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Power Nap Your Way to Increased Productivity

Many of us experience that afternoon dip in energy; you know, the one that hits you sometime between one and three o clock. Luckily there’s an easy alternative to curb that crash that involves taking a catnap instead of reaching for another caffeinated beverage.

Research shows that naps improve our brain’s day-to-day performance. Naps reduce sleepiness, increase alertness, and improve reaction time, coordination, logical reasoning, memory consolidation, symbol recognition, mood, and emotion regulation. Healthy adults who take naps regularly enjoy brighter spirits, find it easier to learn and remember. And are less sensitive to negative emotions like fear and anger.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 30 minutes or less of catnapping can “restore alertness, enhance performance and boost mood and cognitive performance.” A 20-minute nap appears to hit the sweet spot, giving you the right amount of time that allows your body to power down and reboot. Be careful with napping too long; longer naps aren’t recommended because you fall into a deeper sleep, making it difficult to awaken feeling refreshed.

Some businesses have caught on because of the benefits. NASA pilots take in-flight naps as short as 26 minutes to enhance performance and alertness by 34% and a 16% increase in reaction time. More companies encourage employees to take power naps during the workday, like Nike and Thrive Global, Inc. provide unique rooms with specially designed chairs to catch some ZZ’s.

Powernap like a pro

Here are ways to get the most out of your next power nap, whether you are back in an office or working from home.

Pick your time and duration.

Most experts recommend napping at the same time every day to train your body to fall asleep at that time. Aim to rest sometime between 1 and 3 pm when most of us experience a natural energy dip.

Set your Alarm

Don’t oversleep! Set your alarm for 15 to 20 minutes to enjoy increased alertness upon waking up.

Create a Nap Space

Creating a sleep-inducing environment will increase the odds that you catch some restorative ZZZs. Make sure the room is quiet, as dark as possible, and relatively cool if you’re able. Research shows that cool, dark, and noise-free environments are most conducive to sleep.

Try a ‘Coffee Nap’

Sounds counterintuitive, right? Experts say to drink a coffee, set your alarm for 20 minutes, and sneak in your nap; the coffee will have time to start working while you sleep and give you a double shot of energy when you wake up. It takes about 20 minutes for caffeine to absorb into the body and work.

Though generally beneficial, napping isn’t for everyone. Poor sleepers who have difficulty falling and staying asleep at night might want to avoid daytime snoozing. For everyone else, though, a 20-minute mid-afternoon nap could be the secret to feeling sharp, productive,  and happy throughout the day.

 

Hottest Job Market for Tech in Decades

The shortage of tech talent is not a new problem but has now reached a critical stage and it will be a significant challenge for businesses to find skilled talent.

Here are some impressive numbers from CompTIA:

  • In June, employers posted more than 365,000 job openings for IT workers, the highest monthly total since September 2019.
  • The positions highest in demand include software developers, IT support specialists, systems engineers, architects, and IT project managers.
  • Jobs in emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, or those requiring rising tech skills accounted for 28 percent of all open positions.

Why the boom, you ask?

The Covid-19 pandemic caused an unparalleled wave of tech adoption for businesses across all industries – as companies learned to work remotely and connect with customers virtually, they essentially jammed a decade’s worth of tech adoption and digital transformation into a single whirlwind year. The same is true for consumer tech, with video game development, entertainment tech, and social platforms flourishing.

Simultaneously, remote work became the status quo in the tech industry. Suddenly, software talent could pick and choose from an extensive pool of job opportunities. All while existing talent is beginning to stray. Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trends Index found that 40 percent of workers are considering making a job change.

Companies need to step you their game to land a quality engineer beyond competitive salaries. Offering incentives like flexible hours, sign-on bonuses, and permanent remote work, the last of which has become a requirement for much of the workforce. A recent report found only 17 percent of technologists wanted to work in an office full time, while 59 percent wanted remote and hybrid approaches.

Across all industries, ‘remote work’ job listings have increased 457 percent, according to recent LinkedIn data, with the tech sector a leader in job listings. Companies that fail to figure out how to offer this flexibility won’t be able to attract the talent they need.

The pandemic transformed nearly every organization into a tech company. Although the competition will be fierce for qualified tech talent, companies can start laying the groundwork now to keep their pipeline full of viable candidates.

 

Why You Need to Build Your Personal Brand

The swoosh on your kicks, your favorite reusable coffee flask, the laptop computer with the fruit on it. You, my friend, are branded whether you like it or not.

But we can learn from big brands about how to stand out in the crowded marketplace and help advance your career. Tom Peters breaks it down beautifully for this Fast Company piece:

Big companies understand the importance of brands. Today, in the Age of the Individual, you have to be your own brand. Here’s what it takes to be the CEO of Me, Inc. Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.

That Instagram post, that email signature, your latest Tweet about your favorite NBA team, and how you interact with your co-workers all communicate your personal brand. Even if some of the activities are considered ‘personal,’ what you share and how you present yourself defines you professionally.

When consistency occurs between what you say and what you do, authenticity and credibility emerge, making you a reliable teammate and supportive colleague. Like any brand, your own will also come with expectations and clearly communicate your values, skills, and personality. Personal branding is about leaving a mental and preferably lasting impression in the mind of others, which positions you and makes you stand out from the crowd.

  • What impression do you people experience when they first met you?
  • What sort of imprint do you leave behind?
  • How do others perceive you?

Your network of friends, colleagues, clients and customers are the most critical marketing tool you’ve got; what others say about you and your contributions is what the market will ultimately gauge as the value of your brand.

Start by looking at what makes you different and lean into those traits. Even look at your mentors and ask yourself what it is about them you admire?

Then put yourself out there some more to create more exposure for yourself – teach a class or do some freelance work, write a piece for your professional newsletter, get on a panel discussion….are you getting the idea?

No matter where you are at on your personal branding journey, Peters emphasizes four things you must measure yourself against.

  1. First, you’ve got to be a great teammate and a supportive colleague.
  2. Second, you’ve got to be an exceptional expert at something that has real value.
  3. Third, you’ve got to be a broad-gauged visionary — a leader, a teacher, a farsighted “Imagineer.”
  4. Fourth, you’ve got to be a businessperson — you’ve got to be obsessed with pragmatic outcomes.

Now go take charge of the brand called You.

 

Entering Post-Pandemic Life

As vaccination rates climb toward targets that will allow us to return to normal, whether that means returning to the office or attending live in-person events, some people may be experiencing anxiety. Those feelings could be new or a different experience for many.

Experts say these feelings are normal, and minor changes to your routine can make a significant difference as you step into a post-pandemic life. Blake Lauren Hills, LPC, behavioral health consultant, shares tips on easing into this transitional phase.

Take some time for self-care

Figure out what helps you feel steadier and able to cope better and plan around that. Hills says to block out time for yourself and remind yourself you’re doing the best you can, and that’s good enough.

New routines

Explore your old routines for what worked; maybe that was hitting spin class before heading to the office or meeting for drinks after work with co-workers every Thursday. Then think about how you want your post-COVID life to look. Perhaps it’s the old way, or you may discover that you want to launch new routines, or you’ll want to create a hybrid.

A great way to explore this is by journaling. The idea behind putting pen to paper, Hill explains is to release your emotions and thoughts on paper, preserve them, learn from them, and in turn avoid overloading yourself or your loved ones with your stress. You may discover common themes in your journal that will guide you in your decisions, or you may notice concerns that you need to address.

Use Mindfulness apps

Guided mediation apps like Headspace, Calm, or My Strength can help you cope during this time.

Offering free subscriptions for employees to these types of apps is a great way to show your commitment to your employees’ mental health.

Remember what helped you stay resilient during this last year. If doing puzzles or walking your neighborhood became your stress reliever, keep doing it!

Watch your pace

It’s a good idea to ease your way into new activities. Physically and psychologically, you may be more exhausted than you expect by the types of stimulation you’ve gone without this past year. Maybe start by gathering in small groups instead of attending a large outdoor event.

It’s a process

The return to something that resembles pre-COVID life will likely take far, far longer than how long it took to go from normal to lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic. It is a gradual process, with different milestones and different timelines for various activities with other people. Most of all, be patient with yourself.

The more we can embrace this transition as a path to keep moving forward on, rather than a switch to be flipped, the more ready we’ll be for bumps along the way.

 

How to Carve Out “Focus Days” And Why You Need Them

Some days start with such promise, but one emergency meeting after another, and your to-do list quickly becomes hijacked, and you find yourself struggling to keep your head above water. It seems impossible to clear some mental space and progress on larger goals when you’re moving from task to task regularly. 

 

But one minor adjustment in your schedule could make the difference between assuredly accomplishing your strategic objectives and scrambling to keep up with the day-to-day. 

 

Here’s a potential solution: Meeting-Free Days 

 

Time management coach Elizabeth Grace Saunders offers these steps to your next focus day:

 

Step 1: Make the Commitment

Look at your calendar weeks ahead of time and set aside one day as UNTOUCHABLE. Commit to leaving the entire day, yes that’s right, open for focused work. 

 

Block out time in your calendar to decline any meeting requests. And do the same for your team. This will increase your chances of setting boundaries and following through. If you want to earn bonus points, put your cell phone in airplane mode and enjoy a distraction-free day.

 

Step 2: Tell Others

Share the news of your meeting-free day with your team and boss. Set clear expectations of the amount of communication others can expect from you on this Focus Day and explain why you’re doing it. Maybe you’ll set some time aside to quickly scan emails for emergencies on a break or at the end of the day so your colleagues know you’re not entirely off the grid. 

 

 

Step 3: Plan

Planning what’s on your to-do list before your meeting-free day is just as crucial to blocking out the time in your calendar. Choose work that requires deep focus and high-level critical thinking. Some examples Saunders provides are; writing, strategic thinking, analysis, coding, designing, or a complex project. She recommends picking a single big project or picking two or three discrete deliverables. Then write those goals down on paper or record them in your calendar. 

 

Step 4: Block out the noise, aka routine emails and tasks

So here’s the hard part. Your instinct will be to answer that Slack message or respond to that email. Stepping out of your comfort zone here will take some time. But once you start realizing the productivity results this focus time yields, it will get easier and the daily tasks will still get done. 

 

Research has shown those received a big boost in productivity by building in more focus-time into their day. Give it a try and let us know your results! 

Technologist Salaries Continue to Rise

Tech industry salaries were up 3.6 % last year to an average of $97 860 despite the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual Dice 2021 Tech Salary Report features in-depth intel on tech salary and compensation trends across the United States.

The results offer good news for technologists looking to understand their market value better and position themselves for career growth.

Dice administered its 2020 salary survey online among registered Dice job seekers and site visitors. More than 9,000 respondents completed the survey.

Hot Jobs

The occupations and skills that saw the most significant salary increases between 2019 and 2020 helped organizations organize and analyze data, digitize and otherwise evolve their product offerings, and ensure that their organizations remained efficient, profitable, and secure during the pandemic.

Cybersecurity Analysts saw their average salaries increase to more than $103,000, up more than 16%.

The prevalence of remote work likely also impacted Technical Support Engineer wages, which rose to almost $69,000 in 2020, up 8%. As many organizations swiftly reacted to changing conditions on account of the pandemic, the need to develop and implement long-term strategies has positively impacted Business Analyst salaries, which increased 5% to $97,600 in 2020.

Cloud Engineer positions grew more than 6% to $136,500.

As data is becoming increasingly valuable to businesses across nearly every industry, the demand has swelled for those who can successfully analyze data in ways that executives and employees can use to drive growth and business development. Data Scientist salaries rose by almost 13% to $120,000. Similarly, the same trend is seen with Data Engineers. Those responsible for building out and maintaining data infrastructure increased by nearly 5% to $119,00 last year.

Hot Hubs

Salaries in California’s Silicon Valley and Boston rose 2.4%, in line with the national average. But they exploded in several tech hubs:

  • Charlotte, N.C., saw a 13.8% rise in salary to $99, 700
  • Orlando saw a 13.4% rise to $88,600
  • New York City saw an 11.6% rise to $114,275
  • Austin, Texas, saw a 9.7% rise to $104, 344
  • Philidelphia saw a 9.3% rise to $96, 512

Salaries declined in the Pacific Northwest, Portland, Oregon, saw a 4.6% drop in wages to $98,026, while Seattle saw a 2.6% decline to $106,723

Hub Battle 

Texas continues its rise to prominence as a premier tech destination at the state level, with salaries up nearly 6% year over year. This rise is sparking conversations about competition with California – with wages up about 2% – as a primary hub. While both states’ tech centers saw high salaries and steady increases, Texas boasts an influx of prestigious companies – including Oracle and Tesla – building new headquarters.

Are you looking for a career in Tech? Contact us today to discuss our variety of exciting opportunities.