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5 Lesser Known But Powerful Tools to Increase your Productivity

5 Lesser Known But Powerful Tools to Increase your Productivity

In this day and age, we all need some help with our productivity – be it for business or for personal use. This is why we see a new tool coming up to increase your productivity every other day.

I have been working with such tools and having used a large number of productivity enhancing tools, I have decided to go with these 5 tools. The first 3 tools will help you increase productivity with your business’ social media management and the last two are for your personal use.

1. Recur Post

The first tool, and my personal favorite of all 5 ,in the list, is Recur Post. It allows you to create libraries of your evergreen content and then schedule it to post on your social networks in a recurring manner. For instance, you can add 30 of your best blog posts into a library and then ask it to post one update daily on your Twitter account. This takes care of keeping your Twitter account updated forever and posts only get repeated after 30 days.

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You can create multiple libraries such as “My Blogs”, “Other People’s Content”, “Witty Quotes” etc. Each library can have your evergreen social updates and you can then schedule when and where should an update be posted.

Once an update has been posted on a social platform, it will sit at the end of the queue to be posted again once everything else has been posted.

2. Text Free App

The second tool is actually a suite of tools. The best tool in this suite, in my opinion, is TweeLinks. It allows you to enter a few screen names (Twitter usernames) and it will tell you which links are shared by those people.

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This is good for outreach with influencers. If you see someone sharing a lot of links from one or two websites then you can use that information to connect with them. It gives you an ice breaker to start the conversation.

They also have a tool that can tell you the most popular Tweets around a topic. You could use those Tweets to schedule your next Tweets.

3. Promise or Pay

Promise or Pay is a great idea to get you motivated. Are you slacking on your promises to go to the gym, or to take your wife out on a dinner date? Then you can use a little bit of social pressure on yourself with Promise or Pay.

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You commit to pay a certain amount to charity if you do not perform a task. You then invite your social contacts to commit some money towards your success. They will stay updated with your progress and you will now know that they are all watching you, so the pressure makes you move.

In the end, you pay money to a charity of your choice so it is a noble cause as well.

4. Eyecare 20 20 20

If you are in front of a bright screen for long hours then your eyes could use some help. Doctors recommend that you should be taking regular breaks at 20 minutes each.

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There is a 20-20-20 rule that says you should look at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. However, it is not easy to keep track of time so this app helps you a lot. You can download it on your Android as well as iPhone, iPad etc.

5. f.lux

If you are a Mac user, you probably already know how Macs adjust the brightness based on the amount of light around them. This helps your eyes a lot with reducing strain.

If you are not a Mac user you can download f.lux app to get the same advantage. F.lux app makes your computer screen adapt to the surrounding light. When you are in a room with low light, it will make your computer screen look warm and during the day it makes it look like sunlight. It’s a free app and is available for all platforms, including Mac, Windows and Linux.

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Mukesh Agarwal

Professional Blogger

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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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