All posts by John Rampton

What Leaders Can Learn From Great Teachers

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leaders great teachers

“The best teachers are leaders, and the best leaders are also teachers,” says Harvard Business School Professor Thomas DeLong, who has taught over 20,000 MBAs and executives across the globe since 1997. According to him, teachers, as with leaders, “should be like a mad scientist who can’t wait to get to the classroom to share the experiment. If you adopt this mindset, students will remain intellectually and spiritually in the classroom with you.”

With that in mind, as parents are rejoicing their children are returning back to school, here are some leadership lessons they can learn from teachers.

Have the ability to influence.

Leadership ability is often measured in the context of business performance in many organizations, Will Fan, CEO of NewCampus, writes in Forbes. However, there is more to it than just a focus on the bottom line.

“I’ve found it’s actually the ability to inspire individuals with their own agendas and cause others to rally behind a common goal that makes an effective leader,” he adds. “In a single word, it’s influence.” Efficiency gains follow.

“If you think about it, influence is largely about communication,” says Fan. “It’s about casting a vision so clearly that people get behind it with the full extent of their talents, abilities, and strengths.” Then, like teachers, the most influential leaders allow their team members to reach their full potential.

Keep your eyes on the big picture.

There are times when learning can be tedious, complex, and even dull. And, yes, great teachers are aware of this. However, by acknowledging their feelings, they help students see the bigger picture. Which, in turn, helps them move past these moments.

They know that challenging times are necessary to reach the ultimate learning goal. Moreover, they have a perspective that students cannot have and use that perspective to help people overcome challenges.

Successful leaders have a similar perspective. And, because of this, help those they lead through the mundane by raising their eyes towards the future.

Offer incentives.

“To keep my students on their toes, I give extra credit points every day,” says Dawn Bevier. “I offer three points to students who raise their hands and correctly answer simple questions during class discussions.” For difficult questions, I award five points.

“And when the school year begins, I make it clear to them that there are no extra credit points to beg for at the end of the semester,” she adds. “I tell them they have to gather them in the here and now.”

The semester ends with some students having seventy-five points or more.

“I think this ‘on your toes and in the moment’ extra credit opportunity is initially successful for obvious reasons,” Bevier explains. A student’s grades are important to them — and grades make a difference in their lives.

However, as time passes, it subconsciously motivates for reasons beyond extra credit points, which is ironic (and wonderful).

The reason for this is twofold.

  • It becomes a competition. In order to prove their intelligence, a student wants to “one-up” each other.
  • It is a source of pride. The more difficult five-pointers they get, the more confident and assertive the students become.

In what way does this teaching strategy relate to your business?

“When I offer these small incentives and competitive aspects to my instruction, students are constantly engaged — always thinking, listening, and working,” Bevier states.”And isn’t this the behavior every business owner wants their employees to display?”

What’s more, research shows that incentive programs “[increased] performance by an average of twenty-two percent,” and when “team incentives were offered, performance was improved by as much as forty-four percent.”

Best of all? These incentives don’t have to be cash-based. You could, for example, offer time-based rewards like leaving early on Fridays. But, most important, incentives should be based on the individual interests of your team members.

Turn expertise curriculum.

To attract and engage their target market, businesses engage in content marketing by sharing highly valuable resources and tools online, states Scott Barron, Founder of Yabwi. Getting the attention of key decision-makers is an essential part of business development. Why? There are too many competitors on the market, and people are distracted by so many media sources.

“Business leaders would be wise to tap into the expertise of educators in order to utilize modern approaches to curriculum design to build engagement internally (with employees, managers, etc.) and externally (with clients and communities),” Barron adds. “Understanding how people learn and how to craft instructional experiences that strengthen relationships offers a unique marketing advantage.”

“We’ve proven that such a platform of influence works through our own growth strategy, Barron says. “And we’ve shared this expertise with companies like 3M, Johnson Controls, and many others.”

Inspire trust by practicing empathy.

The job of an educator involves working with a whole bunch of different people like administrators, parents, community members, and students. They come from varied backgrounds, hold multiple priorities, and express their ideas in diverse ways. Because of that, educational leaders don’t make assumptions or dismiss anything anyone else has to say.

Similarly, leaders should also foster strong relationships with business partners, employees, stakeholders, and shareholders by developing emotional intelligence. Leaders should learn to value different perspectives and respect others’ points of view. It is important to remember that every individual sees things differently, so leaders can take the opportunity to use compassion in most situations. Compassion is a large part of emotional intelligence — and you can learn it.

Additionally, trust plays a crucial role. Despite a certain degree of authority associated with teaching, good teachers instill a sense of trust among learners. Leaders can also use the same method to support their teams.

Care about others’ success.

Students’ success is the top priority of exemplary teachers. They’re patient, and they’re willing to go the extra mile. And as a result, they do whatever it takes to help the student succeed.

Even though they understand and are willing to play their roles, they understand ultimately; that students are responsible for their performance. But, they still set up their students for success through knowledge, support, and guidance.

And this is true among business leaders. In the words of Stephen Covey, “An empowered organization is one in which individuals have the knowledge, skill, desire, and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organizational success.

Plan purposefully.

As a teacher, planning is a must. After all, by planning lessons in advance, teachers enter the classroom prepared to teach new concepts and facilitate meaningful discussions rather than winging them. In the absence of a lesson plan, it is easy for students to lose focus, and teachers are left scrambling for ideas.

In addition, when teachers and students are both engaged in the educational process, every day can be transformational.

Moreover, teachers use purposeful planning to identify where students are headed, what success looks like, and what is the most efficient way to achieve that success.

This is precisely the same (in all its variety) with successful leaders. It’s an imperative skill as planning archives the following:

  • Helps you determine future goals.
  • Expands decision-making.
  • Establishes abilities and expectations.
  • Encourage your team to develop new skills, engage them in new and challenging activities, believe in them, and take an interest in their career development.
  • Encourages creativity and innovation.
  • You will be able to identify your resources, who is currently available, track time, and manage time effectively.
  • Focus on what truly matters. In turn, this reduces overlapping and wasteful moments.

Learn to be flexible.

It’s not uncommon for educators to have a tough time getting students to understand lessons and concepts. A variety of factors can cause difficulty in understanding lessons. For example, those without basic math skills may struggle to comprehend complex formulas. There’s also a chance the teacher delivered the content in a way that was hard for students to understand.

There’s no way a great teacher would overlook this issue. So instead, they analyze their teaching methods and identify the underlying problems. As a result, they adjust their teaching styles to fit the needs of their students.

There are times when business leaders become too consumed with their projects. Despite not getting the desired results from current strategies, they refuse to acknowledge they aren’t working. The business world would benefit from learning from educators. Specifically, being ready to change directions at any time. Leaders can experiment with different approaches and see if they work for their teams.

Bonus tip: It can be almost impossible to be flexible if your calendar is too cluttered and rigid. So, just like teachers have a prep period, I would leave some white space in your calendar. For example, you could leave the block from 11:30 am to 12:30 am open for a prep period. Then, we can use this time to grab some food, return emails, or plan for an afternoon meeting. Or, you can simply relax.

Embrace teachable moments.

A teachable moment occurs when a teacher offers their classrooms a unique insight into a topic that has captured their attention. To seize teachable moments, the teacher or parent must sense and seize them when they occur. In most cases, it’s a brief tangent from a lesson plan or conversation about something relevant or interesting. Kids are inherently more interested in topics they can relate to and feel how they apply to their day-to-day lives.

“When leaders teach is almost as important as what they teach,” writes Sydney Finkelstein, the Steven Roth Professor of Management at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College for HBR. “The successful leaders I studied didn’t wait for formal reviews or check-ins. Instead, they seized and created opportunities to impart wisdom.”

For example, Costco Wholesale co-founder and retired CEO Jim Sinegal knew lessons could appear at any time when working with Price at Price Club. Apparently, Sinegal “spent day and night teaching,” whether advising on retail tactics or making himself a more effective manager.

Likewise, Chase Coleman III, a protégé of hedge fund CEO Julian Robertson, said that Robertson was similarly “out to teach you a lesson” by showing “how to do things and how to run a business.”

“Some leaders ensure on-the-job learning by working in open offices that allow them to observe employees, project accessibility, and encourage frequent conversations,” adds Finkelstein. “Others opt for more-conventional offices but make a point of maintaining open-door policies and spending lots of time circulating among their staff, which means they can offer lessons on the spur of the moment—when people can best process and embrace them.”

Image Credit: Max Fischer; Pexels; Thank you!

What Leaders Can Learn From Great Teachers was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Entrepreneurship Takes Balancing Your Work, Life, and Parenting

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balancing work and parenting

For most of us, there’s nothing more meaningful than family and business in life. But, unfortunately, both require a lot from a person. And as a result, it can be challenging to balance them.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t come with a manual for being a working parent. And this is especially true for “parentrepreneurs.”

As an entrepreneur, you’re primarily focused on venturing into new opportunities, drafting working strategies, and achieving results. The reasons you do this are self-improvement, portfolio expansion, and monetary gain.

Adding family to the mix can make things a bit tricky. Since now you’re also responsible for your family, your work rate and results must improve. In addition, as your business grows, you’ll have to divide and share your attention between it and your expanding obligations. Understandably, this can be tough.

The good news? No matter where you are in your entrepreneurial and family journey, there are ways to balance your work, life, and parenting.

1. Develop a routine.

The importance of spending time together with family cannot be overstated. But, if our precious time is wasted, we can feel stressed, frustrated, and burned out. That’s why it’s vital for parent entrepreneurs to be mindful of their time management. And implementing a daily routine that fits your family’s and business’s needs can do just that. Why? Because this provides structure.

In addition to keeping you organized and productive, a routine makes your day more predictable, which saves you time and energy. For both business and personal tasks, assign a specific amount of time, and embrace flexibility because things may not go as planned.

Among the helpful routines you can implement immediately are:

  • First, prepare your to-do list each night for the next day.
  • Check and respond to emails at a set time each day. As an example, at 9 am and 6 pm.
  • Finally, get your meal prep on.
  • Work around your children’s schedules. For instance, set your working hours when they’re in school.

2. Set priorities.

Lola Wright, founder of LolaWright.com and coach at LolaWright.com, says most people overcommit to their priorities. Eventually, feelings of inadequacy can be associated with this overcommitment.

“Know what your true priorities are, and don’t compromise on them,” Wright said. “This is the most important thing you can do for yourself, your business, and your family.”

What’s more, any project that is not your top priority should be delegated.

“Outsource the low-priority work to somebody who has that time to spend helping you with a business,” said William Gaunitz, certified trichologist and founder of Advanced Trichology.

In addition, Cheri Reid, owner, and operator of Huntington Learning Center in Skokie, Illinois, said there would be times when your attention will be split between your business and your family.

“Don’t be too hard on yourself,” Reid added. “Priorities will ebb and flow.”

3. Live by your calendar.

“If it doesn’t exist on my calendar, it’s not real,” said Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec. Sound advice. The question is, though, what should be included in your calendar?

In my calendar, I reserve time for networking, learning, and relaxing, as well as date-specific appointments. However, I schedule my obligations before all of that. These include vacations, school functions, and doctor’s appointments.

“Plan as much as you can a year in advance and stick to it,” suggested Herjavec. For him, that means booking his calendar a year in advance. To do that, he sat down with their school counselor and assistant and went over “each” holiday and event they had off.

“Because of that, I never missed a swim meet. I never missed a school play. I never missed anything,” Herjavec said. “I’d fly from L.A. back to Toronto to be with my kids for one day. That’s the great thing about having your own business — the freedom to control your schedule and do what you want with it.”

Of course, not everyone has a chance to personally meet with their kid’s teachers, counselors, or coaches. However, even without a year’s notice, you still have plenty of time to add key dates to your calendar. Examples could be the first day of school or when they have games or recitals. Your kids may even have their own digital calendar. If so, sync their calendar with yours to prevent calendar conflicts.

4. Establish boundaries and follow through on your commitments.

Get into the habit of putting clear time limits in place. That means defining when you are available and when you are not available is what you do in this section. You can also teach your children this valuable lesson.

Unless it’s an emergency, no one should disturb you when you are unavailable. This is your time to focus on your business.

On the flip side, being available to your children, however, means being fully present for them without any distractions. The only thing that matters here is you and them. Everything else can wait.

5. Don’t go it alone.

Starting a business requires a village — just as raising a child does. After all, business success is never the result of one person working alone. I mean, for every Steve Jobs, there’s a Steve Wozniak beside them.

The reason? You literally can’t do everything on your own. Whether that’s because of time restraints or the skills, you don’t possess. As a parent, that’s doubly true.

Despite this, learning to let go of control is one of the hardest things for entrepreneurs. Even though delegating tasks to someone else may be necessary, it can feel uncomfortable when you build your startup from scratch.

You might want to consider hiring a virtual assistant to handle mundane tasks in your business. Depending on your needs, they can be very affordable. And, as your business grows, you’ll have more team members to help lighten your workload.

You’ll spend more time with your family if you delegate more and work less. As a result, you can focus more on taking your business to the next level and the bigger picture.

The same holds true for home life: you can’t do everything. As a family, that means planning and managing time efficiently and building supportive relationships. So, let’s say that you’re working from home, but need a couple of hours to focus on work. Ask a parent, sibling, or neighbor if they can watch the kids. Or, maybe find someone through sites like Care.com or Sittercity.

6. Before you enter the door, stop.

“Parentprenuers need to get ready to be a parent before they open their front doors and walk inside,” says Leila Bulling Towne, The Bulling Towne Group, LLC. “Sure, you can turn off your phone and put away your laptop, yet changing your mindset is key.”

Once you cross the threshold, the role of entrepreneur changes when you become a parent, adds Leila. Make sure you put away your work baggage before dinner and before bedtime so you can be fully present.

7. Bring your family along on the journey.

Obviously, you cannot hire your children full-time. You could, however, ask your children for help after school or when they’re home on in-service days. If the kids aren’t around, maybe you should delegate some tasks to your partner.

As well as giving you more family time, this teaches your children values that will make them stand out. Responsibility, teamwork, and problem-solving are all part of these skills.

In the past few years, I have followed Sherrie Campbell, a psychologist specializing in raising children. Campbell’s advice is straightforward and easy to understand. As Sherrie suggests, we can teach children about life to be successful by teaching them these seven values. As far as children are concerned, we all need actionable, doable information.

8. You can compromise, but not on self-care.

It does not matter whether you start a business or have a baby, your sleep schedule will be disrupted, and your hobbies will be neglected. Identify the areas you are not willing to cut out of your routine and determine how much you can compromise.

It’s essential to draw a clear line when it comes to moments of particular significance. The simple things, such as tucking your children into bed, reading a story, or watching a recital or basketball game, cannot be replaced. At the same time, it’s also essential to take care of yourself, whether by running every night or relaxing with a few minutes of meditation. As such, you should block out time in your calendar for self-care like you would for a dentist or investor appointment.

9. Disconnect during family time.

“There’s no experience that can compare to bonding with your kids,” states Choncé Maddox. “However, family time becomes less enjoyable when you or your spouse are glued to your work while everyone is trying to spend quality time together.”

“I know it can be tempting to check your email when you’re watching a family movie,” Choncé adds. “Trust me when I say that they’ll notice how connected you are to your devices rather than them.”

Children pick up on everything, even when they are small. “When my son has basketball practice, I’ve felt tempted to bring my laptop and catch up on work,” she continues. “However, sometimes I’ve noticed he looks over at me to see if I’m watching him, especially when he makes a shot.”

“That made me realize that I didn’t want him to remember mom always on her laptop or phone.” As a result, I work very efficiently during my time so that I can disconnect when needed.

10. It’s okay to accept what can’t be changed.

Whether raising kids or running a business, it’s never easy. They’re probably both of your biggest challenges in life.

There’s always a fine line between finding the right balance between both on even a “regular” day. Moreover, that doesn’t account for extenuating circumstances such as a sick child or workplace disaster.

In both areas, learning to take setbacks in stride is key.

It’s common for entrepreneurs who raise families to feel like they’ve failed at both due to stress, falling prey to the games their brains play when things get tough.

Even for ambitious overachievers, admitting family involvement is hard, but letting go of perfection is crucial. In short, there is no perfect parent, just as there is no perfect entrepreneur.

Certainly, crises will arise, and there may be times when you don’t feel you’re doing your best. However, looking at things from a broader perspective will show you that you aren’t actually in that bad of a shape.

In life, stumbles are inevitable. And once you accept that fact, you can focus on what matters most, whether it is playing with your kids or thinking of your next product.

Image Credit: Anastasia Shuraeva; Pexels; Thank you!

Entrepreneurship Takes Balancing Your Work, Life, and Parenting was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

How People Make Hacking a Legit Career Choice

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hacking career

The media, journalists, and the public are prone to oversimplification. And hackers are no exception. Hackers get a bad rap in movies and TV shows. Their reputation is often that of a shadowy, secretive, or marginal group. Here’s how people make hacking a legit career choice.

Possibly it’s the evil genius who can quickly break government systems. Why? Maybe it’s political beliefs or just the lols. But, even the introvert, “the basement hacker,” who is untrained and disorganized, can be a dangerous adversary.

As such, your imagination probably doesn’t conjure ‌ethical‌ ‌hackers. ‌In recent years, though, many large companies have hired white hat hackers. ‌Why? They’re hired to prevent attacks, bugs, and threats and test and monitor their systems.

What’s more, ethical hackers are making a solid living. According to ZipRecruitor, the national average is $135,269 a year for an ethical hacking job in the US.

Apart from a high salary, a good hacker can make money in various ways outside of their regular‌ ‌job. ‌For example, if you want to make your own schedule or don’t want to be tied to any one location, that’s appealing.

But how can you make hacking a legit career choice? Well, let’s find out.

Why Are Hackers Hired?

Professional hackers test the security of companies. ‌To verify whether their security controls are effective, they hire hackers. Additionally, they will make security suggestions.

Before releasing a new web application, a company might hire hackers to find weaknesses. ‌The application will be less vulnerable to hackers when it hits the market as a result.

In addition, private companies and governments hire hackers. ‌Competitive intelligence is in the interest of private companies. To force customers to switch to their services by making their competitors unavailable. Isn’t that illegal? I wouldn’t pursue this career path, although it’s 100% illegal.

Hacking other companies is considered espionage. ‌Government information is mainly kept electronically, so accessing government agencies or third-party providers can be beneficial. ‌Some governments also use cybercrime as a revenue source. ‌North Korea is one of the most infamous examples because its dedicated cybercrime division generates millions of dollars every year.

Understanding Different Types of Hacking

Again, there are lots of controversies over hacking. ‌A hacker can serve either a malicious or a beneficial purpose, as shown above.

Hackers generally fall into three categories:

  • White Hat
  • Black Hat
  • Grey Hat

Grey Hat and White Hat hackers undertake ethics-based hacking. ‌

In contrast, black hat hackers engage in illegal activities.

Awareness of different types of hackers and their legal nuances will help professionals understand their ethical hacker boundaries. ‌For instance, when starting out, you could be‌ ‌a‌ ‌Penetration‌ ‌Tester. ‌To prevent cyber-attacks, vulnerabilities must be identified in a system or application.Then, in the event that their system has a fault, they inform the organization.

What Skills Are Needed to Be an Ethical Hacker

Blackhat hackers have sometimes become whitehat hackers. ‌To be a successful ethical hacker, you need‌ ‌high‌ ‌ethical‌ ‌standards. ‌‌‌Blackhat hackers are undoubtedly technical. ‌‌‌Their problem is that they lack character discipline.

Candidates for ethical hacking jobs should possess the following skills as well as the “ethical” part:

  • Hardware knowledge. It’s vital for you to understand the features of visual display units (VDU), central processing units (CPU), keyboards, hard drives, speakers, sound cards, mice, graphics cards, and motherboards.
  • Basic and advanced computer skills. ‌Learning basic computer skills like data processing, managing files, and creating presentations is key to using computers. But, to be successful, you also need advanced computer skills. These skills include programming, coding, and managing databases.
  • Expertise in computer networking. ‌An ethical hacker should be familiar with networking‌ ‌commands. ‌Among them are‌ ‌OSI‌ ‌models,‌ ‌IP‌ ‌addresses,‌ ‌MAC‌ ‌addresses,‌ ‌subnetting,‌ ‌and routing.
  • A good understanding‌ ‌of‌ ‌operating‌ ‌systems. ‌Operating systems such as Ubuntu, Linux, and Red Hat are essential to building a successful career in ethical hacking.
  • Programming language skills. ‌Programmers use Java, Javascript, SQL, Bash, Python, C, C++, Ruby, Perl, and PHP to write these codes.
  • Cybersecurity skills. ‌You should learn cybersecurity techniques. These include phishing, man-in-the-middle attacks, app protection, hardware protection, database management systems, spyware, and password management.
  • Know methodologies and tools used in penetration testing. For ethical hackers, penetration testing is essential. ‌The goal is to find weaknesses and strengthen security frameworks.

Problem-solving skills, pressure tolerance, and the ability to think outside the box are also critical. ‌Ethical hackers also require passion, communication skills, flexibility, and innovative thinking.

How to Become an Ethical Hacker

So, how do you make a successful and ‌fulfilling career in ethical hacking? ‌The following is a complete career path for getting into ethical hacking.

Academics should be the first step.

To succeed in ethical hacking, you should do this first. ‌If you plan to study ethical hacking, however, make sure your field of study is related to it‌. In general,‌ ‌CyberSecurity‌ ‌or‌ ‌IT‌.

A degree in Computer Science, Information Technology, or a related field will provide you with the foundation. It can also help you make a living hacking even though there is no requirement for specific education.

You can earn a Bachelor’s or Master’s ‌degree‌ ‌in‌ ‌CS/IT. ‌In addition, you can take courses on ethical hacking. ‌These qualifications are also required when hiring ethical hackers by various organizations.

One of the most well-known certifications is offered by EC-Council. ‌During their 5-day ethical hacking certification, they teach everything from ethical hacking to types of attacks. ‌After completing the course, candidates can take the Licensed Penetration Tester exam.

Become familiar with programming languages and operating systems.

Ethical hackers must be proficient in programming languages and‌ ‌frameworks. ‌Among its many benefits are the ability to identify programming errors and vulnerabilities, the implementation of security solutions, and automation of‌ ‌tasks — to name a few.

Various programming languages are available to enter this field, including C/C++, Java, Python, Ruby, and others. ‌Besides that, you’ll have to learn several operating systems like‌ ‌LINUX,‌ ‌UNIX,‌ ‌Windows,‌ ‌and iOS. ‌Of course, these operating systems must be well understood by ethical hackers.

An understanding of network security and network administration.

Ethical hacking requires an understanding of computer networks and cyber security concepts. You must have a basic to advanced knowledge of computer networking and security,‌ ‌such‌ ‌as:

  • Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
  • Firewalls
  • Cryptography
  • Denial of Service attacks (DoS attacks)

It is also imperative to consider various hacking concepts, including Penetration Testing, Cloud Computing malware, SQL Injection, and Vulnerability Assessment.

Various resources are available for learning about computer networks and cybersecurity, including books, journals, YouTube videos, and online courses.

Enhance your ethical hacking skills by participating in training programs.

To learn ethical hacking, you must work your way up from beginner to advanced. ‌Meanwhile, you can learn about ethical hacking through books and ‌videos. ‌But, of course, you’ll also have to interact with experts and get hands-on to gain more knowledge and exposure.

A relevant and worthwhile training program or boot camp can also help you gain practical experience in ethical hacking.

Obtain relevant certifications.

After you complete the above learning processes, it’s time to get certified and validate your ethical hacking skills. ‌You can land various career opportunities even if you have no experience. ‌Certifications include:

  • Certified Ethical Hacker
  • Global Information Assurance Certification
  • Offensive Security Certified Professional
  • Certified Vulnerability Assessor

Certifications such as Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) are among‌ ‌the‌ ‌most‌ ‌demanding‌ ‌and renowned‌ ‌ethical‌ ‌hacking‌ ‌certifications. ‌Within 240 minutes, candidates must answer 125 multiple-choice questions about SQL Injection, Backdoors, Session Hijacking, and other ethical hacking topics.

Become an ethical hacker.

Now you can start your professional career as an ethical hacker. ‌At first, you might be a Security Analyst or Penetration Tester. ‌From there, ethical hacking jobs include Network Security Administrators, System Administrators, Web Security Managers, and Information Security Managers. ‌

Additionally, you can join several government organizations, such as the investigation department, law enforcement, etc., as an ethical hacker besides private businesses.

The Best Ways to Make Money as a Computer Hacker

Employment.

The‌ ‌easiest‌ ‌way‌ ‌to‌ ‌make‌ ‌money‌ ‌hacking‌?‌ Working‌ ‌as‌ ‌a penetration‌ ‌tester. ‌In essence, you’d be a full-time employee testing company security.

The low barrier to entry makes this an ideal first job. ‌Moreover, you’ll be able to learn from more experienced people. As such, you get to grow at work and increase your pay.

Freelance.

As a freelancer, you can work either part-time with a job or full-time. ‌There are many bug bounty programs where companies, such as Apple, Intel, and Cisco, permit people to hack into their networks, applications, and websites. ‌In‌ ‌exchange for disclosing what the hacker has discovered, the company rewards the hacker with cash.

If this is something that interests you, here’s a list of the 30 top bug bounty programs here. There’s no limit to how much you can work, and it’s open to everyone. ‌

However, there is a great deal‌ ‌of‌ ‌competition. In addition, it can be hard to find bugs significant enough to warrant a reward early on in your career. As such, I would recommend this to‌ ‌intermediate‌ ‌to‌ ‌experienced‌ ‌computer‌ ‌hackers.

Contract.

Unlike freelance work, a contract position usually involves working for one client. Usually, this is for a short time period, such as‌ ‌6-12‌ ‌months. ‌

Many companies don’t hire penetration testers full-time for a variety of reasons. ‌For example, a company only needs to test new products once or twice a year. ‌So basically, they’ll hire someone for a short while to perform the testing and then let them go when they’re no longer needed.

Developing software.

Programmers might find this interesting. ‌Most hacking tasks are performed using premade scripts or software. ‌However, experienced hackers usually create custom scripts and tools to simplify their work.

As a hacker, you can make serious money selling software. ‌It’s easy to resell tools once you make them and update them. Eventually, you can earn passive income this way.

Start your own business.

Despite their skill, many hackers do not continue hacking full-time. ‌Instead, they often take their expertise and start a security business that tests companies’ ‌security. ‌This method can maximize profits, but it will require a high level of experience, expertise, and specific knowledge.

It’s even possible for people to go from getting criminal charges for cybercrime to setting up their own businesses. ‌The case of Kevin Mitnick, who was convicted of computer and communications crimes in 1995, is an example of this. ‌As of today, he is the founder and CEO of‌ ‌Mitnick‌ ‌Security Consulting‌ ‌LLC. ‌Aside from being the Chief Hacking Officer for KnowBe4, he is also an advisory board member for‌ ‌Zimperium.

Image Credit: Markus Spiske; Pexels; Thank you!

How People Make Hacking a Legit Career Choice was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

How to Make Company Flex Schedules Work for Everyone

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Flex Work

The demand for flex schedules at work is on the rise. ‌ ‌Almost ‌80%‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌workers in the U.S. would prefer a job offering a flexible work schedule over one without. As a consequence, this results in employers starting to accommodate this request. ‌

So, why are so many people ‌‌‌expecting flex schedules? ‌Well,‌ ‌flexible‌ ‌work‌ ‌schedules‌ ‌are good for employees, because they can organize their lives around their jobs — not‌ ‌the‌ ‌other‌ ‌way‌ ‌around.

However, it has plenty of benefits for employers too. ‌For example, employee retention, productivity, diversity, and engagement may all be boosted by flexible scheduling. ‌As‌ ‌such,‌ ‌it’s no surprise that this is one of the most popular employee benefits.

What are the best ways to set up flex work hours‌ ‌that‌ ‌work‌ ‌for‌ ‌your‌ ‌business‌ ‌and‌ ‌your employees? ‌Here’s what you need to know.

What is a Flexible Work Schedule Policy?

Before going further, let’s quickly explain a flexible work schedule policy.

Employees can modify arrival and departure times when employers offer flexible work schedules. Employees can also decide how long and where they work. ‌It’s an alternative way to work instead of the antiquated 9 to 5, 40-hour workweeks.

You should know that the Fair Labor Standards Act in the U.S. doesn’t ‌address flexible work hours. ‌Instead, it’s something‌ ‌between‌ ‌employer‌ ‌and‌ ‌employee.

With that in mind, employees should be clearly informed who is covered by the policy and when a flexible schedule is available. ‌In addition, you should consider a variety of flexible schedules to meet the needs of all your ‌employees.

  • Flextime work schedule. With Flextime, workers can choose their working hours. ‌It‌ ‌also allows employees to adjust their operating hours from week to week, depending on the needs of the business.
  • Remote working schedule. An employee who doesn’t come into the office regularly works remotely. ‌For example, working from home could be an arrangement in which the employee works exclusively 2-4 days per week from home or from home.
  • Compressed workweek schedule. This allows employees to work their 40 standard weekly hours. But, over a shorter period than five days or ten days during the usual week. ‌An example would be to work an extra hour Monday-Thursday and to take a half-day off on‌ ‌Friday.
  • Part-time work schedule. This is a conventional type of flexible schedule. ‌For example, when an employer does not wish to lose a skilled employee, they may agree to let that person work part-time. ‌However, the employee cannot dedicate their time to full-time work.

How to Make Company Flex Schedules Work for Everyone

Hopefully, you have a better understanding of what a flex schedule is, as well as its variations. Now you can focus on making a company flex schedule that works for everyone.

1. ‌Involve employees in planning.

When establishing flex plans, companies often make the mistake of not communicating well‌ ‌with‌ ‌workers. So, the easiest solution? ‌Develop a flexible work program based on the interests and needs of your employees.

Determine whether the new work arrangement is right for them. ‌For example, will ‌employees remain productive under the new arrangement? ‌An ideal agreement would satisfy the employees’ personal needs while addressing the company’s need to provide high-quality‌ ‌products‌ ‌and‌ ‌services.

How can you get your team involved? You could collect feedback through surveys, one-on-ones, or town halls.

You can ask your team for feedback in many ways, but know what works best‌ ‌for‌ ‌your‌ ‌people. For example, in team meetings, some employees might feel more comfortable offering candid feedback. Others might prefer a confidential, anonymous‌ ‌survey.

2. Know your team.

“As a business leader, it’s your responsibility to know the people on your team,” writes Howie Jones in a previous Calendar article. “Knowing who you work with allows you to be mindful of their tendencies and build more than just trust.”

It is also easier to delegate tasks to your workers if you know them well. ‌As a result, you’ll have more insight into the team, which will help when selecting a combination of personalities for a specific‌ ‌project‌ ‌or‌ ‌team. ‌Knowing you’ve already done the hard work, you can resist the urge to micromanage them.

Remote workers can be more challenging to get to know than their in-person counterparts. ‌Follow these steps to get to know them:

  • Prioritize facetime. “You might not be able to be physically together, but technology can be a bridge,” says Howie. “Eat lunch together once a week via videoconference.” ‌Plan to fly them in at least once a quarter for meetings.
  • Be generous. ‌To build trust, you need to take risks. ‌And — you should give people a chance. For example, “If they want noise-canceling headphones, could you surprise them with a pair?”
  • Ask questions. ‌Around 60-80% of our conversations revolve around ourselves. ‌Encouragement not only enables you to understand who they truly are. But it also strengthens your relationship with them.

Respected leaders motivate their workers to keep working through tough times. ‌If more needs to be done, they will speak up for it. ‌In short, make an effort to get to know them.

3. Instill a sense of purpose.

“It is time for a flexible work paradigm shift, with less focus on where or when we work, but rather on how value is generated,” Jason Grover, HR Vice President Polaris Industries Inc., told Forbes. “COVID has taught us that our productivity is contingent less on location, more on leadership instilling a sense of purpose.”

When we align employees with salient priorities and foster an environment where they can give their best effort, he says people are more likely to choose‌ ‌the‌ ‌most‌ ‌productive‌ ‌path.

4‌. ‌Conduct‌ ‌a‌ ‌trial‌ ‌run.

If‌ ‌you’re apprehensive about starting a flex work plan or getting a lot of resistance, a trial run might help. ‌

Create a trial, flexible work program before launching a full-scale program. ‌The process can be carried out by a single department or a small group of employees from various departments. ‌Run the trial for at least a month to work out the kinks and collect‌ ‌data.

You may notice that not everyone is cut out for remote work. While others, however, thrive in a WFH environment.

5. Flexibility is all about being flexible.

How does a company like Vistaprint make flex schedules work?

“Some of us work best from our bedrooms,” the company states. “Some of us prefer an office environment.”

The company’s goal is to provide its team members the flexibility to choose the work environment that best suits them.

“Our offices have become collaboration centers with bookable hotdesks and a mix of spaces where team members can meet in person to work and socialize whenever needed,” they continue. “Any team members who choose to leverage these collaboration centers can do so as frequently or infrequently as they like, and they will continue to have the autonomy to create their own schedules.”

6. Establish a standard work window.

It can be challenging to bring people together if they have different schedules at work. ‌Thus, a typical window schedule helps manage flexible scheduling most effectively.

Regardless‌ ‌of‌ ‌the time of day your employees work, set core hours, for example, ‌between‌ ‌10‌ ‌a.m. and 3 p.m. That means everyone is expected to be available at those hours throughout the week. ‌You can use this time to delegate tasks, hold meetings, ‌or‌ ‌bond‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌team.

Employers have a “schedule center” if a typical work window is implemented, which they can use to plan their schedules. ‌However, it is the workers’ responsibility to manage their schedules efficiently.

7. Be consistent.

When informal policies aren’t applied consistently, it causes resentment, bad morale, employee loss, and even legal trouble. To prevent this, develop a detailed, clearly-stated, and non-discriminatory policy on the company’s flex work arrangements.

8. Redefine productivity.

“Flexible work demands a shift away from seeing productivity in terms of being present for fixed working hours,” says Jane Parry. “Indeed, the problem of presenteeism — where people feel compelled to show their face at work even if they are ill—only feeds into the productivity puzzle.”

Companies (and managers) need to establish better performance metrics. How? By asking questions like:

  • Was a project completed on time?
  • How well did the team work ‌together?
  • Was high-quality work delivered?

“These are much more effective yardsticks of success than whether staff clock in at 9 a.m. each morning,” adds Parry.

9. Don’t have a communication breakdown.

A flex work schedule may leave co-workers and supervisors without business and social contacts. However, including flex staff in staff meetings will prevent them from feeling overlooked or alienated from co-workers‌ ‌and‌ ‌managers.

You could also set dedicated Slack channels so everyone can communicate and collaborate. Or schedule regular Zoom check-ins.

Furthermore, contact with other employees shouldn’t be limited to e-mail. Make it a point to have additional contact points, such as phone numbers. At the same time, know when it’s appropriate to text or call your team members. For example, contacting them Friday evening should be avoided unless it’s an absolute emergency. Preferably, you should reach out during the agreed-upon core hours.

10. Monitor, assess, and update.

An evolving process of improvements or developments may be required as a condition of flexible work arrangements. Therefore, take the time to review whether or not flex programs are meeting goals. If not, then adjust them as necessary.

Again, encourage employees to give feedback and keep the lines of communication open. ‌And as mentioned above, you can use a limited-time pilot program when launching a new plan. ‌If the plan is unsuccessful, you might have to return to the company’s prior traditional work arrangements.

One more thing. Stay abreast of any potential legal issues. ‌Employees must be carefully classified as exempt or non-exempt by their employers. For example, for hours worked beyond 40 hours in a given work week — non-exempt employees get overtime. ‌Therefore, those employees will have to document their work hours.

Image Credit: Fauxels; Pexels; Thank you!

How to Make Company Flex Schedules Work for Everyone was originally published on Calendar by .

How Can You Make the Recruiting Process Faster?

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recruiting process

Did you know that the average time to fill a position is 42 days? ‌However,‌ ‌the recruiting process varies from industry to industry. Still, during that span, top talent may accept an offer elsewhere. And that means you have to continue devoting resources to filling that opening. This puts more strain on your current team as they have an additional workload.

But, there are some additional benefits to speeding up the recruitment process. It improves the candidate experience, but this can also lead to higher acceptance rates. And it will put a smile on the faces of your recruiters and leaders.

But, how can you make the recruiting process faster? Well, try out these ten strategies.

1. Enhance‌ ‌your‌ ‌job‌ ‌postings.

Let’s not mince words. Having a lot of unqualified applicants applying to your job openings might be due to‌ ‌your‌ ‌job‌ ‌posting. ‌So what makes an effective advertisement?

Yes. ‌Your job posting must include all essential requirements. ‌However, it should also be aspirational as well.

In order to attract the best talent, you need to write about why the candidate should choose you over anyone else. ‌In other words, promote your company as their best option.

There’s nothing wrong with the description of your job following a general template. ‌However, it should also include‌ ‌the‌‌ ‌‌following‌‌ ‌‌criteria:

  • Give a brief description of your company. ‌Make sure you include your firm’s tagline or pitch.
  • Make it clear whether the position is remote or on-site. It’s simple to narrow candidates who are only seeking remote work opportunities.
  • The‌ ‌job posting should also be specific‌ ‌about‌ ‌the‌ ‌role. ‌For example, describe who the candidate will report to and their responsibilities. ‌Also, explain how they can succeed in their new role and how to track their performance.
  • List the skills, requirements, or pre-requisites that your candidates must possess. ‌Of course, some candidates may not apply unless they meet those requirements. ‌Yet, it can assist serious candidates in deciding whether this role suits them.
  • Explain what the perks of your job or company ‌are. ‌By doing so, candidates will feel valued before they even meet you.

2. Make it easy to apply.

A lengthy and exhausting application process is not appealing to candidates. ‌What’s more, they expect to apply for the job directly from their phones. ‌According to Indeed, it is estimated that 62% of job seekers use mobile devices for their job search globally. Mobile job searching is driven primarily by convenience for 55% of job seekers. ‌Additionally, 66% of applicants would use a mobile device to apply for a job if it were easier.

‌As a result, they expect you to parse their resumes. And also limit the remaining fields to relevant information related to the application process.

In fact, Careerbuilder reports that 20% of candidates abandon application forms that take more than 10 minutes to complete.

Take the time to review your application process. If it doesn’t meet these standards, you need to step up your recruiting game. To start, you can offer a mobile-friendly application process that helps candidates apply faster by choosing the right recruitment software. Some suggestions would be Zoho Recruit, Recruitee, or Freshteam.

3. Encourage passive candidates.

Passive candidates are also encouraged to reach out during recruitment. ‌Often, those not actively looking for work have extensive experience, ideal for a position you’re filling.

Is‌ ‌it‌ ‌hard‌ ‌to‌ ‌convince‌ ‌specific ‌passive‌ ‌candidates? It can be. ‌You might be able to secure an interview with nothing more than a quick email to a few candidates you’re interested in.

4. Automate tasks.

Looking to focus most of your recruiting efforts on the jobs that have the most significant ‌impact? ‌Well, removing time-consuming tasks from your schedule is key.

Thanks to technology, recruiting has become more effective and ‌time-efficient. ‌In addition, these tools allow employers to automate menial tasks. ‌For example,‌ ‌screening‌ ‌resumes,‌ ‌scheduling‌ ‌interviews, answering‌ ‌simple‌ ‌questions,‌ ‌or‌ ‌sending‌ ‌‌rejection‌‌ ‌‌emails.

In the same way that talent pipelines influence efficiency, task automation does the same. ‌This way, you can focus on improving your hiring process’ speed and quality.

5. Implement an employee referral program.

There’s no spoiler warning here. Many of the best employees are hired internally or through ‌employee‌ ‌referrals. ‌About half of referrals (45%) stay for four years or longer. And, only 25% of employees hired from job boards remain for more‌ ‌than two‌ ‌years.

Employee referral programs let your employees do a substantial amount of recruiting on your behalf. ‌By doing so, recruiting and hiring will take a lot less time, and advertising costs will be reduced. ‌It is also more likely that candidates with a personal relationship with a current employee will accept a job offer.

Best of all? Referral programs are not ‌complicated‌ ‌or‌ ‌expensive. ‌You could, for instance, try an old-fashioned approach like asking your employees who they know. ‌However, you should make sure that they know you will help them through the process.

6. Leverage AI-powered candidate screening.

Screening candidates is a crucial step in the hiring process. ‌Why? Recruiters can eliminate applicants who are not suitable for the job, focusing on the most qualified ones.

However, you probably have to perform this manual task daily. And, suffice to say, it can take a lot of time and effort. ‌Moreover, if you receive many applications, it is practically impossible to screen all of them accurately and ensure only the best are considered in the hiring ‌‌process.

The best solution? Automate the screening process with AI.

Using an applicant tracking system allows you to automate the process of selecting candidates based on the job requirements you set. ‌As a result, it can speed up your recruiting process while retaining the quality of screening. Also, this technology doesn’t get tired of screening candidates and reviewing their CVs. ‌Additionally, it doesn’t rely on human biases.

7. Expand the reach of your job listing.

Again, providing a good job listing will appeal to prospective employees and make the hiring process faster. ‌If the listing has not been placed correctly, serious repercussions can be. ‌Without enough job advertisements, your candidate pool will be less diverse, and the number of applicants will also decline. ‌You can save time and resources by diversifying where you advertise your job openings now and in the future.

The thing is, if you do it inefficiently, actively increasing the preparation phase can bog down the process even further. After all, if you aren’t using the right tools or channels, you’ll be wasting both time and money. ‌So instead, make your company more recognizable by increasing brand awareness, or use the next tip for optimal results.

And, despite your personal feelings, don’t overlook the power of social media. For example, 94% of recruiters leverage LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter in their recruiting efforts.

8. Hire from within.

Employees should always be encouraged to apply for new positions. The reason? Well, it’s less expensive and boosts employee engagement. But, it also makes the recruiting process faster.

Based on your current employee’s skills, knowledge, loyalty, and work ethic, you already know they are a good fit for your business. ‌Likewise, it takes time and effort to welcome a new team member. ‌But, on the other hand, an existing employee is already settled and comfortable in your organization.

9. Embrace flexible interviews.

Can you offer more flexible interviews? For example, do you have the availability to meet with them during the evening or weekend? Are you willing to travel to meet them? Or, the interview can be done remotely over Zoom.

10. Enhance the candidate experience.

Lastly,‌ ‌improving the candidate experience will make your hiring process more efficient. ‌Besides improving candidate experience, these methods also speed up ‌hiring.

Candidates would get a better experience if the application and overall recruiting process were shortened. ‌Recruiters would also have fewer touchpoints.

If you keep an engaging career page and employer brand, candidates will be able to decide if they will fit in with your company culture. ‌By pre-screening, they can reduce the number of applicants not fit for the role. ‌Informed and enthusiastic candidates will also feel more qualified and enthusiastic about the job.

Final tip. Keep in constant contact with candidates. ‌Through effective communication, you can improve their experience and prevent delays and roadblocks.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!

How Can You Make the Recruiting Process Faster? was originally published on Calendar by .

You’ll Have the Most Impact by Prioritizing Your Appointments

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Prioritizing Appointments

When it comes to appointments, I adhere to one rule and one rule only. Always schedule your meetings with employees, customers, prospects, partners, and other business associates ahead of time.

The main reason? It gives you plenty of time to plan accordingly and the people you’re meeting. An appointment also ensures everyone has prevents hiccups like calendar conflicts and arriving on time. And it protects your most valuable resource; time.

Let me give you a recent example regarding that last point. I have a new client who needs to go over the project’s scope before we start. Since I typically schedule my priorities well in advance, I’m just not going to stop what I’m doing when he asks if he can call me in 10-minutes. Sorry, bro. I need more of a head’s up.

But, there’s another reason why you need to prioritize your appointments. You’re going to have a much more significant impact on everyone in your professional and personal lives.

You’ll Place Value on Your Schedule

A booked schedule can easily become ingrained into your routine. It’s one of the primary reasons we book appointments. But, sometimes, life just doesn’t go according to plan. Still, it’s essential that you respect your valuable time.

Never let anyone tell you otherwise either. Your time is valuable regardless of your profession, age, title, or how many years you’ve spent in school. Prioritizing your appointments shows you and others that you’re serious about your goals and calendar. In this way, you’re making it crystal clear that you’re not at the beck and call of others.

Whenever you receive an invitation that is not an emergency or voluntary, consider whether or not the appointment will add value to your immediate goals and needs. How will this appointment affect your progress? Will it hold you back, or worse, keep you in a holding pattern?

You can accept the appointment if it fits with your goals and needs. If it doesn’t, you may politely let it go. Or, if necessary, postpone it until you have availability.

Some Appointments Aren’t Worth Your Time

Not all appointments are created equal to build on what was said earlier. Determine which appointments in your calendar app are necessary by evaluating them.

A discovery meeting or an introductory call should it’s as important as a project wrap-up with a client you’ve worked with for years. However, putting that introductory call on hold if it interferes with keeping your client happy is more important.

You’ll Respect Other People’s Time

“Respect is a two-way street; if you want to get it, you’ve got to give it.” — R.G. Risch

While you should obviously be protective of your time, you also need to be respectful of others. After all, how frustrating is it when you have a meeting at 3 p.m. only for the other attendee to arrive 15-minutes? Of, even more infuriating, they ghost you?

With that said, here are some of the best ways to show others respect. And how appointments can help.

  • Distracting them when they’re busy. I don’t know about you. But, when I’m in the zone, I hate being interrupted. It’s why I put my phone on silent. You don’t want to bother others when they’re busy, off-the-clock, or even sleeping. Instead, you can share your calendar so that you can both see when you’re available.
  • Not responding. We all know someone who never responds to our calls, texts, emails, or other forms of communication. If you’re desperate to reach this person, you may feel frustrated. Don’t be that person. Lock in a specific date and time to communicate with them.
  • Constantly arriving late. Again, time is a precious resource. If you’re scheduled to meet at a specific time, be there promptly.
  • Not preparing. There’s no excuse for this. If you know that you have a meeting next Thursday at 3 pm, then you’ve had more than enough time to prepare.
  • Rescheduling every meeting. At some point, enough is enough. Don’t let others frequently adjust their schedules because you can’t commit.

You’ll Have Enough Time to Get Everything Done

The time it takes to prepare for an appointment is often neglected. When you don’t have time to prepare, having a series of back-to-back appointments can backfire. For example, the previous appointment goes later than planned, and now you’re late for your next appointment.

Prioritizing your appointments allows you to understand each appointment’s requirements better. Rather than simply winging it, your appointment will be a success due to your active involvement. Again, being respectful by arriving on time and being prepared.

What’s more, prioritizing appointments ensures that you can still get your other work done. For instance, if you’ve had an appointment booked a month ago, then you wouldn’t have the deadline for an assignment on the same day. On the flip side, if you’re swamped, then you won’t spread yourself too thin by accepting a last-minute invite.

Achieves Work-Life Balance

Having a work-life balance can help you lead a happy, fulfilling life.

If you prioritize your appointments, you will only block out time for your most important appointments, resulting in a better work-life balance. If you have met all these appointments, you will be able to focus on the things that matter most to you in life. While this varies, this means having time for your family, friends, hobbies, and side projects.

Tips on Prioritizing Your Appointments

Here are some ways to prioritize appointments to create a productive, respectful, and impactful schedule.

  • Schedule your priorities. Using something like the Eisenhower Matrix, identify your priorities and schedule them first. What’s left can be deferred, delegated, or deleted. It’s a simple way to be aware of your availability for the upcoming week, month, or even year.
  • Use online appointment scheduling software. Did you know that 40% of appointments are booked after business hours? Using tools like Calendar automates your appointments 24/7. In addition, it eliminates the need for back-and-forth emails and phone calls. The software can also send automated reminders and confirmations. And it can even make smart scheduling suggestions with the power of machine learning.
  • Identify the purpose. Ask the purpose of the appointment in the automated message you send when someone requests an appointment. This way, you know what the meeting is about before committing to it. You can wait until a later date if it isn’t essential or if you’re extremely busy.
  • Begin to say no. Don’t hesitate to politely decline a meeting request if the meeting does not meet a goal. Also, sharing your calendar makes this easier since you can block your availability.
  • Analyze your appointments. Finally, determine how much time you spent on each appointment. So, let’s say that a typical meeting is 30-minutes. You’ll want to block out 45-minutes, 30 for the meeting itself, and 15-minutes to prepare.

This will give you an idea of how many appointments you can reasonably schedule each day.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!

You’ll Have the Most Impact by Prioritizing Your Appointments was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton

Five New Workflow Improvements to Add to Your Calendar

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Workflow Improvements

A typical eight-hour workday includes about three hours of work spent on personal or unnecessary tasks. Or, to put that another way, every week, 15 hours are wasted on non-productive tasks.

Managing workflow improvements and efficiency procedures can help you eliminate these timewasters. However, just be aware that it’s impossible to avoid every delay completely. But, hey. We’ll take what we can.

But, what are some ways you can implement these changes? Below are five workflow improvements to add to your calendar to increase productivity.

How Do Wasted Hours Affect Productivity?

When we spend more time on admin tasks, we lose valuable productivity time. Because of this wasted time, meaningful, project-related work is reduced. What’s more, administration tasks divert attention from more important work. Even worse, when we’re occupied with these tasks, this causes us to focus and drains our energy.

As if that weren’t bad enough, these repetitive and mundane activities aren’t t intellectually stimulating. That might not sound like a biggie. But, that can make you fill unfilled and unsatisfied. Which, of course, will hinder your productivity.

And, if you think that’s tough on you, just imagine what it does to your team if you’re a leader. Just like you, they want to get more done in less time. But, they also want to dedicate their time and energy to be productive, not just busy.

Basically, all of these wasted hours significantly impact a company’s productivity. So, from the top-down, everyone will be more productive if they invest more time in project-related work. And when everyone’s engaged, this leads to greater satisfaction and productivity.

Causes of Reduced Workflow Efficiency

Because workflows have many moving parts, a simple change in one part can affect the whole structure and stymie your organizational progress.

Listed below are some causes of slow workflow, both within teams and organizations as a whole.

Tasks that are irrelevant or unproductive.

If your operations change due to internal factors or external circumstances, you might find that some parts of your workflow are no longer necessary.

When these tasks are not removed, they become bottlenecks in your workflow, consuming resources that could have been spent on more productive procedures, and stagnating work in the long run.

Lack of coordination of information.

Every functional workflow relies on information since it facilitates insight into where your work is at, what factors apply, and what steps you need to take to keep delivering results now, and in the future.

Because information flow isn’t managed intelligently in workflows, you and your team members will spend more time locating the relevant information instead of actually getting work done.

Team management is disorganized.

If your team members do not know which part of the workflow they should be working on and have no idea who to consult in case of an issue, a large pool of personnel will go unused.

Five New Workflow Improvements to Add to Your Calendar

In the workplace, unclear and unnecessary tasks are top time-wasters, as are long meetings and unclear assignments. However, these problems can be reduced by putting the proper tools in place.

At the same time, streamlining your workflow procedures doesn’t happen overnight. But it will save you money and time in the long run if you put in the effort today.

But, where do you start when it comes to workflow improvement? Well, the most glaring would be reviewing and analyzing your current workflow. Doing so will help you spot any bottlenecks so that you fix them.

Another obvious suggestion? Leaning on automation tools for recurring and tedious tasks. And, if working with others, you definitely need collaboration tools.

Outside of these noticeable workflow improvements, here are five new ones to focus on.

1. Align Your Most Important Work With Your Chronotype

.“Your chronotype is just a fancy way of saying ‘your body clock,” explains Amantha Imber, founder of behavioral science consultancy Inventium and the host of How I Work. We all follow this natural cycle of sleep and wakefulness. “Everyone has a unique chronotype, and it influences the peaks and troughs of energy we feel throughout our days.”

“Around 10% of people are stereotypical larks, who feel most energetic in the mornings,” explains Imber. “At the other end of the spectrum are the 20% of the population who are owls, or people who do their best work at night.” As a result, we tend to spring into action in the morning, have a power lull after lunch, and end the day with a bang.

You can achieve more by paying attention to your chronotype and planning your priorities around your energy peaks, suggests Dan Pink, author of “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.”

“On days I plan to write, I do it in the mornings, when I’m most alert,” he told Imber. “I set myself a word count, and I won’t do anything until I hit it.” Furthermore, he won’t use his phone in the office or check his email. “Once I’ve hit my goal, I’m free to do other things.” Instead, pink uses his morning energy to focus on his work and avoid distractions.

He tends to stay focused on doable tasks during his afternoon energy slump. For example, he answers emails or files documents.

When you’re most productive, lock in your priorities first in your calendar. Then, after tackling your preferences, you’ll have the momentum and energy to breeze through your remaining responsibilities.

2. Stop Multitasking

Multitasking is never an efficient way of spending your time, even if it might seem so in the moment,” explains Deanna Ritchie in another Calendar article.

“When we multitask, we rapidly switch between multiple tasks, which expends brainpower, takes energy, and reduces our productivity,” Deanna explains.

Most people who boast that they can multitask effectively don’t realize that they are actually less efficient at solving many tasks at once than they are at completing one task at a time.

You should ask yourself how efficient you want to be whenever you find yourself wanting to multitask. You should be aware of the time and effort you need to devote to specific tasks. These tasks may require you to take time away from other tasks so you can devote your undivided attention to these tasks.

“When you stop multitasking and begin focusing entirely on a single task at one time, you’ll see your productivity increase,” she adds.

3. Get Organized

In my opinion, this can be a broad workflow as it encompasses both the big and the small.

For example, you could block out 10-minutes at the end of the workday to clean organize your workspace. You could also go through your inbox, update your to-do list, or revise your calendar for the week.

You will see a long-term improvement in your workflow if you eliminate this small amount of clutter.

On the bigger side of organization, you need to establish an effective organizational system. It’s a simple way for you and your team to save time when looking for documents and resources. Moreover, you can keep your team on task by implementing organizational strategies and data management systems.

I would also suggest assigning clear deadlines to both you and your team. Again, this will keep everyone on the same page and prevent hiccups. Ideally, you would use a team calendar so that everyone can view upcoming tasks and projects.

4. Schedule a ShipIt Day

The Atlassian Company developed the concept of letting employees work on any project for 24 hours. Employees become motivated when they have the chance to do something they are passionate about when creativity is encouraged in this way. After completing their task for the day, employees return to work feeling accomplished and motivated.

Even if you aren’t leading a team, you can still apply this concept. For instance, you could schedule a ShipIt on Fridays. Why? Because most of us are spent by the end of the week. And, for some, having a 4-day work week can increase your efficiency and workflow.

5. Keep Calm and Workflow On

It is only possible for your workflows to remain cutting edge if you prioritize analyzing them regularly and finding out what works, what doesn’t, and what to improve.

To achieve workflow efficiency, you must;

  • Plan your workflow for manual review,
  • Monitor your issue tracking workflows constantly,
  • As needed, refine your workflows
  • Make sure your workflow can continue to meet your targets by testing and improving.

To get more done with less, it’s easier to eliminate unnecessary steps and focus on what it takes to improve your workflow.

Where does your calendar come into play here? To ensure that you don’t forget to continually review and improve your workflow, add this to your calendar ASAP. How often? That’s up to you. But, for newer workflow improvements, I wouldn’t go more than a month.

However, you can schedule this as a quarterly or annual task in most cases.

Image Credit: Fauxels; Pexels; Thank you!

Five New Workflow Improvements to Add to Your Calendar was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

How To Track Your New Goals on Your Calendar

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How To Track Goals Calendar

We all know the importance of setting goals. But, when was the last time you actually set a new goal? Even if you did this recently, have you been tracking your progress?

I’m not trying to send out a guilt trip. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of individuals actually follow through. To be more specific, an often-cited figure is that only 8% of people achieve their goals.

Why do a majority of us stumble? Of course, that’s a broad question that will vary from person to person. There is, however, a theory that Mark Murphy, the founder and CEO of LeadershipIQ.com and author of the book “Hard Goals: The Secret to Getting From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be,” has.

Throughout his research, Murphy looked at how the brain works and how humans are wired to set goals. Then, he honed the process using that and the law of attraction. And the result was something called challenging goals.

According to Murphy, a HARD goal is achieved. Using Murphy’s principle, we should put our current costs in the future and our future gains in the present. In other words, don’t put things off until tomorrow.

A goal-setting process evolves over time. For example, you will probably have very different goals in your thirties than you will in your fifties.

Whatever your age may be, what matters is that you regularly update your life goals and revisit them. Or, in short, track the new goals that you set. And one of the most effective ways to do that is by using your Calendar.

1. Take stock of your accomplishments.

To set new goals, you must take note of your past achievements. For example, you can update your resume or LinkedIn profile. Other suggestions would be gathering recommendations or taking aptitude or career assessment tests.

If you don’t want to overwhelm yourself, though, you could focus on what you’ve accomplished in the past year by;

  • Looking for emails from particular clients, colleagues, or management. You should try to find one successful email per month.
  • Revisiting your LinkedIn updates, Instagram feed, or other social accounts.
  • Discussing the significant accomplishments in the workplace with coworkers and friends. When you speak with others, you may be able to shed light on some of your own achievements.
  • Take a look at your journal, notebooks, or past calendars.

2. Plan ahead.

Pablo Picasso once said, “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”

To achieve your goals, you need to plan adequately on how you’ll reach them within a specific timeframe. My schedule is mapped out months in advance — I even know people who plan out their entire year in advance. From there, I decide how and when I will finish each step. This makes it easier for me to track my progress day by day, so I know exactly where I am and what I need to do to reach my goals.

3. Identify the best time for you to evaluate your performance.

You can become better at scheduling and calendaring with a variety of tools. Calendly has been a major player, but now there are a lot of growing Calendly alternatives. If you don’t use the right tools then you won’t be able to manage your time the best so you can improve your performance.

Even if you’re exhausted, never skip rating and evaluating your results of the day. If you do, the opportunity to find gaps that prevent you from achieving your goals might be lost.

4. Visualize the “chain.”

Former software developer Brad Isaac once asked comedian Jerry Seinfeld for advice for a young comedian. Seinfeld told him that he needed to write better jokes to become a better comic. To write better jokes, he had to write every day.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Eventually, the comic revealed his unique calendar system to keep him motivated.

Jerry Seinfeld told Isaac to get a giant wall calendar with the entire year on it — and hang it somewhere easily visible. Then, he told him to get a red magic marker.

Isaac was told that he had to put a big red X on the Calendar for each day he wrote. “After a few days, you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it, and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is not to break the chain.”

“Don’t break the chain,” Seinfeld reiterated.

Isaac says this strategy “works because it isn’t the one-shot pushes that get us where we want to go — it is the consistent daily action that builds extraordinary results.” And these habits are built by daily action.

5. Make weekly goal tracking a priority.

Why track your goals on a weekly basis?

You can get a lot done in a week and make significant progress towards your goals. However, it’s short enough that you can adjust your actions if you veer off course. Besides flexibility, this also helps you break larger goals into more manageable chunks.

You may want to settle on a weekly focus to make this successful. Whether it’s a phrase, a quote, or a poem, you can focus on whatever motivates you for the week. Your weekly focus should be something that inspires you to work toward better goals.

Every week, set aside time to decide what you will focus on. Of course, it would be ideal if you did this before the week began. I’m a big fan of updating and filling in anything that needs to be on the Calendar for the week on Sunday afternoon or evening.

6. Auto-schedule time for your goals.

By planning ahead and dedicating time to your long-term goals, you can take a huge step in accomplishing them. But, here’s the thing. Just because you have these in your Calendar doesn’t mean you get to them if you’re running on fumes.

One of the biggest drains on our energy is making decisions. One way to combat this is to have tasks automatically scheduled for you, so that you don’t waste energy deciding what to do. For example, you could review your to-do list on Sundays while checking in on your goals. Then, if you have open slots, add an item from your to-do list to that time block.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should clutter your Calendar. But, you should leave blank spaces in your Calendar to shuffle things around if there’s an emergency. And, if everything has gone to plan, then you know exactly how to spend this time.

7. Meet with your accountability partner.

There will be times when self-motivation isn’t enough. You may need to call in the calvary if you want to stick to your goals during such times.

When you share your goals with someone else, you essentially sign a contract. If you know someone will check on your progress, making excuses won’t be as likely to derail you. Since there is nothing to share, it feels like you are disappointing them, and disappointing someone is never pleasant. It’s also a good idea to keep track of your goals when someone checks in with you regularly.

In short, you need to find yourself an accountability partner.

Ideally, you want to choose someone you trust and share your goals or have a similar perspective on growth and success. Next, invite them to check in with you. How often? That depends.

You might like a daily check-in by text or email to report on how things went the day before and set goals for the day ahead. Other people prefer longer meetings every week, biweekly or monthly. You might do a mix of long meetings and quick check-ins with some partnerships.

Whatever you and your goal buddy agree on, put that in your Calendar ASAP. This will prevent any calendar conflicts from arising.

8. Set a reward system.

Why do reward systems work? Well, it’s all about dopamine.

As you accomplish something important, your brain begins to spike with dopamine, making you feel a surge of satisfaction. As a result, you become more motivated and productive.

You can benefit from this by rewarding yourself as you chip away at your goals. As your brain connects your hard work with a surge of dopamine, it will eventually become automatic.

How does your Calendar fit into this? Well, you can schedule your rewards. For instance, if you have completed your weekly goals, treat yourself to dinner with friends. Then, during the week, you could set aside 15-minutes time blocks to read, write, go for a walk, or do whatever else you enjoy doing.

9. Schedule time for distractions.

Make no mistake about it — we live in a distracting world where multitasking has become the norm. The era of instant updates and notifications has even made many of us reliant on distraction. And as a result, we often ask ourselves why we aren’t as productive as we should be.

Cal Newport explains it this way in Deep Work, “Once your brain has become accustomed to on-demand distraction, [Clifford Nass] discovered; it’s hard to shake the addiction even when you want to concentrate.”

How does Newport aim to solve this problem? Schedule these distractions.

“Instead of scheduling the occasional break from distraction so you can focus, you should instead schedule the occasional break from focus to give in to distraction.”

I know. Scheduling time for distractions might sound counterproductive. However, taking part in something distracting, like answering emails or posting on social media, will not reduce your ability to concentrate. The constant switch between “low-stimulus, high-value” activities to “high-stimulus, low-value.” According to Newport’s research, boredom is causing atrophy in the muscles needed for concentration.

According to him, we need to adopt an attitude of focus and set aside a portion of our day for distracting activities to reverse the decline. Even though he admits to the potential use of the Internet for constructive purposes, he uses it synonymously with distracting activities.

Schedule in advance when you’ll use the Internet, and then avoid it altogether outside these times,” he explains. “Record the next time you’re allowed to use the Internet. Until you arrive at that time, absolutely no network connectivity is allowed—no matter how tempting.”

10. Calendar it all.

When it comes to setting, achieving, and maintaining repeated goals, consistency is key. So add or schedule five- and ten-minute blocks of time to your Calendar to help yourself out.

How will you fill these blocks? You can use them to journal your accomplishments, make progress toward a specific goal, or meet with your goal buddy. All of these will help you keep track of your goals and help you follow through.

How To Track Your New Goals on Your Calendar was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Image Credit: Cottonbro; Pexels; Thank you!

The Assault on Productivity, Neglect of Your Calendar

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Assault Productivity Neglect Calendar

Almost all of us want to be able to improve our productivity. But how exactly can we do this?

There’s certainly no shortage of tried and true techniques. Examples would be working when you’re most effective, setting timers, blocking out distractions, or setting daily goals.

While all of these are helpful, they also rely on a calendar. Case in point, to reach your goals, you need to block out undistracted times for you to focus on tasks that get you closer to your desired outcome. If not, you’ll get bombarded by phone calls or commit to less difficult chores.

But, just because you have a calendar doesn’t mean you’re getting the most out of it. It’s like buying an elliptical to improve your health but letting it sit there collecting dust. If you ignore your new exercise equipment, you’re still failing to maintain your health.

In short, if you want to bolster your productivity, then you can’t neglect your Calendar. Here are the best ways to prevent that from happening.

Time estimates aren’t adjusted.

This past Sunday, I decided to cook dinner for my family. It wasn’t an overly complicated entree — it was stuffed peppers if you’re curious. Unfortunately, I underestimated how long it would take me to prep and cook the meal — leaving a very hangry family.

To be fair, we’re all terrible at estimating time. And, you can thank the planning fallacy for that.

What is the planning fallacy?

The planning fallacy is a psychological term that describes our tendency to underestimate how much time a task will take. It was first introduced in 1977 by psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. They found that people tend to ignore historical data when making predictions.

In other words? We don’t use historical evidence to estimate time. Instead, we concentrate exclusively on the upcoming task at hand.

Kahneman later elaborated on the original concept in his 2011 book “Thinking Fast and Slow.” According to him, estimation mistakes are usually caused by two factors;

  • Failure to consider the past times when we have completed similar tasks
  • We assume no complications will arise that will delay us

A second mistake relates to optimism bias, which describes our tendency to believe that the future will be a better place than the past. How does this connect to the planning fallacy? People think that things they do in the future will be more efficient than the things they do now.

As a result of our optimism, we believe that delays will be unlikely. But, unfortunately, that means when it comes to estimating time, you go with the best-case scenario. Consequently, we tend to disregard historical data that proves that the best-case scenario is, in fact, highly improbable.

How to overcome the planning fallacy?

In some cases, the planning fallacy is nothing more than an inconvenience. For example, you might have a hungry family when dinner is running late. But, you can put out some snacks in the meantime. However, time estimation errors account for 25 percent of failed projects at work.

The easiest fix? To estimate time spent on different types of tasks, use a time tracking app to track your progress over time or uncover when you’re most productive. The app’s built-in reports make it easy to reference the data later on.

Another easy solution? Give yourself some time than you need. For instance, you could set aside 2 hours for a specific task, even though you believe that it will only take you an hour. If it ends up taking you an hour-and-a-hour, then you have 30-minutes to spare instead of going over the allotted time you planned.

Sorry to continually beat the drum on this same idea — but you should periodically track your time on your recurring tasks to improve your productivity. As you become more proficient at these tasks, you should complete them faster. For example, if you blocked out two hours for a task and it now takes you an hour and a half, that extra time could be used elsewhere.

Not blocking out your priorities first.

Throughout my entrepreneurial career, I have sported a variety of hats. Obviously, this is more important when just getting started. There is no way to hire a talented team when you don’t have the resources. Once the cash starts flowing in, hiring a stellar team to support means fewer hats you have to wear.

That doesn’t mean you should completely ignore these responsibilities. Instead, it means that you can delegate specific tasks to others. On the downside, that could mean that you start filling your Calendar with entries that aren’t priorities.

Instead, follow the advice of Stephen Covey. “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.”

This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Still, it shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve. After all, when it comes down to it, your priorities are anything that moves you closer to your goals.

With that in mind, you should book your priorities before anything else. If you don’t, other less critical items will take their place, thus hindering your productivity. Also, keep in mind that you won’t accomplish them all on a single day, so focus only on your three most important tasks. All other activities should be put off until later, delegated, or deleted.

Ignoring calendar conflicts.

Occasionally, calendar conflicts will arise. That’s life. But that doesn’t mean you should just shrug your shoulders and tell yourself, “Oh, well.”

Ignoring calendar conflicts doesn’t mean that they’ll magic resolve themselves. Instead, you’re going to have to be proactive and tackle them head-on.

For example, if you double-booked a time slot, own up to your mistake and try to make it right. So, let’s say you have a doctor’s appointment when you were supposed to have a call with a client. Let your client know about the scheduling error and offer an alternative date to speak. They may be disappointed, but it’s better than leaving them high and dry.

Forgetting to add calendar entries.

It’s possible to lose productivity when you forget to add calendar entries. Don’t wait to add events to your Calendar until the last minute as well. You might miss important meetings if you don’t do it immediately. As a result, you may be unable to meet deadlines, or you’ll need extra time to catch up on missed tasks.

Always schedule items as soon as possible — even if it’s a year in advance. But, of course, with the popularity of calendar apps, you can do this whenever and wherever you can. So, in my opinion, there’s really no excuse for forgetting to add entries to your Calendar.

Not clearing your Calendar regularly.

There are very things in life that you’ll possess forever if you don’t clean things out — including your Calendar. Everything from torn clothing, broken appliances, and outdated pantry items must be replaced. If not, you’ll end up in an episode of Hoarders.

The same is valid with your Calendar. If you don’t declutter your Calendar from time to time, it’s going to be packed with unnecessary entries. How often you go about this is up to you — I personally do this twice a year. Regardless, here are some items that you may want to remove when cleaning your Calendar;

  • Meetings with no purpose or agenda
  • Back-to-back or standing meetings
  • Habitual or minute activities, like brushing your teeth.
  • Unnecessary notifications and reminders, such as “Walk your dog.”
  • Recurring events that no longer fit into your schedule or you have no interest in attending
  • Tasks that can be delegated or outsourced
  • Other people’s priorities

Sticking with calendar default settings.

Make sure your calendar settings are tailored to your specific productivity needs, instead of just accepting the defaults.

For instance, multiple calendars and color-coding options are typically available in calendar apps. By using a different font or all caps, you can also draw attention to necessary entries. Alternatively, you can change the calendar view and decide what day to start.

In addition, you have the option to enable other time zones, hide specific calendars, and change the default time. This last option is particularly important. You can set the time to exactly what you need for an event or task instead of blocking out the default time — usually, this is an hour.

As an example, you might only need to meet with your team for 30-minutes. But, since you stuck with the entire hour, you’re wasting everyone’s valuable time that could have been spent on something more important.

If you really want to supercharge your Calendar and productivity, consider teaming your Calendar with other tools. By harnessing machine learning, Calendar, for example, suggests when, where, and how to schedule your time.

One final piece of advice here. The calendar app and tools that you use should seamlessly sync across multiple devices. Google Calendar, for instance, is equally accessible on Android and iOS devices. That means you can switch between your iPhone and Chromebook, preventing any missed calendar entries.

Failing to review your Calendar constantly.

To start the day on the right foot, you need to plan ahead. I mean, that’s like saying you’re going to cook your family meatloaf for dinner on a whim. Unfortunately, you don’t have all of the ingredients, leaving you scrambling to think of a replacement — on top of a disappointed and hungry family.

As for productivity specifically, let’s say it’s Sunday night, and you didn’t look ahead on your Calendar schedule for tomorrow. Because you’re busy with your family, it slips your mind that you have an early meeting in the morning. Suffice to say, you don’t prep for the meeting and are caught off guard when you receive a calendar reminder 15-minutes before the meeting starts.

In situations like above, that could not throw your schedule off. Or, even if you can keep your schedule intact, you may feel “off” for the remainder of the day. In turn, this could slow your productivity to a screeching halt.

Image Credit: Olya Kobruseva; Pexels; Thank you!

The Assault on Productivity, Neglect of Your Calendar was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Get More Done with the DRY Principle

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Get More Done Dry Principle

Take a minute and think about your everyday tasks. I’m sure that many of them are likely to be repetitive and time-consuming — whether you’re working in an office or from home. But, is there a way to reduce this workload to get more done so that you’ll be productive instead of being busy?

Thankfully, there are several strategies you can try in order to get more done. Examples include the Eisenhower Matrix or the Pareto Principle. But, have you tried the DRY Principle?

What is DRY, and How Does it Work?

Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas, in their book The Pragmatic Programmer, coined the phrase “don’t repeat yourself” in 1999. They describe DRY as “Every piece of knowledge must have a single, unambiguous, authoritative representation within a system.”

In software engineering, DRY is a technique for reducing repetition in code. Coders streamline coding using a single, reusable source, aka “snippet,” whenever appropriate. Hence, the name, don’t repeat yourself.

As well as saving time, writing the same thing multiple times means that there is less room for human error. After all, if you make a mistake once, you’ll probably make it twice. Plus, if you decide to make any changes, you only have to do this one time.

The bottom line is that less code is good. It saves time and energy. It’s much easier to maintain. And, it also reduces the likelihood of bugs.

While the DRY Principle originally applied to software development, it can be adopted into other facets in order to get more done. For example, on a daily basis, how many emails do you send and receive? Essentially, you’re recreating the same structure with slightly different wording with each email. And, when you’re calendar is already booked, this can be very tedious.

DRY requires that you take note of all your actions throughout the day, one at a time. You can include tasks that are within the following categories in order to meet this requirement:

  • Unplanned events, such as a phone call from a client or urgent text from a colleague.
  • Monthly and yearly obligations, like annual reports and one-on-one meetings with team members.
  • Everyday routines and your top priorities.

Once you’ve compiled this list, you can determine which ones apply to the DRY Principle. From there, take note of how repetitive, time-consuming, and intimidating each one is, and mark them down. If the top candidates are DRY Principle qualifiers, you can automate as many of these as possible.

In some cases, you will not be able to automate all the duties. However, you can streamline certain parts to help you get more done.

Where Are You Repeating Yourself?

Have you ever used a system like Getting Things Done (GTD)? If so, the DRY Principle should be easy to understand as both follow a similar process. DRY, however, aims to avoid redundant processes.

To get started, keep a daily journal for at least a week. Then, you should track your time for a more accurate picture for a month or so. This allows you to take note of your routine tasks. But, this should also help you identify less frequent occurrences as well.

Here are some pointers you can use while tracking your time.

  • Add unplanned or unscheduled tasks, like responding to a client’s email.
  • Keep track of monthly and annual tasks. Examples of these are quarterly reports, audits, invoicing, and tech maintenance.
  • Ask others what their routine tasks are to fill in any gaps.

Hopefully, you now have a bird’s-eye view of your tasks. Next, you need to decide which tasks are best suited to DRY.

You can do this using whatever tools you rely on to track your tasks. For example, you can create tags or labels for each category in your to-do list or time-tracking app. The categories can then be added as columns in a spreadsheet. Or, you can go old school and write them down with a pen and paper.

To make this process easier, hone in on the corresponding categories;

  • Pain points. These would be the activities that you dread so much that they cause you to procrastinate
  • Bottlenecks. Which tasks are bogging down the rest of your day?
  • Tasks that require a lot of time. Review your time-tracking results and determine which tasks consume most of your time.
  • Work that repeats itself. Which tasks do you find yourself doing over and over?

As a result of categorizing your tasks, you can now identify which tasks are suitable for DRY. DRY is most likely to benefit tasks with a repetitive nature. You can eliminate repetitive tasks from your list if they aren’t essential so that you can focus on what’s important.

Create Templates

After discovering where you’re repeating yourself, you can now find ways to eliminate them so you can get more done. And, perhaps the most accessible place to start is through templates.

In most cases, templates are blank documents that need to be filled in. You can either create one from scratch or download a premade online. Regardless, templates will save you time since you’re no longer constantly creating emails, invoices, or calendars every day.

Generally speaking, templates are most needed in the following areas:

  • Emails. Office workers receive an average of 121 emails each day. As a result, there’s a possibility you’re sending the same emails repeatedly. You can create your own template by removing all the personal information and saving it for later use.
  • Internal communications. Examine your most recent communications and search for patterns. Even a minimal template can ease your stress and save you time.
  • External documents. Contracts, proposals, invoices all seem to look the same. However, when you remove the information specific to your clients and partners, you’ll have a template to use, and you can customize it as needed.
  • Presentations. Prepare a presentation template if you deliver more than one presentation a year. Then, regardless of how different each presentation appears, the basic structure can remain the same.

One more thing with templates. You should consider them as non-static documents. You should, therefore, update the template if you notice that you’re always making the same changes.

Automate Routine Tasks

During the course of your workday, you perform several repetitive tasks. But, what business tasks should you consider automating?

For starters, scheduling appointments. It’s easy to schedule appointments with calendar apps. You can send your calendar via email or link it to your website. You can now show others your availability so they can select a time and date that works for them. Once chosen, the event will be automatically added to schedules for all attendees.

Sorting and responding to emails, posting to social media, and filling out online forms can also be automated. This is also true for proposals, invoicing, customer service, and data backup.

You may only have to spend a couple of minutes on each task. But they add up quickly and divert your attention.

Follow the 30x Rule

Until now, we’ve only discussed the many ways you can leverage tools and messages to save time. However, DRY can also be useful in your daily activities.

“Most managers would think it’s crazy to spend 2.5 hours training someone to do a 5-minute task because they think ‘it would just be faster to do it myself,” notes Management consultant Rory Vaden. “That is because most managers are stuck in classic ‘urgency’ thinking of only evaluating their tasks inside of the construct of one day.”

“In which case, it never makes sense to spend 2.5 hours training someone to do a task that they could do themselves in just 5 minutes,” says Vaden.

According to Vaden, you should allocate 30X that amount of time to train others for any task that can be delegated and repeated. For example, a five-minute task delegated and trained for 2.5 hours will save you 1100 minutes (over 18 hours! ), according to the 30-X rule.

Mathematically speaking, it’s Total Task Time (5 minutes 250 working days) – Training Time (5 minutes).

It’s All About Staying DRY

Because all these processes are getting done in the background, you will have more free time because you won’t need to perform repetitive tasks manually. So when it comes to time management, the DRY Principle is an effective tool to experiment with.

By maximizing your output now, you will have more time to spend on the things that matter most in the future. And, to get started, take a look at your current workload, and see if there is anything you can automate under the DRY Principle.

Image Credit: Enikő Tóth; Pexels; Thanks!

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