As workers, we are obsessed with getting stuff done. It is then clear why there seems to be a bottomless well full of advice, hacks, tools, tricks, and secrets to help us pack more into the waking hours.
According to IBISWorld research, productivity software alone accounts for an $82 billion market.
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In the late 18th and early 19th century, during the Industrial Revolution, machines moved production from handmade in the home to factories. A frenzy of producing more goods more quickly became a kind of national pastime.
Low-wage factory workers, many of whom were children, toiled in unsafe conditions for decades before labor unions put measures in place to protect workers from the excesses of the push for productivity.
By 1850, day planners were proliferating. Productivity became inexorably linked to the virtue of working hard.
Etiquette manuals of the era suggested that the daily planner was a means for self-improvement.
In the frenzy to be more productive, we have become less so.The procedures and methods in use are over a decade old. Until more robots and AI are incorporated to take over rote tasks, the downward trend will continue.
The personal productivity craze got worse due to capitalism, as the essential needs of the population skyrocketed.
Self-help books and gurus cashed in on the productivity craze, as people were promised a sense of control and meaning in their lives.
Employees also have other concerns that hamper productivity and efficiency. It may be personal problems, a lack of will to work, or any other factor not in a manager's control.
The modern workforce enables employees to be the means of production themselves, using their knowledge, expertise and experience. The output is the quality of the results and the creative decisions made in a day.
Capitalization was key to the rise of economic indicators. Upper-class Americans began to put their wealth into new financial assets. They began to see their society as a capitalized investment and the people as capital that could be used to increase wealth.
In the North, such investments took the form of urban real estate and companies that were building railroads. Investors were putting money in communities they had no other interest in. A national business class emerged that cared less about moral statistics than about the town's industrial output, population growth, real-estate prices, labor costs, and per-capita productivity. In the South, enslaved people became pieces of capital that could be mortgaged, rented, insured, and sold.