How to Improve Your Productivity With A Normal Distribution Curve

Statistically, when a population is normally distributed, 99.7% of the population surrounds the mean with a dispersion of 3 standard deviations. Let me break that down in layman’s terms.

Given a population of 100, and say an average age of 30, if the distribution of the population looks like that of a bell shape, then when you pick a member of the population at random, you can be sure such will have an age between 3 + or – 30, i.e. age range between 27 and 33 (assuming standard deviation is 1).

Now, how can knowing this help you improve your productivity?

When we encounter challenges in the race for excellence, we usually think about what we are facing is new and our plight is unique. If the principle of bell-shaped distribution holds, this cannot be true, so we can confidently discard such thought of unique plight. But discarding it is not just enough, we must seek ways to lift ourselves out of the plight.

Knowing that our condition is not peculiar will force us to seek answers from those who have gone through similar condition before.

To illustrate this, I will take two students for my example. Both under the normal distribution curve. Dave falls within the bound of 99.7% and Jenny falls outside of it (what statisticians will refer to has outlier).

Both of them encountered an issue with a mathematics assignment, Dave will easily conclude that if I am encountering this issue, an average person is most likely also having the same issue, in this, he can find rest and try forging forward either by calling for collaboration or by whatever means deemed fit. Can you recollect the last time you failed a paper in school and immediately you said to yourself, “I can’t be the only one, an average person probably fail as well,” this explains why you would think that way.

Let’s assume Jenny is on the positive side of outliers,  that is, she is more intelligent than the average class member. Facing the same problem, she will confidently believe everyone in the class is facing the same. Knowing this will help her to think about a way out of the situation, either by reaching out to senior colleagues or help from the lecturer. She knows help may not come from classmates because they fall within the bounds of the average. 

Knowing where you fall on the curve

To know where you fall on the curve, you need to pay attention to yourself and how you weigh within a given cluster. We belong to different clusters per time, and while we may not be best at all,  we can be better at some beyond others. For each cluster ask yourself, how do I perform in this area, average? below average? or above average? Your answer should help inform where to seek help from when it’s needed and how to manage your failures.

After knowing where you fall on the curve, it may be worthy of note to tell you that you may work on moving yourself closer or farther from your current state depending on where you fall.

Productivity is all about enhanced performance and knowing your position on a thing, which some call self-awareness will improve your output on a continuum.

Know where you fall on different distribution curve today and work on improving your condition as needed.

Originally published here