Economists write a lot about the mystery of why productivity is not increasing, with pieces such as this. There’s even a section on it in Wikipedia.
My own theory is that limited wage increases is also limiting the benefits of productivity aids. How I think this works is so:
- Employers wont raise wages for employees.
- Employers deploy technology that should result in productivity gains.
- Employees take the technology deployed and use them to decrease their efforts.
- The employer sees some productivity gains and assumes that is the limit for the technology deployed.
Look at this chart:
In much of the world economy, all the job growth is in the services sector (green line), not the manufacturing sector (red line). Achieving productivity gains in the manufacturing sector is more straightforward: replace people with robots and you are done. It’s not as straightforward as that in the services sector. In some services sector jobs, it is not possible to decrease effort without it being visible. But in many services sector jobs, it is. If employees cannot improve their lives by making more money, they may decide to do so by working less and working right up to the point where they don’t lose their job.
If you look at employment as a game, then we currently have a Nash equilibrium where the employees know that they won’t get paid more working for the same company, because that is the best strategy for the company. Therefore the best strategy for the employee is to minimize their effort without getting fired and while showing little if any productivity gains.
That’s to me is key reason why I think we have the productivity paradox.
I would add that the reason this is a paradox is because no one wants to admit that this is happening. It seems like a failure on both the employers and the employees side. The employee wants to be seen as a good worker and the employer doesn’t want to admit it could be paying more. Instead technology is brought in to solve an organizational problem, which is something technology cannot do.
(Chart from Business Insider).
My new favorite productivity tool is this site: E.gg Timer – a simple countdown timer. Whenever I am procrastinating, I will use it to get myself to focus by starting it for 5, 10, or more minutes and telling myself: I will focus until the timer goes off. I have found this approach very effective, and this site helps me. It also helps because if I find myself going to my browser to mindlessly go on some time wasting site (hello, Twitter!) I will see this and I will remember to focus.
Fans of the pomodoro technique will see there is a special timer just for it.
As a bonus, you can use it to do a high intensity tabata workout.
Great tool. Highly recommended.
It does sound too good to be true, and no, I haven’t tried it, but if you want to change your work routine, consider the pomodoro technique.
If you are still interested, there is an article on it: The Simple Technique To Fit A 40-Hour Workweek Into 16.7 Hours. I find it hard to believe, but for some of you, it may just be the thing you need to improve your work life.
Vox raises that question here: All this digital technology isn’t making us more productive – Vox, and it implies that because people are slacking off on the Internet. I think that is incorrect, and here’s why.
The chart that Vox piece has shows big producitivity gains from 1998-2003 and smaller gains after that.
From 1998-2003 was the peak adoption of the Internet by companies. In the early 1990s, companies started to adopt email. In the later 1990s companies started adopting the Web. To me it is not surprising that companies would become more productive and they shifted away from snail mail and faxes to email. And then companies shifted further and started offering services over the Web, I imagine they became much more productive.
Slacking off on the Internet has been a problem since the Web came along. I know, because I used to monitor web server traffic. I don’t think that is the issue.
I think it is more likely that companies grabbed the big productivity gains from the Internet at the beginning, and then those gains slowed down after.
So what about smartphones? Have they made people more productive? I think they have, but I also think that the gains in being able to access information remotely may have been overtaken by the sheer amount of information to deal with. Being able to deal with email remotely makes you productive. Having to deal with way more email than you ever had to in the 1990s because now everyone has it makes you unproductive.
Furthermore, many of the features on smartphones are aimed at personal use, not professional use. I think smartphones make us more productive personally, but less so professionall.y
The folks at Buffer have put together a very big list of 100 tools, tips and tricks to work more efficiently online. I have gone over it and there are lots and lots of good tools and tips and other advice to help you be more productive and get the most out of being online. Stop wasting time on social media** and start being more productive by clicking on that link now.
** Reading this blog does not count as wasting time on social media. 🙂
Chances are, if you talk to five different people at work, you will find five tools or techniques they use to be productive that you hadn’t even heard of.
Rather than do your own polling, you can also check out this article: Most Popular Apps Employees Use At Work – Business Insider.
Remember, these are just for work, and yes, Facebook still shows up there. And this is just the cloud / distributed services. (Also, I am wondering Evernote didn’t show up there.)
I would be surprised if you read it and didn’t adopt at least one of the items on the list by the end of your work day. Good luck.
Yesterday was about ifttt. Today it is all about another great tool I highly depend on: Evernote. Evernote has become my go to tool for capturing information. (Bonus: it works great with ifttt). There are many great ways of using Evernote. If you are using it or planning to, here are at 10 for starters: 10 Tips On How to Use Evernote To Its Fullest « The Solopreneur Life®.
Please share any other tips you have. I find the one key tip I have for users of Evernote is this: the more you use it, the better it gets.