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7 Brilliant Tips to Handle The Hard Tasks

7 Brilliant Tips to Handle The Hard Tasks

Accomplishing anything worthwhile in life is difficult. You’re a human being, though, and no task is impossible to us. Quitting alcohol takes twelve steps, but most of them are proprietary to AA. If you want to accomplish a truly difficult task, you need only half the steps. Here’s how to handle the hard tasks.

1. Brainstorm

Thinking is critical to our survival as a species, and creativity is much more useful than brute force in the wild. That single trait of invention is what separated early man from the animal kingdom, and led to our eventual dominance of this planet.

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When you start any project, sit down and brainstorm every idea possible. Let your thoughts and ideas flow freely; it’s during this brainstorming period that your most critical ideas are created.

2. Plan

Once you have a pile of raw ideas, it’s time to formulate a concrete plan. This plan is a step-by-step guide to each phase of your impossible task. Visualizing the realistic and practical completion of your project will lead you in the direction of actually completing it. Pretend you’re a Goonie, but you can draw your own map to One-Eyed Willy’s treasure.

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3. Commit

A plan is just a plan until you execute it. Your commitment to the plans you make is what separates success from failure. You know your plan is solid, so commit to it. It’s only by following your plan that you see the forks in the road and other obstacles you’ll encounter. Get out there and do it!

4. Relax

Sure, everything is riding on this one project. If you complete it, you’ll get a promotion, a raise, move up, buy a home, settle down and live happily ever after. If you fail, you’ll go broke, lose everything and fall from grace. It’s ok – everything in life is life or death. That’s just how life works, and we’re all going through it.

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Close your eyes. Sit up straight or lay down for a moment. Relax your body and focus on slowly breathing in…and out…and in…and out…and relax.

5. Overcome

Every path has obstacles, but when you keep pushing, you eventually overcome. The U.S. was originally settled on the East coast, but pioneers blazed a trail out west. Think about how terrifying it must’ve been to have discovered California or trekked out west during the Gold Rush.

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No matter what they hit you with, you shall overcome. Continue to get up and fight every time you’re knocked down. When people laugh at you, laugh back. If you keep your nose to the grindstone long enough, you shall overcome.

6. Enjoy

Winning or losing in life isn’t about the scoreboard. When you’re in the game, it’s easy to focus on the time, penalties, and score, but at the end of the day, you won’t look back on your life and focus on those things – they just won’t matter.

What matters at the end is that you enjoyed your time. You have very precious few moments in life, and those difficult times are the ones that define who you are. At 33, I’ve lived through some very hard times, and each one taught me a valuable lesson, introduced me to a memorable person, and made me a better person for having been through it.

Whenever you hit a really difficult time, don’t let yourself be overcome with stress. Instead think about the successful you in the future, laying on your deathbed. Think about the small toddler you once were. Both of those people would love to be in the position you’re currently in, no matter how bad it is. Keep your head up…for 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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