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3 Reasons Relying On Motivation Can Negatively Affect Our Productivity

3 Reasons Relying On Motivation Can Negatively Affect Our Productivity

We were pumped up to do great things in life after seeing an inspirational video. We rose up from the comfort of our chair and did a lot of work. The day after that — nothing. Sitting on the same chair, we had a Netflix movie marathon, and no work was done for that day. Why did this happen? Why didn’t we maintain the same amount of work in both days? It’s because we rely too much on motivation. There are 3 reasons relying on motivation can negatively affect our productivity.

1. We do things only when we’re inspired

“Yeah! I’m gonna do this s***!” thoughts rarely come. We can hope for motivation to greet us every day, but they rarely do. It’s as if motivation is the fuel that drives us to do things when it’s actually not. We need to always do what we want to do in life no matter how inspired we are feeling. Motivation can accelerate the things we do, but it shouldn’t be the thing that moves us.

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2. We are prone to waste our day and stop halfway while doing things

Relying on motivation can cause the All-or-Nothing thinking. All-or-Nothing thinking is the tendency to do things perfectly or not do it at all. How does this apply to motivation? Imagine waking up with little motivation. For those who rely too much on motivation, they’ll decide to not do anything for the rest of the day because they are not highly inspired.

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Other than that, we will find that when we are motivated on a particular day, and suddenly, bad things happen in the middle of the day. Snap! Our motivation crumbled like a fortress made of chalk. We gave up and called it a day. Why? Just because losing motivation made us think that the day’s not perfect. That’s not the way life goes. Start, middle or the end of the day — we need to use all three periods productively, whether we are motivated or not. Motivation doesn’t indicate perfection but movement does.

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3. We will forget why we do the things we do in the first place

Motivation is just a feeling. Like any other feeling, it can come and go. We need more than a fleeting feeling to move us to do the things we do day by day. What we need to rely on is purpose and discipline. Purpose is needed to ensure that we live deliberately. Aren’t we born to do great things in life? Each one of us is a world-changer so make it our purpose to make a difference in the world. But purpose is not enough, we’ll need discipline to ensure that we can fulfil that purpose. Discipline ensures consistency and it’s the cure for laziness and procrastination. Purpose + Discipline = The magic pill for success.

Stop reading and start moving!

Again, motivation is not necessarily bad. It’s good to help us do things faster but it shouldn’t be the one making us do them in the first place. To sum it up, here’s the key take-away from this article:

  1. Stop relying on motivation to help us be productive.
  2. Focus on finding a purpose in life.
  3. Be disciplined and do things consistently. (Don’t know how to improve your discipline? Read this Lifehack article to learn how).
  4. Stop watching too many motivational clips from Rocky (that includes Rocky II, III, IV, and V too) and finish that homework, report, and whatever you should be doing right now.

If you learnt something from this article, please share it with others so they can share the same experience too.

A question: Do you rely too much on motivation? Write your answers in the comment section below.

Featured photo credit: Steven Depolo via flickr.com

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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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