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5 Tools We Always Use Which Actually Make Us Unproductive

5 Tools We Always Use Which Actually Make Us Unproductive

It’s 2015, and technology has come far enough that we human beings are being more productive than ever!

Well, at least, we wish we were.

Some of the very same technologies that were invented to make us more productive are, as it turns out, actually making us less productive. Is it the reliance on technology? Is it that we cannot be invested in things we barely are able to take part in? Research into the various tools and software that we use to stay productive doesn’t give a single, clear answer, but it does offer some insight into what tools are making us less productive. Take a look at these five:

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1. Calendar Software

Let’s take calendar software as an example. Sure, it helps keep things nice and orderly. You have the ability to collaborate with others, share it and it will be there on any technological device you have on hand (for the most part). However, there’s a double-edged sword.

Calendars that are built to be shared or on a platform of some kind run the risk of drawing you in to check your invites for ten minutes, or adjusting the tag colors of the meetings, or even run the risk of someone else cancelling and rescheduling an event. Now you have to go and chase down everything once more and then enter it in once again to your specifications. Kelly James-Enger, author of “Six-Figure Freelancing” swears by writing down appointments and notes by hand on old-fashioned calendars to save time and stay productive

While calendar and scheduling software do allow for keeping us informed on the go, they also come with the downside of distracting us more than they actually keep us in order – ironic? Not really. Our modern minds do love to wander when it comes to menial tasks and scheduling an appointment isn’t a far stretch beyond the definition of menial.

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2. Messengers and communication software

Instant messaging has made things a lot more, well, instant. That means things are super-efficient and fast now, correct? Well, to some degree, sure. However, instant messengers between students or in a workplace have been shown to take the focus off of the actual point of quick communication and inspire a lot more procrastination and gossiping. Quite a few big companies have taken to implement chat software and communication methods that cut down on employees being tempted to look away from their work and chat on how cute the new employee is or commiserate about the boss (a few of you have done it, admit it). In short, instant-messengers have a lot of great uses – they just come at the cost of making us less productive. Sound familiar?

3. Powerpoint

A beloved aid to teacher and student alike, as well as in the corporate world, Powerpoint has proven to be very popular. Popular though it may be, studies have shown that Powerpoint is greatly reducing the amount of productivity, learning and involvement that comes from the people using it. It might be a bit sardonic, but staring blankly at a white sheet with bullet points on it never did feel very productive. That aside, teachers and students still swear by this tool, but those studies have pretty much shown that a big percentage of those lovingly clinging to Powerpoint are probably doing so because of how little effort it invokes in them.

4. Smartphones

That crotchety old man who you see in TV shows that is always yelling about how things were better in his day, and us whipper-snappers were having our brains turned to mush by all of the modern technology we now rely on? Yeah, he’s still someone you should probably ignore, but the problem with smartphones is that they’re working much more smartly than we are.

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“But I can do so much more work now!” you might protest, “I’ve never been as organized and productive as I am with my smartphone!”. OK, great. That neat little device does carry a lot of things to make us more productive. You know what else it carries? Games, Netflix, text-messaging and plenty of other wonders that are making humans even less productive with them than without. It is in the eye of the user, of course, but studies have shown that smartphone owners tend to waste a significant amount of time getting nothing done while others are being more productive with less.

5. Management software

A few business owners out there just shuddered. Management software is typically a big suite of software that companies bring in to address all of their needs: it has a database, a calendar (oh no), the ability to send out email blasts, and it almost never ends up being a perfect fit. The scenario goes: you find the right suite, buy it, spend the time and money getting it implemented, your workers trained, and dollar signs dance in the distance. However, then employees start tweaking it to better suit their needs, or the patch update messed things up, or so on and so forth.

Many who have gone through this process can attest to how much time was wasted repeatedly trying to get the software to work for everyone, or sometimes at all. A one-size-fits-all solution for a business or individual is a dream come true, but it typically remains a distant dream while we become more and more unproductive trying to work around what is meant to be making us lightning efficient. Poetic irony, I suppose.

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When it comes down to it, many of the tools we use to be productive today are a double-edged sword. The laptop I am typing this on now has a bunch of games calling my name, and it is almost comical how potent the sting is. Remember: staying productive is in your hands, and there are always workarounds and ways to adjust your attitude, environment and tools to better help you remain productive.

Featured photo credit: giuseppemilo via flickr.com

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4 Ways to Send a Money Transfer Online INDX.guru 8 Powerful Hidden Features in Stock Market Apps You’ve Probably Missed 4 Apps To Turn You Into A Stock Market Pro (You Should Use) “I would be so successful if someone just gave me a shot”, you might think. Why not be the one to give youreself a shot? Many people out there have mindsets and attitudes that set them up for failure. They might answer my question with, “That's a crazy idea!” or “I've already tried that!” but how much of that is just making excuses? When it comes to limiting your own success, there are ten particular mindsets that turn those answers into self-fulfilling prophecy: 1. Loafing You'll write that novel just as soon as you're done with your favorite show. Oh, but now you're hungry. You'll get started after a snack. Oh, but now that snack has made you sleepy – a little nap couldn't hurt, right? One of the hardest parts, and the most obvious, of achieving success is the actual work. Procrastinating, making excuses or tricking yourself into loafing is just going to cement the fact that nothing will ever get done. It might not sound pretty, or even too easy, but the easiest way to get to success is to just jump in and get going (which is exactly how I got started). 2. Blaming It's not your fault you're not successful – the industry is bad, you don't have the money, etc, etc. When it comes down to it, however, who is the one responsible for your success? You. This is the day and age where people are launching successful start-ups in a few months, getting published online and finding their way to success one way or another. Some things might be out of your control, but blaming others is just going to waste the energy and time you need to get going. 3. Sour-grapes Being envious of the success of others is almost as bad as blaming them. All the time and energy you could be putting into your own goals is going towards a person who more than likely has done nothing but show you that the goal is attainable. You don't have to be applauding their success, but being envious and sour about it is a waste of time – let it roll off your shoulders and dig down towards accomplishing your own goals. 4. Minimizing others success Again, you don't have to be cheering and raving about the success of others, but minimizing their accomplishments looks bad on you and on your own goals. If you attained success, would you want others rolling their eyes and treating it like it is not a big deal in the slightest? I highly doubt it. “So they climbed Mount Everest, big whoop. Plenty of people have done it before”. Have you? 5. Talking You're going to do this, you're going to do that – the proof is in the pudding, ultimately. Talking about your goals and what you're going to accomplish is all well and good, but talking time is better spent actually doing. Talking about your goals has actually been shown to make you less likely to reach them, so zip up those chattering lips and dive in. 6. Making assumptions You know what they say about the word ‘assume’, it makes (a word I’ll leave out of this article) out of ‘u’ and ‘me’ . Unsuccessful people are the best at making assumptions without considering other outlets or opportunities. Missed chance after missed chance can put anyone behind or completely ruin something that you poured a lot of hard work into. People are often surprised at what happens if they take a chance instead of listening to that little pessimist inside their heads. ‘Never assume’ is good advice and it is a mindset you should get out of as quickly as possible. 7. Procrastinating This one is obvious, isn't it? It's about the same as loafing, but even worse because it applies to multiple areas of our lives. That big project? Eh, its not due for a week. My dreams? Eh, I'm going to be taking a class to learn how to write in a few months, I can relax until then. Procrastinating isn't the friend of successful people. Many of them had to learn how to either make procrastination work for them or to barrel through it and press on, even with the proverbial sloth demanding you park it on the couch. 8. Naysaying “It will never work. It is impossible, I just can't ...”. That is about when it is time to take a good look at yourself. There are a plethora of people out there that once thought the same thing: you can't get a man into space, you can't find a way for a human to fly, you can't cure a disease. Well, people did what was once considered impossible. If they can defy the entire world, why can't you defy your internal pessimist and get there? Don't tell yourself that it is impossible. In the world we live in today, it seems like impossible is becoming a word that gets weaker every day, and the same is true of your goals. 9. Consuming Fast food, energy drinks, trash TV – your brain is sobbing at the thought. With all the time spent taking in things that are not good for your brain or body, how can anyone expect it to happily balance out and produce the stuff you need to achieve success? Your output should be greater than your input; though you don't have to take the starving artist spiel literally. The point is, your production is where the value is, not the absorption. 10. Quitting “Well, I tried.” Sure, you tried once. That horse is shaking its head and trotting off to find someone who will get back on it. There's nothing necessarily wrong with cutting your losses sometimes. After all, no experience is ever truly wasted, but quitting is the top enemy to successful people. If you believe in something, if you want to find that success, there is no road map. You may very well have to carve your own path through treacherous jungle. If you give up the first time a mosquito bites you then you've doomed yourself already. Success, in large part, is about the human being in the arena. People cheer for them, their struggle and victory, but the person who watches idly and scoffs, having never tried has also never really lived. Mindsets are not set in stone. It is never too late to get started and change your perspective. After all, achieving success is completely up to you – you are the one making excuses and holding yourself back. You are also the one that will decide when it is time to stand up and get back into that arena. 10 Bad Habits That Stop People From Achieving Success 5 Tools We Always Use Which Actually Make Us Unproductive 5 Tools We Always Use Which Actually Make Us Unproductive

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Last Updated on October 17, 2018

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?

If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.

Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)

So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.

1. Meditate

We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds.

Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.[1]

Fortunately, meditation can help you out.

Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.

And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

2. Get plenty of sleep

If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then I’m guessing you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.

How much sleep should you be getting?

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Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.

Now, I’ll be honest with you, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!). But if you care about improving your short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?

Yes, there are.

Try these three things:

  • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
  • Don’t eat too late
  • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory…

3. Challenge your brain

When was the last time you challenged your brain?

I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or undersleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games.

To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself, has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.

There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

  • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it, try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

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4. Take more breaks

When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively remember working all the hours under the sun – and many under the moon too!

At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat and tears.

However, I was wrong.

Taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

Let me explain.

Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it – in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.

It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.

What’s the answer?

Make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.

5. Learn a new skill

I love this quote, as it’s 100% true – but frequently overlooked:

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

Let me give you an example of this:

Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you – rather than letting you work in your own way.

Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction in to learning a new skill (computer coding). It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.

Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.

6. Start working out

If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory.

Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

“But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.

Not a problem.

A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines.[2] So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.

Interested in getting started?

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Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

  • Join a gym
  • Join a sports team
  • Buy a bike
  • Take up hiking
  • Dance to your favorite music

7. Eat healthier foods

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

This applies to your brain too.

The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health too.

Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.

Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain – leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

Want to be mentally healthy? Then eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

  • Turmeric – helps new brain cells grown
  • Broccoli – protects the brain against damage
  • Nuts – improves memory
  • Green tea – enhances brain performance, memory and focus[3]
  • Fish oilfish oil supplements can increase your brain power

Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

Final thoughts

I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.

You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.

But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.

Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

Reference

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