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Why the Less Your Children Have, the More Successful They Will Be in the Future

Why the Less Your Children Have, the More Successful They Will Be in the Future

I became a minimalist long before it was fashionable. IKEA hadn’t yet crossed the Atlantic and Madonna belted out tunes about the material world. I lived with an extreme hoarder. My mother kept everything- from cringe worthy art projects to illegible high school French notes, plastic disposable cups to magazines and newspapers. Minimalism became my form of rebellion. When I left home I stoically declared that anything I couldn’t fit in one bag, I couldn’t keep. I kept that stance for years.

When I began my own family, I vowed my children would receive not stuff, but the things money can’t buy, like quality time and experiences, hugs and kisses. Living a good life doesn’t necessarily mean being surrounded by opulence and luxury, but becoming a minimalist doesn’t mean you have to give up all of your possessions and live in a bare room either. Minimalism actually makes your life richer, albeit simpler.

“The secret to happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” -Socrates

Fewer toys mean more creativity in kids

Humans have incredible imaginations. We don’t need excessive external stimuli to bolster that imagination either. I’ve seen kids declare they are bored, even though they have rooms brimming with the coolest toys, while others are happy digging in the dirt with their hands, making pretend roads for their one toy car. The fewer toys a child has, the more apt they are to exercise their ingenuity.

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Take a kid to the beach to see the extent of their creativity. With nothing but nature, a Hogwarts-worthy castle can emerge from the sand, ready to defend itself against the incoming tide. We actually do a disservice to our kids by dulling their ripe imaginations with video games that require little thought and toys that with a mere push of a button keep them amused with mindless lights and sounds. Imagination and ingenuity are two important skills that help kids to succeed in life.

Sharing helps kids practice interpersonal skills & develop empathy

Practicing minimalism means that you have to learn to share. This is a soft skill that everyone needs to learn from an early age. Siblings often have a hard time with this, but if there’s only one ball or one swimming mask, they have to learn to take turns or do without. Their empathy levels can spike along with way, and you’ll find that an older child may hand the toy to a younger one first, or your child may realize he didn’t want the toy as badly as his friend.

Sharing can help your child pick up on non-verbal clues from others, such as body language, eye contact, facial expressions & hand gestures. They can begin to notice when someone is getting antsy, upset or even bored. All from sharing toys. This skill, used by successful entrepreneurs, won’t be found in the classroom, it has to be learned.

Kids are less anxious and stressed in minimalist environments

That messy room is doing more damage to you and your kids than you think: Over stimulation causes stress and anxiety.[1] Clutter distracts and makes you lose focus. Bottom line: it’s bad for your health, mentally and physically.

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A study[2] on Kindergartners showed that they performed better on tests when they were taught in a room with only bare walls as opposed to the children who were in a room with walls decorated with posters and other visual aids. The kids in the bare room were able to focus better and be distracted less than the children in the decorated room.

Many kids and parents tend to overfill their schedules with after school activities, but the pressure can be physically and emotionally detrimental, leading to headaches, stomachaches and even depression.[3]

Becoming a minimalist will help you calm down- you can actually relax and not feel guilty when you don’t have a mess around that needs to be sorted or a practice that your child needs to attend. Give your kids a healthy boost in life and teach them to be calm and focused by decluttering your environment.

Minimalism teaches children to be conscious consumers and more aware of the reality of finances

The only way kids can learn finances is through us- the parents. If they see us splurging on a regular basis- guess what, they will eventually follow suit. If they see us stop and consider purchases first, questioning aloud if we need it or just want it, they are more apt to be weigh the pros and cons before making purchases themselves in the future.

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If you tell them they can’t have something because the dog needs some heart worm pills, but explain if you save X amount of money a week, that by their birthday, such a purchase may be possible, you are teaching them the importance of delayed gratification and budgeting all in one!

Kids tend to think money grows on trees, but by instilling a minimalist approach to finances and involving them, they can learn important life skills that they won’t learn elsewhere.

Becoming minimalist is the best way to teach kids gratitude

Minimalism is the best way to truly teach your kids to be thankful for what they have. Someone who is provided with everything on demand doesn’t know how important each thing is if they are surrounded by a multitude of stuff. Your child will be more grateful for that one toy or video game at Christmas than if they had a pile of them.

Give thanks for all that you do have, because even if it’s not a lot, it may be even more than someone else dreams of having. There are many people in the world who don’t have clean water, something we tend to take for granted. According to the charity Water.org, there are 332 million people without access to clean water in Africa alone[4]. Be grateful for what you have every everyday.

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Kids develop a practical, better perspective on life

Minimalism is not just the act of cleaning out your house, it’s a whole perspective on life. Simplify your life. Borrow books from the library instead of buying them. Spend a night out watching the stars instead of the latest movie. Eat a picnic in a park instead of dining in a restaurant. Live the good life through special moments.

The memories you make with your children are what they will always remember, and even treasure, not the stuff you bought. What you do now will affect how they are in their future. Raise them to embrace simplicity and they will have a better perspective on life.

Adopting a minimalist lifestyle will help your children grow to appreciate the good life – a life defined by strong family bonds, gratitude, and love and experiences, a life where less is definitely more.

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Sally White

writer, artist & blogger

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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

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