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A Publication of WTVP

Reworking the Daily Grind
The average American clocks 8.8 hours of “work and related activities” each day, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and today’s workers are so used to the traditional 9-to-5 grind that few ever stop to evaluate its efficiency.

For most of history, however, work coincided with the rise and setting of the sun; thus, our early ancestors worked many more hours. With the onset of the Industrial Revolution, workers averaged 10- to 16-hour days as companies sought to maximize factory outputs. In the early 20th century, the Ford Motor Company was among the first businesses to implement the eight-hour work day—at the same time doubling its workers’ pay, to the shock of the business world. The resulting increased productivity and profits convinced other companies to adopt the shorter day as well, and by 1937, the eight-hour workday was mandated by the federal government.

And yet, the eight-hour system bears little correlation to how the human brain functions, according to Leonhard Widrich at The Huffington Post. Our minds work cyclically; they can focus on a task for a session of 90 to 120 minutes, but then require a 20-to-30 minute break to recharge—that’s our ultradian rhythm. According to a study by the RIKEN Brain Science Institute, the brain first accumulates information, then prioritizes it—and it works more efficiently if it focuses on one task at a time.

So, how best to stay focused and efficient during this eight-hour period? Blogger and author Daven Hiskey suggests splitting your day into 90-minute windows and setting a goal for each window, rather than setting task-oriented goals for the workday as a whole. Other suggestions? Add your own deadline with a reward—by setting your own goals, you increase a task’s relevance. Actively plan how you will rest—think napping, reading, snacking or meditating—and finally, stop notifications! Turn off electronic devices while you work to eliminate distractions that break your concentration.

Source: The Huffington Post



Pre-Crastination Also Bad for Productivity
While procrastination is known as a leading factor affecting work-related stress, poor performance, and even poor health, recent research from Pennsylvania State University suggests pre-crastination—or rushing to complete a task as quickly as possible—may have similar negative effects.

In the study, researchers examined the trade-off between a load’s weight and the distance one is willing to carry it. Participants were asked to pick up one of two buckets of pennies and carry it to the end of an alley. Despite the increased physical effort involved, more participants opted to carry the bucket lying closest to the starting point—and furthest from the end goal—indicating they wished to complete the activity as soon as possible. It seemed they wanted to “check off” a task, or lighten their mental loads.

These findings may explain why people often complete relatively trivial tasks—answering emails, organizing clothes or cleaning a room—before beginning more demanding, time-sensitive tasks. But researchers suggest this rush to complete a task may result in missed opportunities for cognitive processing and decreased performance. That means individuals may “use up” their energy on non-essential tasks; thus, when they get to “real work,” they may already feel mentally drained.

With plans to further examine pre-crastination and procrastination, perhaps the research team will discover a sense of balance.

Source: Psychological Science



The Future of Your Business
Many successful business owners rely on scenario planning, a framework for predicting future outcomes and uncertainties by projecting business plans based on potential future scenarios. Of course, any approach to future planning is a delicate balance—one can’t possibly predict every possible outcome with certainty. However, James Janega of Blue Sky Innovation, a news startup from the Chicago Tribune focused on innovation and entrepreneurship, offers five tips to strike the perfect balance between preparedness and rationality in scenario planning for your business:

While it’s unlikely any imagined scenario will play out exactly as you think it might, the scenario planning process can help ready a plan of attack in case disruptive events do occur.

Source: Blue Sky Innovation/Chicago Tribune



Most and Least Recession- Recovered
Though the Great Recession officially ended in 2009, the recovery has varied tremendously depending on where one calls home. WalletHub, a personal finance social network, recently published an analysis identifying the most and least “recession-recovered” American cities. Eighteen metrics—from the number of college-educated workers and new businesses to unemployment rates and home price appreciation—were used to examine how the 150 largest U.S. cities (determined by population size) have evolved in recent years.

Laredo, Texas was identified as the most recession-recovered city in the country, while five other Texas cities—in addition to Denver, Colorado; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Fayetteville and Raleigh, North Carolina—joined it in the top ten.

In contrast, San Bernardino, California was named the least recession-recovered city, joining three other California cities—as well as Cape Coral, Florida; Detroit, Michigan; Newark, New Jersey; and three Arizona cities—at the bottom.

Cities that lag in economic recovery are prone to feel collateral effects in a vicious cycle. When businesses close, home values decline, education suffers and crime rises, causing skilled workers to seek opportunities elsewhere, further crippling already afflicted cities. Read the full report at wallethub.com/edu/most-least-recession-recovered-cities/5219.


Broke But Optimistic
More than two thirds of 18- to 29-year-olds have no money set aside for retirement. The recent survey by Bankrate.com also found that across all age groups, 36 percent of Americans have no retirement savings, and the younger they are, the less likely they’re saving for retirement. While millennials are the least likely of any age group to have money in the bank, they also report feeling more optimistic about their financial security and personal situation than all other groups surveyed.

An Emotional Read
Children’s social skills may be declining due to an increased reliance on digital media, according to a UCLA psychology study published in the October issue of Human Behavior. The study found that sixth-graders who went five days without a smartphone, television or other digital screen were substantially better at reading human emotions than those who spent several hours a day with their devices. Participants were asked to analyze photos and videos of people to identify emotional cues—a skill that deteriorates with more time behind a screen and less time communicating face-to-face.

Car Thefts Down
In the U.S., Honda owners are most at risk from car theft, according to a list of the most commonly stolen cars of 2013 compiled by the analytics firm Statista. The top-five targeted makes and models include the Honda Accord (53,995 total thefts), Honda Civic (45,001), Chevrolet Silverado (27,809), Ford F-150 (26,494) and Toyota Camry (14,420). Lifehacker.com points out that these cars are stolen more often in part because there are simply more of them on the road. Whether thieves target cars less likely to stand out in public or prefer vehicles more prone to hotwiring, there is good news: overall auto thefts are way down—a 50-percent decline since its 1999 peak. iBi

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