Productivity, Tech and Business

Factors of Production: The Age of Knowledge

We are living through disconcerting times. Negative interest rates for bonds while hedge funds, venture capital firms and big technology players return double digits. Stagnating wages for the middle class, at the same time as engineers are hired with six-figure salaries just out of school, and companies claim they can’t find workers to fill positions. Polarization in land values, with San Francisco, London or Hong Kong becoming really expensive, while most areas lose value. What is happening? Is this just a phase?

I will argue this is the new normal, and we need to adapt to it. Knowledge has become a key factor of production and it heavily affects the returns of Capital, Labor and Land. This has been a long time in the making. Peter Drucker already used the term knowledge worker sixty years ago in The Landmarks of Tomorrow (1959) and knowledge economy fifty years ago in The Age of Discontinuity (1969). As Carlota Perez claims in her Technology Revolutions and Financial Capital, the full maturation of both ideas has taken half a century.

Let’s explore how each factor of production has been affected and what are the returns and dynamics of Knowledge itself. Along the way, we will mention Attention, a new type of Labor that is emerging as a factor of production.

Capital: so abundant as to be free

We are facing an apparent contradiction. Bond yields have gone negative for almost half of all bonds issued. My own country, Spain, and our neighbour, Portugal, have almost zero rates for its 10-year bonds. Ten years ago they were facing default and intervention. Danish banks have started offering negative interest mortgages and charging for deposits. At the same time, returns to Capital are higher than ever since the 1920s and they have compressed returns to Labor to all-time lows. Some VCs, PEs and hedge funds create outsize returns for their investors. The large tech monopolies (Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Apple) have all averaged huge total returns that have made them the most valuable companies ever. New software unicorns are minted every week.

To reconcile both extremes we have to differentiate based on how much Knowledge is injected with the Capital.

  • Plain Capital. Most Capital is deployed requiring little or no Knowledge. Anyone can buy a German bond, invest in a mortgage backed by a good property or deposit cash in a bank that is insured by the government. It has no risk, so it requires no Knowledge. There is more Capital without Knowledge than we can employ, so the new normal is negative interest rates for relatively riskless Capital.
  • Knowledge Capital. Some Capital is deployed requiring a very high amount of Knowledge to make it productive. Venture Capital investing, advanced Hedge Fund strategies, high Knowledge companies or successful Private Equity investing, all require high stocks of Knowledge. Thus they can earn very high returns. At the same time, they have very high dispersion. Some Knowledge is right and other is wrong. The challenge is how to differentiate, “good Knowledge” (e.g. Warren Buffet) from “bad Knowledge” (e.g. Bernie Madoff) from the outside and be able to pick the winners.

This new world in which Plain Capital by itself earns negative returns and Knowledge Capital can earn outsized returns breeds inequality. Silicon Valley VCs, New York hedge funds and London PEs can all make a killing. Large pools of capital, like wealthy individuals, family offices or endowments, have access to Knowledge Capital investment opportunities. But the average saver is mostly limited to Plain Capital or to trying to pick Knowledge Capital from limited sources. At the same time, it challenges our financial system which is based on positive interest rates for Plain Capital.

Labor: Knowledge winners and Plain losers

In the Labor front, we are facing a similar situation to Capital. On the one side, life is tough for Labor. Labor share of GDP has been dropping precipitously. Most workers are seeing their jobs automated, shifted off-shore or face so much competition that their wages are deflating. On the other hand, we have a very tight Labor market with firms claiming they have millions of unfilled specialist jobs and that the war for talent is more intense than ever. Engineers and data scientists in Silicon Valley command astronomical starting salaries while clerks and factory workers everywhere are facing wage deflation.

Again, to understand this phenomenon we need to look at the impact of Knowledge on Labor. We will explore the different types of Labor based on how much value they add:

  • Attention Labor. A new type of Labor is starting to emerge. Attention is very important for companies like advertisers or software developers. It is used to generate revenue by selling advertisement of products and services, and also to generate information that improves products or feeds AI algorithms. Attention Labor is still very low value at an individual level (maybe in the hundreds of dollars per year in the developed world), however, it has become very important in aggregate. The free Attention Labor Facebook or Google collect from the usage of their products is what constitutes a very important component of their competitive advantage. We pay Facebook, Google, TV channels, and other “free” services with almost 12 hours of media consumption and smartphone use per day, our Attention Labor.
  • Plain Labor. Most Labor requires very little widely available Knowledge. Jobs that require high school level or even basic university-level skills are in this category. Inmigration and the ability to globalize work has made Plain Labor widely available at very low prices. The educated billions of China and India have competed away wages from the developed world, and Africa stands ready to step in whenever Asia is exhausted. If globalization was not enough, we are seeing the rise of the Digital Worker that automates the work of Plain Labor. Under these twin pressures, the wages for Plain Labor are plummeting creating inequality and social disruption. Plain Labor can expect their children to have less economic opportunity than they did if they live in the developed world.
  • Knowledge Labor. Some Labor is combined with substantial Knowledge. Thus it manages to keep its value and its scarcity allows it to command substantial wages. These are the software engineers, surgeons, M&A bankers, salespeople, coaches, consultants, product managers, data scientists, blockchain experts and many others. They represent the millions of jobs that companies cannot recruit for. However, the advantage is fleeting, these workers are only as valuable as the scarcity of their Knowledge. If the Knowledge becomes widespread (think Excel) or if it becomes embedded in technology (think the London map and cab drivers) they become Plain Labor. So Knowledge Labor manages to capture substantial returns but lives in continuous uncertainty and need for renewal. This renewal might partly come from education, but on-the-job learning is the most important component. So workers face a catch-22 situation as they need to be part of Knowledge Labor in order to develop the skills required to be part of it. At the same time, they are forced to work long hours to keep the Knowledge advantage they have painstakingly built.
  • Knowledge Capital Labor. Finally, at the top of the pyramid, we have the people whose Labor infuses Capital with Knowledge. These are the hedge fund managers, private equity partners, startup CEOs, financial derivatives traders and technology executives. They can have such a disproportionate effect on the return on Capital given negative interest rates that they are rewarded for their work at a level never seen before. That is why we see the 0.1% capture an ever-increasing share of income. They are in a privileged position, but not completely immune to automation (think trading rooms substituted by algorithmic trading) or to obsolescence (think Blackberry or Nokia executives). It is a difficult club to join, with the catch-22 situation being even more extreme than with Knowledge Work. The only way to demonstrate relevant Knowledge is by managing Capital, and to manage Capital you need to demonstrate relevant Knowledge or have the Capital available. Getting and staying in the club can be gruelling. Knowledge Capital Labor has a lot of very wealthy members, that work extremely hard to keep their advantage and reputation.

This split of Labor into four different categories, two of them very difficult to enter, is stratifying society at a rapid pace. This increasing inequity is causing substantial tension in all societies, and especially in advanced democracies.

Land: from fertile fields to favourable school districts

Land continues to be valuable for some traditional uses like agriculture or resource extraction. However, a new use has emerged. Some areas, like San Francisco or London, have become Knowledge hubs. They allow people to access better Knowledge and better high-value Labor opportunities. Consequently, these areas have become extremely valuable, as the economic consequences of living in them are momentous. The Knowledge Hub effect can be found in many cities beyond San Francisco or London, even if in most it is to a lesser degree.

This has been a boon to the owners of that Land, which used to be significantly less valuable. They can extract a significant share of the economic value created by the Knowledge hubs in terms of rents. The extra income that Knowledge Labor and even Plain Labor can capture in San Francisco or London mostly goes to pay Land owners directly through rent and indirectly through rent embedded in the prices of services and products.

The death of distance might come one day and undo this effect. But for now, technology has brought an unprecedented windfall for Land owners in Knowledge hubs. It is also concentrating Labor that wants to develop the required Knowledge to play in the two upper categories in special hotspots around the world. Again, this is feeding stratification and inequity and it is creating significant tension between nation-states and regions as Knowledge hubs “hollow up” the rest of the regions.

Knowledge: implicit, explicit and mutable

Knowledge takes many different forms that we are still trying to understand. For sure a large part of it is implicit in the brains of the Knowledge Workers that use it. There is also implicit Knowledge in the processes and culture of organizations. The Apple Way or the Netflix Values or Google’s Knowledge of how modern computing works have demonstrated their capability to generate returns. This implicit Knowledge is turning the balance sheet of most companies increasingly immaterial, with property, plant and equipment representing a diminishing proportion of a company’s assets. There has been explicit Knowledge for more than a century already in the form of patents and copyright-protected content, which allow their owners to earn licensing fees. At the same time, digital technology is allowing Knowledge to be made explicit and codified at a faster rate. Any software product, like Windows, Google search or Salesforce.com, is very valuable Knowledge rendered explicit. Machine Learning models and datasets also represent codified Knowledge, which will be increasingly valuable as AI comes of age.

The other thing we know about Knowledge is that it is mutable and can be rendered obsolete or commonplace very quickly. Digital maps and navigation have substantially lowered the value of the London taxi drivers Knowledge of the city’s complex web of streets. Nokia had extremely valuable Knowledge instantiated in its phones, that was rendered obsolete by the iPhone in less than five years. Traders and Hedge Fund managers have been forced to evolve their algorithms based on human decision making to fully programmed ones that require different skills.

What is clear is that Knowledge is the key production factor in today’s world. It not only creates returns for itself but also heavily skews the returns of the traditional factors of production.

Conclusions

Giving this context, populism is no surprise. The majority of people don’t have access to Knowledge and are capturing a shrinking portion of the pie both from their work and savings. Trends only lead to further stratification. Knowledge Capital favours large pools of Capital, penalizing heavily the returns of small savers. Knowledge Labor and Knowledge Capital Labor are self-reinforcing making it very difficult to join them. Trying to restrict immigration or technology seems the only solution to protect the value of Plain Labor. This has brought radical options like Brexit or the Mexico Wall to mainstream acceptance. Trying to restrict capital flow to protect Plain Capital is more difficult to address because governments are dependent on low interest rates to finance their huge debt piles.

On the other side, Knowledge Capital Labor, and to a lesser extent Knowledge Labor, are very happy with the economic outcomes of the current situation. They see it as a fair consequence of their own Knowledge they work hard to develop and maintain. Becoming a millionaire or even a billionaire is now within the realm of possibility for some regardless of initial wealth. Solutions like the Universal Basic Income and free access to services are a way to secure a minimum return to Plain Labor and Attention Labor. However, they don’t address the deeper problem of meaning, and the human need to meaningful Labor.

At the same time, incredibly we are living in a time of crisis, with problems like climate change, ecological degradation, poverty and a renewed threat of conflict, maybe even nuclear conflict. Living in a world with an abundance of Capital, Labor and Land and not solving the world’s pressing problems seems incredibly stupid. We need to get our act together and mobilize our incredible resources to ensure a sustainable Earth, and maybe even reach beyond Earth. If not, we might see our stocks of Capital, Labor, Land and Knowledge quickly diminish and go back to the starting point very quickly.

Productivity

Walking the most accessible miracle drug

walking
IMG: Mysitemyway

Walking has incredible health benefits, helps with other health keystone habits and is very easy to integrate with your daily life. So get walking!

 

(En Español aquí)

It has become fashionable for wellness writers to claim that some habits are miracle drugs. This means that the proven health benefits of these habits are so significant that they would be accorded top blockbuster status if they were a new pharmaceutical compound. The most cited habit-based miracle drugs are four: sleep, meditation, nutrition and walking. And it is true that there is wide consensus and scientific evidence for the four of them.

Walking is the most accessible of the four and can be used as a keystone habit to reach the rest. Walking is something you can do in a lot of contexts and can even give you back time if you structure it well. Walking also helps sleep, can be the medium in which you meditate and will help you deal with calorie intake.

Walking is good because we were built as walking machines. Humans in our original hunter-gatherer lifestyles walked an estimated 6 to 16km each day. The most extended magic number for walking is the 10.000 steps per day (6–9km depending on your stride length) that the American Heart Association recommends and has been popularized by health trackers such as Fitbit. This number will give most of the health benefits associated with walking: a significant risk reduction in the most prevalent chronic diseases in the developed world (heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, high cholesterol, depression, Alzheimer’s) and also a mood boost each day. It is also a form of exercise with very limited impact on your joints according to traumatology specialists.

Why would not get all these great benefits? The typical answer is lack of time and habit. 10.000 steps can amount to one to two hours of walking depending on your speed. While this might seem challenging to include in your daily schedule, walking is surprisingly flexible and can actually help your efficiency and enjoyment. Walking is also free, so it is great for your budget, no gym fees or equipment needed.

As we will see getting your walking is mostly about being organized and embedding walking in many of your daily activities. Even improving your efficiency and enjoyment in some of them.

Ways in which you can embed walking in your day to day:

  • Walking for transportation. The most basic use is just walking instead of taking the car or public transit. This is highly dependent on your commutes, but if you can’t walk the whole distance it is often possible to walk part of it. This is increasingly easy with the hireable vehicles (e.g. Car2Go) that are making their way into cities.
  • Walking for social interactions. A second very typical use is taking a walk with someone instead of having coffee. It will be cheaper, healthier and you will be paying more attention to your friend or loved one. It does have a small social learning curve, as people are not as used to it, but it is good for both! I have found walking triggers the best conversations with my daughters.
  • Walking for meetings or discussions. A surprising use when you take it to a work setting is to have a walk for a small meeting or discussion. In this case, it is important to have a clear route so you can devote all your brainpower to the meeting and control its time. The killer argument to convince people of this is that Steve Jobs used to do it. I still haven’t found someone who doesn’t want to be like Jobs.
  • Walking for talking on the phone. This one is great. Talking on the phone is something some of us do a lot, and that we often do in a distracted state. Walking is the best guarantee that you won’t be looking at your phone or answering email on your computer. The conversation will get your full undivided attention, you will be surprised how more productive you will get. Noise is the great issue, so get a headset and find one with great noise cancellation. For some people, this is worth tens of thousands of steps a week.
  • Walking for reading or consuming content. This is very dependent on your personal habits, as audiobooks and podcasts are not for everyone. Find what works for you. Why be sitting when reading or watching youtube if you can be walking around? You can even watch TV on the walk, just pick a safe route.
  • Walking for thinking. Walking is absolutely great if you need to think. You concentrate more easily and your brain works better on the move. Just remember to take something to write it all down.
  • Walking for meditation. I find sitting meditation very challenging. However, walking meditation works great. Maybe this is your ticket to physical and mental health through meditation.

I would love to hear all other ideas on how to integrate walking in your daily life. Let me share two things I haven’t been able to mesh with walking yet:

  • Working on a computer. I’ve heard about standing desks and tried voice interfaces, but not working for me yet.
  • Large-scale or document-based meetings. If you go beyond three people or need to review a document the walking meeting becomes awkward. Ideas welcome.

On the whole, walking can help you greatly as a keystone habit that has tremendous health benefits, so get going. For me, the trigger was getting a Fitbit, which makes you aware of your real walking. Basic models are quite affordable. You can track it with your smartphone but is not the same. From there, start setting goals and engineering your day to get to them.

Español, Productivity

Haz camino al andar

walkingCaminar tiene increíbles beneficios para la salud, ayuda con otros hábitos clave y es muy fácil de integrar con su vida diaria. Así que camina!

Se ha puesto de moda hablar de algunos hábitos como “medicinas milagro”. Esto significa que los beneficios probados para la salud de estos hábitos son tan significativos que se les otorgaría el estatus de superblockbuster si fueran un fármaco. Las drogas milagrosas más citadas basadas en el hábito son cuatro: sueño, meditación, nutrición y caminar. Y es cierto que existe un amplio consenso y evidencia científica para los cuatro.

Caminar es el más accesible de los cuatro y podría ser utilizado como un hábito llave para alcanzar el resto. Caminar es algo que puedes hacer en muchos contextos e incluso puede devolverte el tiempo si lo estructuras bien. Caminar también ayuda a dormir, puede ser la forma de meditar y ayudar a lidiar con el consumo de calorías.

Caminar es bueno porque nos construyeron como máquinas para caminar. Los seres humanos en nuestro estilo de vida original de cazadores recolectores caminaban unos 6 a 16 km diarios. El número mágico más extendido para caminar es los 10.000 pasos por día (6-9 kilometros dependiendo de su longitud del paso) que la Asociación Americana del Corazón recomienda y ha sido popularizado por los fitness trackers tales como Fitbit. Estos pasos dan la mayoría de los beneficios para la salud asociados con caminar: una reducción significativa del riesgo en las enfermedades crónicas más prevalentes en el mundo desarrollado (enfermedades del corazón, hipertensión, diabetes, artritis, colesterol alto, depresión, Alzheimer). También es una forma de ejercicio con un impacto muy limitado en sus articulaciones según los especialistas en traumatología.

¿Por qué no obtener todos estos  beneficios? La respuesta típica es falta de tiempo y el hábito. 10.000 pasos pueden representar una o dos horas de ejercicio dependiendo de la velocidad. Si bien esto puede parecer difícil de incluir en el día a día, caminar es sorprendentemente flexible. Caminar también es gratis, no hay cargos de gimnasio. Como veremos conseguir caminar depende de estar organizado porque puede integrarse en muchas actividades diarias. Incluso mejorando su eficiencia y disfrute en algunos de ellos.

Formas en las que puedes incorporar caminar en tu día a día:

  • Caminar como medio de transporte. El uso más básico es caminar justo en lugar de tomar el coche o el transporte público. Esto depende de los desplazamientos, y si no se puede caminar toda la distancia a menudo es posible caminar parte de ella. Esto es cada vez más fácil con los vehículos de alquiler (por ejemplo, Car2Go) que están volviendose populares en las ciudades.
  • Caminar para tener reuniones o conversaciones. Un uso sorprendente es tener reuniones o conversaciones caminando. Es importante tener una ruta clara para poder concentrarse en la conversación y tener controlado el tiempo. El argumento ganador es que Steve Jobs solía hacerlo. No he encontrado a nadie que no quiera ser como Steve Jobs todavia.
  • Caminar hablando por teléfono. Este es genial. Hablar por teléfono es algo que algunos de nosotros hacemos mucho, y a menudo distraidos de la conversación. Caminar es la mejor garantía de no mirar el teléfono o contestar correos. La conversación recibirá toda la atención, y la productividad subirá radicalmente. El ruido es el gran problema, así que es básico un manos libres con cancelación de ruido. Para algunas personas, esto representa decenas de miles de pasos a la semana.
  • Caminar para leer o consumir contenido. Depende mucho de los gustos personales, audiolibros y podcasts no son para todos. Pero a mucha gente le funciona. ¿Por qué estar sentado al leer o ver youtube si puede estar caminando? Incluso se puede ver la televisión caminando, simplemente hay que elegir una ruta segura.
  • Caminar para pensar. Caminar es absolutamente genial si tienes que pensar. Se mejora la concentración y el cerebro funciona mejor en movimiento. Sólo hay que recordar tomar algo para escribirlo todo.
  • Caminar para meditar. Encuentro la meditación sentada muy dificil. Sin embargo, la meditación caminando funciona muy bien. Tal vez este es el boleto a la salud física y mental.

Me encantaría escuchar todas las demás ideas sobre cómo integrar caminar en su vida diaria. Permítanme compartir dos cosas que no he sido capaz de integrar con caminar todavía:

  • Trabajar en el ordenador. He oído hablar de los “standing desks” y he intentado las interfaces de voz, pero no me funciona todavía.
  • Reuniones grandes o con documentos. Más allá de tres personas o con documentos caminar se vuelve incómodo para una reunión. Ideas bienvenidas

En conjunto, caminar puede ayudar mucho como un hábito llave que tiene beneficios de salud tremendos. Así que, ponte a andar. Para mí, el disparador del hábito vino con un Fitbit, que te hace consciente de cuantos pasos das. Los modelos básicos son bastante asequibles. También se puede empezar con el teléfono aunque no es lo mismo. A partir de ahí empezar a establecer metas y la diseñar tu día para llegar a ellas.

Español, Productivity

3 “life hacks” que me han funcionado

lifehacks

Hoy en día es fácil encontrar innumerables libros y artículos sobre hábitos para aumentar la productividad, la salud o la felicidad. Se ha convertido en una verdadera industria, con un diluvio de opciones, e incluso se ha inventado una nueva palabra, “life hacks”. Siendo un nerd del crecimiento personal, con el tiempo he leído y probado un gran número de life hacks. Para mí el test del algodon  es si alguien lo ha incorporado con éxito. Incorporarlo con éxito significa que el life hack puede integrarse prácticamente en tu día a día, se convierte en habito y te mejora mucho. Incorporar un hack con éxito es una barra alta a superar.

Quiero compartir 3 life hacks que yo he incorporado con éxito.

1. Bandeja de Entrada Cero

Desde que recibí mi primera cuenta de correo electrónico en 1996 comencé a ser inundado por correo electrónico. También he luchado con las distracciones y la gestión de tareas. Con el tiempo he construido un sistema simple para hacer frente a esos tres problemas que llamo Bandeja de Entrada Cero. Para construirlo tomé de muchas fuentes, pero la mayor inspiración es un gran libro, “Getting Things Done” de David Allen.

Inbox Zero Management consiste en un sistema de gestión de carpetas para todas mis cuentas de correo electrónico que me permite procesar el correo electrónico y darme control sobre mis tareas pendientes. Tengo seis carpetas para mis cuentas personales y de trabajo. #Acción es para cosas que tengo que tomar acción inmediata, normalmente durante el día. #EstaSemana es para cosas que requieren acción a corto plazo. #AlgunMomento es para los cosas que quiero hacer en algún momento, pero no son urgentes. #Leer es para el contenido que quiero leer. #Seguir es para las cosas que he delegado o que requieren la acción de alguien más, y que tengo que asegurar que sucedan. Procesado es para los correos que no requieren mi atención ya.
Trato de llegar a bandeja de entrada cero cada día procesando el correo electrónico en lotes, por lo general dos o tres veces al día en un PC. También uso los tiempos de espera para procesar correo en mi dispositivo móvil. Mi rutina de procesamiento es simple. Si puedo hacerlo inmediatamente (<1-5 minutos dependiendo del contexto) lo hago y llevo el correo electrónico a procesado. Si no, lo pongo en la carpeta correcta. También me escribo correos electrónicos a mí mismo para nuevas acciones que necesito ejecutar, no uso listas de tareas más allá de mis carpetas de correo electrónico. Cuando tengo tiempo para trabajar, tomo primero la carpeta #Acción, luego #EstaSemana, luego #AlgunMomento, correo a correo. Cuando viajo leo los artículos de  #Leer, imprimiendo de antemano si el formato electrónico no funciona bien (por ejemplo, los aviones). Una vez a la semana voy a través de # Seguir. Eso es todo.

Esta rutina me ha permitido aumentar mi productividad, siempre sé lo que debo hacer a continuación. También me ha dado paz mental ya que rara vez se me escapan tareas. El placer de ir moviendo los correos a Procesados también es importante. Crea tu sistema, te merece la pena sólo por la paz mental antes de ir a dormir

2. Eliminar la cafeína

Solía ​​beber mucha cafeína en forma de Coca-Cola y café. Después de leer sobre nutrición llegué a la convicción de que era como la deuda de tarjeta de crédito para mis niveles de energía, energía a corto plazo que se pago muy cara rápidamente.

Decidí eliminar la cafeína; me dio dolores de cabeza durante un par de semanas, pero la sustitución de café por descafeinado lo hizo fácil socialmente. Me ha dado niveles de energía mucho más estables y más altos. No hay duda de que el “Retorno sobre la Energía” de esta decisión es positivo cada. Como de siempre nada es gratis y el supuesto subidón que obtenemos con cada ración de cafeína se paga muy caro después. Elimina la cafeína hoy, es una gran decisión. No se lo tienes que decir a nadie, sólo tomar descafeinado (esto puede ser difícil en Latam donde el descafeinado todavía no está ampliamente disponible).

3. Organización el tiempo

Solía ​​ser un desastre en términos de tiempos. No tenía hábitos regulares para dormir o trabajar. Hasta que me encontré con el concepto de “crunch de container” en un curso de gestión del tiempo. La premisa es que si hay límites definidos para el trabajo eres mucho más eficiente. Conecté esto a los horarios regulares del sueño gracias a mi mujer.

Con el tiempo diseñé mi día para satisfacer mis necesidades profesionales y personales. No siempre es perfecto, pero sé cual es mi objetivo. Ahora un día típico de la semana de trabajo se parece a esto:

6:30 Despertar y rutina de la mañana (si estoy muy liado me levanto más temprano para adelantar)

7:00 Desayuno para los niños y prepararlos para ir al cole

7:50 Dejar a los niños en el autobús escolar e ir a trabajar

8-20 Trabajo (con su propia organización)

20-20: 30 Tiempo con los niños hasta que se van a dormir

20: 30-21:00 Cena con mi mujer

21:00-22:30 Relajación, correr, trabajar si hay mucho lio

22:30 Ir a la cama y leer un poco

El horario regular de sueño es realmente valioso para mi, antes no dormía suficiente y lo pagaba. Pasar tiempo todos los días como mi familia y mi pareja es fundamental para mí. Tener una hora de inicio y finalización del trabajo me permite ser mucho más productivo. Solía ​​perder mucho tiempo cuando el trabajo no tenía un final, ahora sé que tengo que ser más productivo. ¿Cómo tienes organizado tu tiempo?

Productivity

3 life hacks that have worked for me

lifehacks

Nowadays it is easy to find countless books and articles about habits to increase productivity, health or happiness. It has become a real cottage industry, with a deluge of options, and there has even been a term coined, “life hacks”. Being a life improvement nerd, over time I have read about and tried a large number of life hacks. To me, the acid test is if someone has implemented it successfully for themselves. Successful implementation means the life hack can be integrated practically into your life, it sticks over time and makes a substantial difference. Successful implementation is indeed a high bar.

I want to share 3 life hacks that have passed this test for me.

1.      Inbox Zero Management

Since I got my first email account in 1996 I started to be swamped by email. I have also struggled with procrastination and to-do management. Over time I have built a simple system to deal with those three problems through a system I call Inbox Zero Management.  To build it I took from many sources, but the biggest inspiration is a great book, “Getting Things Done” by David Allen.

Inbox Zero Management consists of a folder management system for all my email accounts that allows me to process email and ensure I am on top of all my to dos. I have six folders for my personal and work accounts. #Action is for items I have to take immediate action on, usually during the day. #This Week is for items that require short term action. #Sometime is for items that I want to get around doing at some point, but are not urgent. #Read is for content I want to read. #Follow up is for items I have delegated or that require action from someone else but in which I need to ensure they happen. Processed is for items that don’t require my attention any longer.

I try to get to zero inbox every day by processing email in batches, usually two or three times per day on a PC. I usually use waiting times to get ahead on my mobile device. My processing routine is simple. If I can get something done immediately (<1-5 minutes depending on context) I do it and take the email to Processed. If not, I put it in the right folder. I will also write emails to myself for new actions I need to execute, I don’t use to do lists beyond my email folders.

When I have time to work I take first the #Action folder, then #This Week, then #Sometime, email by email. When I am going to travel I go through my #Read items, printing beforehand if electronic format won’t work well (e.g. airplanes). Once a week I go through my #Follow up emails. That’s it.

This routine has allowed me to increase my productivity, I always know what I should be doing next. It has also given me peace of mind as I rarely miss required actions that fall into my system. Put together your system, just the peace of mind before you go to sleep pays for it.

2.      Eliminating caffeine

I used to drink a lot of caffeine in the form of both Coke and coffee. After reading about nutrition I got to the conviction that it was like taking on credit card debt for my energy levels, short term highs that you pay dearly for quickly. I decided to go cold on caffeine; it gave me headaches for a couple of weeks but substituting coffee by decaf made it easier socially.

It has given me much steadier and overall higher energy levels. There is no doubt about it that the “Return on Energy” of this decision gets you to pay back every day. As usual, there is no free lunch and the supposed high we get with every caffeine shot is paid dearly afterward. Drop caffeine today, it is a great decision. You don’t need to tell anyone, just take decaf (this can be difficult in Latam were decaf is still not widely available).

3.      Organizing the time container

I used to be a mess in terms of times. I wouldn’t keep regular habits for sleep or work. Then, I came across the concept of “crunching the container” in a time management course. The premise is that if there are definite limits to your work you will be much more efficient. I connected this to regular sleep schedules thanks to my wife.

Over time I designed my day to suit my professional and personal needs. It is not always perfect, but I know what I aim for. Now a typical work week day looks like this:

6:30 Wake up and morning routine (if it is really hectic wake up earlier to catch up)

7:00 Getting the kids breakfast and prepared for school

7:50 Drop the kids at the school bus and head to work

8-20 Work (with its own organization)

20-20:30 Time back home with the kids until they go to sleep

20:30-21:00 Dinner with my wife

21:00-22:30 Relaxation, running, work if it is a hectic period

22:30 Go to bed and read a little

Regular sleep times are really good for me to be rested and refreshed, sleep is really valuable and I didn’t get enough of it. Spending time every day as a family and a couple is precious for me. Having a clear start time and end time for work allows me to be a lot more productive. I used to waste a lot of time when work didn’t have an end time, now I know I have to get stuff done quickly. So, how is your time container?

(En Español aquí)