With instant messages buzzing, emails pinging and texts ringing, how can employers increase productivity in the workplace? Software companies are tackling the problem, tracking employees' computer time to find ways to improve their efficiency.
Credit Courtesy of Yuki Noguchi
NPR's Yuki Noguchi tried RescueTime to measure her productivity. Here are the results.
Even when people think they're buckling down, studies show the average office worker wastes over a third of the day. There's Facebook, of course, and the email from a friend with a YouTube link. After all that, is it time to go get coffee?
Worker pay is the most expensive line item in the budget for most businesses, which means billions of dollars are going to waste.
But here's the silver lining: It turns out lack of productivity presents a big business opportunity.
Joe Hruska is pretty blunt about how much work anyone does in a typical day.
Poacher-turned-conservationist Karamoy Maramis, who works at Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park in Sulawesi, holds a maleo, a bird that exists in nature only on the Indonesian island.
Credit Aek Berry / AFP/Getty Images
Fishermen arrive on Wakatobi island in Sulawesi waters off eastern Indonesia in 2009. In the 19th century, the island's rich and unique biodiversity helped Wallace understand how species adapted to their environment — and how regions are defined by the animals that live in them.
Credit Rebecca Davis / NPR
Maleos are a prime example of an animal that has adapted to its environment, using geothermal energy to incubate their eggs rather than body heat. They dig into the earth, which is heated by hot springs, are able to sense spots that are exactly 86 to 97 degrees, and lay their eggs there.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.
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And I'm Steve Inskeep. Mexico is considering changes to its collaboration with the United States in the war on drugs. That was the news at the top of the story in the Washington Post. But for many of us, some information further down in the article was more revealing because the article detailed just how deep and broad the U.S.-Mexico collaboration is.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. There's a baby boom in Los Giles, Spain consisting of one. Baby Inara arrived three weeks ago. It's the first child to be born there in 45 years. At last count, the village had about 60 residents, all aging. But the first-time parents of Inara had moved back to the village to raise their child near grandparents. Now thinkspain.com reports nearly everyone in town has held her. So it really does take a village. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Once Louisville won the NCAA men's basketball title, there was only one thing for Rick Pitino to do. He promised his players that if they won, he'd get a tattoo. We do not know if Pitino had second thoughts in the final seconds of the win over Michigan, but now the coach has done it. A Louisville spokesman tweeted a photo of the 60-year-old coach's back. It is now marked with the team record, 35-and-five, along with a blood-red letter L.
Across the country, state budgets are back in the black after years of belt-tightening and spending cuts. From California to Florida, in nearly every state, the economic recovery has produced a surge in tax revenue.
For governors and state legislators, that's produced a new question: how to spend the money.
The past three years have not been easy ones for elected officials. Nearly every state requires them to produce a balanced budget. And with declining revenue from sales, property and income taxes, that has meant big spending cuts.
Roughly one in four cellphone towers in the path of Hurricane Sandy went out of service. It was a frustrating and potentially dangerous experience for customers without a landline to fall back on. Now, local officials and communications experts are pushing providers to improve their performance during natural disasters.
Lori McCaskill lives in Brooklyn, and when Sandy hit last October, her Verizon cell service went out. She couldn't work. She couldn't check in with family and friends. Her sister was due to have a baby any day.
Brother and sister Rod Dreher and Ruthie Leming grew up in a small town in rural Louisiana. Dreher left the tightknit community to pursue a journalism career but returned home after Leming died of lung cancer in 2010.
Credit Debbie Elliot / NPR
"People waited for hours for her wake to come in and pay their respects," Dreher says of the United Methodist Church where his sister was buried. "It was a moment of intense grace."
Credit Debbie Elliott / NPR
Ruthie Leming's friends and Rod Dreher (right) gather for a crawfish boil at Ronnie Morgan's camp by the Starhill Riviera. "When I'm gone," Morgan says, "the only thing that's going to show up to say I was here is the people I left behind."
Credit Debbie Elliott / NPR
The Drehers — Lucas (from left), Rod, Matthew, Julie and Nora — sit on the side stoop at their new home in St. Francisville, La.
When he was a teenager, journalist Rod Dreher couldn't wait to escape Louisiana. Now he has found his way home again in grief — after his sister's death from lung cancer. It was "in light" of that tragedy, Dreher says, that he discovered the value of community. It's the subject of his new book, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life.
All parents are bound to disagree, argue or even raise their voices with each other.
But psychologists say parents can minimize the negative impact of their arguments on their children. It's just a matter of using a few simple techniques to turn down the heat and repair the damage after it's over.
Psychologist Suzanne Phillips at Long Island University says one of the most important things for parents to remember when they're on the verge of a big argument is not to involve the child.
Accelerating economic growth is at the top of NPR's business news.
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INSKEEP: U.S. economic growth regained speed in the first quarter of this year, although not as much as economists had hoped. The Gross Domestic Product grew at an annual rate of 2.5 percent. Consumer spending is up and home construction rose, but government spending fell and tax increases, as well as federal budget cuts, are expected to slow economic growth later in the year. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
NPR's business news starts with Samsung ringing up sales.
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INSKEEP: Samsung said this morning its first quarter profit is at a record high - net profit surged 42 percent. The company has now seen six straight quarters of growth, thanks to strong smartphone sales. Tomorrow, it's launching a new smartphone in the United States - the Galaxy S4 - which is aimed at taking on Apple's iPhone. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep with congratulations to Bill Clinton. The president, whose campaign theme was "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow," caught up with Twitter. TV host Stephen Colbert made him a fake Twitter account, and then Clinton began using a real one. He's posted a few messages, including one saying he's enjoying Twitter so far. Where else can you hear from Bill Gates, Paul Pierce, John McCain, Ellen DeGeneres and Usher in one day? Hashtag: #Thisisgreat.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. Alexander Graham Bell came up with one of the world's most important acoustical devices, but his own voice had been lost until now. The Smithsonian has found the inventor's voice on a wax disc from 1885. Listen closely.
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ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL: Here is my voice. Alexander Graham Bell.
MONTAGNE: Alexander Graham Bell. That old recording was brought to life with digital technology. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
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And I'm Steve Inskeep.
Now that automatic spending cuts are causing wider pain, Congress has begun finding ways to adjust some of them.
MONTAGNE: Today the House is expected to take up a bill the Senate has already approved. It's called the Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013, and it comes after a week of flight delays and outrage from members of Congress, linked to the furloughs the FAA air traffic controllers.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
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And I'm Renee Montagne. A frantic search for survivors continues near Dhaka, Bangladesh, where an eight-story building collapsed two days ago. The building mostly housed garment factories that make low-cost clothing for Western customers.
Spain has lived through years of punishing budget cuts and austerity. This morning, its government unveiled a new economic plan which eased budget targets but acknowledged that recovery was still a long way off. Thousands took to the streets in Madrid overnight, protesting the country's past measures and tax hikes that have left many without jobs.
The president's appearance at that memorial service came on the same day he joined with all his living predecessors. He met with Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, whose presidential library was dedicated in Texas.
A photograph sent out on Twitter, incidentally by former President Clinton, shows the five men in a circle, chatting. Three Democrats joined two Republicans on a day when political differences were overlooked.
Here's NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
Nearly 10,000 mourners gathered yesterday to honor the men who died fighting a fire in a fertilizer plant in Texas. They packed the basketball arena on the campus of Baylor University in Waco. At least 14 people died when that fire led to an explosion in the little town of West - which is just north of Waco.
A Colombian farmer sips cofee during a national coffee producers' strike Feb. 25 in Colombia. Thousands of coffee farmers rallied and marched throughout Colombia in protest the economic difficulties of the sector.
Coffee runs through the veins of Latin America. As economically and culturally ubiquitous as it is throughout the continent, it's only natural that it would also be a constant theme in Latin American music. But coffee, present throughout Latin song, is rarely just about a cup of joe: the drink and its colors and flavors are often used as a way to discuss sociopolitical realities.
Smartphones can check e-mail, record videos and even stream NPR. Now NASA has discovered they make pretty decent satellites, too. Three smart phones launched into space this past Sunday are orbiting above us even now, transmitting data and images back to Earth. The PhoneSats, which cost just a few thousand dollars each, could usher in big changes for the satellite industry.
I recently got a tour of the Spangler Candy Co., a family-owned firm in Bryan, Ohio. The company makes 10 million Dum Dums lollipops there every day, and it has a whole separate building where it stores the sugar — enough to fill eight Olympic-size swimming pools.
The CEO, Kirk Vashaw, says he wants to expand the factory and make even more candy there. There's just one thing he needs.
President Obama travels to another memorial today, this one in the Texas town of West. It is to remember those killed last week when a fertilizer plant exploded there. Yesterday, some of those living in homes closest to the plant were allowed back for the first time. NPR's Wade Goodwyn was there.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. Minnesota's Mall of America is home to some 500 stores, a theme park and now some 72,000 ladybugs. Third graders released them inside the shopping center this week. Ladybugs protect the mall's 30,000 plants by eating aphids. Some mall-goers worried the bugs might descend on the food court, but a spokesman says the mall has released the ladybugs for years, and there's been no ladybug takeover yet. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep with news of a changing retail environment.
We've told you of a plan to let states collect sales tax from online retailers. Now we're on the way to an online bar. Vermont lawmakers are considering a bill to let brewers ship their beer directly to consumers. This proposal faces the concern that underage drinkers might order beer but wineries already do this. If the measure should pass, you could order a six-pack or maybe a keg by UPS.
This does not happen very often. This morning all five living presidents, past and present, are in the same place at the same time.
The occasion is the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on the campus of Southern Methodist University.
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The design committee for this presidential library had a former librarian as its chairperson, former First Lady Laura Bush. She told our colleague David Greene she studied the libraries of presidents past.
Air travelers are growing less and less happy. Automatic budget cuts are now leading to hundreds of flight delays, about half of all delayed flights this week.
NPR's Tamara Keith reports.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Up until this point, the effects of the sequester have been scattered and hard to pin down: hiring freezes, delayed park openings. But then the furloughs of air traffic controllers the Federal Aviation Administration had been threatening for months hit and, bam, the sequester got real, real fast.