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10 Psychological Hacks To Make You More Creative And Productive At Work

10 Psychological Hacks To Make You More Creative And Productive At Work

Many times, when we think about productivity, we think in terms of time-management tricks, how to get motivated, and ways to work faster. The focus is often on getting more and more done, faster and faster. But what if we just slowed down a bit and thought about productivity in its truest form: being able to create or produce in the most efficient way possible, not necessarily in the fastest time possible?

Our lives would be so much better, and far less stressful.

Doing too much, too fast isn’t a great strategy. It overworks the mind, and our bodies can’t keep up in the long run. We burn out eventually. That is why it’s necessary to chart a new course for being productive that doesn’t rely solely on tricks to be faster. After all, when our minds get overworked and we burn out, it can take 6 months to 2 years or more to fully recover. Who wants that?

Here are some psychological tricks that will help you influence your own mind in such a way that you become more creative and productivity at work.

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Hacks to Boost Creativity

1. Establish psychological distance.

Ever wonder why it’s easier to give advice to a friend than it is to solve your own problems? It’s because you are “psychologically distant” from your friend’s problem, meaning you can think more clearly and logically about the issue. If you want to gain clarity and new insights on what you are working on, step away from the task for a while. That will help you to be “psychologically distant.” Studies show that establishing psychological distance between you and a problem boosts your creativity and allows you to think more objectively.

2. Allow yourself to daydream a little.

Daydreaming or mind wondering is a common feature at work. You can be sitting at your desk working and suddenly you realize your mind is elsewhere—probably thinking about the kids or what you will have for dinner. Rather than feel bad about it, or bash yourself for “slacking off,” embrace it. A little daydreaming can boost creativity. That’s because it allows your brain to relax and think outside the box. Researchers actually say that our most inventive and creative moments come when daydreaming.

It’s when daydreaming that the mind can make associations between bits of information buried in our subconscious that we had never considered in that particular way.

“This accounts for creativity, insights of wisdom and oftentimes the solutions to problems that the person had not considered,” explains Eugenio M. Rothe, a psychiatrist at Florida International University.

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3. Listen to uplifting music.

Music plays an important role in how we feel and interpret the world. If you are looking for some motivation, inspiration for creative thought, or just looking to calm your mind so you can think more clearly at work, listen to some uplifting music. Mozart’s piano sonatas and Beethoven’s immortal classics, for example, can help you do exactly that. Not only will you lift your mood and feel happier when you listen to music, you’ll be able to move through dull, repetitive tasks quicker and more inspired.

4. Get a little messy.

This might sound strange or counterproductive, but a messy desk at work can actually indicate higher creativity. Those workers who thrive in messiness or a lack of organization are in fact often more creatively minded. That’s because a little disorganization is a creativity stimulus itself. You train yourself to become a better problem solver and more adept at tackling crises as they arise when you get a little messy at work.

Of course, everything should be done in moderation. Being too disorganized might set off worrisome alarms and hinder creativity and productivity just as well.

5. Stay connected with people.

Working alone for long periods, day after day can bring problems. Human beings are social creatures and we need outside stimulation and interaction with fellow human beings to thrive. Your creativity will go down, your productivity will follow suit, and your effectiveness will go down as well when you work in total isolation. So, slot in adequate time for social interaction during work to stimulate your mind, but not too much time as your productivity may go down again. Use good judgment.

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Hacks to Boost Productivity

6. Set realistic deadlines for yourself.

This is an effective way to not only improve task performance, but to also decrease procrastination, according to a study by MIT Sloan School of Management and INSEAD Business School. Simply knowing you have a deadline to meet tunes the mind properly and provides the motivation you need to tackle the job head-on and finish it when it ought to be finished. You may even impose on yourself consequences for failure to meet self-scheduled deadlines just to raise the stakes a little higher.

7. Reward yourself for a job well done.

Give yourself a reward each time you complete a task in a proper and timely manner. Do this every time immediately after you’ve finished the task. That will program your brain to believe that you will always reward it for tasks well done. When you do this consistently, you may find that you’ll become more motivated to get the job done every day, on time and on priority.

8. Practice mindfulness.

People are easily distracted from tasks they find boring or have no interest in. This is one of the reasons we procrastinate at work. To counter distractions, practice mindfulness. This involves staying completely aware of (paying close attention to) your responsibilities. Focus on one task at any given moment to ground yourself. Once you train your mind to pay close attention on what is happening in the moment, you will find it easier to avoid distractions and get work done more effectively.

9. Surround yourself with plants.

People who keep living plants nearby while at work are often calmer, happier, and more self-driven. Why, you ask? Because live plants alter our perspective and perception of our work environment, explains Marlon Nieuwenhuis and his research team. Just one plant can boost your productivity significantly as you begin to consider your office a healthier place to work. And indeed, your office will be a healthier place to work in with greenery nearby. That’s because plants improve air quality in the office, enhancing your concentration and general workplace satisfaction

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10. Bring in natural light.

Can’t stand sitting under the fluorescent light bulbs beaming above your office desk any longer? Good—those bulbs are hindering your productivity. People who spend large chunks of time indoors and are not exposed to natural light are generally more stressed, depressed, and tend to let those feelings bleed into their personal and professional lives, too.

Fortunately, studies show that natural light exposure may help to increase serotonin levels in the brain and alleviate depression symptoms. Get outside more and change your office or desk light bulbs out with those designed to mimic natural sunlight. This will fight this sad, unmotivating effect and you’ll feel happier, more inspired, and more productive at work.

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David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on April 8, 2020

11 Things Overachievers Do Differently

11 Things Overachievers Do Differently

We all know some overachievers: supermoms who manage to get online degrees between cleaning, cooking, and taking kids to practice; students who write 10-page papers when the directions call for 4; managers whose resumes look more like pages from the Guinness book of Records.

How do they do it all? How is it possible that one person can graduate at the top of their class, found an orphanage in India, run 30k marathons, write a best-selling book, travel all over the world and learn to speak Mandarin Chinese while having a full-time job?

What’s the secret of an overachiever? Here’re 11 things overachievers do differently that you can learn from.

1. They Know How to Manage Their Time

It’s pretty simple actually – you can never become an overachiever if you don’t know how to organize your time efficiently.

The great thing is that overachievers are ready to share their knowledge and time management talent with the rest of the world. Read The 4-Hour Workweek or The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

2. They Don’t Spend Hours Watching TV or Playing Computer Games

Mostly because they have better things to do, like exercising, reading, spending an evening with their family or volunteering to work in the local soup kitchen. Their philosophy is simple – the world is full of wonderful things to try, explore and experience. Watching TV is not one of them.

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3. They Are Obsessed With Perfection

Imagine Steve Jobs’ work approach and you’ll understand the level of perfection and painfully high standards that overachievers set for themselves and those around them. Often it pays off (especially if they focus on just one domain). But sometimes compulsive over-striving turns into a sure-fire road to disappointments and unfinished tasks.

Learn how to strike a balance: How Not to Let Perfectionism Secretly Screw You Up

4. They Know How To Inspire

Overachievers learn quickly that it is much easier to achieve goals through collaboration (and especially delegation). So they know how to inspire, encourage, persuade and motivate people around them. Even though they often drive their team crazy with their stubbornness and perfectionism, people quickly follow under the spell of their enthusiasm and greater vision.

Learn these 10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively.

5. They Set Clear Goals

The term “overachiever” itself implies that they know how to achieve goals. That is kind of hard to do if your goals are vague, unclear and lack specific deadline, which is why overachievers educate themselves, read goal-setting books, and think about the best way to approach a new task.

Although, it’s worth mentioning that overachievers usually use their time management and goal-setting skills towards competitive, “I want to kick butt” type of goals rather than self-improvement, mastery goals.

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Take a look at these tips to help you set clearer goals: What Are SMART Goals (And How to Use Them to Become Successful)

6. They Are Organized

It’s hard to imagine a disorganized overachiever, isn’t it? Their great organizational and planning skills usually serve three main purposes: keeping track of time, keeping track of progress and keeping track of achievements.

This hasn’t been confirmed by scientific research yet, but overachievers might actually get a “runner’s high” from crossing tasks off their to-do lists, and making new to-do lists.

Here’s How to Organize Your Life: 10 Habits of Really Organized People

7. They Try to Avoid Failure at All Costs

Some psychologists believe that overachievers place their self-worth on their competence, driven by an underlying fear of failure. Rather than setting and striving for goals based on a pure desire to achieve, their core motivation becomes avoiding failure. This may explain the fact that overachiever beat themselves up for even little setbacks and seemingly-insignificant mistakes.

But be aware that having a strong fear of failure can wrek havoc your productivity. So the best thing to do? Learn to conquer the fear: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It)

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8. They Love Awards

Who doesn’t love them, right? True enough, but unlike most people who like to feel acknowledged and appreciated for their efforts, overachievers are bent on collecting ‘awards’, be it university degrees, spelling bee prizes or unusual destinations.

While loving awares isn’t bad, it’s even better if you’re driven by internal motivation instead of external ones which could be quite uncontrolable or unstable: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It).

9. They Don’t Understand the Concept of Work Hours

Don’t get surprised if you receive a work-related email anywhere between 8 p.m. and midnight. It’s something overachievers usually do and you weren’t the only one. At least 20 more emails have been sent during these hours to other people. The concepts of over-achieving and working overtime usually go hand in hand.

The downside of this is an imbalnced life, which may need to problems in other aspects of life including health and relationships. A better way is to Achieve a Realistic Work Life Balance.

10. They Rest

Overachievers might often be labeled as “workaholics”, because they often ignore bodily signs of hunger, fatigue and even a full bladder, hoping to finish just one last little part. This doesn’t mean that overachievers don’t know how to disconnect and relax.

True that they tend to work in the highest gear, but they also have enough sense to give themselves time to rest and recharge. Of course, they do it in their own overachieving way, preferring climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or hiking through the Amazon jungle to lazing on the beach.

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11. Overachievers Continuously Educate Themselves

A great quality that most overachievers have is the hunger for knowledge. They surround themselves with bright people. They know how to listen, and most importantly, they get tons of mentoring.

Despite the fact that overachievers want to excel at everything they set their minds on, they are humble enough to admit that to get on top of their game, they need help. And they are willing to pay someone to push, coach and guide them.

You too can learn How to Create a Habit of Continuous Learning for a Better You.

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Featured photo credit: Nghia Le via unsplash.com

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