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Are You Using Time Differently In The Knowledge Economy?

Are You Using Time Differently In The Knowledge Economy?

The saying used to be that “time is money,” with the thinking going that putting in more time will guarantee good results. A common example of this is the 10,000 hour idea put forth by Malcolm Gladwell and others. In short: if you want to master something, you need 10,000 hours of repetition at it. This would directly tie “time” (the hours) to “success” (mastery), but unfortunately, the 10,000 hour theory has been debunked by many.

Here’s a micro example: sometimes, a person will study for days and days (time) for a test, then do poorly (no success) on the test. How is this possible?

It is because results and success have less to do with time, and more to do with how productively you’re using the time — namely, how much attention you’re giving to receiving information and applying it appropriately.

The history of time

In the then agriculture-driven economy, time management wasn’t so important. Most people spent their days farming or tending to animals. Why would anything really need to be tracked, per se?

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Soon, the Industrial Revolution moved more people off farms and into factories. Now there was a reason to track time. The evolution of the 40 hour work week (around the mid-1920s) made time a huge commodity. Time was, essentially, the new money. To get paid your hourly wages (actual money), you had to track time. Your value was quite literally tied to the hours you put in.

    The current economy has been described often as “The Knowledge Economy.” It’s much less about the number of hours put in (although people still work a lot), and much more about the amount of knowledge you can acquire and transform into something better.

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      The problem: many management approaches still are focused on the time side. Consider the idea of “seat time.” Most places in the first world are WiFi-enabled, so many Knowledge Economy workers can work from anywhere. They can access emails and files via the cloud. But lots of bosses are obsessed with “seat time,” or seeing the employees physically in a place near them. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s rooted in the “time is money” economy.

      Right now, many companies are focused more on employees being in a specific place for a specific period of time, instead of how to increase focus, energy, and delivery of high-impact tasks. And what’s worse: the “time is money” attitude stresses out employees majorly.

      Manage your energy and attention, not your time

      For as long as we can predict, time will continue to tick on at the same rate, but what actually fluctuates on a day-to-day basis is how much energy and attention you have — in the Knowledge Economy, that’s what makes or breaks how productive you are, and more important, it’s something you can actually control.

      Time is a necessity of work and of nature, but as far as productivity is concerned, it should merely be the backdrop against which you work.

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      Consider the sheer idea of the 9-to-5 workday. Today, when productivity is about what you accomplish and not how much you produce, a nine-to-five workday makes as much sense as diligently tracking your time out on the farm. After all, what if your Biological Prime Time falls when you’re not working, and you have the most energy from 6 to 9 a.m., or from 7 to 11 p.m.? Or what if you have trouble focusing because you’re trying to multitask on a million things at once? Or what if you’re constantly bombarded by distractions and interruptions?

      People — all workers — are different. And if the goal is productive output, we need to understand and respect that.

      When we schedule time for something, what we’re actually doing is simply deciding when we will invest our attention and energy into the task. That’s where time management should fit into the productivity equation. Managing your time becomes important only after you understand how much energy and focus you will have throughout the day and define what you want to accomplish.

      It’s much less about the time involved, and much more about the output.

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        So how can we work less and get more? 

        If your workplace has flexible working hours, make use of that. Have enough rest and come in ready to work so that you are at your optimum performance. During the day, take short breaks to disconnect. The optimal human ratio for work is 52 minutes on, 17 minutes off. 

        Schedule, but schedule differently: I schedule my entire day, and I’ve found that doing so makes me incredibly productive—especially when I form a strong intention about what I’m going to get done. But I only ever plan out my day after I account for how much attention and energy I will have, and most important, what I intend to accomplish.

        Consider “focus days” where your entire focus is high-level, big projects and new learning. Block your calendar out so no one can throw meetings on it and stir up distractions.

        Remember that the goal of the Knowledge Economy is different from the goal of the initial Industrial Economy. Now your time needs to be productive, not just a set amount of hours, so move towards that.

        Featured photo credit: http://www.theindependentbd.com/printversion/details/73926 via theindependentbd.com

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        Brian Lee

        Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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        Last Updated on February 21, 2019

        7 Natural Memory Boosters That Actually Work for All Ages

        7 Natural Memory Boosters That Actually Work for All Ages

        Forgot a name? Misplaced your keys? Taking longer to find the right words? Don’t panic. There’s plenty you can do to improve your memory.

        You’re probably expecting us to reveal 7 little known and newly discovered herbs from the forests of the Amazon, the peaks of the Himalayas and the Arctic tundra. No such luck.

        Despite Americans spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on Ginkgo Biloba, Ashwagandha, Periwinkle, Bacopa, Vitamin B’s, Omega 3’s and memory boosting supplement cocktails, there is very little scientific evidence they actually work. [1]

        Instead, we’re going to offer you 7 completely natural memory boosters, backed up by scientific research. It may take a little more effort than a magic memory pill, but the benefits will transcend your memory and improve your overall quality of life as well, making you more fit, energetic, happy and sharp.

        How Do We Remember?

        The first process in remembering is creating a memory.

        This is where our brain sends a signal, associated with a thought, event or piece of information our mind is processing, over our brains neural pathways, called synapses.

        Think of our neural pathways like roads and information like trucks. The better the roads, the more trucks can be driven.

        The second step in remembering is memory consolidation.

        Consolidation is when the brain takes that thought, event or piece of information and actually stores it in the brain. So now we’re talking about taking delivery of the trucks and storing its contents in the warehouse.

        Consolidation helps us store information and label it properly, so its organized and easy to retrieve when needed.

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        The last step is memory retrieval.

        That’s the step whereby we try to retrieve the information stored in our brains. You know when you have the name of someone on the tip of your tongue.

        You have the information; it’s been stored, but you just can’t find it. Our memory recall is typically better the stronger the memory is and the more often we’ve used it.

        Memory decline is a normal part of aging. However, new scientific research is discovering many new ways for us to improve memory creation, consolidation and retrieval–no matter our age.

        7 Natural Memory Boosters

        So how to work on memory and boost your brain power? Here’re 7 brain boosters backed by science that you should try:

        1. Aerobic Exercise

        Aerobic activity is about as close as we get to a magic pill for our memories. Exercise helps your brain create new capillaries and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which creates new brain cells and connections. To put it in plain english, aerobic activity changes our brains and helps it grow.

        Studies have shown that exercising increases the size of the hippocampus and improves memory. In fact, even if you start exercising as an older adult, you can reverse cognitive decline by 1 to 2 years and protects against further decreases in the size of the hippocampus, which is essential for memory. [2]

        In another study, reviewed by Dr. Ian Robertson of the University of Dublin, they looked at a group of people of 60 years and older, who engaged in “active walking” for four months.

        They compared them with another group of people who only stretched over the same period of time. After testing both groups before and after the 4 month period, the walkers improved their memory and attention considerably more than the stretching group.

        So which exercises are best and how much do we have to exercise?

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        Turns out, it doesn’t really matter whether you run, swim, row or bike. What does matter is that you push yourself beyond your current abilities, keep doing more, keep getting better. Set yourself short term goals and keep pushing the goal posts.

        2. Sleep

        You need your sleep. The deeper the better. Sleep helps improve your procedural memory (how to do things, like how do I navigate my iPhone) and declarative memory (facts, like what’s my password). [3]

        Even short naps from 6 to 45 minutes have been shown to improve your memory. In one Harvard study, college students memorized pairs of unrelated words, memorized a maze and copied a complex form. All were tested on their work. Half were then allowed to take a 45 minute nap. They were then retested. Those who took a nap, got a boost in their performance. [4]

        Another study showed that getting REM (deep) sleep can increase your memory and mental performance by 33% to 73%. Getting a deep sleep helps the brain consolidate memories through dreams and “associative processing”. However, the study also revealed that heart rate variability in deep sleep also contributed significantly to increased memory performance. [5]

        3. MIND Diet

        Healthy eating, particularly more dark colored fruit, vegetables and oily fish has been shown to improve memory and stave off cognitive decline.

        The MIND diet is proven to reduce the risk of dementia. It’s a mix of the popular Mediterranean diet and the low blood pressure DASH diet. [6]

        The study kept track of the diets of almost 1,000 older adults. They were followed for an average of 4½ years.

        The study concluded that “people whose diets were most strongly in line with the MIND diet had brains that functioned as if they were 7½ years younger than those whose diets least resembled this eating style.”

        The study also showed that people who followed the MIND diet in the study reduced their chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease in half.

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        So what does the MIND diet consist of? Lots of vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, berries, beans, fish, poultry, olive oil, whole grains and wine.

        4. Relax

        We all know that stress is bad for our health. It can raise our blood pressure, impact our immune system and interrupt our sleep. Stress also impairs our memory.

        When our body gets stressed, it releases cortisol into our blood stream, which can cause short and long term physical changes to the brain. While cortisol has sometimes been shown to cause increases in short term memory, it can actually decrease our long term recall memory.

        To help reduce the stress in your life, try relaxing with meditation, yoga or breathing exercises. Unplug–even for just a few hours. Stop checking your emails, social accounts and news. Release some endorphins with some exercise.

        Bottom line, the more anxious and stressed we are, the less clearly we think, the poorer our memory works.

        5. Continuous Learning

        The mind is like a muscle. The more you challenge it, the stronger it gets. The more you learn, the more you can learn.

        Research shows that learning can actually change the physical makeup of your brain. Not too long ago, we used to think that you were born with a fixed amount of brain cells, which declined with age. New research now shows that we can actually increase the number of brain cells we have throughout our life.

        Aside from staying physically active, learning new skills and studying can actually keep our brains healthier. Consider taking a continuing education class, studying a new language, learning a new instrument, playing new card games. [7]

        Studies show that the more complex the task, the more benefits for your mind. Simply showing up to class is not enough. You need to be actively engaged. Anything that forces you to focus and learn something new and get out of a rote routine will help you sharpen your mind and boost your memory.

        6. Stay Social

        The more deep and meaningful social connections you maintain, the more you protect your brain. Bottom line, the more friends you have, the more people you work with, the more you’re forced to use your brain.

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        Social isolation and loneliness are significant risks of dementia. Without interacting with others, our brains wilt. Isolation and loneliness lead to depression, physical and mental decline. [8]

        In a 2016 study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, seniors with a full social calendar did better on memory, reasoning, and processing speed tests. [9]

        What to do?

        Party! Seriously, get together with friends as often as possible. Have family dinners. Choose social activities or sports like tennis, golf, cards or go for walks with a friend. Bottom line have fun, build meaningful social relationships and stay connected. Not only will it make your mind sharper and your memory better, you’ll be happier, too!

        7. Wakeful Rest

        This one is getting harder and harder to do. In a world where we can’t sit on a bus, go up an elevator or go to the bathroom without our phones, doing absolutely nothing to distract our minds is becoming increasingly difficult.

        But, the results are in. Doing nothing is great for your memory. Quietly resting for 10 minutes, after you learn something will help you remember and help you create more detailed memories. [10]

        What we do minutes after we learn something new has a significant impact on how well we retain the new information. In another study, it didn’t matter what you did after you learned something new, as long as you weren’t distracted by outside factors. In other words, you could be thinking of your day, making a grocery list, or thinking of a story. In either case, wakeful rest for a period of 10 minutes helped the brain process and consolidate your memories so that you were better able to recall the information at a later date. [11]

        Conclusion

        You don’t have to spend a dime on cocktails and supplements promising a quick boost to your memory power. There is very little conclusive scientific evidence suggesting supplements will help improve the memories of healthy individuals–not for Ginkgo Biloba, Vitamin B, fish oils, Vitamin D, Folate or other supplements claiming they a secret formula.

        There are far cheaper and more effective ways to boost your memory: exercise, rest, eat well, learn, love, laugh and relax. Who wouldn’t want that prescription?

        More Resources About Boost Brain Power

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

        Reference

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