work from the co-working spaces. They decided to opt for these co-working spaces because they offer more efficiency and a great way to generate leads and new business partners or attracting new clients.

As you can see, more and more co-working spaces are used in Los Angeles, and it’s a great thing to hear. Small and medium-sized businesses are actively focused on innovation, and they want to use all their income to grow and evolve. The last thing they want is to spend most of their money on rent, so the co-working spaces are very convenient for them!

Check out these 100 coworking spaces in LA.

Author Details
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.
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Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.

Can You Measure Software Developer Productivity?

Can You Measure Software Developer Productivity?

The cost of software development kills innovation by limiting resources available to solve problems

THE PRODUCTIVITY DILEMMA

Let’s face it – software development is expensive.  Really expensive.  It’s not hard to understand why – software development is a complicated and still-maturing industry, and as the sector grows, it actually gets more complicated, not less, because of the acceleration of changes in technologies, programming languages, and toolsets.

As a technology consultant, one who is paid to help build expensive, complex systems, I should be happier than a fanboy on a Fortnite bender about this trend, right?  Wrong – it frustrates me a great deal.  My job is to solve problems and build things that people need, and that gets harder when funding becomes a challenge for our clients.

So here’s the question I’ve been grappling with – how can we make software development more productive to reduce costs?

There are lots of things our industry has done over the preceding decades to tackle this problem:

  • Developed working methodologies to build repeatable practices – Waterfall, Unified Process, Agile, XP, etc.
  • Created design patterns to solve common problems – MVC, SOLID, GoF, and many others
  • Leveraged lower cost resources through offshoring

None of these have been a panacea.  Look at any enterprise and you’ll find competing for SDLC methodologies, loose adherence to design practices, and the common efficiency roadblocks due to offshoring.  While these efforts have been helpful in managing cost, it is very difficult to measure the effect they have really had.

MEASURING PRODUCTIVITY

What to do, then?  More than anything, the focus of productivity has to start with the most human element of all – the individual developer herself.  The focus has to be on how to increase the speed that a developer can turn a designed solution into working code with as few errors as possible.

Anyone who has been in the software industry knows there are broad ranges in developers’ productivity.   It depends on the individual’s ability to understand programming theory, their educational background, years of experience, a personal situation at the time, how much Fortnite they play, etc.

Why is this important?  Quite simply, time is money.  The longer it takes a developer to code a solution, the more it costs.  In today’s environment of nearly full employment, demand for software developers has never been higher, which brings a lot of varied talent into the picture to meet the demand.  Anyone who has hired a developer knows the productivity gap I’m talking about – hiring is an expensive proposition and no matter how much interviewing you do, and you’re never sure what sort of productivity you’ll get until that person gets to work.

Why is measuring productivity so hard?  Because a good measurement involves an apples-to-apples comparison between developers, yet they will almost never complete the same task to produce the same set of code.  Since every development task is different, we cannot establish a baseline for how long it SHOULD take to perform a task versus how long it WILL take a specific developer.  Throw in each person’s differing levels of experience, education, and general abilities with the discipline, and…you get the picture.

Does that mean we’re stuck with technical interviews, coding tests, and answered prayers to create a team of highly productive software engineers?  Not quite.  Agile practices give us an opportunity to solve the biggest challenge in measuring developer productivity – creating a baseline to measure the variance between the estimated and actual time to perform a coding task.

HOW IT WORKS

Every ALM tool – Jira, or otherwise – allows a Scrum team to create story sub-tasks during their planning sessions.  Usually, a developer assigned to a sub-task has an opportunity to estimate the time it should take to complete that task, measured in hours.  During the sprint, developers can then track the actual hours spent so the team can evaluate the variance between estimated and actual hours.

This variance isn’t particularly helpful as a productivity metric because the individual developer may be much faster or slower than the average, and their estimations likely reflect this bias.

The solution to this problem is to have all the developers on the Scrum team estimate each subtask duration, creating a proxy baseline and a more reasonable expectation of the task’s duration.  Then, once a task is assigned to the individual developer, the variance calculations can start to have some meaning.

What meaning are we to glean from this variance? When looking at large sets of variances (hundreds or thousands of tasks over multiple projects), we can observe patterns in individual developers’ productivity.  If they consistently take longer to complete a task than the established baseline, we can look more deeply at the data to find root causes and potential remediations.  Is there a skills mismatch, allocation mismatch, or something else?  Does the developer need more pair programming or training in specific areas?

If a developer consistently performs tasks in less time than the estimations, we have hard metrics to reward that individual and encourage continued productivity.  We can also look at the data to see how we might have other developers emulate good behaviors from these high performers.

IMPLICATIONS

I know I know – I can hear the complaints now.  A small group of 2-4 developers on a Scrum team estimating a task cannot be used as a valid baseline, you say.  It’s a fair point, but any leftover estimation bias from a small sample size of developers would be offset by the volume of variance data we would collect.  As a manager, I care more about the variance trends and less about the exactness of anyone variance calculation.

But wait, you say.  All of this supposes a developer will be truthful in reporting their actual duration on a task.  People lie to themselves and others all the time (just read “Everybody Lies” by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz) – if a developer knows they’ll be measured on variance, they’ll manipulate their actuals to improve their perceived productivity.

Again, fair point, but there is a self-policing solution to this problem.  An employee is generally expected to work 8 hours a day.  If a developer consistently under-reports their actual durations on a task, it would appear they were consistently working less than they should be.

Say a developer is assigned two 4-hour tasks, and he takes 1 day to complete both but only reports 2 hours of actual duration for each task.  We would see a report that shows him only working 4 hours that day.  With enough data points, we could easily spot a trend of under-reporting and take corrective action.

CONCLUSION

Why is all of this important?  As individuals, not just employees, we should all strive to improve ourselves every day.  That’s how society is supposed to work – we do things, we make mistakes, we learn from them and we grow in the process.  But we can’t improve what we can’t measure.  The method I describe is very easy to implement, as long as your team is following the Scrum ceremonies.  With simple metrics and trend analysis, maybe we can finally solve a difficult problem and leave ourselves more time to knock a few more things of that ever-growing to-do list.

Chad Hahn
Author Details
Optimity Advisors, Inc.
Chad Hahn is a partner overseeing the digital & technology practice at Optimity Advisors. He is an entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in strategy, business development, operations, and technology, and has started and sold two successful service businesses. He has a strong background in software engineering and enterprise architecture, with deep expertise in both traditional and emerging technologies.
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Chad Hahn
Optimity Advisors, Inc.
Chad Hahn is a partner overseeing the digital & technology practice at Optimity Advisors. He is an entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in strategy, business development, operations, and technology, and has started and sold two successful service businesses. He has a strong background in software engineering and enterprise architecture, with deep expertise in both traditional and emerging technologies.