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Improve Your Productivity with 5 Laws of Physics

Improve Your Productivity with 5 Laws of Physics

When looking at the different laws of physics, it’s interesting to see how many parallels can be drawn from the world of numbers, calculations and formulas, to our own every day lives, particularly when it comes to our productivity levels. The analogies between the laws of physics and the Five Key Ingredients To Productivity below will give you a new perspective on productivity, as well as some insights into how you can improve it.

1. Setting Goals And Achieving Them

Newton’s First Law Of Motion (The Law Of Inertia) – This law suggests that objects have a natural tendency to keep doing what they’re doing. So an object will remain at rest unless it is forced into action by another force. Likewise, an object in motion will continue to move at the same speed (and direction) unless it is stopped or acted upon by another object/force.

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If you don’t kick-start your system into motion, your productivity levels aren’t likely to magically increase on their own. Finding the motivation to get started is only part of the solution; learning to set goals and developing the right time management techniques will help you achieve an effective and sustainable “speed” on your journey towards achieving those goals. It will require some effort but once you get started, productive routines will become second nature!

2. Self Management – Working Towards Your Goals

Newton’s Second Law Of Motion (The Law Of Force And Acceleration) – This law states that the greater the mass of the object that’s being accelerated, the more force will be needed to accelerate/move it.

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How much energy you put into your goals, as well as which goals you choose to put your energy into, has a huge impact on your productivity. Prioritizing and strategically planning what to focus on and when, will give you clarity on how best to manage yourself. In any equation, all the variables involved are dependent on each other, so how much force/effort you put in, affects not only how much of the mass/task you move, but also with what acceleration and speed you are able to achieve it!

3. Habits: Out With The Old And In With The New

Newton’s Third Law Of Motion (The Law Of Action-Reaction) – This law states that for every action there is an equal or opposite reaction. In other words, if object A applies force to object B, object B will push back from the opposite direction, with the same amount of force.

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For many of us, every day is a battle between productive forces (motivation, focus, etc.), and unproductive ones (stress, exhaustion, etc.). In order for the productive ones to have a consistent enough lead in our lives to make a difference, we need to create the right patterns and habits. When trying to balance the positive and negative forces on your productivity, identifying and eliminating the negative habits isn’t always enough; the creation of new, positive ones, is equally as important.

4. Diet Choices And Why They Matter

Clausius’ First Law Of Thermodynamics (The Law Of Conservation Of Energy) – According to this law, energy can’t be created or destroyed, instead, it can only change forms. The two processes involved in this law are heat and work – in a thermodynamic cycle, the amount of heat that is put into a system equals the amount of work done by the system.

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Your body is a system that expends energy every time you carry out a task, be it mental or physical – it gets this energy from food. When it comes to food, it’s not so much about the quantity but rather what sort of food you choose. Different foods not only provide different amounts of energy, but also differ in how sustainable the energy they provide is. By making healthy diet choices, you’ll instantly be able to tell which foods give you the best results.

5. Using Your Mindset To Move You Forward

Coulomb’s law examines the forces that exist between two electrically charged objects. It states that as the distance between objects increases, the electric fields and forces between them decrease. The force between the two objects can be either negative or positive, depending on whether the objects are repelled or attracted to one another.

Think of yourself as one object and of any one of your goals as another. In this analogy, your mindset is the force between the two objects – it has a direct impact on whether you and your goals are able to connect. A negative mindset force, will lead you further away from your goal, while a positive mindset will let you work your way towards your goal and to actually achieve it!

Learning To Control The Forces That Bring You Closer To Success

Even though initially, rules and laws may seem limiting, this is actually far from the truth. Think of it this way, while the formulas/ingredients to productivity stay the same, the variables and results strongly depend on you! Work through The Five Key Ingredients To Productivity to help you overcome your productivity barriers and to master the forces that will lead you towards success!

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Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

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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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