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7 Reasons Why You Don’t Need To Work 24/7 To Be Successful

7 Reasons Why You Don’t Need To Work 24/7 To Be Successful

Certain industries – startup tech companies, law firms and investment banks – are known for putting their staff through very long hours at work. These companies think nothing of asking their staff to work evenings and weekends, week after week. However, that doesn’t have to be you!

Discover seven reasons why you can still be successful while working a reasonable work schedule:

1. Improve Decision Making By Working Fewer Hours

As you go through your work day, you are faced with many decisions. You may have to decide between two suppliers. Or you may have to decide which person to hire. If you are tired from working constantly, you are more likely to make mistakes or low quality decisions. The New York Times reported that decision fatigue is one reason why people make unhealthy decisions at home and at work.

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By working fewer hours, you will be able to make better use of your limited decision making energy.

2. Produce More Creative Solutions By Avoiding Excessive Work

Today’s workplace is filled with new problems that nobody has ever faced before. You may be working on a complex sale to a large company. Or you may be working to eliminate bugs in a software product. Your ability to produce creative solutions is vital. If you’re exhausted, research shows you are less likely to come up with creative ideas. Rebecca J. Rosen at The Atlantic has found that stress and exhaustion from overwork makes it more difficult to achieve success in the knowledge economy.

Take a page out of Europe’s playbook and set a limit on your working hours, especially if your job requires creative approaches.

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3. Reduce Conflict By Slowing Down

Rushing to conclusions during a conflict or difference of opinion tends to make conflict worse. When you rush through meetings and work conversations, you are likely to hurt relationships. According to Psychology Today, slowing down a conversation is one of the advanced techniques that hostage negotiators use to solve high stress situations.

To improve your performance during conflicts, go slow and learn from the FBI’s hostage negotiators.

4. Improve Focus By Taking Time To Exercise

Mental clarity and freshness is essential to success when you are working with complex problems. According to research from The University of Texas at Dallas, aerobic exercise such as running improves your memory. Remembering tasks, procedures and other aspects of your work is essential to reaching success. If you’re working all the time, you will have no time for exercise.

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To add time for exercise into your daily routine, start a morning ritual. Get started with productivity expert Jeff Sanders’s mornings 101 series.

5. Understand When You Work Best And Do Your Hardest Tasks Then

Most people have varying energy levels during the day. For example, author and coach Hal Elrod wakes up before 5am and completes most of his work by 12pm. If you ignore those rule and attempt to complete challenging tasks when you are tired, you will be more likely to make mistakes.

Think back over the past five work days and determine when you had the highest energy levels. If you are a morning person, then get your most important tasks done then.

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6. Build Your Home Support System To Stay Productive

In order to stay productive, you need a supportive home environment. For many people, that means spending quality time with loved ones including your spouse. Working occasional long hours is reasonable, but it is dangerous to make it a way of life. If you are distracted by frustrated people at home and a disorganized home, it will be much harder to focus.

Commit to leaving work by a set time each day (e.g. 5pm or 6pm) and communicate that time to people at home.

7. Give Yourself Short Breaks

Getting through a long work day of tasks can be stressful. Sometimes, an overwhelming amount of work causes us to procrastinate. Before long, half the morning (or worse!) is gone. Getting into this pattern is one of the reasons why people end up having to stay late at the office.

If you are struggling to complete a task, work in short focused bursts and then take a break. Entrepreneur John Lee Dumas works in fifty three minute segments and then takes a short break.

Featured photo credit: Success/pascalmwiemers via pixabay.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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