Famous Laws/Principles to increase your Productivity

You may have heard about different laws in Physics and Chemistry, but do you know some of the famous laws for increasing productivity. Below I have listed just of few of such laws that can help you lead a productive life.

A lot of these have been adopted in the world of business and technology to increase sales and productivity for an employee, employer, customer or a Leader. You would find their widespread adoption by UI and UX experts while building mobile and web technologies.

1. Zeigarnik Effect :

The Zeigarnik effect was first stated by Sovient psychologist Dr. Bluma Zeigarnik in 1927.

Our minds quickly forget finished tasks. However, they are programmed to continually interrupt us with reminders of unfinished tasks. These intrusions constitute the Zeigarnik Effect.

Simply put, Zeigarnik Effect is the ability of our brain to remember tasks that we haven’t completed.

Next time you find your brain constantly bugging you with that incomplete online course, college assignment, or an abandoned web-series, you bet there is Zeigarnik effect at work.

Use in business:

Zeigarnik effect is widely used in creating forms to onboard users faster. The completion bar in an empty form denoting form completion percentage is a good example of Zeigarnik Effect.

2. Pareto principle or 80 / 20 principle:

First coined by Italian echonomist Vilfredo Pareto, The Pareto principle states that for many results,

Roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes.

The pareto principle is a key principle in business and technology as it shows the disparity between effort and results.

Originally the principle was used by Vilfredo to show that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the people. The same principle can be used to compare sales’ figures of companies, funding and dissolution of startups, comparing placement records of colleges, salaries of players in sports and so on.

Use in calculating Revenue:

For example: Google makes nearly 80% of its revenues from it Advertising Business (Google Ads) and 20% from its core business. While the priciple may not apply exactly 80-20, for most cases 70-30 or 60-40 is more commonly used.

Even though Google is known for a lot of its services like Android and Google Cloud, we seem to forget the gazillions of trackers google has put up on the internet along with the trillions of searches it processes every year.

3. Parkinson’s law:

Originally coined by Cyril Parkinson in an essay later reprinted in his book “Parkinson’s Law: The Pursuit of Progress”, the law states that

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

Ever wondered why you were able to complete an assignment which would have taken months to do research on in a short time?

The answer is the Parkinson law. It is one of those “Experienced by many, understood by none” situations that faces many of us in our daily lives.

Use in technology:

Parkinson’s law is popularly applied in computer industry, For example:

Data expands to fill the space or storage available,

The above seems obvious considering all the useless data software companies fill up their data centers with. It is an important law which explains why a lot of times human beings work significantly better as they approach a deadline.

4. Murphy’s Law:

Ever wondered why your Chemistry teacher said to always prepare for the worst in a chemical reaction. He probably wanted to refer to the Murphy’s Law. Murphy’s law states that

Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

Formula One drivers, Olympic athletes, Entrepreneurs and even Political Parties know the importance of Murphy’s Law. Although the goal is to win every battle, sometimes it is much better to “Expect the best but Prepare for the worst!”.

By preparing for things that can go wrong, you are actually preparing yourself not to lose.

There is a story about Bill Gates quoted in the book “Great By Choice” by author Jim Collins. It is said that Bill used to keep a picture of Henry Ford (founder of Ford Motors) in his office while he was working on building Microsoft. The picture was meant to remind him what had happened to Ford Motors after the demise of his founder, it symbolized that even a great company can go haywire and end up in disaster. One of Bill Gates’s goal was to prevent such a disaster from happening while building Microsoft.

It is often misunderstood by people that success requires taking big risks and big bets, but actually most successful founders are actually people who at some point in their lives were afraid to lose everything they ever owned and often took steps to prevent such a thing from happening that involved taking calculated risks.

5. Hawthorne Effect

Hawthorne Effect refers to the change in behavior of individuals that results from their awareness of being observed especially from their Seniors or Supervisors.

This study was conducted at Hawthorne Works - a Western Electric plant in Cicero, Illinois from the 1920s to 1930s. The goal of the study was to check for the impact of changes in Lighting and different work structures like duration of breaks & working hours on employee productivity.

The results from the study showed that workers showed great productivity improvements regardless of good or bad lighting during the study. But their productivity slipped after the study was over. The study measuring productivity due to changes in working hours & breaks of workers gave in similar results.

The researchers later concluded that workers were responding to the direct attention they were getting from being observed by the researchers & Supervisors during the study and not to the environmental changes.

Hawthorne Effect in modern life:

How often does it happen to us that when we are being observed (held accountable), we exceed our expectations? We all remember that one good teacher at School who paid attention to you, even when you were not doing well and at least out of his/her fear, you performed well in their subject.

Hawthorne Effect even though may have temporary effects but If internalized well can be a useful weapon to accomplish great goals. Like for example, If you want to break a bad habit like spending money on unnecessary things, you can ask your friend to keep you accountable for the same. Studies show that you are more likely to accomplish your goals if you keep yourself accountable to a friend.

6. Kaizen Principle

The word Kaizen is a Japanese word that means “continual improvement”. The idea behind Kaizen is to make small improvements every day throughout the day.

Some of the more famous Kaizen techniques were initially developed by Toyota, the famous Japanese automobile manufacturer. These techniques include the famous 5S technique for manufacturing (Sort, Shine, Shine, Standardize and Sustain) and Kanban boards which are used in almost every industry today.

Kaizen includes 4 main principles:

  1. Visualize
  2. Measure
  3. Improve
  4. Repeat

The basic idea behind Kaizen is to keep improving every day, even if the improvements are small initially. Eventually, the small improvements add up and you end up becoming a better version of yourself.

For example:

Trying to get better at writing or speaking is a gradual process and requires regular practice. You aren’t going to get better at them in one go, they will require small wins initially, and eventually, you’ll get better at it. The important thing is to stick with it and trust the process. Giving 15-20 minutes to regular deliberate practice can work wonders when it comes to Kaizen Principle.

So here you go folks, you now know more than I knew a year ago. Laws can be funny and can often teach us a lot about why some of us do the things that we do. They remind us of the fallacies of the human mind and guide us to utilize these flaws to the best of our ability.

These Laws are amazing when used appropriately to bring out the best in a human being. Being deliberate and conscious with everything we do is important when applying these things to our daily lives. Now go on and try to make your life more productive than ever before.