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11 Bad Habits That You Don’t Realize Are Costing You

11 Bad Habits That You Don’t Realize Are Costing You

Want to know the biggest difference between people who are in shape and people who are overweight or obese? Or people who save a lot of money and those who don’t?

Habits.

Your bad habits are costing you time, money, and health. Here are 11 examples, along with some tips on how to change those bad habits into good ones:

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1. Eating unhealthy foods.

This is one bad habit that may be slowly killing you. The Western diet of highly-processed foods is making you fatter, sicker, and more depressed. Eat more real foods like these instead, and you’ll look better, feel better, and live longer.

2. Failing to exercise.

Lack of exercise puts you at greater risk for chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and stroke. The key to getting into better shape is first making a commitment and then taking tiny steps every day to create better habits. Start with simply 5 minutes of exercise every day for a week, and see how much better you feel.

3. Reading gossip magazines.

William Penn said, “Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” Gossip magazines may be mindless entertainment, but they’re costing you valuable time that you could be spending with people you love, doing work that fulfills you, or improving your health. So drop that copy of the National Enquirer and pick up a good book that stimulates your mind instead.

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4. Not planning your finances.

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your financial planning habits? Most of us are somewhere between a 1 and a 5. If you want to save more money, you need to have a plan. Here’s an easy first step: talk to someone who knows more about money than you do. If you don’t have money to hire a financial planner, talk to a friend or family member who is good with money. Ask for advice. And use this knowledge to start creating a financial plan for yourself. Just start somewhere.

5. Buying coffee.

I’m not saying you have to give up your caffeine kick each day. Coffee is actually good for you (sans the sugar and cream). Why not brew your own though? Let’s say you pay 5 dollars for a coffee each day. That means you’re dropping $1,825 each year. Buy your own, brew it at home, and save $1,000 or more over the course of a year.

6. Not maintaining your home.

This bad habit can cost you some serious bucks. While doing routine maintenance on things like your furnace, roof, yard, etc. can be a nuisance, it will save you money in the long run. Don’t wait until it’s too late to take care of your home.

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7. Playing the lottery.

While chasing the Mega Millions might be a fun way to spend dollars, you might as well burn your money. Here’s why: your odds of winning most lotteries are slim-to-none. For the Powerball, you have a 1 in 175,223,510 chance of winning. Save your money and start a rainy-day fund with those dollars instead and put the money into savings or invest it in the stock market.

8. Smoking cigarettes.

A pack of smokes gets more expensive every year. If you smoke a pack a day and each pack costs you $8, you’re dropping nearly $3,000 a year on this bad habit. Not to mention increasing your odds of dying from lung cancer by 5 to 30 times.

9. Ignoring car maintenance.

A vehicle not maintained can quickly turn into a money pit too. Check your owner’s manual to make sure you get oil changes and other maintenance according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. It will save you money in the long run.

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10. Getting road rage.

Listen, we all get frustrated by bad drivers. But road rage solves nothing and puts unnecessary stress on your heart. If you find your blood boiling behind the wheel, try these 10 gadgets that can help make driving a bit less stressful.

11. Not sleeping enough.

Up to 40 percent of people suffer from insomnia, and this habit can affect your health and work productivity big-time. Here are some common reasons why you sleep well and what to do about them.

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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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