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10 Things You Haven’t Tried For Productive Time Management

10 Things You Haven’t Tried For Productive Time Management

“Lost time is never found again.” Benjamin Franklin

Time is one of our most precious tools in life. It is so important that time is being compared with life; wasting time, is equal to wasting life.

People who accomplish a lot in life are often people who manage their time and tasks effectively and intelligently. Without time management and scheduling, we tend to waste a lot of time on unproductive tasks and projects and we realize this when it is too late.

Therefore in order to take control over our life and achieve our goals, we need to have a proper schedule and time management.

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Office Clocks Showing Different Times

    Below are simple steps that can help you plan and implement tasks more effectively:

    1. Write Down Your Tasks

    It is recommended to have a daily worksheet in which you can record all the tasks for the day. Writing down the tasks not only gives you clarity on the work that needs to be done, but also helps you to organize your time better.

    If there are free slots in your worksheet in any specific day, you can fill in the gaps with your unfinished work or what you need to accomplish on the following days. You can also allocate such moments for educational or self-improving activities to help you gain more skills. In this way all your moments everyday will become fruitful and no time will get wasted in between.

    2. Prioritize Tasks Based on Importance

    Prioritizing gives you the ability to categorize tasks. Often we invest time in on doing things that are not important and miss out on the important ones. By prioritizing you will know which tasks need to be done first. Even if you don’t get a chance to finish all the work planned, at least you have accomplished what is important and urgent.

    Sometimes not focusing on unessential tasks gives you better ability to focus on the important ones. This is called one-pointedness. Remove the unnecessary and focus on the essential!

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    3. Give Each Task a Proper Deadline

    Without deadlines, we often take our sweet time in doing things. Deadlines give you purpose and emotional drive to finish what you start.

    We all have experienced when the deadline is near, we become more alert, fast and focused to deliver the task as promised. Therefore in order to finish your tasks more effectively, give them a deadline. This will make sure you finish them as expected. Just remember to give your tasks a realistic deadline. If you set a deadline which is not realistic and impossible to meet, you will be disappointed after a while and deadlines will not mean anything to you anymore.

    4. Group Tasks Together

    In order to increase your productivity it is recommended to group similar tasks together and attend to them simultaneously or one after the other. This will save lot of time which is usually spent to understand and analyze the tasks, and get in the mood to start and complete them.

    5. Practice Punctuality

    Punctuality comes from responsibility. If you work on your punctuality not only can you project a better picture of yourself which gives you more confidence, but also save time that you need to explain and convince others and apologize for being late.

    6. Start Your Day With the Most Difficult Tasks

    This might be a bit funny but it works. After scheduling and prioritizing your tasks, start your day by doing the most difficult ones first. Often people tend to start the day by checking emails, checking Facebook and doing stuff that it is not important and difficult. In this scenario, the most difficult tasks are being done last because it takes so much emotional will and effort to start them. However, this strategy does not work well because, the difficult tasks will be attended when the body and the mind are tired. Therefore the possibility of making mistakes or prolonging the work will increase.

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    On the other hand, if the most difficult tasks are done in the beginning of the day, they can be completed faster and with less effort and mistakes; since you are fresh and your ability to focus is higher. The easier and less important tasks, which do not take much effort and concentration, can be done later.

    7. Give Music to Solo Tasks

    Music here is being used as a kind of metronome to keep track of time. Especially for the regular daily jobs that you need to repeat everyday, music can help you manage your time better. After a while you get so familiar with the music and its various sections, that you will know when to speed up or when to accomplish each section. Furthermore, this will give you the ability to choose a piece of music that fits with the nature of your job, which can help you increase your productivity and get into the mood.

    8. Plan Work Breaks Into Your Schedule

    Everybody needs breaks. Your body and mind need a break in order to enable them to retain energy. Your brain needs regular breaks to process, categorize and store information. No one can work continuously without any breaks and keep up his or her productivity at optimum level all the time. Breaks are needed, but what you can do is to schedule your breaks.

    After each difficult and time-consuming task, give yourself a break to rest the brain, calm your emotions and retain concentration. After a few days or weeks of continuous work, you also need a break to rest and recharge. This will give you more energy and stamina for upcoming projects.

    9. Keep Yourself Emotionally Strong

    Often when people are not sad, depressed or unsatisfied, their productivity decreases tremendously. It is therefore highly important to keep emotionally strong and determined. This is when passion comes into play. Many successful people recommend you to do the work that you love so you can keep our emotional will at optimum level.

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    Without emotional stamina and enthusiasm, your productivity decreases and in this case even a simple task might take a very long time. Passion and determination help you to move forward and stay focused even in the midst of difficult situations and crises.

    10. Learn to Say No

    You must pay attention to your limits. You cannot do everything that you are asked to, especially if it is not in line with your goal. You always have a choice to say NO! Often multitasking makes you stupid!

    In family life as well as in your professional life, you need to refuse to accept tasks and responsibilities that are beyond your capabilities and do not help in achieving your targets. Taking more than what you can handle normally causes a lot of stress, which affects your most important tasks too.

    Learn to say NO! Promises easily given are often not kept. Think about the consequences of accepting new projects or tasks. Think if they are in line with your specialty and your target. Think if you are capable and trained to do them. Then accept!

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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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