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Three Basic Steps to Get Your Desire with the Least Effort

Three Basic Steps to Get Your Desire with the Least Effort
Desire

How can we get what we want? The book Simpleology contains five laws to help you get what you want:

  1. The Law of Straight Lines: The shortest path between two points is a straight line. If you want to get a particular result, take the fastest and most direct route. Don’t add any extra steps.
  2. The Law of Clear Vision: In order to hit a target, you need to see it clearly. You must have a clear vision of exactly what you want in order to get it.
  3. The Law of Focused Attention: In order to hit a target, you must focus sufficient attention on it until you hit it.
  4. The Law of Focused Energy: In order to accomplish something you must focus sufficient energy on it until you have done so.
  5. The Inescapability of Action/Reaction: There are two things from which you can never escape: action and reaction.

All these laws are useful. After spending some time to ponder them, I think we can summarize them into three basic steps you should do to get your desire with the least effort:

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1. Know exactly what you want

While I’m sure most of us have an idea about what we want, I don’t think many of us know exactly what we want. For instance, if you want to have your own business, do you know what kind of business you want to build? How will it look – in detail – several years from now?

To know exactly what we want, a helpful practice is visualization. We should visualize the situation we want to achieve. Imagine how it looks, how it sounds, and how people’s life is changed by it.

Knowing exactly what you want will help you determine whether or not something you encounter could help you. If you don’t know what you want, it is much easier to get distracted by irrelevant things along the way. But if you know exactly what you want, you will see clearly whether or not something is relevant.

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2. Always follow a straight line

Do only the things that bring you closer to your destination. Do not waste your time to do extra things which will make it longer to reach your goal.

This, unfortunately, is easier said than done. Without realizing it, you might have some habits which do not bring you closer to your goal. There might be things you do, perhaps even daily, that take you away from your goal. They make you follow a curved line instead of a straight one.

For instance, maybe your goal is increasing the amount of your saving by, say, 100%. However, you still spend $5 daily to get your favorite coffee and snack. If we assume that there are 30 days a month, $5 daily will become $150 a month and $1800 a year, a substantial amount. As you can see, this habit doesn’t help you reach your goal.

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So, in whatever you do, it is wise to ask: "Is it a straight line?" And when the answer is no, you should stop doing it.

3. Sharpen your saw

While doing things which brings you closer to your goal is important, you will waste a lot of time and energy if you do not do them with a "sharp saw". It’s dangerous to be busy; we may work too hard trying to make things happen without realizing that our saw has become blunt. In such situation we could work very hard but accomplish very little. You might then be surprised when someone else – who seem to work less than you do – surpass your achievements.

A good way to know whether or not you have a sharp saw is by watching yourself. Can you accomplish much in a given amount of time? Does your creativity flow well? Are you now in – or close to – your peak performance?

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If the answer is no, then you need to sharpen your saw. The action you should take depends on your situation. Perhaps you need to take some time away from your work, or perhaps you need to learn a new tool. Examine your situation, and do what it takes to bring you back to peak performance. The time investment to sharpen your saw is well worth it. With a sharp saw, you will be able to achieve more with less time and energy.

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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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