Working Smarter, Not Harder

The discussion about minimum wages or salary increases in Romania is mainly a political issue. From an outside perspective, it’s sometimes hard to understand that in all the talking and complaining about local salaries many issues are brought up the most important and therefore most decisive factor for higher wages is rarely mentioned or misunderstood.

This factor is called ‘Labor Productivity’.

What is productivity?

Productivity is an economy’s ability to produce goods and services (outputs) using capital inputs (such as machinery, computer software, and land) and labor inputs. High productivity means that a large amount of output is produced with little input.

What is Labor productivity?

Labor productivity is the most commonly used productivity measure. It’s a measure of the growth in output per hour paid. An increase in labor productivity means that an hour of paid work is producing more output than in the previous year, or that the same amount of output is being produced for fewer hours paid.

Why does productivity matter?

Productivity measures help determine a nation’s economic performance and the well-being of its citizens. In economic theory, productivity increases should be matched by wage increases, because there is a very strong link between the growth rate in labor productivity and the growth rate in income. This means that productivity growth helps boost the salaries.

In short: based on the average salary level, we can pretty much assume that labor productivity in Romania is rather low compared to EU-standards. In fact, Romania is 26th out of the 27 EU Member States.

To improve romanian labor productivity on a national level would require a ‘Masterplan‘ that put many Romanian habits upside down. An important part of this plan would be a complete overhaul of the education system and the bureaucracy combined with a complete switch from nepotism to meritocracy and a reduction of political intervention into the economy to a minimum.

Well, this is still Romania and not fantasyland, so forget this to happen in your lifetime (but don’t forget the strong link between productivity and salary – it will also remain low for your lifetime). So we better look for ways to improve labor productivity where it’s more realistic to achieve: on a company and individual level.

On a company level, there is one decisive prerequisite to improve labor productivity: managers with a modern approach to appreciate the individual employee.

With this approach I would call ‘promote not punish’ and the following three measurements, labor productivity will rise pretty quick on a company level:

Employee Training

Employee training may be job specific or it can be generalized to an overall corporate code of standards or safety issues. The more an employee knows, the more productive he can be

Incentive Programs

An incentive program may be anything from a sales contest to offering more empowerment to employees. People tend to respond to extra rewards, putting the extra effort.

Modernization

Modernization means updating machinery, computers and any other equipment that employees may utilize in day-to-day operations. The faster equipment works, the faster employees are able to get tasks done.

On the individual level the productivity-task is called: ‘Getting more done in less time’ and it’s not limited on the workplace. Many of us have a great potential to achieve this goal, but are probably unaware, that they are sabotaging this with bad habits:

Here are 15 things – I collected from businessinsider.com – you should stop doing right now to become more productive or working smarter, not harder – and it starts the second you wake up in the morning:

Hitting the snooze button

It might feel like pressing the snooze button on your alarm clock in the morning gives you a little bit of extra rest to start your day, but the truth is that it does more harm than good. That’s because when you first wake up, your endocrine system begins to release alertness hormones to get you ready for the day. By going back to sleep, you’re slowing down this process. Plus, nine minutes doesn’t give your body time to get the restorative, deep sleep it needs.

Prioritizing work over sleep

As Arianna Huffington discusses in her sleep manifesto, “The Sleep Revolution,” a good night’s sleep has the power to increase productivity, happiness, smarter decision-making, and unlock bigger ideas.

A recent McKinsey study shows the direct correlation between getting less sleep and workplace inefficiency. The prefrontal cortex, where the problem-solving functions of the brain are housed, is degraded if we don’t get enough sleep. Working 24-7 we now know is the cognitive equivalent of coming to work drunk. The trick for getting enough sleep is planning ahead and powering down at a reasonable time.

Keeping your mobile next to your bed

Another key to getting better sleep is not letting outside influencers impair your sleep. The LED screens of our smartphones, tablets, and laptops, for example, give off what is called blue light, which studies have shown can damage vision and suppress production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the sleep cycle.

Research also suggests that people with lower melatonin levels are more prone to depression.

Skipping breakfast

Our minds and our bodies are connected in a number of important ways, and getting the fuel we needs doesn’t just mean resting up.

By the time you wake up you likely haven’t eaten for 10 or 12 hours, which is where breakfast got its name – it means ‘breaking the fast’.

Your first meal of the day is what kick-starts your metabolism and replenishes blood-sugar levels so you can focus and be productive throughout the day. When blood-sugar levels are low, it’s much harder to focus and you’re more likely to feel tired, irritable, and impatient.

Eating junk food for lunch 

Similarly, maintaining energy levels also requires eating a balanced lunch. High-fat, high-sugar lunches make us sleepy and have low energy by 3 pm. so it’s important to go heavy on the protein and healthy fats and easy on the carbs when choosing what you eat for lunch.

Multitasking

While many people believe they’re great at doing two things at once, scientific research has found that just 2% of the population is capable of effectively multitasking. For the rest of us, multitasking is a bad habit that decreases our attention spans and makes us less productive in the long run.

Checking mails throughout the day 

Constant internet access can also lead people to check email throughout the day. Sadly, each time you do this, you lose up to 25 minutes of work time. What’s more, the constant checking of email makes you dumber. Instead, strategy consultant Ron Friedman suggests quitting Outlook, closing email tabs, and turning off your phone for 30-minute chunks of deep-diving work.

Moral licensing

Whether it’s a new diet, workout routine, or work schedule, one of the most difficult things about forming a new habit is the urge to cheat as a reward for sticking to a routine for a while. This idea that we “deserve” to splurge on fancy meal after being thrifty for a week is called “moral licensing,” and it undermines a lot of people’s plans for self-improvement.

Instead, try making your goal part of your identity, such that you think of yourself as the kind of person who saves money or works out regularly, rather than as someone who is working against their own will to do something new.

Putting off the most important work until later in the day

People often start off their day by completing easy tasks to get themselves rolling and leave n their more difficult work for later. This is a bad idea, and one that frequently leads to the important work not getting done at all. As researchers have found, people have a limited amount of willpower that decreases throughout the day. That being the case, it’s best to get your hardest, most important tasks done at the beginning of the day.

Taking too many meetings

Nothing disrupts the flow of productivity like an unnecessary meeting. And with tools like email, instant messenger, and video chat at your fingertips, it’s best to use meetings for introductions and serious discussions that should only be held in person. BlueGrace Logistics founder Bobby Harris recommends that people don’t accept a meeting unless the person who requested it has put forth a clear agenda and stated exactly how much time they will need. And even then, Harris recommends giving the person half of the time they initially requested.

Sitting all day

Nilofer Merchant, a business consultant and the author of “The New How: Creating Business Solutions Through Collaborative Strategy Paperback,” shares with TED audiences how she’s helped several major companies develop successful new ideas: walking meetings. She recommends forgoing coffee or fluorescent-lighted conference-room meetings in favor of walking and talking 20 to 30 miles a week.

“You’ll be surprised at how fresh air drives fresh thinking, and in the way that you do, you’ll bring into your life an entirely new set of ideas,” she says.

Failing to prioritize

Some people think having lots of goals is the best way to ensure success — if one idea fails, at least there are plenty more in reserve to turn to. Unfortunately, this sort of wavering can be extremely unproductive. Warren Buffett has the perfect antidote. Seeing that his personal pilot was not accomplishing his life goals, Buffett asked him to make a list of 25 things he wanted to get done before he died. But rather than taking little steps toward completing every one of them, Buffett advised the pilot to pick five things he thought were most important and ignore the rest.

Over-planning

Many ambitious and organized people try to maximize their productivity by meticulously planning out every hour of their day. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned, and a sick child or unexpected assignment can throw a wrench into their entire day.

Instead, you might want to try planning just four or five hours of real work each day, that way you’re able to be flexible later on.

Under-planning

With that being said, you should take time to strategize before attempting to achieve any long-term goals. Trying to come up with the endgame of a project you’re doing midway through the process can be extremely frustrating and waste a huge amount of time. Harvard lecturer Robert Pozen recommends that you first determine what you want your final outcome to be, then lay out a series of steps for yourself. Once you’re halfway through, you can review your work to make sure you’re on track and adjust accordingly.

Perfectionism

More often than laziness the root of procrastination is the fear of not doing a good job, says British philosopher and author Alain de Botton on his website, The Book of Life. “We begin to work only when the fear of doing nothing at all exceeds the fear of not doing it very well.. And that can take time,” he writes. The only way to overcome procrastination is to abandon perfectionism and not fuss over details as you move forward. Pretending the task doesn’t matter and that it’s Ok to mess up could help you get started faster.

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Work smarter, not harder to enhance productivity.

work smarter

Management by punishing: Probably not the best solution to increase labor productivity.

punnishing

Multitasking severely damages your productivity.

multitasking

Productivity growth and higher salaries are closely linked.

productivity

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