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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 January 13, 2020

        7 Simple Brain Training Habits to Boost Your Brain Power

        7 Simple Brain Training Habits to Boost Your Brain Power

        Throughout the ages, there have been many beliefs in various tricks to boosting brain power, yet when held up to scientific scrutiny, most of these beliefs don’t add up.

        When I was a child, for example, my mother told me if I ate fish it would make me more intelligent. Of course, there’s no scientific proof this is true.

        Today, there is a myriad of games you can download to your phone that claims to improve your brain’s cognitive skills. While we are still waiting for a conclusive scientific verdict on these, recent studies by neuroscientists at Western University in Ontario[1] and researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia appear to contradict these claims.[2]

        So, how can we really boost our brain power? Well, it turns out there are a number of simple things you can do that will improve the function of your brain. Here are seven to get you started.

        1. Do Your Most Difficult Tasks in the Morning

        Our brains work at their best when they are fresh and energized after a good night’s sleep.

        If you have a task to do that requires a lot of thought and focus, the best time to do that task would be first thing in the morning when your brain is at its freshest.

        This is one of the reasons why checking email first thing the morning is not a good idea. You are wasting your brain’s best hours on a simple task that can be done when your brain is not at its freshest

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        Throughout the day, you will find the amount of time you can focus for will fall. Your decision-making abilities will also begin to weaken as the day progresses. This is called “decision fatigue” and that means the decisions you make later in the day will not be as good as the decisions you make earlier in the day.

        It’s far better to do your most difficult, creative tasks early taking advantage of your brain’s higher energy levels.

        Try to avoid meetings first thing in the morning and schedule work that needs higher creative energy and concentration.

        2. Get Enough Breaks

        Our brains are not very good at maintaining concentration and focus for much more than an hour. Once you go beyond a certain amount of time, doing focused work, you will find yourself making more and more mistakes. This is a sign your brain is tired and needs a break.

        Taking the right kind of break is important. Switching from working on a complex spreadsheet to checking your social media feeds is not going to give your brain the right kind of break. Instead, get up from your desk and head outside. If that is not possible, go to the nearest window and look outside.

        Your brain needs a break from the screen, not just the spreadsheet, so leave your phone behind so you are not tempted to look at it and just savour the view.

        3. Read Books, not Social Media Feeds

        There are no shortcuts to improved knowledge and you are certainly not going to improve your general knowledge about anything useful by reading social media feeds. Instead, make reading books a regular habit.

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        When you read good quality books, you increase your ability to use the knowledge you learn to solve problems as your brain will apply the knowledge you learned to existing situations.

        Learn about economic theory, history and psychology. All these topics have real practical applications for us all today.

        4. Exercise Regularly

        Humans did not evolve to be stationary animals. You need to move.

        Had our ancestors spent their days sat around, they would not have survived very long. To survive and find food, our ancestors had to keep moving. Our brains have evolved to function at their best when we are exercised.

        In his book, Brain Rules, Prof.John Medina explains when we exercise, we increase the amount of oxygen in our brains and this helps to sharpen our brain’s functions.

        In studies, when a previously sedentary group of people began a light exercise programme, their cognitive skills improve as well as reaction times and quantitive skills.

        This is why you are more likely to find the solution to a problem when you are walking somewhere or exercising rather than when you are sat at a desk in front of a screen.

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        5. Get Enough of the Right Food

        You probably have experienced the afternoon slump at some point in your life. This is when you feel tired and fatigued in the mid-afternoon. This is a result of the carbohydrates you ate at lunchtime, stimulating your body to produce insulin which then causes a drop in your blood sugar levels.

        When you go into an afternoon slump, concentrating for long periods become almost impossible and you just want to curl up and go to sleep.

        To prevent the afternoon slump, try to eat a protein-rich lunch such as a tuna or chicken salad without pasta, rice or bread. Keep some healthy snacks such as mixed nuts and dried bananas around your workspace and when you feel a little peckish, eat a few of these.

        Not only will you avoid the afternoon slump, but you will also improve your overall general health and feel a lot more energetic.

        6. Drink Enough Water

        Your brain is made up of about 70% water, so without enough water, your brain will not function at its best.

        When you are not drinking enough water, you will find your ability to concentrate, make decisions and stay alert will reduce. You will feel sleepy and lack energy. Your brain functions at its best when it is properly hydrated.

        The solution is to keep a large bottle of water at your work station and sip regularly from it throughout the day. This will increase the number of trips you need to make to the bathroom which is a good thing. It will keep you moving and taking regular breaks from your screen.

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        7. Don’t Deprive Yourself of Sleep

        You probably don’t need a long scientific study to convince you that if you are not getting enough sleep, you are not going to function at your best.

        You just need to go a couple of days without getting enough sleep and you feel your abilities reduce. Your decision-making skills become erratic, your energy levels drop and your ability to stay focused on your work diminishes.

        If you want to improve your brain’s ability to function, then start with getting enough sleep. The number of hours you need will depend on your own circadian rhythms, so find what works best for you.

        Six to eight hours is usually enough for most people so make sure you are hitting that number of hours per night as a minimum.

        The Bottom Line

        Improving our brain power is not difficult. All we need to do is develop a few simple habits such as exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and eating the right foods.

        These seven tips will go a long way to helping you to become more alert, able to focus longer and make decisions. All simple common sense tricks anyone can use.

        More to Boost Your Brain Power

        Featured photo credit: Nicole Wolf via unsplash.com

        Reference

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