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Don’t Go Into The New Year If You Haven’t Done These Things

Don’t Go Into The New Year If You Haven’t Done These Things

As we near the end of the year, we enter into the time where people take stock of the year that has passed and begin to plan ways they can improve in the year to come. Most people make New Year’s resolutions, but these aspirations fizzle and fade anywhere between three weeks and three months. Well now you can do something different! Through these 10 practical tips, you can develop positive habits that will enable you to stay focused and persevere, allowing you to accomplish any goal you set.

Create a daily ritual

Your ritual is the foundation of your quest to stay focused. There are no people with a high level of focus who do not purposefully follow a daily routine. It is in following the sleeping patterns you set, establishing when you eat, setting when you have personal time and when you take breaks that you maximize your effort in working towards your goals.

Set 1-2 BIG goals for the year

Setting BIG goals gives you a finish line to run towards, enabling you to ensure that all your daily actions ladder up to these goals in some way. It also allows you to track your progress throughout the year, and evaluate whether or not you have been able to stay focused. Checking on your big goals every 3-4 weeks allows you to effectively measure what you have done, evaluate what needs to be done, and adjust accordingly. This purposeful adjustment will help you stay focused from New Year’s through Christmas.

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Create a vision board

A vision board is a collage of pictures and images that represent your goals and dreams. Adding quotes, relevant articles, and souvenirs that relate to your BIG goals allows you to visualize the end clearly, and reinforces those goals as you see them every day. Having a bad or seemingly unproductive day? Look at your vision board to remind you of what you’re working for.

Set some daily “alone time”

It is extremely important that, in this journey to stay focused and accomplish more in the upcoming year, you allow yourself some time to relax and take a breath. While striving to accomplish everything as soon as possible is admirable, it inevitably results in burnout, which leaves the situation worse than when it began. Spend some time alone reading a book, in meditation, doing yoga, or any other hobby that allows your mind to take a small break and recharge before doing more work.

Complete everything you start

Although simple and straightforward, completing everything you start is still an essential key to help you stay focused.Giving up on a task or procrastinating and pushing back a deadline only serves to weaken your mental resolve, making it even easier to quit or push it off again in the future. Your focus depends as much on determination, perseverance, and resolve as it does on the specifics of the task at hand.

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Make a to-do list

Making a to-do list is a great way to stay focused! It is such a great feeling to cross completed tasks off of a list one by one. Organize your to-do list into categories: things to do today, things to do tomorrow, and things to do this week. You will be more organized knowing what you have to accomplish immediately, soon, and in the near future. This also helps prioritize the important tasks so that you can give your best effort to complete these tasks first.

Multitask less

You may feel that multitasking is a skill because you can accomplish more things at once, but the truth is that your brain is not fully engaged in either task. Instead, devote all of your brainpower to accomplishing one thing at a time, and you will find it much easier to stay focused.

Avoid distractions

Cut the long line of open tabs short. Don’t check Twitter, Facebook, or your email every five minutes. Making sure you take care of the tasks in front of you immediately allows you to finish faster and completely enjoy personal time without worrying. Find quiet environments to work in, and if that isn’t an option, stay focused by listening to calming music or investing in noise-canceling headphones.

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Have “accountabil-a-buddies”

Find people with similar goals, people who will hold you accountable to what you set out to accomplish. They will help to remind you about your goal, spur you to stay focused when you feel unmotivated, and even be sources of new ideas when your mind feels stagnant.

Stay focused on being focused

Don’t be misguided. Focus is inherently simple, but it is difficult too. It takes strategy, dedication, and a commitment to see things through to the end at the cost of all other possibilities. The more rigid you are with your rules of focusing and controlling your habits, the more skilled you will become at it.

As you strive to stay focused for the upcoming year, realize that there will be times when distraction looms and your progress towards your goals is not as rosy as it once seemed. But true focus is found when you can fall in love with the routine and seemingly boring daily practice and not be distracted by the final result or individual event. Let’s start now!

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Are there any other tips or strategies you use to stay focused? Share them below!

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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: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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