Try Hard, but Not That Hard. 85% Is the Magic Number for Productivity. | Kanebridge News
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    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,526,212 (+1.41%)       Melbourne $950,600 (-0.81%)       Brisbane $848,079 (+0.39%)       Adelaide $783,680 (+0.69%)       Perth $722,301 (+0.42%)       Hobart $727,777 (-0.40%)       Darwin $644,340 (-0.88%)       Canberra $873,193 (-2.75%)       National $960,316 (+0.31%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $711,149 (+0.79%)       Melbourne $480,050 (-0.07%)       Brisbane $471,869 (+1.52%)       Adelaide $395,455 (-0.79%)       Perth $396,215 (+0.44%)       Hobart $535,914 (-1.67%)       Darwin $365,715 (+0.11%)       Canberra $487,485 (+1.06%)       National $502,310 (+0.25%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,985 (+170)       Melbourne 11,869 (-124)       Brisbane 8,074 (+47)       Adelaide 2,298 (-22)       Perth 6,070 (+20)       Hobart 993 (+24)       Darwin 282 (-4)       Canberra 809 (+43)       National 39,380 (+154)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 7,927 (+125)       Melbourne 6,997 (+50)       Brisbane 1,822 (+3)       Adelaide 488 (+5)       Perth 1,915 (-1)       Hobart 151 (+3)       Darwin 391 (-9)       Canberra 680 (+5)       National 20,371 (+181)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $750 (-$20)       Melbourne $580 ($0)       Brisbane $590 (+$10)       Adelaide $570 (-$5)       Perth $600 ($0)       Hobart $550 ($0)       Darwin $700 (+$5)       Canberra $670 (+$10)       National $633 (-$1)                    UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $700 (-$20)       Melbourne $558 (+$8)       Brisbane $590 ($0)       Adelaide $458 (-$3)       Perth $550 ($0)       Hobart $450 ($0)       Darwin $550 ($0)       Canberra $540 (-$10)       National $559 (-$4)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,224 (-134)       Melbourne 5,097 (+90)       Brisbane 3,713 (-84)       Adelaide 1,027 (-3)       Perth 1,568 (-46)       Hobart 471 (-3)       Darwin 127 (+13)       Canberra 658 (-32)       National 17,885 (-199)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,171 (-343)       Melbourne 5,447 (-170)       Brisbane 1,682 (-22)       Adelaide 329 (+3)       Perth 561 (-11)       Hobart 159 (-6)       Darwin 176 (+16)       Canberra 597 (-12)       National 17,122 (-545)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 2.56% (↓)       Melbourne 3.17% (↓)     Brisbane 3.62% (↑)        Adelaide 3.78% (↓)       Perth 4.32% (↓)     Hobart 3.93% (↑)      Darwin 5.65% (↑)      Canberra 3.99% (↑)        National 3.43% (↓)            UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 5.12% (↓)       Melbourne 6.04% (↓)       Brisbane 6.50% (↓)     Adelaide 6.02% (↑)        Perth 7.22% (↓)     Hobart 4.37% (↑)      Darwin 7.82% (↑)        Canberra 5.76% (↓)       National 5.79% (↓)            HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 1.0% (↑)      Melbourne 0.7% (↑)      Brisbane 0.8% (↑)      Adelaide 0.4% (↑)        Perth 0.4% (↓)       Hobart 1.2% (↓)     Darwin 0.5% (↑)      Canberra 1.5% (↑)      National 0.8% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND         Sydney 1.3% (↓)     Melbourne 1.6% (↑)      Brisbane 0.9% (↑)      Adelaide 0.5% (↑)      Perth 0.7% (↑)      Hobart 2.2% 2.0% (↑)      Darwin 1.0% (↑)        Canberra 1.7% (↓)     National 1.3% (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND       Sydney 27.0 (↑)        Melbourne 28.3 (↓)     Brisbane 32.3 (↑)      Adelaide 26.3 (↑)      Perth 34.9 (↑)        Hobart 33.4 (↓)     Darwin 48.7 (↑)        Canberra 27.6 (↓)     National 32.3 (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND         Sydney 27.0 (↓)       Melbourne 29.0 (↓)     Brisbane 33.0 (↑)        Adelaide 27.5 (↓)     Perth 38.2 (↑)      Hobart 33.4 (↑)      Darwin 48.3 (↑)      Canberra 33.2 (↑)      National 33.7 (↑)            
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Try Hard, but Not That Hard. 85% Is the Magic Number for Productivity.

To do the best work of your life, take it down a notch

By RACHEL FEINTZEIG
Tue, Sep 12, 2023 8:30amGrey Clock 4 min

Are you giving it your all? Maybe that’s too much.

So many of us were raised in the gospel of hard work and max effort, taught that what we put in was what we got out. Now, some coaches and corporate leaders have a new message. To be at your best, dial it back a bit.

Trying to run at top speed will actually lead to slower running times, they say, citing fitness research. Lifting heavy weights until you absolutely can’t anymore won’t spark more muscle gain than stopping a little sooner, one exercise physiologist assured me.

The trick—be it in exercise, or anything—is to try for 85%. Aiming for perfection often makes us feel awful, burns us out and backfires. Instead, count the fact that you hit eight out of 10 of your targets this quarter as a win. We don’t need to see our work, health or hobbies as binary objectives, perfected or a total failure.

“I already messed it up,” Sherri Phillips would lament after missing one of her daily personal goals.

Last year, the chief operating officer of a Manhattan photography business began tracking metrics like her sleep quality and cardio time on an elaborate spreadsheet. It was only after she switched to aiming for 85% success over the course of a week that she stuck with her efforts, instead of giving up when she missed a mark.

“It’s a spectrum of success,” she says.

The benefits of doing less

Once upon a time, bosses who preached total optimization might actually achieve it, says Greg McKeown, a business author and podcaster who’s written about why 85% is a sweet spot.

More recently, the available comparison points and choices in our lives have exploded. We read about someone else’s dream job on LinkedIn, watch a mom prepare a perfect lunch for her kid on TikTok, then click over to scroll through thousands of products on Amazon. Constant comparison often means no end result ever feels good enough. Even searching for, say, the best umbrella to buy can become a time-sucking quest.

“We will drain ourselves,” McKeown says. “It’s a bad strategy. It costs too much.”

Test out doing a little less. If you turn in that project without the extra slide deck, “Does anybody care?” McKeown asks. If you make a decision with only 85% of the information in hand, what’s the result? Notice the time you get back for other things.

“There’s a lot of inconsequential stuff that goes into going 100%,” says Steve Magness, an exercise physiologist who coaches executives and athletes on performance. When we care too much, even minutiae starts to seem “like an existential crisis,” he adds.

Sometimes, the harder we try, the worse we get, injuring ourselves or choking under pressure, Magness says. Quit while you’re ahead, and the sense that your whole self-worth isn’t wrapped up in this one moment can actually make you more likely to nail it.

Relaxed confidence

The effortless success so many of us crave often comes from a relaxed confidence and a tolerance for ambiguity.

When economist Krishnamurthy V. Subramanian gave one of his first major addresses to the media as chief economic adviser for the Indian government, he prepared but tried not to overthink it.

“It’s that Goldilocks balance,” says Subramanian, now an executive director at the International Monetary Fund based in Washington, D.C. “85% is not slacking.”

When two of his slides wouldn’t cue up at the last minute, he pushed away his nerves and reminded himself the speech would be OK even if it wasn’t perfect.

“I’ll wing it,” he told himself calmly. The presentation went just fine.

Just tough enough

Dialling in on the sweet spot of 85% can help us grow. In a 2019 paper, researchers used machine learning to try to find the ideal difficulty level to learn new things. The neural network they created, meant to mimic the human brain, learned best when it was faced with queries set to 85% difficulty, meaning it got questions right 85% of the time.

If a task is too hard, humans get demotivated, says Bob Wilson, an author of the study and associate professor of psychology and cognitive science at the University of Arizona. “If you never make any errors, you’re 100% accurate, well, you can’t learn from the mistakes.”

Ron Shaich, a founder and former chief executive of restaurant chain Panera, is skeptical of people who hit 100% on bonus targets or sales projections. He wonders if the goals are too low. They should be ambitious enough that you won’t always get there, he says.

Presiding over Panera’s quarterly earnings reports, he’d aim to exceed guidance eight out of 10 times. The same went for big goals at the company.

Now an investor, board member and author of a coming business book that stresses 80% equals success, Shaich is convinced most companies don’t even hit that number.

“They all talk about what they’re going to get done. Then they don’t do it,” he says. Reach 80% and, “you’re doing great.”

Know when to stop

Years ago, as a consultant at Bain, Grace Ueng learned the “80-20 rule.” The idea was to stop once you were 80% complete on a project, she says. That first burst of work often contained the real meat of the project.

Now a leadership coach and strategy consultant, Ueng recently took up piano. She practiced for hours and grimaced when she performed for her music group. Then she started doing more targeted exercises, like tackling small chunks of a piece instead of running through the whole thing again and again.

Before a recent performance, she read a book and went to church instead of putting in extra hours at the piano.

When it was time to perform, she played well—and actually enjoyed it.

“You have to have the wisdom,” she says, “to know when to stop.”



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Now the bad: Office attendance in big cities is still barely half of what it was in 2019, and company get-tough measures are proving largely ineffective at boosting that rate much higher.

Indeed, a number of forces—from the prospect of more Covid-19 cases in the fall to a weakening economy—could push the return rate into reverse, property owners and city officials say.

More than before, chief executives at blue-chip companies are stepping up efforts to fill their workspace. Facebook parent Meta Platforms, Amazon and JPMorgan Chase are among the companies that have recently vowed to get tougher on employees who don’t show upIn August, Meta told employees they could face disciplinary action if they regularly violate new workplace rules.

But these actions haven’t yet moved the national return rate needle much, and a majority of companies remain content to allow employees to work at least part-time remotely despite the tough talk.

Most employees go into offices during the middle of the week, but floors are sparsely populated on Mondays and Fridays. In Chicago, some September days had a return rate of over 66%. But it was below 30% on Fridays. In New York, it ranges from about 25% to 65%, according to Kastle Systems, which tracks security-card swipes.

Overall, the average return rate in the 10 U.S. cities tracked by Kastle Systems matched the recent high of 50.4% of 2019 levels for the week ended Sept. 20, though it slid a little below half the following week.

The disappointing return rates are another blow to office owners who are struggling with vacancy rates near record highs. The national office average vacancy rose to 19.2% last quarter, just below the historical peak of 19.3% in 1991, according to Moody’s Analytics preliminary third-quarter data.

Business leaders in New York, Detroit, Seattle, Atlanta and Houston interviewed by The Wall Street Journal said they have seen only slight improvements in sidewalk activity and attendance in office buildings since Labor Day.

“It feels a little fuller but at the margins,” said Sandy Baruah, chief executive of the Detroit Regional Chamber, a business group.

Lax enforcement of return-to-office rules is one reason employees feel they can still work from home. At a roundtable business discussion in Houston last week, only one of the 12 companies that attended said it would enforce a return-to-office policy in performance reviews.

“It was clearly a minority opinion that the others shook their heads at,” said Kris Larson, chief executive of Central Houston Inc., a group that promotes business in the city and sponsored the meeting.

Making matters worse, business leaders and city officials say they see more forces at work that could slow the return to office than those that could accelerate it.

Covid-19 cases are up and will likely increase further in the fall and winter months. “If we have to go back to distancing and mask protocols, that really breaks the office culture,” said Kathryn Wylde, head of the business group Partnership for New York City.

Many cities are contending with an increase in homelessness and crime. San Francisco, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., which are struggling with these problems, are among the lowest return-to-office cities in the Kastle System index.

About 90% of members surveyed by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce said that the city couldn’t recover until homelessness and public safety problems were addressed, said Rachel Smith, chief executive. That is taken into account as companies make decisions about returning to the office and how much space they need, she added.

Cuts in government services and transportation are also taking a toll. Wait times for buses run by Houston’s Park & Ride system, one of the most widely used commuter services, have increased partly because of labor shortages, according to Larson of Central Houston.

The commute “is the remaining most significant barrier” to improving return to office, Larson said.

Some landlords say that businesses will have more leverage in enforcing return-to-office mandates if the economy weakens. There are already signs of such a shift in cities that depend heavily on the technology sector, which has been seeing slowing growth and layoffs.

But a full-fledged recession could hurt office returns if it results in widespread layoffs. “Maybe you get some relief in more employees coming back,” said Dylan Burzinski, an analyst with real-estate analytics firm Green Street. “But if there are fewer of those employees, it’s still a net negative for office.”

The sluggish return-to-office rate is leading many city and business leaders to ask the federal government for help. A group from the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition recently met with elected officials in Washington, D.C., lobbying for incentives for businesses that make commitments to U.S. downtowns.

Baruah, from the Detroit chamber, was among the group. He said the chances of such legislation being passed were low. “We might have to reach crisis proportions first,” he said. “But we’re trying to lay the groundwork now.”

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