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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 May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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