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10 Skills That Are Hard To Learn But Can Hugely Benefit You In The Long-Term

10 Skills That Are Hard To Learn But Can Hugely Benefit You In The Long-Term

They say that the best things in life are free, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take time, dedication, and commitment. When it comes to learning important life skills, they are certainly difficult to acquire, but are beneficial to learn. Learning these important life skills will be one of the best investments you could ever make for yourself.

1. Time Management

No matter how many ways you slice it, there will only ever be 24 hours in a day. When you learn time management, you learn to take control of your time, which improves your ability to focus. When your focus is increased, your efficiency is enhanced because you stop losing momentum. You’ll notice that you’ll move through tasks much quicker, making it seem like the workday is flying by. That’s always a plus, right? When you have mastered time management, you will eliminate that awful feeling of not having done enough in your day. You’ll feel more calm, relaxed, and in control of your life. When it comes to making decisions, you’ll be able to carefully examine each option, so you can make the best decision possible.

2. Empathy

Empathy by definition means, “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” People often confuse empathy and sympathy. In fact, they are quite different from one another. Sympathy, for example, is feeling sorry for someone who happened to lose a loved one. An example of empathy could be when someone loses their job; you can decide to ask open-ended questions, and truly seek to feel what that person is feeling in regards to what losing their job really means to them. Empathy is the key to success, and it has the power to transform the way we think, work, and lead. To acquire this skill follow, these Do’s and Don’ts:

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Do’s

  • ask open-ended questions
  • become comfortable with silence
  • ask why often
  • seek stories and emotions.

Don’ts

  • ask leading questions
  • judge
  • assume
  • only hear what you want to

3. Ask for help

This is a big one. A lot of times, we feel like it’s a sign of weakness if we have to ask for help, so we try to do everything all on our own. Truth be told, asking for help is really a sign of strength.

Assumption 1: It’s a sign of weakness. If I can’t do it on my own, I must not know how to do it, or I don’t have the skills or resources to do it.

Assumption 2: Allowing someone else to help me means losing control over the situation.

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Assumption 3: If I receive support then I have to reciprocate. What if I can’t return the favor? What if I don’t want to return the favor?

Assumption 4: If I ask for the support of others, I am burdening them. They are just as busy as I am, so how could they find the time to help out?

Assumption 5: I am the only one that can do it my way. It’s easier and quicker for me to do it than to train or teach someone else to help me.

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When you ask for help you give the opportunity for others to show you their gifts and talents and in turn, you’re more likely to learn something new. It empowers others to shine, and you are then able to see their passions. When you ask for help, it shows that you are imperfect just like everyone else. There is strength in being vulnerable.

4. Consistency

People will set a goal for themselves and because they can be inconsistent, they lose sight of that goal. Or, when we set a goal and we reach it, we sometimes forget that we must remain consistent to keep it. Consistency is very important when it comes to maintaining any kind of success.

5. Listening

Listening is important because it prevents miscommunication. It can make a message more clearly understood and can help reduce the amount of frustration for the speaker. Listening is a skill that is required for all types of communication. Listening is important in personal lives, daily activities, career, and employment environments. Many top employers spend money to ensure that their employees are able to effectively listen.

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6. Mind your own business

This is probably one of the most difficult skills to master. For whatever reason, it is so hard for people to keep their nose out of business that does not concern them. As you learn to be in your own business, you allow others to be in theirs. Do not put your nose where it doesn’t belong, unless you are specifically asked for advice. We often interfere with the business of others because we feel that we may know better. When you mind your own business, you will feel lighter; you’re not in charge of the universe. You will become more at peace just by being concerned with your own life, free from expectations and disappointments.

7. Resist Gossip

I know it’s hard, but it’s important to resist the urge to gossip and listen to others gossip. There’s a lot of mistruth that comes from gossiping and can cause quite a bit of drama. I’m sure we have all been in a situation where we have gossiped about people behind their back. Most of us do it without thought. Learning not to gossip is difficult because then it means we are possibly missing out on some information that we may otherwise not know. By gossiping about others behind their back, we prove that we cannot be trusted. So instead, when you hear someone gossiping about someone to you, you should kindly ask them to talk about something else.

8. Stay present in the moment

This is a hard one. Especially for those of us who overthink everything. We catch ourselves analyzing the past as if we can somehow go back in time to change something we wish we hadn’t done or said. Or, we think about the future so much that we often ruin the present. When you spend so much of your time thinking about things that haven’t even happened yet, you ruin your ability to be able to fully enjoy the present for what it is, and what it’s offering you.

9. Master your thoughts

It’s important to stay in charge of your thoughts. We are products of our past experiences and choices but that does not mean that our past reflects our future. Begin every day with a clean slate. Know that as each day passes, you are growing and changing into the person you’re meant to become.

10. Speak up

One of the greatest fears a lot of us have, is having to speak in front of others. The reasoning behind this varies from person to person, and some of these behaviours can be diagnosed into types of social phobias. However, the main underlying reason is that we fear being judged by those who are watching and listening. By learning to speak in front of others, you give yourself a big confidence boost, and it makes you more and more comfortable around other people. If you want to be a leader, you must learn how to communicate.

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Erica Wagner

Erica is a passionate writer who shares inspiring ideas and lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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