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Why You Should Ditch Email and Chat If You Want to Be More Productive At Work

Why You Should Ditch Email and Chat If You Want to Be More Productive At Work

Email and chat are not good for a modern team to be productive, but not everyone has realised this yet. Here’re the key reasons why emails and chats don’t work so well nowadays.

1. Email communication is inefficient in a team

Do you know that the first ever email was sent by Ray Tomlinson to himself in 1971? It fundamentally changed the way how people communicate and it’s still so simple today that it usually works quite good for a number of things. However, when it comes to team talks and making real plans, it really isn’t that good:

  • You have to wait for a reply for don’t know how long.
  • You don’t have an overview for everyone’s progress.
  • You don’t know if the recipient has actually received your message or not.

So, people started to figure out another way – team chat, and then chat had got popular among teams.

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2. Chatting distracts your brain from focusing

Chat is a nice way to talk quickly, but it has one major downsize – you will interrupt whatever recipient is currently doing, and they will interrupt you too. It’s totally fine to have a casual chat with your friends about you guys’ next hang-out details, but it’s no good for team talks.

Our brain can’t really handle switching tasks very well, so when we are trying to get something done and then switch to chat and then try to continue to get something done, we are wasting a lot more time just to get something done. Horrible, isn’t it?

Both email and chat are terrible at leading people to real-life actions – even if you make a decision, it is so hard to keep track of it.

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For this reason, a new startup, Teeml is trying to change the way how teams and individuals work.

How Teeml Works

The new startup Teeml is trying to change the way how teams work. It’s not just the way how people talk to each other, but a complete set of tools and ways to really get stuff done.

There are already some interesting free tools available, but Teeml say they’re growing better every day because of customers’ feedback. Here’re some of the tools available:

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Wishlist

It’s like combining email and chat, but a “Wishlist” is built in a way that leads to real actions and won’t waste too much time. You will get new wishes only at some specific times during the day, so your brain stays happy and others get their answers. With this tool, members can talk in real-time or come back later. Every wish has a topic and leads to an action.

Meetings

One hour with 10 people takes 10 hours. Think about what those 10 people could do with these 10 hours! As it takes time to get to the meeting room and later switch back to your to-do list, it actually takes even more time. Every meeting should start with topics and lead to real actions in the end. With “Meetings”, you can limit the duration of a meeting and set topics for the meeting easily.

Smart feed

Quick flow of things are happening in your team every second. With “Smart Feed”, you know what is going on around you. It shows you things that most probably interest you and works automatically based on the team’s behaviors.

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Promises

Promises are like a to-do list, but instead of a list that’s only available for an individual, it’s public to the team. Team members will make promises – to themselves and the team, and they will commit to their promises to complete the tasks.

You can start to use Teeml individually and invite your team later; or just go all in and try it out together with your team.

Just go to http://teeml.com, enter your email address and you’ll be logged in right away.

Featured photo credit: Picjumbo via picjumbo.com

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Why You Should Ditch Email and Chat If You Want to Be More Productive At Work

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The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

“You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

What is the productivity paradox?

There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

He wrote in his conclusion:

“Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

How do we measure productivity anyway?

And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

Possible causes of the productivity paradox

Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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  • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
  • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
  • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
  • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

The paradox and the recession

The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

“Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

Looking forward

A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

“Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

“Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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