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Why Aiming For a Less Than 100% Can Optimize Learning

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Why Aiming For a Less Than 100% Can Optimize Learning

Your friends call you a perfectionist. As a child, you sat eagerly at your desk, awaiting the results from your latest exam. Despite most of your friends being content with a B+, you were only truly happy with 100%. While achieving 100% on school tests is possible, the habit of demanding 100%in order to be satisfied with your performance, may limit your learning later in life. That’s because real-life is not about perfection. In fact, if you regularly ace everything you try, you aren’t adequately challenging yourself. To remain optimally engaged in the learning process, you must push yourself beyond what you have already mastered. Otherwise, you will become bored and lose your edge.

Why We Learned to Aim for 100%

Society sets us up at an early age with a massive fear of failure. While most young children are willing to try almost any activity, we lose that enthusiasm by the time we hit puberty. We worry what people will think of us if we don’t do well, and we learn to give up on things that we don’t master right away. Yet, staying in that fearful mindset will cause you to miss out on both the joy of the learning process and your ultimate success. You are unlikely to grow if you don’t make any mistakes. Staying in activities that you easily master may give you a momentary feeling of comfort and security, but it will limit your learning in the long term.

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Why 80% Success Is Better for Optimal Learning

In order to maximize your learning potential, aim for a success rate of 80% during the learning process. For those over-achievers out there, I imagine you are now twitching with discomfort. Yes, 80% means that occasionally you won’t be successful in what you try. The important thing to remember is that we don’t actually receive a grade in life. As adults, we get to decide our own measurements for success. Keep in mind that as soon as you achieve your goal, or learn what you set out to learn, you will naturally raise the bar. That keeps you engaged, allows you to learn faster, and constantly increases your skill. Consistently aiming for a success rate of about 80% will give you a feeling of mastery, while ensuring that you continue growing.

1. Write down what you want to learn each week

The simple act of writing down what you want to focus on will keep the information fresh in your mind. That way, when other things come up, you can stay focused on your specific goals. Remember to choose goals that will keep you at the optimum 80% success rate.

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2. Keep track of how you spend your time

Before you start any new project or take on a new activity, spend some time writing down how you currently spend your time. You likely have a busy schedule, and any new activity will give you less time for what you already do. Decide what is essential in your schedule and what you would be willing to replace with your new activity. Be careful not to overload your schedule. If you are already working at full capacity, don’t add more. Instead, replace a less important activity with the new one you’d like to learn.

3. Increase or decrease difficulty based on your rate of success

Keep track of your success rate each week. If you are regularly mastering more than 80% of what you planned for yourself, consider increasing the difficulty of your activity. On the other hand, if you typically achieve less than 80%, ease up and make next week less challenging. In this way, you will stay optimally engaged on a consistent basis.

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Don’t worry too much about the exact numbers. The most important part is to keep yourself stimulated by taking on challenges you haven’t yet mastered. The overachiever in you, who strained forward in her desk to see her exam score, may feel a little disappointed at first but that’s ok. Once you get in the habit of challenging yourself, the acceleration in your learning will speak for itself. Soon you will find yourself able to tackle challenges that your old perfectionist self never dreamed possible.

Featured photo credit: Clem Onojeghuo via unsplash.com

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Lindsay Shaffer

Lindsay is a passionate teacher and writer who shares thoughts and ideas that inspire people to follow their passions.

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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