Advertising
Advertising

A Few Things To Do For The New Year

A Few Things To Do For The New Year

Cleaning out your closet. Defragging your hard drive. Updating your resume.

What do all of these have in common? They’re nagging little jobs on most of our “to-do” lists that we keep putting off because they’re tedious and boring. They keep getting pushed to the back of the queue, gathering dust and being neglected until we’re forced to take care of them for one reason or another, at which point we end up stressed, panicky, and resentful.

Fortunately, there’s no time like the present to finally get around to doing these tasks, and having them all over and done with for the New Year and allow yourself to start the next year with a clean slate, with no daunting obligations left to hang over your head. Below are a few suggestions about some of the tasks you might like to tackle, if you have time to do so:

1. Clean out your email

Most of us have a plethora of unread emails lounging around in our in-boxes, as well as old drafts, spam, and various other sundries tucked into different folders. Instead of just vegging out in front of the TV after supper, consider putting on some music and sifting through your folders to clear them out. Doing this for 20 minutes/night for just a few evenings will tidy things up nicely. You may need to know how to use Gmail search to clean up your Email archive.

Advertising

Oh, and while you’re at it…

2. Review and update your address book

Do you really need to hold onto the email addresses belonging to people you worked with in 2003? Take a few minutes to sort through your address book and cull those that you haven’t communicated with, along with old addresses that your friends/family don’t use anymore. (See how to use Google Contacts as a Unified Address Book)

3. Clean your computer (inside and out) and tidy up your workstation

While you’re tidying up all those files, consider using this opportunity as a chance to clean up your desk (and your computer itself). If you have a CPU tower, take it apart so you can vacuum out all the dust and pet hair that might have accumulated in there. Toss away any take-out containers or empty energy drink cans around your desk, give everything a solid once-over with some spray cleaner (just not your monitor: clean that thing properly), and be sure to clean your keyboard too—those things get nasty.

4. File and organize papers, bills, statements, and receipts

Keeping these in order can come in handy, especially since tax season is just around the corner. Try to organize them so your receipts and statements are together, with outstanding bills and invoices in another section.

Advertising

While you’re at it, consider making a couple of last-minute charitable donations to adjust your tax deductions, if you’re into that sort of thing.

5. Update your personal budget, resume and bio

As you go through your papers, take note of your spending habits over the last year. Have you gone overboard with spending? Been too frugal? Compare your habits to your bank account, and then consider re-adjusting your personal budget to even things out a bit.

On that same note, if you find that you’ve struggled to make ends meet or that you’re not being paid what you’re worth, it might be time to update your resume and look for a new job. If instead you’re perfectly happy with where you are, but you’ve had some major life changes (moved to a new city/country, earned a degree, got married, etc.) then you might want to update your bio on various networking sites.

6. Reduce clutter, and give things away

You would not believe how much stuff can accumulate in cupboards and closets, particularly in the bathroom. Set aside an hour or so to sort through everything under the sink to see just how many unused soaps, creams, razors, and other sundries you’ve collected, and then decide whether you’re actually going to use them or not. If you will, think about displaying them in a basket or keeping them at hand so you’ll use them up. If you’ll never touch the things, give them away to friends who’ll use them, or donate them.

Advertising

Speaking of donations…

7. Clean out your closet, and donate your old clothes

A good rule to stick to as far as clothing is concerned is to give away anything you haven’t worn in over 2 years (with the exception of really well-tailored suits or dresses that still fit, and are in great shape. You never know when those will come in handy). For each piece you give away, you can buy yourself something new that fits both your figure and your current fashion sense, but don’t hold on to something that will never fit or come back into style again.

(We have created a list for you so that you can keep track of your new year tasks, Things to do for the new year)

Once you’ve taken care of all of these tasks, all you really need to do is finalize your New Year’s Eve schedule, and make some goals for 2013. If you find that you tend to self-sabotage official resolutions, consider just making some short-term goals that are easy to attain: reaching them will boost your confidence, and might encourage you to pursue some more intense, longer-term goals in turn.

Advertising

Featured photo credit:  Attractive young adult couple via Shutterstock

 

More by this author

20 Online Resources for Free E-Books 10 Books to Help You Polish Your English & Writing Skills 10 Things That Even You Can Do to Change the World 10 Essential Oils to Always Have at Home 10 Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read Every Day

Trending in Productivity

1The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It? 210 Best Time Management Books Recommended By Entrepreneurs 3What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating) 46 Simple Steps to Make Progress Towards Achieving Goals 5Secrets to Organizing Thoughts and Ideas (So You’ll Never Lose Ideas!)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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:

Advertising

  • 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.

Advertising

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

Read Next