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Want To Improve Yourself 10 Times Faster? Master These 4 Skills First

Want To Improve Yourself 10 Times Faster? Master These 4 Skills First

Do you wish you were a better person? Self-improvement can be a slow process, and it’s easy to get disheartened when you feel like you’re not moving forward. Luckily, there are four skills which are guaranteed to help you improve yourself faster, and they’re all really simple. Whether you want to become better at work, increase your grades at school, or master a new skill, these four techniques will help. Once you’ve learned these skills, you’ll be a better learner for the rest of your life, so it’s a worthwhile investment.

1. Be more productive using the Pomodoro technique.

The Pomodoro technique [1] is a simple trick which involves using a timer to improve your focus and productivity. It’s named for the tomato-shaped timer that the developer of the theory used, but any old timer will do.

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Here’s how it works: decide on a task to complete, set your timer for 25 minutes, and get to work. If you find yourself becoming distracted, write down the distraction. For example, “Checking Facebook,’ or “Looking out of the window.” Once you’ve written down the distraction, get back to work immediately.

Once 25 minutes is up, you should take a five-minute break and relax completely. It’s important not to get pulled back into work, as this is the time to give your mind a rest and get ready to concentrate again – no sneaky checking emails! Keep a tally of how many 25-minute Pomodoros you’ve completed, and give yourself a longer break of 15-30 minutes once you’ve done four. This prevents you from getting burnt out or tired.

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You’ll be shocked at how much more productive you are using this technique, and may find that you quickly run out of work to complete.

2. Retain knowledge by writing down what you learn.

Have you ever left a lecture or finished a book feeling like you didn’t remember a thing you learned? This is all too common, and happens when we don’t take enough time to digest information.

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By writing down a summary of everything you learn, you’ll be able to retain much more knowledge. You’ll also have handy notes to refer back to if you do forget, so it’s a win-win. It’s been shown that hand writing notes are better for learning and memory, so ditch the laptop and grab a pen [2].

3. Increase your self-awareness for greater success.

If you want to be successful, it’s important to be able to view yourself and your work objectively. If you think you’re amazing at everything you do, you’ll never have the drive to improve, and you won’t be good at taking constructive criticism on board. Equally, if you view everything you do in a negative way, your confidence will suffer and you could miss out on great opportunities.

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You can develop self-awareness by reflecting on yourself daily, asking others for honest feedback, and considering what motivates your behaviour [3].

4. Practise speed reading to take in large amounts of information.

There are so many wonderful books, blogs and articles being published every day that reading as much as you want to can feel impossible. While you’ll never be able to read everything, learning to speed read will allow you to read much more.

Practise using your finger to guide your eyes while reading, and increase the speed as much as you can. Instead of focusing on one word at a time, make use of your peripheral vision to take in whole chunks of text at once. You should also try downloading a speed reading application, which will present you with one word at a time, meaning you don’t need to move your eyes at all [4]

If you want to improve yourself ten times faster, focus on developing these four skills. You’ll be more productive, better at retaining information, and more self-confident – attributes which will help you no matter what your final goal is.

Reference

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Eloise Best

Eloise is an everyday health expert and runs My Vegan Supermarket, a vegan blog and database of supermarket products.

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Last Updated on October 15, 2019

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: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

Reference

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