tiistai 31. tammikuuta 2023

Changing habits

 You can begin to make changes to your habits when you understand their anatomy and how you create new habits. Your old habits are automated in your brain, so changing them is harder than creating new ones. You have to understand how habits are formed in order to change them. Your habits never leave your brain, so changing them is your only chance. Changing habits requires four steps:

  1. Identify the routine

  2. Try different rewards

  3. Isolate the clue

  4. Make a plan for execution

Identifying the routine is the easiest part because it is a habit that needs changing, such as biting nails, eating sweets or shopping. Trying out rewards takes more work. The real reward may not be immediately noticed. The reward can only last for milliseconds, like a momentary change in hormone balance. Finding the right reward is the most important thing, because without it, the habit is not born. Sensations produced by the different rewards must be observed. You can either use the person following your routine or alternatively write down first feelings after receiving each award. This process can take longer, so don't be discouraged if you don't see the prize right away. The longer you wait after trying the reward, the more likely you are to make a mistake. Make a plan where you mark the prizes you tested and how you make your observations.

Once you find the right reward, you can start isolating the clue. They have similarities. They can be linked to a place, a company, a mental/physical state, the time of the clock or a previous activity. The clue is likely a combination of factors. The best way to isolate a clue is to write down all the events and conditions day after day. Let's use the example of buying sugary treats after a working day.

  • Physical clue (store or kiosk logo)

  • Location (proximity to your grocery store or kiosk on your commute)

  • Company (alone or with significant other / children)

  • Condition (hunger, fatigue after work)

  • Time (17.05 weekdays)

What to do beforehand (Travelling in a full and noisy means of transportation) Repeat marking the clues until you notice similarities. Note that these five things are not always the same. Clues can also be about single factors. After completing the first three parts, you can begin to change the habit. Understand that not all habits change easily. Reprogramming your brain is difficult. It can take a long time. You need to make a plan for change that you will implement for a long time. Since you implement your habit as follows: you notice the cue, you perform the routine to get the desired reward, for example, when buying treats, your plan must be:

  • When I am tired after a day of working and jump a bus full of people and can see a store logo (clue)

  • I Walk in and buy a product x instead of a product y (altered routine) to get a reward z

In this case, a product x is something delicious and unhealthy, while the substitute y is, for example, a banana. The received reward is the feeling from the right level of blood sugar. Repeat the aforementioned plan until you have automated it. It will take some time. The more often you have repeated the habit you want to change, the more repetitions it will need to achieve the change.

Improving chances of success

Change your habits one at a time. That way you have the best chance of success. Be patient because changes take time. The first days after the decision are easier because you are at your most determined. According to American professors who study habits, the worst moments come about three weeks after starting. When you start, modify your environment in such a way that it favors change and keeps temptations away. You can't just put treats in the cupboard at home and rely on willpower or buy them at the store and trust that you won't start eating them. Throw the temptations in the trash or donate to better homes. Don't give yourself easy opportunities to fail. Changing your environment is the single most important thing. Without it, the chances of success decrease. Later, the role of your environment will decrease.

The longer you try to change a habit, the more likely you are to fail at first attempt. Be prepared for momentary failures by thinking in advance how you will react to them. The first one doesn't mean you've killed your chance for change. Failures make you human. According to US researchers, it takes an average of seven attempts to quit smoking. Be kind to yourself when you fail and decide in advance that you will try again immediately after the trip. Make a plan for the trip as well.

Each habit is different and their formation has not yet been studied much. A study conducted at the University of London in 2009 has reached some conclusions. The study measured habit formation to the point where 95% automation was achieved. In other words, at that point the habit required no effort. The study measured changes in students' exercise habits and diets. In the study, the average result was 66 days, with the results varying between 18 and 254 days.

torstai 26. tammikuuta 2023

Habits and creating new ones

On average, about forty percent of the things you do are habits. It is impossible to determine the exact number to any individual because it would require a constant monitoring of brain activity. Most of the habits you just perform. Some of them are helpful and some harmful. Their sum can be anything. My personal experience is that changing even one bad habit can have a big positive impact. Why modification and not elimination? For the simple reason that habits are almost impossible to remove, as we will see later. Different habits have similarities and being aware of them can be beneficial. Noticing the similarities will improve chances of changing the worst habits and developing new ones.

The definition of a habit is roughly: it means a choice made in the past that you continue to make without thinking about it. Habits are formed by tasks that take place in your brain. Your brain is constantly conserving energy. The longer you perform tasks, the less the brain needs to consume. Habits can be called processes where the brain turns a series of tasks into routines. There are hundreds of task sets every day. Habits are either simple or complex. They form because your brain is constantly working to conserve energy. They reduce wasted energy and make it easier to focus on more difficult things. This means that habits don't go away, they are in our brains to stay. They can be changed by reprogramming brains. They need to be understood in order to change them.

During habits, there are two clear spikes in energy consumption in the brain. They are spotting a clue and getting a reward. Routines consume less energy the more often and longer you perform them. Clues can be anything, such as a certain time or a place. Also, visual clues such as candy shelves can trigger routines. Routines can be simple actions like nail biting or complex like analyzing investments. Their duration can be anything from milliseconds to many hours or even days. Rewards range from feel-good feelings such as pride to physical changes or hormone production. The size of the reward produces a constant desire and need to do the routine. The main reason for forming a habit is the reward. Understanding the anatomy of habits makes it possible to create new habits and change old ones.

Creating new habits

There are three parts to creating new habits:

  1. Coming up with a clear clue

  2. Defining a routine

  3. Definition of an award

All parts above are required to create a habit. The more complicated the routine is, the more precisely it must be defined, including clues and rewards. If you want to learn how to perform a new habit in the morning, you should bring the instrument with which you want to perform the habit visible on your bedside table or another place as a clue. You can bring a toothbrush if you want to learn to brush your teeth in the morning as well. If you want to start going for a morning run, bring your sneakers to bedroom door or some other visible place where you can see them when you rise up from the bed before going to sleep. The reward can be any thing that makes you feel good. It can be the good feeling you get from sports or the old great jeans that don't fit you anymore. The main thing is that the award makes you feel good. A big enough reward is the only chance to create a new habit successfully. The cue must create a desire for the reward that you get from the routine, i.e. it must be related to the routine and the reward in one way or another.

Creating new habits is much easier than changing the current ones. Next text is about the latter.


perjantai 20. tammikuuta 2023

Focus on producing the most value to you

Think about whether you can be good enough at something to be in the top ten percent. The answer is yes. It is not easy. There is no simple answer to getting there. The most effective ten percent wouldn't exist if it were easy. The process leading to it is not simple, even if there is a simple answer to the question. Top performers have the greatest efficiency. Peak efficiency means you can make more money doing less hours. This happens by doing the right things. These people generate the most added value for you and others. You can't be good at everything. You have to make wise choices.

It is better for you to be excellent at a few things than to be mediocre at many things. You should also know some things more than others. It is better than knowing as much about many things as others. Focus on core areas of expertise. Keep improving them. You're never done. Others will pass you by if you stay where you are. Nowadays, we are talking about ten thousand hours of focused training if you want to be a top performer. I agree to some extent. I believe there are shortcuts that reduce the number of hours. I also believe that ten thousand hours are not enough without talent. It can even mean double the number of hours. This may not be enough without talent if the competition is tough.

I don't think that constant training is enough to get to the top of the world if you don't have passion for what you do. Focus on your passions because they bring you the most joy and benefit. It's easier for you to enjoy the merry-go-round of good things through your passions. There are exceptions. One of them was Andre Agassi, whose father forced him to practice tennis so much that he hated it. I recommend Agassi's biography to you, where he goes through all the emotional scales that top artists experience during their lifetime.

sunnuntai 15. tammikuuta 2023

Choose for whom and with whom you work

Work for a company or client that returns a large part of the added value you produce. In addition, work with people who can increase the value of your work with their contribution. These things rise above the rest when you focus on increasing the relative benefit of your work. Focus on getting a sufficient part of the added value you produce for yourself. You have a better chance of doing this by working for yourself. Make sure that your employer or client pays primarily for the results. As an entrepreneur, don't attract too many customers. Focus on a small number of big customers. Make sure that your customers are ready to sign long contracts and focus primarily on the most important things. According to the principle of less is more, the income from a few customers is greater than from others. Never bet on just one customer.

As an employee, you must be in a workplace where people who add value are rewarded. Then you can get paid according to your results. Work in a place where you have a lot of power over your work. Only then can you focus on the work from which you and your employer will reap the greatest benefits. Choose the freedom to do your job as you see fit. If you lack freedom and have to rely on others to figure out what you can do or how to do things, you won't be able to work as efficiently as possible. Focus primarily on results, not your workload, and work in a place where getting results is the single most important thing.

Who you work with is important. Free riders or difficult people will affect your results. There are huge differences in people's work performance. The top 1% who are capable of peak performance achieve much more than the least efficient 1%. Top performers make great results even compared to mediocrity. They get more done than you think. You can learn from them and get closer to their performance by working with them. For example, in team sports, you perform better when you play with better players. When you play with the worse ones, you also become worse. Although a team is only as strong as its weakest links, they also get better when they play with better ones.

Studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of top workers. One involved thousands of employees, from mail carriers to partners in large law firms. The support was provided by John Hunter from Michigan State University and Frank Schmidt and Michael Judiesch from the University of Iowa. It compared top performers with the least efficient percent and average workers. The study found that the value of top performers increases with the increasing demands of work.

      • In simple jobs, such as the professions of machine operators and office rats, those belonging to the best percent achieved three times more than the worst.

      • In moderately difficult tasks, such as retail sales and mechanics, the best were twelve times more efficient than the worst percent.

      • The most demanding professions, such as insurance agents, sales negotiators, doctors and lawyers, were studied by comparing the most efficient percentage with average performers. On average, the best accomplish more than two average workers.

      • Those who belong to the best percent of programmers achieve the work input of almost thirteen mediocre people.

As you can see from the figures above, at least one study proves the claim that the most efficient employees are by far the biggest producers of net worth. Cherish their hard work. Make sure that they are paid well. Don't whine about pay equality. In practice, top performers must reap the most benefits of their effectiveness themselves. You're not a top performer if you can't find evidence of your top performance. In this case, get into their sphere of influence.

Aim to find top performers as an entrepreneur. Their results far exceed their costs. Pay them a lot because they are wanted. You can also try to look for people who have the potential to become top performers. You can get even more benefit from them compared to your costs. Top performers have their own thought patterns and have often come up with other, better ways of doing things. Don't immediately reject a person who behaves or thinks strangely about you.

sunnuntai 8. tammikuuta 2023

Productivity vs Efficiency

Your productivity increases when you do things better than before. Your efficiency increases as you reach your goal faster. The difference between productivity and efficiency can be seen in the fact that in efficiency thinking you wonder if you need to do something at all. Increasing efficiency means selective laziness. By focusing on it, you decide whether you are doing things that are useful for you or whether you are doing mandatory things only to reach their minimum effective dose.

People can be roughly divided into four different groups in terms of work ethic and intelligence. Stupid and lazy is not useful. Still, remember that intelligence comes in many forms and you can get more out of stupid and lazy in the right task. Hardworking and stupid is the most dangerous combination. They cause damage by focusing on the wrong things. They can be workaholics without achieving any benefits. Stupid and diligent people can cause damage, because the mistakes they produce are impossible to correct. Doing pointless and useless things well does not make them important, and spending a lot of time on pointless things does not add value.

Hardworking and lazy are the best people. They probably maximize what they do better than others because they do not want to do unnecessary work. Hardworking and smart is a relatively good combination because they rarely make big mistakes or do a lot of useless tasks. People in this group can learn to be lazy because they have enough capacity to learn to be more efficient. Maximizing efficiency is done by focusing on the things that produce the greatest benefits. Strive to maximize efficiency, especially at work. Think before you act. Even hard-working and lazy people don't always understand the most important things. Often this is due to emotions. However, don't overthink because your instincts are often right and overthinking causes indecision, creating inefficiency.

tiistai 3. tammikuuta 2023

Work, relative vs the absolute benefit

Hello and happy new year to everyone! 

In the next few months I will put some more material to this blog. It is mostly the material before in Finnish.

It is all about the ratio of effort put to the work and the benefit obtained from it. The benefit is most commonly measured in money. Consider other things, such as meaningfulness. It is difficult to measure because it is individual. In most cases, you will reap the greatest benefit by employing yourself. When working for others, most of your time is spent producing the greatest benefit for some intermediary or to the owners. You have to produce more than your employer pays in wages and side costs of employment. If this is not the case, you must at least convince your employer of your contribution.

A small number of employees produce the greatest benefit. Make yourself invaluable if you want to keep your job in an uncertain economic situation. It might be hard for you to understand it. It could result in losing your job. Employers can also choose the wrong employees to leave. Don't be lulled into your own irreplaceability. Your excellence may be a concept that others do not recognize.

One way to improve the relative benefit is to reduce the time spent on work through working remotely. It improves your relative income through two mechanisms. The first is the reduction of time spent commuting. The second is an opportunity to increase efficiency. The longer the commute takes and the more it costs, the more the relative income rises. Travel expenses often don't matter much because you can deduct them on taxes. Employers rarely compensate for the time you lose commuting, so reducing it is an essential part of the benefits of remote work.

Increasing remote work is a good opportunity for knowledge workers. They can often do their work without arriving at the workplace. Some employers take advantage of this opportunity. Remote work is often a matter of negotiation. Getting an agreement from an employer may require a trial period. Use it effectively, because employers may not believe in its benefits. Practice doing remote work many times before the test time so that you can produce good results. Also, remember to tell your boss that he can end the probationary period at any time if he wants to. Make sure that you can minimize reasons for your boss to refuse a probationary period.

Don't leave room for failure, because you may have to wait a long time for the second test period. You are in a better negotiating position well after the results, when you start discussing the continuation of remote work. Carry out your remote work without interruption. Manage the necessary things efficiently. Your employer must benefit from remote work more than your normal job.

The benefits of remote work in terms of productivity are best seen as the opportunity to focus on the most important tasks without interruptions. They can produce a mandatory refocusing in tasks that require precision, which can last as long as 45 minutes. This is due to the reprogramming of your brain, which does not happen immediately. The duration depends on the difficulty and differences of the tasks and the quality of the interruption. Find a place where there will be no interruptions. For the majority, working at home is not the best idea.

Focus on the most important tasks when working remotely. According to some studies, unnecessary interruptions can take up to a quarter of the working day. Eliminating interruptions can cut up to two hours from your work day. Find yourself a place where there will be no interruptions. This is not a home for most people because there are self-inflicted distractions.

Another mechanism that improves the efficiency of remote work is the ability to choose one's work tasks, doing them at the best possible time. You can eliminate unnecessary work when you decide for yourself. You can more easily avoid pointless meetings when working remotely. When you work remotely, you don't have to focus on less useful tasks that others offer when you're at your most efficient. This is especially true for those who take orders from others.

The third mechanism is that you can choose how and where you do your work. Many workplaces have established ways that have been used for ages, even though they are ineffective. Not all working methods are suitable for everyone. In remote work, you get to choose your own way of working. It doesn't matter where you do your work. You too have your own place where your work goes best. Try many places and draw your own conclusions.

The biggest disadvantage of telecommuting can be greater responsibility. It might not be right for you. Working remotely requires more from yourself. Not everyone is able to take responsibility for their work for long periods of time. In addition, telecommuting can reduce the influence of external factors, which is beneficial in creative fields. On the other hand, the free time increased by remote work improves the opportunities to seek them elsewhere.

For an entrepreneur, the relative benefit is a different matter, because he pays the same amount of his profits in proportion as the profits increase. The entrepreneur also has to take into account the cost of the employees. Everyone should generate more income than they consume the company's resources. In Finland, the amount of money is about twice the salary. The threshold for hiring is higher than in many other countries.

Although the majority of employees should produce added value compared to their costs, this is not the case. A small number of employees produce the greatest added value. Make sure your employer knows the added value you bring. Don't expect fame and glory. Make sure others see your value. As an entrepreneur, you have to think about whether the customers bring more income than what they waste your resources. According to the principle of less is more, a small number of customers generate the biggest profits and losses. This also applies to individual products and services. For example, Apple's iPhones generate more than half of the turnover and an even larger part of the profits.