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7 Ways To Supercharge Your Productivity When You Work From Home

7 Ways To Supercharge Your Productivity When You Work From Home

With technology booming and gas prices rising, companies are allowing employees to work from home more and more. With this added perk, employees are taking on more responsibility to ensure they stay productive when they are out of the office.

Without the ability to walk across the hall and check on you, bosses often have higher expectations and expect tangible results. Therefore, employees working from home can improve productivity in a variety of ways to make sure they can meet this demand. Here are 7 ways to supercharge your productivity when you work from home.

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1. Create a space without distractions.

If you try working from home from your couch with the TV on, you’re going to struggle to stay productive. Ideally, create a home office without distractions of the TV, the kids, the dog, the spouse, and anything else that may be at home at the same time. If you don’t have a dedicated office, try to find a nice, quiet nook to settle down in your home. Small distractions can add up quickly and ruin productivity, so find a space that can keep you focused and ready to be productive.

2. Paint your home office in soothing colors.

Moss green, light orange, and warm grays can make a home office much more productive. And try to use a room with natural light and a warm feeling. The colors of your work environment matter, so do your research and find the mood you want to set to get the most done.

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3. Add Plants & Flowers to your home office.

Featuring plants and flowers in your home office can make a huge difference in your productivity at home. It will make the space feel more comfortable and put you in the right frame of mind to supercharge your productivity.

4. Schedule a time for lunch.

It’s easy to just head to lunch at odd times when working from home. Often, it’s possible to wait way too long to eat and end up eating much later than normal. Scheduling a time for lunch will make sure you’re out when your co-workers are because nothing is worse than getting a call right when you walk out the door. And when you eat at the correct time, you won’t crave food and snack all day, which can limit productivity. Each time you get up and head to the kitchen for a snack, you lose focus.

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5. Give your eyes a rest.

Find a time to get away from the computer, especially if you eat lunch while working. Take a portion of your lunch break and take a stroll around the block or do something around the house. Limit these activities to a certain timeframe, but giving your eyes a break from the computer can help you recharge and stay productive.

6. Create a comprehensive to-do list.

While creating a to-do list is always a great strategy, when working from home it’s even more vital. It’s easy to get distracted and lose focus when you’re in your house. Make a comprehensive to-do list with times you want things done by will ensure you stay productive all day.

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7. Check in with your co-workers & boss proactively.

Nothing can make working from home more unproductive than meddling co-workers. Take a proactive approach and make contact first. It will show that you’re in the groove and there’s nothing distracting you from home. If you send your agenda out in advance, your team will be much more less likely to check-in at an inopportune time and ensure that you can stay productive throughout the entire day.

By utilizing these tips while working from home, you can make your home work office even more productive than going to work!

Featured photo credit: Jaap Stronks via flickr.com

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Kyle Robbins

Founder, BrandingBeard.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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