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We work with a growing number of start-ups and we’ve been thinking about what businesses at any age can learn from their younger cousins.

 

1. Consider different employment types. Zero-hours contracts can come with a bad reputation, but in some cases they can really help fill a gap in your team. This is particularly true with professionals looking for flexible employment, such as parents with young children. Timewise is one example of a marketplace matching businesses seeking part-time talent, or try Facebook or Gumtree for local resources.

2. Grow with direction and purpose. Don’t fall into the trap of hiring just when things are busy and your team seems too small to cope. Make sure each new-hire fits with your longer-term strategy, your team shape and the skills you already have. Also consider the paths for promotion for the people you already employ, what future do they have in your company?

3. Demand flexibility but give people some boundaries. People need to be flexible in their roles, but clarity on their responsibility is still important. As a minimum, make sure each employee has five key responsibilities; a long-term goal, a short-term goal and clarity on what they deliver themselves and how they deliver through others.

4. Be innovative with your support functions. When you’re small you don’t need in-house HR, IT or accountants and there are numerous outsourced solutions to save money. But you’ll also be surprised by the favours you may be able to pull from your networks, like PR, marketing or events management. Local business networking groups like BNI, Athena and Business Biscotti are a great place to start.

5. Have an ideas culture, but also know when to make decisions. One of our clients gets this just right. They have an open-dialogue in workshops that involve the whole team but, at other times, they’re clear that some decisions are made just by the senior leadership. Your team will thank you when they’re not asked for an opinion on everything!

6. Don’t neglect development. It’s tempting in start-ups to run as fast as you can for as long as you can. But, to be sustainable you have to stop and give energy to training and team-work. And this isn’t just for junior staff – CEO’s need development too. Consider using a coach or mentor if you’re a CEO, and find someone who you trust to challenge and support you when you’re feeling frazzled.

Source: Bedrock HR works with businesses at all stages, typically with between 5 and 50 employees, to provide a cost-effect outsourced HR solution. Talk to us if you’ve got any questions, we’d love to hear from you.

Bedrock Human Resources

British workers spend an average of 182.5 days a year staring at screens, according to new research.

The report, commissioned by The Eye Doctor, investigated the screen habits of adults, considering how long they spend glued to computers, tablets and smart phones.

The average person will pick up their smart phone up to 20 times a day, spend seven to eight hours a day on a computer, two hours watching TV and another two hours on a tablet.

This adds up to around 12 hours of ‘on-screen’ time every day, says the Tear Film & Ocular Surface Dry Eye Workshops II Report.

Nearly half of the 2000 people surveyed agreed with the statement ‘ I have days where it feels like I am looking at a screen from the moment I wake up to the moment I sleep’.

What’s more, 47% admitted that the first thing they do the minute they wake up is jump on their phone, with one fifth saying they even look at their phone while eating.

Tired eyes

Another recent study from Binghamton University – State University of New York stated that excessive smartphone use can be addictive. Women are especially susceptible to this. The report clearly indicates that the impact of screen time is affecting both our physical and mental health.

The UK research verified these findings as it found that people would rather give up guilty pleasures like chocolate, sex, fast food and alcohol rather than part with their smart phones.

The survey also revealed that people are now shying away from personal contact. Three quarters said they would rather text people than have to pick up the phone, meaning we are engaging face-to-face of by voice much less.

Dr Colin Parsole, an Ophthalmologist and contributing author of the report, said: “As well as affecting every area of our lives from mental health to family life, our survey shows that our increasing obsession with screen-time is also having a definite impact on our eye health.”

Over 40% of those polled admit to suffering from reoccurring headaches, tired eyes, dry eyes and fatigue as a result of their compulsion to spent time on some sort of screen device.

People are aware that all this screen time is impacting their health:

  • 88% agreed that they spend far too long looking at screens.
  • Three quarters admitted they are worried about their eye health, and the impact of excessive screen time on their eyesight.
  • Nearly a third admitted that they’ve had to notch up the font size to read on all their screens over the last year
  • Many have had to seek medical advice due to the headaches, migraines, dry eyes and failing eye sight experienced because of excessive use of screens.
Seeing clearly

“The figures are staggering and speaking specifically in relation to conditions like dry eyes, which nearly a quarter of those surveyed said that they suffer from, people need to consciously think of the impact screen time is having on their eye sight,” said Dr Parsloe.

“Dry eye disease arises when there is a shortage of water being produced, or when the oil layer is of poor quality or quantity. Evaporation results in the remaining tears becoming concentrated, salty and acidic, causing inflammation and damage to the surface of the eye.

“We normally blink to refresh our tears once every 10 seconds. When you concentrate, or read from a computer screen, your blink rate reduces and some people may only blink after two minutes! If you’re not blinking then the tears will evaporate from the surface of the eye leaving dry spots resulting in inflammation, redness and pain.”

Dr Parsloe recommends that, just as we care for our skin and teeth daily, we need to introduce a regular health care routine for our eye sight. The simplest way to do this is to focus your eyes 20 feet away from the screen, for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes, to relax the eye and encourage blinking.

SOURCE: MinxPR

 

 

One of the greats things about digital material is that you can do a search for it. Or rather, we can let the computer search for it, while we do something else or get another cup of coffee.

Papers and other physical material is a whole other story. Sure, there are cumbersome indexes and search registers, but most of us try to organize the binders, folders and magazine holders in which we store such non-digital reference material somewhat logically.

It stands to reason that we ought to digitalize as much of our now physical materials as possible. But, judging by what I see in the offices I visit, most of us still have to deal with a considerable amount of papers.

The perfect order

What can actually be considered organized and what is the optimal order? What should we sort by? What are some reasonable and useful categories to be filing by? What should stand, lay or hang where? So many decisions. And so, oh so very, tempting to just put it all in a pile for now. But if we do, it will most likely remain there.

In favor of shortcuts

The Japanese economist Yukio Noguchi seems to have the same penchant as myself for making things as easy as possible. He has therefore invented a way of filing his papers that makes the decisions regarding what order and categorization that are best obsolete. The method is simple and we can either apply it in its entirety or select the parts that suit us.

To the left, to the left

• Put the papers and documents you need to save and make easily accessible for later in folders. These need to be stiff paper folders, because they need to be able to stand on their ends. Hanging file folders in a storage cart works too. The folders can represent different projects, cases, subjects or whatever you would write on tabs in your binders.

• Place the folders on their ends in your bookshelf and write on the side what the folder contains. Or, attach labels on the side of the folders as needed. If you use hanging folders in a set of drawers or storage cart, use the labels at the top as normal. Do not try to think of a perfect order to place the folders in, just put them on the bookshelf as you create them.

• Once you have finished making folders and filing them with their appropriate contents, you just get back to work.

• When you need a folder, you take it out of the shelf or cart and work with it.

• When you are done using it, put it back, but not where you took it from. Instead  place it to the far left, meaning at the very end of all the folders on the left side. If you use hanging file folders, just place the folder so that it is now hanging closest to you.

As time passes, the folders you use most will be placed to the far left of the bookshelf, since you always place the most recently used folder at the left end of the row. If you have not used a folder for a while, it will slowly make its way towards the right side. Eventually you will probably be able to store away the folders on the far right, as you more or less never use them. This leaves more space for the materials that you do use. If you need a file that you used a few days ago, it will most likely be placed amongst the first ones on the left.

The same goes for binders

If you use Noguchi’s filing system you will spend less time putting back what you took out, since you will not have to remember or look for the spot where you took the folder or binder from – you simply place it on the left side. The risk of making those treacherous ‘will sort soon’-piles decreases and you will likely have an empty desk more often, which in turn makes you less distracted by random items or documents laying about. You will find what you look for faster, since most of the times you are looking for something, it will simply be to your left.

Looking for things may sometimes take a bit longer to begin with, especially if you are looking for something you do not use on a regular basis. But, on the other hand, you will not have to look for these folders very often.

What is your method?

Have you organized your physical material by using some other clever method? If so, write to me at david@stiernholm.com and share. I meet a lot of people who are over their heads in paper, and they could definitely use your tips and experience. I am all ears.

 

David StiernholmSource: David Stiernholm, author or Super Structured
David Stiernholm is a trainer who teaches thousands of people every year in companies, government authorities, organizations and universities how to become more structured and attain a higher degree of personal efficiency.

Super Structured

“Information overload”, “too much going on”, “full email inbox”, “too SUPER STRUCTUREDmuch on your plate”, “heavy workload”, “ASAP”, “piles that keep growing”, it has to get better soon… Yes, there are many ways to describe the chaotic life many of us lead at work. But, if we create a better structure at work, we will have more time for what matters most to us and to our business. Super Structured is based on a highly successful training program and is for anyone who wants to create a workday that runs smoother and with greater ease. In short chapters with useful advice and tips

The recent ransomware attack on the NHS and companies across the globe has brought cybercrime to the top of the risk and news agenda.

More than 50 hospitals, doctors, surgeries and pharmacies were hit by the Wannacry attack on Friday 12 May. The computer virus targets older software, such as Windows XP.

Elsewhere, more than 29,000 institutions were hit in China in what many are calling a cyber-attack wake-up call. Nissan Sunderland, German rail network Deutsche Bahn and US delivery giant FedEx are among 200,000 companies in 150 countries known to have been affected.

It is estimated that more than £30k has been paid out in ransoms so far, with operations at some Trusts and GP surgeries still affected.

Risk anaylsis

“The NHS is unusual because it has so few people with the skills to fundamentally understand risk across the enterprise. While the NHS in England employs 1,300,000 workers, it has just 27 partially/fully trained and experienced enterprise risk managers,” said Patrick Keady, Institute of Risk Management (IRM) board member and chair of the IRM Health & Care Sector Interest Group.

“At the same time, it is reassuring that most of the NHS organisations affected by Wanna Decryptor say they have plans in place to react to the impact of the malware.

“However, we have known for years that increasing amounts of IT software and hardware used in the NHS are simply out-of-date and no longer supported by their manufacturers. NHS bosses really do need to take major steps now, to prevent similar episodes and the accompanying disruption to patient services.”

Mr Keady undertook research into current risk registers of the 34 NHS Trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups reported to have been affected by the cyber-attack.

In his view, this research found that 34 NHS Board papers are over-crowded with information – with one set of Board papers exceeding 400 pages.

Key findings:

  • 10 organisations publish Risk Registers online.
  • 13 publish Board Assurance Frameworks online (this requirement was introduced by New Labour circa 2004).
  • Nine do not publish risk registers or board assurance frameworks online.
  • Mid-Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust was the only Trust to mention Cyber-Security in their Board Assurance Framework. (Page 20, risk number 949).
Cyber risk

A 2016 survey of IRM members showed that cyber risk, including data breach, hacking, theft of IP, cyber fraud and commercial sabotage was one of their most pressing concerns.

“We live in an increasingly networked world, from personal banking to government infrastructure. Protecting those networks is no longer optional – the internet of things means enterprise wide risk management, including cyber security policy, has never been more important,” said Nicola Crawford, CFIRM, Chair of the IRM.

“Cyber risk is now firmly at the top of the business agenda globally as high-profile breaches raise fears that hack attacks and other security failures could endanger the global economy. Ransomware and data breach can have catastrophic consequences including loss of life”.

Safeguarding

Alexander Larsen, CFIRM, President of Baldwin Consulting and IRM expert on cyber said: “The speed at which this virus has affected companies around the world shows the impact these hackers can have. Patient’s records may be at risk of being leaked, operations have had to be rescheduled, ultimately putting lives at risk.

“Going forward we can only expect hackers to become more organised and well-funded, which, alongside advances in AI and technology, will lead to more sophistication in their attacks. Some organisations are already spending hundreds of millions of pounds on cyber security, while governments are spending billions in order to prevent these attacks. But experts warn that it is impossible to stop these attacks and that organisation’s should also be focusing on business continuity and recovery while also safeguarding their reputation, which could be severely damaged if the incident is not managed correctly”.

SOURCE: The Institute of Risk Management

 

 

 

Yes, why, indeed. Now that you have achieved a favorable position by having attractive and important contacts in your networking portfolio, the most logical scenario would be to keep those cards close to your chest. Right?

Some time ago, I had a meeting with an employee in a big organization. He was to arrange an important event for the greatest contributor to the company. To make the event successful, he had to ask for help from colleagues who had some of the most important contacts. But he found they were reluctant to cooperate about the contacts.

The event ended up being attended by fewer and far less important participants than had been expected. This in turn resulted in a far lesser overall result for the event.

Although many resources had been spent on the event, the return on the arrangement was dramatically reduced.

Friendly competition

Is this a unique story that applies to this organization only? Unfortunately not. This is a lot more normal than unusual – it happens in all sorts of companies.

Some people regard important business relations as private property, to be activated only when it suits them and can create value to their advantage.

It is quite understandable that people should want to keep their golden eggs to themselves. Probably they have been working hard to add them to their portfolio!

On the other hand, why would your contact drop you, or reduce your value, if you are worth having in your network?

If you have built a good and stable network, the likelihood of losing your contact is almost non-existent.

Mutual benefit

Try to consider the situation from your contact’s point of view. How will he react to the fact that you appreciate him so much that you recommend him to others?
Or from your colleague’s point of view. What kind of relation would he like to establish to you if you share one of your great contacts with him?

You do not seem to run any risk by sharing good contacts. On the contrary, it is likely to be a win-win situation for everybody.

Objectively, there are big gains for both the individual employee and the entire business if you pool and share your contacts.

Generally speaking, you can achieve almost everything if you join forces – not least, because many companies do not have the courage to do it! In other words, pooling good contacts facilitates a growth potential free of charge, for the individual employee and the company.

By Simone Andersen, speaker and author of the bestseller: The Networking Book, 50 ways to develop strategic relationships.

Simone AndersenSimone Andersen: Simone is a journalist and has a Master’s degree in media science. She worked for many years at the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR) as an editor and talk show host. She is an expert in business networking and building relations. Simone has just written the bestselling book “The Networking Book” and gives talks on this subject. Contact: sla@strategisk.dk – +45 26161818

www.thenetworkercompany.com

The Networking Book
It is a fact that what we desire is more easily The Networking Bookachieved when we understand how to build relationships. Networking is basically the exchange of a wide range of services – and the most precious insurance in your private life and your career. This highly practical and accessible book will help anyone understand the power of networking quickly through face-to-face meeting and social media, as well as how they can use it as a way to enhance their prospects.

Change is the new status quo and it is accelerating exponentially.

Technology adoption is driving change at a dizzying pace. Billions of devices are connecting to networks—most of them the sensors, controllers, and machines that power the Internet of Things (IoT).

You probably see the rapid growth of connected devices in your own organization and you probably also see the impact of these connections on your organization’s people and culture. Because the change IoT is driving isn’t really about technology; it’s about business processes, and perhaps even business transformation.

Positive disruption

IoT is driving disruption in every industry—from mining to manufacturing, from agriculture to aviation. Just look at how Lyft and Uber have disrupted traditional taxi service, and how Amazon’s hyper-connected supply chain has transformed e-commerce.

Or consider the auto industry, which only a few years ago offered mostly blue-collar manufacturing jobs. Today, every new vehicle rolling off the assembly line is a connected datacenter on wheels that generates up to two petabytes of data per year.

The same phenomenon is happening across most other industries globally. With the adoption of IoT, all industries are becoming technology industries, and every company is becoming a technology company.

That kind of relentless change threatens the survival of many businesses. According to The Boston Consulting Group, only 19% of S&P 500 companies from 50 years ago still exist today. So, how can you ensure the survival of your business in the next five, 10, or 15 years?

Reinvent Yourself

In the fast-paced technology world, we have adapted to the model of reinventing ourselves every three to seven years. We may be able to miss one major technology or business transition and survive but, if we miss two, we will likely perish.

Now, people and organizations in other industries must face this very challenge. No longer can you expect to stay in the same role for 10 or 20 years, doing mostly the same things. The rapid pace of change today means you have to be prepared to continuously reinvent yourself—as an employee, as a company, and as an industry.

Next generation

A new generation of leaders, makers, thinkers, and doers is meeting that challenge with flexibility and optimism, and transforming it into opportunity.

I call these pioneers ‘Generation IoT’. These are the people who see the transformational power of IoT-driven processes, business models and new revenue streams. They are eager to champion and drive these opportunities in their organizations. These people know that IoT is not just one project, one training session, one change. They know that in order to succeed they and their organizations need to adjust and re-learn, over and over again.

Generation IoT is first defined by openness—open standards, open collaboration, open communications, and open, flexible business models. Members of Generation IoT can be found in Information Technology or Operational Technology. They can run the plant, or be part of the supply chain. They can be vendors, contractors, or CXOs. They can be young or seasoned.

All are willing to learn and take risks and are good at building virtual teams internally and partnering externally. You can recognize these new winners not by their age or their titles, but by their ability to build and deploy agile, flexible business solutions.

Rethink Your Workforce

Building Generation IoT is requiring companies to rethink their approach to workforce roles and hiring. So, that means cultivating a culture of constant learning and role evolution.

Will the chief information officer become the chief IoT officer instead? How will the plant control engineer’s role change in the face of IoT and automation? Will you also need a chief supply chain management officer? What new skills will an assembly worker need in order to operate an automated line?

And how can you fill these new roles?

• You can start by cultivating your own people. Invest in your existing employees to help them grow new IoT skills.

• Next, expand your search beyond the usual places. Rockwell Automation, for example, runs a summer internship program for high schoolers. Other companies have found that smart devices, accessible technologies, and broadband have opened up a vast untapped talent pool—roughly a billion people in the world with disabilities.

• And finally, build relationships with schools, veterans groups, and industry organizations. Sponsor research, offer internships and even consider co-developing curricula with these institutions.

Tackle the Cultural Challenges

Of course, not everyone will embrace the changes they see as your organization embarks on the IoT journey. In fact, changing culture may be your toughest challenge. So think of your task as not just implementing IoT solutions, but as a change management process that will transform your company.

You can maximize your chances for success by tackling the cultural issues head-on, not waiting for trouble to arise. Before you kick off your first IoT project, meet with employees, discover their issues and concerns, and address them directly. Identify key influencers and people in key roles and include them as part of your virtual team.

Naysayers can become your allies if you take the time to hear what they have to say and actually leverage their expertise. Uncertainty fuels negativity, so be clear about the impact of IoT on current roles and the new opportunities it can open. Work closely with employees on adopting the new technology, and continue to expand a coalition of the willing as you build on each success. In short, listen, include, and communicate!

Embrace and Shape Change

IoT will also impact organizational structures and decision-making, both of which will become more collaborative and less hierarchical. Partnering across organizational lines and with external partner ecosystems will become more important. IoT is complex and interdependent, and no one can do it alone.

Change can be scary, disrupting familiar roles and processes. It requires us to rethink old assumptions and acquire new skills. It is also inevitable. So the best approach is to embrace and shape change within an overall strategic direction. If you’re an IoT champion, you are by definition an agent of change. Now is the time to lead your company toward digital transformation by creating a culture that is agile, flexible, and collaborative.

Maciej KranzMACIEJ KRANZ is a business leader, frequent keynote speaker, and the author of the New York Times Best-Seller, Building the Internet of Things: Implement New Business Models, Disrupt Competitors, Transform Your Industry. Kranz brings 30 years of computer networking experience to his current position as Vice President of the Corporate Strategic Innovation Group at Cisco Systems. Prior to this role, he was general manager of Cisco’s Connected Industries Group, where he drove the Internet of Things (IoT) business for key industrial markets.

 

The post-war baby boomer generation is leading the way in the world of luxury.

Founder of MOT Models, Helen Illes, explains the need for this shift in emphasis.

Timeless appeal

Remco (43) and his father Aad Van Der Linden (72) feature in photoshoots for brands including Jaguar Cars, Fat Face and Marks & Spencer.

Nick Hopper (41), appears as the chauffeur in the highly-crafted award-winning Audrey Hepburn Galaxy chocolate bar commercial.

These models have a timeless appeal and the personality, style and charisma to support these big brands.

Today, it is those aged between 50 and 70 who have true spending power. The post-war generation continues to explore exciting activities and wants to dress with style. Younger generations are struggling to make ends meet.

Due to this, we are experiencing a shift with big brands who are looking for real life characters with true life skills. These models must reflect the customers and showcase the brand’s sophisticated qualities. Advertisers need individuals who won’t be eclipsed by big brands.

True to life

Baby boomers are experiencing photoshop fatigue. They’re interested in seeing characters with laughter lines rather than unrealistic, bland, over-edited features. They require someone with a strong presence and a genuine smile to capture their attention.

This is the start of a global trend:

• Helen Mirren, 71, recently become the brand ambassador for L’Oréal

• Jan de Villeneuve, 72, dominated London Fashion Week

• Cecilia Chancellor made a comeback to modelling at the age of 50

The over 40s of previous generations instinctively behaved like older people with a set uniform of perms and pearls. This is no longer the case. The post-war generation have changed the whole of society wherever they hit with positivity at their heart.

A perfect example is Joanna Lumley, who recently turned 70 and continues to be a style icon. The model industry reflects society and economic trends. Television, films and adverts for big ticket items are today geared towards the older demographic.

Mature models represent the values of having fun, looking good and enjoying life at a time when previous generations would have slowed down. We are seeing baby boomers challenging stereotypes and taking part in extreme activities. Instagram is a great example. You’ll see Remco and Aad surfing, exploring and living life to the full.

SOURCE: ResponseSource

Sometimes people ask me this question in the same way I’d imagine they ask their friends if they should get a tattoo.

Just because your friend’s got one, just because you’ve read a bit about it, and just because they’re out there doesn’t mean you should get a mentor.

Not until you can articulate two vital things:

1. How clear you are about what you want from working with a mentor?

2. How committed you are to putting in the effort and applying what you discuss with your mentor?

What does mentoring look like?

Mentoring isn’t just ‘having a chat over coffee’ – that’s what family, friends or trusted colleagues are for, depending on the topic you want to chat about.

Nor is it an opportunity to moan about work; there are other outlets for this (if you’re careful) that don’t involve taking up a mentor’s time and expertise.

And mentoring definitely isn’t counselling. If you have personal, emotional and/or psychological wellbeing problems to discuss, you need to talk to someone who’s got all the necessary training, qualifications and professional standards to help you.

If you’ve got some ideas and ambitions – even better, if you’ve got some big and bold goals – then you could benefit from adding a mentor to your ‘personal board of directors’. The idea of a ‘personal board of directors’ is the brainchild of leadership researcher, teacher and best-selling author Jim Collins. See his classic piece ‘Looking out for number one‘ for more.

Making the most of mentoring

As someone who’s been mentored (and still is, from time to time), is a mentor and trains new mentors, I’d like to offer you some tips if, having got clear on those two vital points above, you decide that mentoring is for you.

  1. Set goals. By all means work with your mentor to knock your goals into shape but, before you’ve even approached potential mentors, establish some goals you want to achieve and by when.
  2. Short-list potential mentors and seek them out. Think carefully about how you’ll approach your potential mentors – why should they mentor you? Why them? What do you expect? What, if anything, can you give in return? What’s the best way to make initial contact? Via social media, email or an introduction?
  3. Set ground-rules together. In coaching land, this part of the relationship is called ‘contracting’, where both parties discuss and formalise how they’re going to work together. Hopefully you will have covered your goals at first meeting but if not, do so now.
  4. Step up and drive the process. You are driving this bus that is your career – not your mentor. It’s not a passive relationship; you need to drive it. Your mentor won’t hand you advice on a plate; you’ll need to work with them as a sounding board, figuring out options for you to try back in your own situation. By all means ask them for examples from their own career and experience, that’s the idea. But don’t be surprised if they’re reticent about telling you what to do – they’re not your boss. A good mentor uses skilful questions to get you thinking for yourself, away from the coalface of the day job.
  5. Show up. Respect your mentor’s time and commitment – and exceed their example with your own. Don’t cancel at the last minute. Your mentor will expect you to show up with examples of what you’ve achieved since you last met, what’s working well and not so well.
  6. Say thank you and mean it. Offer to help your mentor in some way.

Source: Dawn Sillet

Dawn SillettDawn Sillett has been designing and delivering training workshops and executive coaching for over 15 years.

 

Author of: The Feedback Book

THE FEEDBACK BOOKMaintaining performance today is no longer simply about having an annual appraisal and telling employees “you must try harder”. Research demonstrates that regular discussions about performance and providing feedback to the people you manage is a more effective way to motivate them and keep them on track.Distilled into this single, handy-sized volume are 50 tips, advice and techniques to help any manager become quickly skilled at regularly discussing performance, setting goals and objectives and providing the necessary feedback to ensure individuals and teams thrive in the company. Structured into five key parts, each of the 50 concise chapters also contains a practical exercise to help the reader understand and implement the concepts and ideas of this book.

The all-in-one business productivity App, Plutio.com, has been shortlisted as one of ten finalists at the International Xawards.

The Xawards were established to recognize ‘the best web and native digital experiences’ among digital products created by start-up companies.

Designed specifically for freelancers, Plutio, offers a flexible, single-system business operation and management system.

This allows for a neat, integrated user experience, easier to navigate than the ‘string and sellotape’ solution often used previously. This involved using a combination of apps, spreadsheets, calendars and email to organize projects and communication with clients.

Integrated solution

Young entrepreneur, Leo Bassam, faced this very problem while running a web design agency to earn money to pay his University fees.

He realised he could design a system to do everything a freelancer might need to run their business in a simple and affordable App, and Plutio was born.

The App integrates all the functions that freelancers might require in their daily working life. It seamlessly integrates communication channels, sharing of project information and project resources, as well as invoicing. The client and freelancer can set tasks for each other, while up-to-date task lists and deadlines ensure nothing gets missed.

“Plutio is designed to be everything all in one place for freelancers; whatever their trade, profession or business specialism. New features and integrations with other software systems that corporate clients use are being added monthly,” explained Leo.

Ease of use

Plutio can be used on iPhone and Android,  desktop Apps on any computer through a web interface. Corporate clients can access their freelancer’s Plutio system through their existing corporate software systems.

It is this ease of access and the intuitive user experience that brought Plutio to the attention of the Xawards judges.

Plutio is in the running to win Best Mobile App Experience 2017, Best Tech Achievement 2017 and Best Overall Experience 2017. The winners will be announced at the Xawards ceremony, sponsored by Hotjar, in Malta later this month.

With a price-tag of just GBP10/USD13 per month, Plutio is highly affordable for freelancers.

To celebrate the Xawards nomination, Plutio is offering Four Months Free subscription at the advanced ‘Guru’ level throughout May and June at plutio.com/signup.

Ros Taylor, clinical psychologist, takes a revisionist view that willpower is a mindset which, once mastered, can be almost limitless. She reveals how you can boost yours.

Willpower is the grit of perseverance, the stickability of new learning, the ability to ignore jam today for a jammier tomorrow. Sounds sensible. So, why do some people have it and others struggle?

Look no further than our upbringing. If our parents lacked willpower or we were indulged, (given what we desired without doing anything for it), then we will lack willpower.

The good news is that a willpower mindset, regardless of background, can be learned. This is an important skill, as long-term studies consistently show that people who possess willpower have greater physical and mental health, fewer criminal convictions, greater financial security and longer lasting relationships. They were more successful in every walk of life.

Muscle v Mindset

In 1998, psychologist Roy Baumeister revealed that if subjects resisted a biscuit to eat a radish they gave up on a puzzle more quickly that non-resisters. This led to the adoption for years of the depletion theory of willpower with the analogy that willpower was like a muscle which became exhausted with overuse. This has now been challenged by the University of Miami and others showing quite the reverse. The more you succeed in overcoming bad habits (even small ones) or achieving challenging goals, the more you know you can overcome most adversities with willpower.

Take the Willpower Quiz

The cool rational response of willpower is not giving in to immediate temptation for longer term gain. The hot emotional response is to indulge or give up. Take the Willpower Quiz at the bottom of the page to discover if your tendencies are hot or cool. The six steps to a Willpower Mindset will help hot responders to become cool and the cool to become cooler.

STEP1: Pause and plan

Imagine for a moment you are in a bar with friends who have ordered a bottle of wine and poured a glass for you. You reach out a hand to pick up the glass. But wait, you’re not sup-posed to be drinking alcohol this week as you want to control your input and be kind to your liver. Now you are anticipating that sip, and everyone is having a great time. What do you do?

If you reach for the glass as if controlled by alien force, then this is the emotional ‘hot’ response of your lower brain. To access the upper brain’s rational ‘cool’ response situated in your frontal lobes, you need to pause and plan. Pausing stops the instant response of grab-bing and gulping. Planning ensures you are not caught unawares by temptation.

Pause by relaxing: take a deep breath, turn away a little from the bar, distract yourself with chat. Remember why you are not drinking.

Plan with a strategy: A friend of mine puts her soft drink in a wine glass so that it looks like wine. Ask your friends to support you in your alcohol-free week and some may even join in your quest.

STEP 2: Visualise goals

You can’t achieve unless a goal is focusing your effort. If you want to learn a language or a sport this isn’t going to happen overnight so by setting goals you provide a reminder, a sense of direction, a road map to your destination with accountability to get there.

Recent research shows that just visualising a positive outcome is so powerful that you feel you have achieved your goal already. Bring your goals to life by imagining each step to the outcome.

STEP 3: Get the habit

Habits make up 50% of our lives as they save time and effort, leaving room for the big decisions we make. And these habits are formed early in our lives and live in our lower brains so speaking sternly to yourself just doesn’t work. You need to attack habits in a different way.

Try the 3+ 9 week willpower rule. Research shows that it takes three weeks to establish a new behavior, and a further nine weeks of repetition to turn that new behavior into a habit.

If you want to run a mile every morning, then that pattern has to be established. During weeks 1 to 3, alarms may have to be set earlier, snooze button disabled, the weather ignored, kit washed and ready for wearing. In weeks 4 to 6: beware of ‘extinction bursts’. when the brain is looking for ways to reinstate your old habits. In a weak moment, you might decide to stay in bed luxuriating in the warmth of your duvet but if this happens, get back on track the next day. By weeks 6 to 12 repetition is turning your running into an automatic habit with the intrinsic rewards of feeling fitter, healthier, more alert at work with better decision making, and sleeping more soundly. 12 weeks isn’t so long if you have been a couch potato all your life.

STEP 4: Become a realistic optimist

Getting a willpower ‘can do’ attitude entails being aware of what you say to yourself. Does your inner voice tell you that you are too tall or too short, too fat or too thin, too shy or too busy, too anything to be successful? Check out whether these negatives are perceived by others. If not, stop thinking them as they will sabotage your goals.

Martin Seligman has followed optimists and pessimists for over forty years to chart outcomes. Optimists experienced fewer nasty life events, are less likely to become depressed, were more successful in everything they undertook and lived longer. Using core strengths not the coveted abilities of others as well as believing that you are the initiator of your success engenders optimism.

Pessimistic thinking too can be changed as acquiring the optimist habit is the same as any other.

STEP 5: Relax

Neuroscientists and psychologists have shown that stress produces cortisol which has a scouring effect on the brain robbing you of a measured cool response to willpower. Sleep deprivation (even just getting less than six hours a night) is a kind of chronic stress that impairs how the body and brain use energy. The prefrontal cortex is especially hard hit as it loses control over the regions of the brain that create cravings. Relaxation is therefore crucial for willpower and is a skill separate from exercise. In addition, according to the latest re-search, using simple relaxation techniques on a daily basis can add between seven and ten years to your life so it’s really worth pursuing.

Some easy guidelines:
The power minute. In this pressured world, our breathing becomes too shallow as we rush, limiting our oxygen intake and not getting rid of enough carbon dioxide when exhaling. Count your breaths for a minute. 10 to 12 per minute is an average breathing rate. More than that and you are breathing too rapidly to be relaxed. Repeat the Power Minute breathing in more slowly, breathing out more slowly taking fewer breaths. Use every day to notice a reduction in your stress.

For more exercises receive a free download at www.rostaylorcompany.com/relaxation.

STEP 6: Willpower is limitless

Recent studies by Job, Dweck and Walton revealed that belief in self-control determined whether willpower became depleted. When people in their experiments held the view that willpower was a limited resource then they gave up on complex tasks. In contrast those with an unlimited view kept going despite exhaustion and produced fewer errors.

So when you know you have self -control then your capacity is limitless and you have achieved a willpower mindset.

The Willpower Quiz

There are ten statements in the Willpower Quiz below. Rate your responses on a scale from 1 (not like me at all) to 5 (very much like me) then add up your points.

Scoring12345
I am goof at resisting temptation
I can work towards long-term goals
I am not undermined by anyone when working towards my goals
I am flexible and open to change
I learn from my mistakes
I never overdo it when eating and drinking
I can be consistent in following a routine
I have good self-discipline
I work hard
I stick with things even when the going gets tough
Total Scores

Results

• 10 – 23 You’re a hot responder and may have trouble resisting temptation. You give in especially when those around you are doing so. You will tend to go for immediate rewards instead of delaying gratification to reach a goal.

• 24 – 36 You have some self-control but there is room for improvement. Review the scale and list all questions where you achieved a score of a 1, 2 or 3. These will need addressing. Become more aware of your hot and cool responses to resist temptation more effectively.

• 37 – 50 You have good self-control and can generally resist temptation. You tend to be a cool responder with an ability to delay gratification to reach long term goals. However unless you achieved a score of 50, review your results and work out what aspects may still require improvement.Ros Taylor, Willpower

Ros Taylor is a leading UK and international clinical psychologist, corporate leader-ship coach, businesswoman, TV and radio presenter and commentator. She is the author of seven books, most recently Willpower: Discover It, Use It and Get What You Want (Capstone, 2017).