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7 Effective Time Management Tips To Maximize Your Productivity

7 Effective Time Management Tips To Maximize Your Productivity

Have you ever had one of those days when you find yourself getting up from your desk, answering phone calls from family members, and clicking through web pages only to realize it’s noon and you still haven’t accomplished anything? We’ve all been there. But when this becomes a daily occurrence, it’s time to take action. Use the following tips to maximize productivity, whether at work, school or home.

1. List “Time-Wasters”

Start your day with a list of things you know you tend to waste time on. Keep the list nearby. When you notice you’re wasting time, add that time-waster to the list. This will serve as a reminder of things you shouldn’t allow yourself to do–like watching cat videos when you should be sending emails.

2. Hide Or Uninstall Social Media Apps

Among those who use social media, the average person spends 3.6 hours per day socializing online, reveals research conducted by Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange. That’s about a quarter of the time you’re awake! Imagine what you could do with those extra hours.

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To keep yourself from wasting this time, remove social networking apps from your mobile device’s home screen and the toolbar on your computer’s browser. While the sites won’t be completely out of reach, this practice can keep you from checking updates on impulse (when let’s face it, there’s nothing new there anyway).

3. Set Daily Goals With Reminders

Every day comes with new tasks to accomplish. Make it easy for yourself to complete each task by taking life one day at a time. Do you have a huge report due next month? Consider what you’ll do each day to finish it instead of waiting until the last minute. Use apps like Google Calendar to stay on top of your daily goals. You can set up reminders to stay organized and make sure you don’t forget anything.

4. Complete Most Important Tasks First

It’s easy to start your day with the simplest tasks. It makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something even when you’re avoiding your big project. But by the time you’re done with your less important tasks, you’re already worn out and even more reluctant to start on your priority work.

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Switch things up and perform the most important tasks first. It will be a relief once you’re done, and the rest of your day will run more smoothly.

5. Stop Multitasking

Multitasking is a myth! As NPR reports, humans can’t physically multitask. Our brains instead juggle attention from one task to the other so quick we’re given the illusion we’re multitasking.

But we’re not very efficient at it. If you try to do too many things at once, you probably won’t finish those tasks to a high standard. Plus, it could take you more time than if you simply focused on one task at a time, meaning you only hinder your productivity by multitasking.

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6. Make Use Of Dead Time

What do you do when you’re waiting in the doctor’s office or headed home on the train? If you’re staring out the window, you’re wasting valuable time. Instead, you could be sending emails or brainstorming and taking notes on your next project at work or school. You could even use this dead time to work in your daily stress-relieving breathing exercises as long as you’re doing something productive.

7. Read Time-Management Books (And Take The Advice!)

To get the best advice on how to manage your time, consider reading time-management books. They’ll likely be more useful to you since they’re more in-depth. You’ll often find exercises to help you apply the concepts, too.

Try books like “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity,” “The Skinny on Time Management: How to Maximize Your 24-Hour Gift,” or “Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.”

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Ready to become more productive? Start with the mentioned tips, and then share these ideas with your friends by tweeting this post.

Featured photo credit: time notice and a calender via shutterstock.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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