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.
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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.
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.
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.
'Inbox Zero' is a concept introduced by Merlin Mann, a way to handle your email by processing them to zero.
This is achieved by taking appropriate actions like filing, noting or replying, to all your emails, ensuring no unanswered emails remain to make you anxious, so you can live your life without checking email every few minutes.
Fixing employee productivity in the industrial age, when most workers were handling machinery and it’s parts, was a tedious but doable process. The managers had to fix the people who were making mistakes or were inefficient through systematic management.
Today, in the age of software and intellectual property, when half of the workforce is made up of knowledge workers, the old practices are of no use.
People in societies such as ancient Greece, imperial China, Medieval Europe, and colonial America did not measure people's well-being in terms of monetary earnings or economic output.
In the mid- 19th century, the United States and other industrializing nations such as England and Germany moved away from this historical pattern. They started to measure progress in monetary value and social welfare based on the ability to create income.