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How to Live a Simplistic Lifestyle

How to Live a Simplistic Lifestyle

Many people long for a simple life away from all the chaos that seems self-inflicted. The first step to embracing this new form of lifestyle is to understand what simplicity means to you and then live by that definition. Here are eight suggestions on how to live a simplistic lifestyle.

1. Limit your information intake

Your world is awash with information. The traditional forms of media are ever-increasing in number, and each of them has content that fills 24 hours of every day. The internet is another information whale. Your contacts will also have a lot to share with you at any particular time. Today, its easy to bury yourself with information. You can follow thousands of people on their social profiles. You can also follow thousands of websites, blogs, and even companies. For many people, the need to keep up with all this incoming information is unbearable. A simplistic life for you needs no information overload. You have to accept the fact that you can never exhaust all of the information that is available in the world today. Just dedicate some time, and when that elapses, stop consuming until the next day.

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2. Savor each moment

You should think more in a less-hurried way. Drink or eat slowly so that you actually feel the taste of the food in your mouth. If you are doing a task such as driving or reading, then try not to rush to finish the task and jump to another one. You have to stay in the moment for some time before you are able to make it memorable. Do not ruin the experience by rushing through it. The good news with savoring experiences is that the people who follow the simple suggestion become relaxed and happy, even if they change nothing else in their lives. Savoring each moment brings a feeling of contentment in you.

3. Create a list, but only work at one item at a time

Without a plan that leads you to simplicity, you will not be able to live the simplistic life. Come up with a list of all the things that you need to do to have the life you want. Lists rarely make people change their behaviors, and that is why for this particular list, you will only have to deal with one item at a time, then cross it off the list. Do not create timelines or goals other than the resolve to finish doing the item on the list. Come up with another list when you are done with the present one.

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4. Spend more time with the people who matter in your life

The Pareto principle states that eighty percent of our successes and results come from twenty percent of the things you do and the people you deal with on a daily basis. Let this 80/20 rule work to your advantage. Identify the people who matter in your life, such as your family and close friends, and then spend most of your time with them at all costs. Soon, you will discover that you are peaceful and feel no obligation to do unnecessary things just to impress strangers.

5. Make big cuts

When you are transitioning from a chaotic life to a simplistic life, it will be hard for you to notice any change. Absence of change evidence can cause you to slump back into your chaotic life. The best way to get past this resistance problem is by undertaking big transition steps. Make a big cut. For example, you can get rid of your car and that will take care of parking expenses, cleaning expenses, insurance, and a host of other duties related to owning a car. You will feel like someone just took away a burden from your life. This experience will give you the strength to keep adopting a simplistic life.

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6. Learn to stay idle and alone

You will only be contented with your life if you can be comfortable in your own company. Materials and people do not necessarily make you a better or worse person; it is your attitude and view of life that makes you good or bad. Take time off and just do nothing. Stay off of your phone, do not listen to anything, and do nothing. This time off can last for at least five minutes to as much as a day, but do not use it an excuse to avoid doing your duties. Take time off regularly and you will understand yourself better. In addition, you will make better decisions and be comfortable with changes that are ongoing in your life.

7. Embrace a filling and storage system

Order is an essential thing in life. A simplistic life is full of order. Come up with a filling system for all your physical and electronic files. Store them under clear labels so that you will not spend much time and effort when you need to retrieve them. Use a search program for your electronic documents and embrace services that allow you to sync files from one device to another. In your offline world, buy baskets, bins, and anything that can hold your items when they are not in use. Store everything in appropriate places every time you are through with them.

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8. Embrace minimalism and frugality

Many people avoid talk about minimalism and frugality because to them, these words imply that they have to let go everything that they love. Just like simplicity, the concept of being frugal or minimal varies with every individual. This does not mean that it is necessarily a bad thing. To have a simple life, you need the power to manage your desires and intentions. One way to do that is by taming the materialistic urge inside you. Accept that there will always be newer, shinier, better-looking things that appeal to you. Most of these things are merely complimentary or substitute goods and services. The key to staying frugal and embracing a minimalist lifestyle is to know what you need and then avoid the urge to take up its additions. Think of the whole concept as a way to live an efficient life; your first step would definitely be to eliminate wasteful purchases and desires that lead to those purchases.

You may choose many other things to make your life simpler but the eight suggestions highlighted above will have the most impact in your life.

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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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