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Stop Thinking And Start Doing: 10 Productivity Lessons That Will Enrich Your Life

Stop Thinking And Start Doing: 10 Productivity Lessons That Will Enrich Your Life

Life is more fun when you can rest each day knowing you have achieved or learned something new. Productivity feeds off motivation, which is spurred on by being able to put your mind to it, whatever task stands in your way. Here are 10 tips for firing up your productivity levels by taking on a different attitude and applying a more positive mindset.

1. Don’t get bogged down in the volume of tasks

Don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking about how many tasks you have ahead of you as this will only disrupt your level of concentration and pile on unnecessary pressure. Focus on one task at a time. Take a deep breath and plough through. Move on, one by one.

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2. Keep a healthy mind, healthy body

Experts agree that there is a strong correlation between a healthy lifestyle and work productivity. As with getting a good night’s sleep, keeping active and eating a balanced diet will fascinate energy uptake and fuel your brain to help you focus on priority tasks more easily.

3. Less is more

According to blogger Leo Babauta, substituting quality for quantity enables you do a better job on individual tasks. The key aspects to ‘less is more’ are: slowing down, observing what needs to be done and concentrate on individual things rather than as a whole.

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4. Adopt an organised system

Being organised is a blessing for saving time, money and stress and working towards happiness and success. It all starts with a system you can work with comfortably. Don’t put stress on yourself in figuring it out – start small, such as creating a filing system for loose documents or labelling places for storage. Other simple actions include unsubscribing from emails and recording your output each day. Before long you will have a process to help you through each day to get more done.

5. Utilise pockets of downtime

There are spare moments throughout the day that go unnoticed, mainly because we fill them with meaningless distractions like checking out social media or watching video clips. These are the times in which you can set aside to tick off smaller tasks that gradually build up and make your task-load look even more wholesome. Whether it’s five minutes spare or a lunch hour, schedule that window for an act of learning, doing or achieving.

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6. Shut yourself off from distractions

Learning how to overcome everyday distractions takes time and patience. By mentally removing yourself from an otherwise busy environment, can allow you to crack on with things that require your full attention and focus. Sometimes the only way to see off a productive day is to work alone or out of reach of people or things you know will tempt you to slow down and lose concentration. Learn to know when and where to shut off, to best suit your routine.

7. See tasks through until the very end

Don’t be ashamed of leaving gaps in-between tasks. Everybody falls victim to this character flaw, sometime or another. Whether you have unfinished business with studying for an exam, painting a bedroom wall or any other task that is begging to take its tool, remember that commitment is the answer to your prayers. Keep a firm will to finish the job to the very end and the satisfaction of accomplishment will far outweigh any negative feelings you previously had to endure.

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8. Group similar tasks together

When you’re in the groove you can move on from one similar task to the next with ease. Stopping and starting to readjust your mindset can cost valuable time when your energy levels are at their peak. In order to maximise your output for the day, group together tasks that only require you to work or think in a certain way, such as admin, outdoor chores, or email correspondence.

9. Strive for moments of calm

In a busy modern world its tough finding time to unwind from the everyday chores that absorb the physical and mental strength we need to plough through. Every minute used for recharging your batteries is time well spent. Look to build in pockets throughout each day in which you can clear your mind and come back to the tasks at hand with a fresh pair of eyes. They say that successful people know the secrets to staying clam which helps them achieve more from life.

10. Take pleasure in your chores

Turn negatives into positives by looking for the the fun and enjoyment in every task you take on. Not every challenge you are faced with will offer a sense of fulfilment, however, if you are passionate about being productive then you will find a way to make things work out. That in itself is enough motivation to ensure you can be at your best at any given time.

I hope you find time to introduce each of these tips into your routine to enable you to become more productive on a day-to-day basis.

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Tom Willis

Web Marketing & Content Producer

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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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