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5 Dumb Habits You Must Quit To Be Insanely Productive

5 Dumb Habits You Must Quit To Be Insanely Productive

Do you want to be a more productive person? Most of us strive to be more productive both at home and at work but struggle to do so. However, many people have bad habits that they don’t even realize are draining their productivity. Check out these dumb habits you should drop if you are looking to boost your productivity.

1. Making Up Plans As You Go

When you were younger, it was probably easier for you to pass tests and exams without studying, but this attitude is much harder to pull off as an adult. Cramming won’t cut it anymore if you want to be productive, so it’s time to start planning in advance.

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Plan out your week and your day before they start, so you already know what you need to do and how long it will take. You will notice that you are accomplishing more each day, without much extra effort, simply because you don’t have to plan as you go — the plan has already been made.

2. Working Longer Hours To Make Up For Yesterday

There will be days and nights where you have a heavier workload and need to work longer hours. However, if you find yourself working longer to make up for putting off work yesterday, you may find that you’re struggling to be productive.

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Your mind produces it’s best work when you first start — the more you work, the more tired your mind will become. You will produce better work in two sets of 6 hours rather than in one 12-hour session. Try to break your work up, and don’t put it off if you want to be more productive.

3. Writing A To-Do List And Deciding All Of Your Tasks Are Equally Important

Every day there are different tasks for you to complete, but no doubt they vary in importance. Finishing a project at work is more important than buying tomato sauce, and if you class them as equally important, you are more likely to do the easier tasks and put off the important ones.

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Decide which task is your most important every day and work on completing that task first. This means your day will definitely be productive. You will be motivated by finishing the most important job, spurring you on to complete the rest of your tasks.

4. Saying Yes To Unreasonable Demands

Lazy people and productive people both have 24 hours in their day – it is how they spend these hours that makes the difference. Doing favors for others isn’t always a bad thing, but if it gets in the way of your own work, it may not be a good idea. If you worry about seeming rude, just remember that every time you say yes to one activity, you also automatically say no to another.

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5. Being Distracted Easily

The single most important part of being productive is being able to focus. If you are easily distracted, it is important to take away all of the distractions so that you can focus on your work. If you struggle with social media, download an app that allows you to block Facebook during the hours that you are at work. If you’re distracted by talking to your friend on the phone, put your phone on silent mode while you work. The best way to stop getting distracted is to remove all of the possible distractions so that you can focus 100 per cent on your work.

What do you think? Do you struggle with distractions or saying yes to others? What else might you add to this list? Share it with your productive friends to see what they think!

Featured photo credit: Stokpic via stokpic.com

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Amy Johnson

Amy is a writer who blogs about relationships and lifestyle advice.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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