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3 Simple Tricks to Prevent you from Losing Your Lists

3 Simple Tricks to Prevent you from Losing Your Lists

“I can’t find that list I created” is a common problem that occurs if you’re a list maker. Often, we create a lot of lists and when we can’t find them, we end up creating similar or duplicate lists. It doesn’t matter if all the lists are kept in the same place, we still end up with duplicate lists because it becomes painful to go through each list just to find the thing that we are afte. The technique is to Categorize; add a Convention and Flag your lists. This mini toolbox of tricks should be usable on any app. Here’s the simple trick I use –

Categorize Your Lists

Whenever I create a list, I always put it into a category. This makes it easy to identify what the list is about, whether it’s a movie list, a book list, web articles to read, shopping list or a bucket list. It’s important to ensure that you consistently use the same categories for the types of lists that you create.

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Why would you want to do this? An example for myself is movies. I list out all the movies I would like to watch into different genres and sometimes into different years. Why not create a sublist? The issue is that they are not always searchable, some apps don’t search in your sublists and since this technique can be applied across all apps, it means you don’t have to be stuck to using any specific tool. That means if you change tools, you can still use this technique.

Create a Naming Convention

It’s important to be consistent about how you name your lists, it makes them easier to sort through and easier to search. So now that you have thought up some categories, when you create you lists put them in square brackets. e.g. [Movies] Comedies 2010. You instantly know that this list is about movies and comedies. You don’t have to use square brackets, you can use any identifier you want e.g. {Movies} or <Movies> or !Movies! anything that makes it easier for you to see.

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Screen shot 2013-03-04 at 12.15.51 PM

    From the above example, you can see I’ve categorized my lists with Movie, Shopping, Books, People, Christmas, New year, Recipes, Videos etc. It’s easy for me to identify what the main purpose of the list is for.

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    Search Becomes Easier

    Search becomes a lot easier. Can’t remember what you called the list? Well you should be able to remember the category, so if I’m looking for a recipe, but can’t remember the name of the recipe, and also can’t remember the name of the list I put it in, then I can search for the category. Now I have some clues which should help me to remember which list it is in, or at least it will reduce the amount of searching I have to do to find that recipe.

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    Screen shot 2013-03-04 at 12.16.33 PM

      I can select the appropriate list that the recipe would be under. I’m demonstrating this using Listible, but this technique should work in any list app.

      Flagging Important Lists

      If you use lists to prioritize what you want to accomplish, you can use advanced identifiers. For example you can place an asterix hash (*#) in front of the list name. This makes it easier to see visually, and also easy to search for the ‘important tasks that need to be accomplished.

      Screen shot 2013-03-04 at 6.01.21 PM

        These techniques work on file based lists, so even if you are keeping your lists on your mac or windows pc inside word documents or spreadsheets, using this technique will still make it easier to know what your lists are about, how important they are, and makes them easily searchable. So remember, the technique is to Categorize, to Convention and to Flag your list names.

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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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