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5 Ways To Turn Stress Into Productivity

5 Ways To Turn Stress Into Productivity

Stress prevents productivity, which is why you need to learn how to manage your stress levels in order to become more productive. Stress is self-imagined, self-imposed, and self-created; Which means you basically create your own stress and therefore you’re the one that’s preventing yourself from getting things done.

Stress is an unhealthy emotion that wastes too much of your energy. Instead, you should be focusing all that energy on the task at hand. Stress only becomes as powerful as you allow it to (at least that’s what Yoda told me). An emotion like stress can derail your day and control your actions, but it doesn’t have to; by stopping and addressing the issue once it starts, you’ll be a lot more likely to spend your day actually getting things done instead of just stressing over getting things done.

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1. Get Caught Up to Stress Less

It won’t be easy to concentrate on what needs to get done today if you’re stressed about things that didn’t get done yesterday. Instead of letting the unfinished tasks daunt your mind, be more productive with your time and focus on completing them rather than worrying about them. If you’re behind on your list of things to do, getting caught up will offer some relief and you’ll find yourself not stressing out so much. Stress isn’t going to get things done for you, no matter how much energy you put in to it.

2. Give Yourself More Time and Take Breaks

Unless it’s absolutely crucial for you to get something done by a certain time, don’t give yourself strict deadlines that’s not easily manageable; Doing so will cause you to stress out about getting the project done on time and you’ll be in constant worry as you repeatedly glance at the clock to see how much time you have left. While this may cause you to work faster to get things done, it’s not likely you’re actually putting in the quality work that’s needed if you’re simply speeding through the task because you’re fueled by a deadline you’re stressing over.

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If you are at work on a task under a strict deadline or you simply find yourself getting worked up over completing a task, you’ll find it beneficial if you just step away for about 5 or 10 minutes and take a breather. Use that five or ten minutes to calm yourself, rest, get some fresh air, etc, and you’ll have a clearer head when you return back to the task which will allow you to work more efficiently.

3. Don’t Do It All Yourself

If you are under a strict deadline or you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by completing the task, you should ask for help if you need it. Everyone needs help at some point and having an extra set of hands to help won’t feel as overwhelming as if you were doing it by yourself. With help, you’ll be twice as productive and you’ll worry less about meeting that deadline now that you have someone helping you. If you know that you can’t do the task yourself, you shouldn’t push yourself; Doing so is only going to cause more stress and diminish the quality of work you’re producing even further.

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4. Get Some Perspective on Your Task

Becoming more productive in your day to day life can be accomplished by realizing what’s important and what’s not important because you’re likely spending a lot of your time stressing over things that are not that important in the big picture. A lot of the things that people stress over are actually not as significant as they would like to think they are; Unless something is going to do you bodily harm, then it’s probably not worth mentally upsetting yourself over it. Keeping a positive attitude as you start the day, dive into your tasks, and tackle everything that needs to be done can deter you from getting sidetracked and wasting time on stressing over insignificant things. Method 5 will explain a way for you to figure out if what you’re stressing over has any actual significance at all or not.

5. Focus on Your Stress and Confront It

Sometimes focusing on your stress can be a good thing, if you’re trying to figure out how to better handle it that is. If trying to avoid stress isn’t as much of a successful method as you would like it to be, you could be productive through your stress and write down what it is that’s making you feel that way so you can confront it. In addition to writing down what stresses you out, also write down what’s the worst that can possibly happen. This will allow you to be able to look at back at what you wrote at a later time and see for yourself whether or not what you were stressing over was actually something significant. Usually, things end up not being as bad as they seem once you remove yourself from the situation and get a clearer head when looking at things.

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Stress can ruin your life, but it only will if you let it. By learning to maintain your stress, you can become more productive, be happier, and learn how to look at the bigger picture of things. While it’s natural to feel some extent of stress when it comes to some things in life; Stress shouldn’t dominate your day. When you notice that it has, that’s when you know you have a problem. When you feel yourself about to start stressing, stop and address it. Put things in perspective, let the insignificant things go, and start getting more done everyday.

Featured photo credit: Giuseppe Savo 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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