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3 Smart Productivity Tricks Every Startup Can Learn From Google

3 Smart Productivity Tricks Every Startup Can Learn From Google

Google started out just like you.

It was a small little startup with huge dreams. The thing that makes Google stand apart is just how productive it is.

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Most people on the planet use an application created by the very prolific and productive Google. The magic part of this is that mostly, they do not pay Google for the use of it. So, Google gets a lot of goodwill from prospects as well as a lot of user data because they can serve a vast number of people with all their products. How does Google make its money? As of 2014, approximately 90% of their revenue came from advertising.

How can you copy that?

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How can you become so productive that your startup is able to serve a great number of people and generate lots of goodwill? How can you get people to choose to put their money down and therefore increase your bottom-line?

Lisa Conquergood, the co-founder of PicMonkey, gave an interview where she listed a few of the key differences between Google and the rest of the world. Here are a few smart productivity tricks for every startup

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1. Stay Clear & On Course

Have you heard of the concept of Snippets? This is where employees give a quick idea of what they accomplished the previous week and their intention for the following week. You can implement this, regardless of how big or small your business may be.The key thing to note here is that in taking the time to state what had been done and what is still outstanding, you get instant clarity about what you are up to and whether you are still on course to reach your personal or business goals.Try it and see for yourself. Get yourself a journal (if you are alone at the helm of your business) and take a few minutes to get clear on what your goals are, what you have done, and what you want to do. Are you on course?

2. Stay Up To Date

The second benefit of the Snippets is that all Googlers get access to them, which makes working in Google pretty transparent. You can easily find out how people are progressing on a project and take it over without repeating the same work. In a startup, you can make use of this to ensure you and your team members are able to stay in touch with where you each are on a particular project. Work does not have to stop while one person is off or on holiday, as it is very clear exactly where the project ended. What application can you use for this? Trello is a great option for you, as well as a plain Kanban Board (as shown here on Wikipedia). Depending on the size of your operation, it may be fine just to have a very quick meeting where everyone gives the highlights of what they have done, where they may be stuck, and their goals for a pre-determined time period. Lisa Conquergood and her colleagues do this on a daily basis. Your time period will depend on how many people you have on staff.

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3. Stay In Touch No Matter Where You Are

Googlers have access to a full range of tools that enable them to stay in touch with colleagues who do not work in the same location. This, of course, avoids the need for a high level of travel, which in turn, saves time. Instead, Google Hangouts can be used to have conference calls, which mean you can see each other and read body language. This reduces the likelihood of miscommunication and distraction. With applications like Google Drive also available, you can see real time changes being made to a shared document. This can also streamline content creation, as well as keep a running log of all the changes appearing as they occur. If you have a team that works away from each other, these applications provide a way to stay in touch and keep time wasted down to a bare minimum.

As Lisa Conquergood states (here), “There is less tuning out on video calls, as you are being watched and are less likely to check your phone or have a side conversation. Reading people’s body language and expressions are an important part of communication, and video provides this hands down over a phone.”

Conclusion

Productivity is essential to keep a startup growing and increasing its service to its customers, therefore increasing its profits. Think about what can you implement starting now.

Featured photo credit: Man And Woman Having Business Meeting With Bag, Drinks And Technology via stokpic.com

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Rosemary Nonny Knight

Business & Life Strategist

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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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