Posts Tagged ‘Productivity’

Willpower and MotivationPhoto license

Willpower is doing whatever it takes to reach your long term goals. It is also avoiding what you should not do. It is both achievement and abstinence.

Self-discipline has been found to be a key factor in success. You can succeed without it, of course. Maybe you’ll luck out on a good job or have a nice lotto win. Joking and luck aside, you are more likely to achieve what you want when you have strong willpower.

Steps in using willpower:

1. Decide why you want to change, your motivation, and set clear goals.

2. Monitor your actions as you move toward those goals.

3. Exercise your willpower to keep on track.

Willpower is cognitive, not emotional. Don’t let your emotions take over. If you’re guided by what you feel like doing, you’ll go off track. What is your goal? What must you do to achieve it? It doesn’t matter how you feel about the task right now. It’s how you will feel when you succeed. Let logic win.


Too Much EducationPhoto license

Are we getting too much education today or is it the same education as in the past drawn out over a longer period of time so that everyone passes?

My grandfather had a grade five education, started out with his own business, later went into government where he set up medicare for an entire province among other things, and eventually became a mayor.

My father had a high school diploma, went in for manual labor and factory work, and retired with a pension.

I have a university degree and will need to work until I die.

Untangling Education versus Pay

Part of the change over the generations described above is due to recessions or depressions appearing about every ten years. Those have kept wages down while raising the cost of living.

The result has been that more and more education is needed to get a job that just pays the bills. Thanks to student loans, it can be a long time before those better paying jobs make a difference in your bank account. Many choose to stop at high school and get by on minimum wage or enter the welfare system.

But that’s a separate problem. Let’s stick with the value of education.

We Were Taught More in the Past

In 1917, my then 12 year old grandmother moved to Canada from Scotland with her family. She had been in grade 9 studying calculus and algebra, among other subjects appropriate for the grade level.

When she enrolled in school in Canada she was told, “Grade 9 is too far ahead for a 12 year old. We’re putting you in grade 6.” She was disappointed to say the least. For the rest of her public education, she was at the top of her class and went on to take a one year teacher’s degree. When she went to work as a teacher, she could have been a principal but was passed over for a less qualified male teacher because, “It wouldn’t be right for a woman to be a man’s supervisor.” Yeah. It was a different world in a lot of ways.

That’s Just Scotland

Is it just Scotland? Did they start kids in school three years earlier than Canada? I think it was Europe versus North America. Maybe it still is.

Any readers from Europe who would like to comment on what grade, age, and year they found themselves studying calculus and algebra? Scottish comments could be especially revealing.

Location is not the point either. It’s how much education and how soon.

Triumph of the Unintelligent?

When I went to school in the 1960s and 70s, a 60% was required or you repeated the grade. I passed every grade with little effort. A pass was all the school and my parents demanded. Why this matters will make sense shortly.

Your Perception Becomes Your Reality

Photo license

Between jobs, in another century it seems like now, I took the worst job ever for a few months; a min wage job washing dishes in a busy restaurant. The non-stop pace began the moment I arrived. There were no breaks. Demands came from all sides; bosses, cooks, waitresses. It was go, go, go the entire shift. Everyone feels free to yell at the dish-washer when their day isn’t going well. And the hours sucked. The best dish-washer only got 25 hours per week. At first, I got less than that. The job didn’t even cover my bills.

I hated it. Even though I have a strong work ethic, am a fast learner, and am physically fit, nothing was ever good enough or fast enough. Especially not fast enough. I became faster. I learned what the needs were going to be before anyone asked. I ignored my aching back, my sore hands and feet, until after work when I would rest up while sitting at my computer writing. After an hour or two of writing, I could stand long enough to take a shower and go to bed.

I loved it, in an odd sort of way. This is where perception and reality come into the picture.

I needed to have some kind of work while I searched for my next full time job. I had landed that position so it was in my best interests to make the best of it. I could think of it as unrewarding drudge work for grumpy bosses and co-workers. Or I could think of it as a challenge.

It was unrewarding financially because it wasn’t enough hours. That gave me more hours per week for writing.

It was drudge work because that was the job and it was only a temporary part-time job anyway. The drudge work would be gone in the near future when I found my next job.

The grumpy bosses and co-workers were just venting their stress. It had nothing to do with me. I couldn’t be washing plates, washing glasses, washing buckets, refilling the vegetables, refilling the pop, and lugging sacks of flour and sugar all at the same time. I did my best to keep all of those things covered but everything would continue to run out as meals were served. I cheerfully took care of whatever task someone was letting themselves get upset about.

I kept my own frustrations to myself. The problems would be resolved. The rush would pass. The shift would end. There was no need to yell at anyone. It only increased the tension. React with a positive attitude, even if you need to fake it, and everyone gets a little less stressed, even you.


How to Break Out of a Negative Rut

If life seems to be stuck in a negative rut for you, maybe it’s time to consider what kind of world you’re living in. Is it moving you closer to realizing your goals or further away? Is it helping in some ways but distracting you in others? Sometimes friends will hold you back unintentionally. Everybody doesn’t want the same things. You can reverse direction.

Start by Finding the Negativities

If you don’t know what’s wrong, you can’t fix it. Make a list of the ways you spend your time. Include how much time you spend on each activity. Rate each as either positive, negative or neutral. You aren’t going to cut out a neutral activity, like eating, for example. You will want to do your best to get rid of the negatives. Four hours of TV every night is a negative, in case you didn’t know. An hour of TV every day is a break. Four is a waste of time. You’re zoning out when you could be accomplishing something.


You Get What You Ask For

Do you feel like you’re doing all the right things and getting all the wrong results? If you’re the only one who knows what you’re going for, there’s a good reason you aren’t seeing good results.

Your Job

If you have a job as a graphic artist, for example, and help out with technical documentation on your own time, don’t expect to be offered a technical writer position. Promotions are offered in line with your current job. You need to be explicit about what you want. Let the managers who work with technical writers know that you want to switch roles. Get their advice and take assignments from them. Study what they tell you to study to get ready for any required tests and to prepare for the change.


Don't Be A Victim

You As Victim

You make yourself a victim when you see yourself as acted upon by other people. When you believe your life is out of your control, you become passive and things happen to you. You feel sorry for yourself because you can’t do anything about the events that decide your fate. You find yourself looking for pity from others because of the bad situation you have no control over.


Your Goals Need a Path

I’m going against my usual article style and talking about my own goals in this one. I think some concrete examples are called for.

Ten years ago, I received an old 386 PC as compensation for some bookkeeping I had done for a small business. At the time, I was using an Atari 2200 computer, so this was an interesting change. The Atari had a GUI but the 386 did not. It came with all of it’s original manuals. I read them all and tried everything. It amazed me how much more I could do with this black and white text-only machine. I saw a lot of potential there and had an idea.