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7 Things You Should Do Today To Make Tomorrow Great

7 Things You Should Do Today To Make Tomorrow Great

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”- L.M.Montgomery

Tomorrow is going to be a great day! How many times have you been able to confidently state that? Not many, if you are like me. But thinking about it, a lot of the things you do today could actually make tomorrow much more productive and really satisfying. Try these hacks to make sure that tomorrow is really not going to be just like today.

“Tomorrow you promise yourself will be different, yet tomorrow is too often a repetition of today. And you will be disappointed again and again.”- James T. McCay

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 1. Check your email later instead of earlier

Procrastination has a loyal and faithful ally called email! Just think that every non-urgent email you read is stealing your time. Your chances of meeting that deadline are fading. Now, if you can mange to resist at least a little bit, you will have got those important things done and it will make tomorrow easier. Always check email towards the end of the day. Set up alerts for urgent ones so you are not missing out.

2. Limit your working hours

Everyone knows that working a 60 or 90 hour week is not nearly as productive as a 40 hour one. Our productivity goes down the hill rapidly as fatigue and weariness set in. Here is what I did. I made a pact with myself that I had to leave the office at 17.30 on the dot on Tuesdays and Thursdays as I had to get to my gym class. I told myself that I was free to work later to get urgent stuff done on the other three days. It worked like a charm. By doing this I was able to:

  • Become active after a sedentary day at the desk
  • Improve my work life balance
  • Boost my mood after the release of endorphins
  • Detach myself from that awful job

Not bad for one strategy. I also found that I was less stressed and I did not feel overwhelmed by too much work the next day. On the contrary, I was more rested and better able to face new challenges.

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3. Make a list of top priority tasks

It is much better to make a list at the end of today for tomorrow. First, you can see what needs to be done and what deadline you cannot afford to miss. Think about how today went and how you can improve on it. You can cross off things that can really be postponed. This will give you a sense of empowerment and control. I love crossing off things that have been done or can be put off.

4. De-clutter your space

There is an area of the brain which is activated when we have to give up an object we have become attached to. Look at a well known computer store and see how they have exploited this so that people touch the objects, become attached to them and then buy them!

But a lot of the stuff on our desk is not on sale and is serving no useful purpose at all. It is just taking up valuable space. In addition, it is a brake on your ability to think and act. Be ruthless. Throw everything you do not need and then find an easily identified place such as colored folders for all the rest. Think about the digital clutter too and get folders on your desktop to make things easier to find. So, start the clear out today and tomorrow will be a breeze.

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5. Update with colleagues

Another task to be done towards the end of the day is to check with colleagues and see what is happening with various projects, meetings, and deadlines. This can help you get your list of priorities for tomorrow up to date as you may have to make a few adjustments.

6. Don’t take work home

Now don’t spoil all this planning for tomorrow by taking work home. That will just be prolonging all the stress and invading your free time, thoughts and feelings with the work virus. It also suggests that you have time management problems that you need to address.

 7. Now start telling yourself tomorrow will be great

As you leave the office, start telling yourself that tomorrow is just going to be awesome. You know that you have paved the way beautifully. Pat yourself on the back for having cleared the desk, prioritized your tasks and got rid of a lot of junk into the bargain. Now go home and enjoy yourself!

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“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Featured photo credit: H. Jackson Brown Jr quote/BK via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

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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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