Why Productivity Isn’t Related to Technology: The Novelty Effect

The novelty effect is described as a boost in the productivity that a human experiences when he encounters a change in the method of doing work. It can be a change in technology or a change in the process.

When the human encounters a change in the pattern of doing some work, it’s noted that he becomes more interested in learning about the new change, and hence, it enhances his productivity.

He starts doing the work with renewed freshness and energy which ultimately leads to heightened activity. For example, a person uses his cell phone to click pictures. He takes regular pictures, but it does not rouse his interest, as the cell phone has become a conventional device to him. Now, offer him a DSLR.

This technologically advanced device will pique his interest level. He will start taking lots of pictures with the new product. Ultimately, he would learn new techniques to click better pictures. There will be a vast difference in the way a person clicks a regular picture and the way he clicks a picture with a DSLR.

The person is going through the novelty effect, as improvement in technology has given him a temporary boost in his productivity.

William Hazlitt Writer

Wonder at the first sight of works of art may be the effect of ignorance and novelty; but real admiration and permanent delight in them are the growth of taste and knowledge.

The Temporary Nature of the Novelty Effect

The boost caused by the Novelty effect is temporary, as the increase in the productivity experienced by the person is not perennial in nature. As soon as the monotony of that new technology shows its ugly face, boredom settles in. The person falls back to his old habits, as there is nothing to keep his attention hooked and his interest heightened.

Professor Adam Love of the Mississippi State University carried out a study to observe the novelty effect. He chose to understand the effect on attendance of soccer viewers caused by the building of new soccer stadiums.

His study led him to believe that the construction of a new stadium gave an instant rise to the number of viewers who came to watch the soccer matches.

But as he studied the human behavior for the next few years, he realized that the number of viewers started getting reduced in the newly constructed stadiums with each passing year. And finally, the attendance of people in the new stadiums became almost equal to that of the old stadiums.

In some ways, the novelty effect is temporary. As quickly as it enhances the productivity, it is as instantly that the productivity falls back to its initial level.

A new shiny toy can hold our attention for only a limited period. As soon as we get bored of playing with it, we shove it to an isolated corner of our room.

As technology is improving, we are becoming digitally advanced. At the same time, it’s threatening our attention span and patience. And the irony is, we get impatient and bored with the very same technology and gadgets which led to the decrease in our attention span in the first place. Digital technology reduces our attention span by 8 seconds.

The Frequent Software and Hardware Updates are Futile and Unproductive

Do you also get annoyed by the continuous WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook updates that infiltrate your cell phones?

It’s a strategy through which these big companies want to stay in business before another app dethrones them.

Facebook changed the face of Social Media and digital communication when it was founded in the year 2004. Orkut was a vastly used social media site then, but it lacked the easy user interface, privacy options, and more clandestine chats that Facebook offered.

It ultimately made people shift from Orkut to Facebook. After running for 12 years, Orkut was closed in the year 2014. It was a sad moment for each one of us who were introduced to the world of social media by Orkut’s scraps, groups, and messages.

But none of us could handle its immensely old execution, lack of traffic, and stubbornness to not modify itself with time. In fact, with the launch of Facebook, lots of people joined social media for their personal as well as professional use.

Facebook is still the #1 social media website, but the novelty effect has decreased. Around 11 million users have stopped using Facebook since 2011.

As new websites like Instagram, Snapchat, and Google+ have been launched in the market, it’s highly difficult for Facebook to maintain its uno numero position. It’s this reason why these websites continuously try to upgrade and give a better experience to the users in order to keep them hooked. But how useful are such updates?

While Whatsapp (owned by Facebook) is busy in changing the style of its app and Facebook is busy in adding lots of unnecessary features on its website, the only thing users want is: familiarity.

Instagram (owned by Facebook) recently changed the feed without asking its users’ opinions.

It led to a massive opposition by the users, as they wanted the old style to be retained. But Facebook didn’t pay any attention to the opinions and introduced the change. People are not exactly happy with the way the new Instagram looks. They even changed its logo which hasn’t exactly garnered any interest among the users.

Quitting social media can make you happier.

Click to Tweet

So, people are much more comfortable with the familiarity for as long as it is not old and outdated. In fact, it has been proved that familiarity helps in enhancing the memory, not novelty.

Such updates hardly add to the immediate user experience, except if the transition is truly path-breaking. Otherwise, it’s wise to stick with what is familiar to the users without committing a mistake like Orkut and letting the technology become so outdated, that the users have no other option except to search for a better option.

How Can You Achieve Productivity?

Long-term productivity is not an overnight achievement, but it’s a continuous process. Companies may come up with new gadgets, technologies, and methods to create an instant effect, but the boost in productivity is transient. The person will fall back to their old habits if permanent measures are not adopted.

It is important to improve a person’s effectiveness and increase their motivation. It will not only enhance their productivity, but it will also improve the standards of their work.

These are the following ways through which productivity can be achieved.

1. Time Is Money: Careful Time Management

Time Management plays a crucial role in helping workers retain their efficiency and energy. There is no point of making them work for long hours, as they can do much better work within a short period without losing their motivation and will.

Carl Sandburg Poet

Time is the most valuable coin in your life. You and you alone will determine how that coin will be spent. Be careful that you do not let other people spend it for you.

Many companies make their workers work for long hours. While this strategy might seem useful, it really is not.

It creates a sense of monotony among the workers who have to spend each single day doing the same thing. Saturdays and Sundays are spent recovering from the tired state a person attains during the 5-days shift.

The traditional route of working 8 hours a day doesn’t impact our productivity in any way. In fact, a study has revealed that working for 8 hours doesn’t make a person do more work, but taking short breaks at regular intervals has proved far more beneficial.

Working for more than 8 hours a day can increase the risk of heart diseases by 67%.

Click to Tweet

Companies should promote time management. Regular breaks must be given to the workers, and they should not be made to work for an entire year. Many times vacations are not offered, and it’s one of the reasons that people get tired of working and leave the jobs.

It should be kept in mind that workers are mere humans who need time to re-energize themselves in order to work more efficiently.

If you're running short of time, then I suggest you to try these office workouts by Karen at Positive Health Wellness. You'll pump more oxygen to your brain and boost your productivity.

​The average person uses 13 different methods to control and manage their time.

Click to Tweet

2. Meticulous Allocation of Resources

Instead of wasting money on redundant updates, it is wiser to allocate necessary resources meticulously. It is only possible by providing the right resource to the right person.

A deeper study might be required to understand what works for a particular person. There is no use asking a person to handle digital marketing when he is not even acquainted with technology but is good at handling manual labor work.

Also, resources should be made available at the proper time.

Take the example of electronic gadgets as a resource.

Many people provide gadgets to their kids at an early age, thinking that it will help them to become more technologically advanced and a quick learner. But it can affect the kids negatively.

A study published by Daily Mail UK states that 67% of parents are irked because their children spend most of their time hooked to their computers or Televisions. It is hindering the growth of the children and making them lazy.

85% kids within the age group of 13 to 17 own a cell phone.

Click to Tweet

Hence, resources should be allocated to the right people at the right time to see a permanent rise in their productivity.

3. Follow the Approach of Minimalism

It is easy for us to get distracted and lose our focus. It can lead to indulging in unnecessary tasks while paying less attention to what is important. The best way to deal with this problem is to lead a minimalistic lifestyle and reduce the clutter.

Minimalism follows the ideology of “less is more.” It encourages people to let go of unnecessary objects, relations, and aims, and to keep only those things close which are required. Minimalism can be as basic as deleting the unwanted folders from your desktop to as complex as giving up most of your clothes in order to lead a simple lifestyle.

The Dalai Lama Monk

If one’s life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness.

The formula of minimalism can be used in enhancing productivity and reducing the amount of time spent on unnecessary tasks.

For example, instead of compulsorily spending an hour daily hanging out in a pub, you can decide to spend the time doing nothing and sit alone in a park for a change. This break from your busy schedule packed with people and events will help you to introspect, revitalize, and simplify.

Instead of stuffing lots of activities into your schedule, decide to reduce those activities and get some free time.

Minimalism promotes a happier lifestyle with less clutter and more focus on the essentials.

Minimalism began after World War II and mainly focused on visual arts.

Click to Tweet

4. Continuous Improvement is the Way to Success

Madonna Singer

No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you've come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.

Instead of focusing on improving their gadgets, humans should pay attention towards improving themselves.

The latest technology might give you a necessary kick for some time, but it is up to you to maintain your enthusiasm and the will to learn.

E-books are introduced instead of hard copies because they are easier to handle and offer something different to students. Although it seems like a great transition for the tech-savvy generation, this survey has revealed that E-books are no better than traditional textbooks.

It depends on how persistently a student studies for achieving good marks, and not on the change in technology.

In fact, if any boost in their skills is observed due to the novelty effect, it ultimately reduces when the novelty effect wears off.


The world is rapidly changing as new technology is making its way into our daily routine. We have become more advanced. Technology has helped in reducing our work and saving our energy.

But technology cannot be the only way through which the productivity of a human can be raised.

Instead of investing time and money in giving numerous updates several times a week, it’s much more beneficial to offer bigger changes that can help in making work easier for users. But as science and technology are still developing, it is not easy to provide instant solutions to the existing problems.

So, humans should invest in themselves. By making themselves more productive in permanent ways, they can ultimately escape from the slavery of technology.

Productivity doesn’t need to rely on technology, as technology is the consequence of human productivity. We should not get stuck inside an eternal race in which our only motivation is the next upgrade. It will only lead to degradation of the human potential.

When are you going to stop looking for the next technological update and boost your productivity now?

Leave a Comment