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5 Fundamentals of Body Language to Increase Your Success in Life

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5 Fundamentals of Body Language to Increase Your Success in Life

Body language isn’t a mere set of “techniques” or a show to put on for others. It is how you move in this world, and how you move, in many ways, dictates how you feel, what you say, what you strive for and what you allow to escape your grasp. Just as form follows function, so does your inner life — your emotional state, your confidence, your vivacity — follow what your body is doing.

For instance, when you hold your body with confidence, you will actually feel more confident. If you slump your shoulders and hang your head, looking down, your brain will read that as sadness and depression, and you will actually FEEL sadder and more listless. Furthermore, as is widely shown by research, your body language — by an overwhelming margin — is the most instant and visceral way that people assess who you “really” are.

A weak limp-fish handshake, for example, will immediately cause us to peg someone as ineffectual, unconfident and untrustworthy. By contrast, someone who crushes your hand and booms their self-introduction will immediately cause us to either cower to power, if we are the subservient type — or see through the bluster and surmise that this fellow is deeply insecure and overcompensating.

How you move your body is a language of its own, and one that is interpreted by others non-stop. And whether you seek more influence and power in your professional life, or more intimacy and clarity in your personal or intimate life, self-awareness in your body language is crucial.

As someone who has coached hundreds of people in personal and professional success, let me give you five of the most important body language “expressions,” so that you can more easily live the life you desire.

1. Do you show up as open or closed?

In my work around dating and intimacy, I begin by moving people away from the language of right and wrong, and more into the language of “open and closed.” For example, does what you say or do “open” the other person’s heart or close it.

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Similarly, your body language signals to anybody you encounter whether your heart or being feels open and receptive, or closed and anxious, judgmental, or afraid. “Open” body language signals trust, warmth, solidity, and comfort in being yourself and it feels inviting to others. “Closed” body language, by contrast, signals coldness, insecurity, isolation, and it makes the other person feel outside your sphere, pushed-away and unaccepted.

So, what are some ways you can start to cultivate open body language?

A. Do your eyes say “Welcome!” or “Scram!”?

Oftentimes the first form of connection with another person will be through your eye contact. Clearly, squinting suspiciously will convey that you are initially closed to another. By contrast, warm, relaxed eyes, and an easy slow smile when you encounter someone, will make them feel welcome and accepted.

B. Is your chest open to the other or closed off?

Think about a person with arms crossed tightly over their chest. Do they feel warm, receptive and friendly? Or guarded and judgmental?

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Uncrossing your arms, and not holding anything in front of you (like a drink, or books or folders) signals that you’re open to interact with people and ready to face what the world brings, whatever it brings. However, when you block your chest (your heart) with folded arms or objects, it may seem like you’re trying to protect yourself from something consciously or not.

C. How is your posture?

Think military posture. Think an invisibly thin steel cable from the crown of your head straight up to heaven. Think a straight spine. Think eye-level. Think feet planted solidly on the ground, with your weight evenly distributed. This kind of posture conveys strength, solidity, alertness and confidence. By contrast, if you hunch your shoulders and head is drooping down, if if you’re weight is uneven, you convey a lack of sureness, a lack of solidity.

2. What is your voice saying?

Words matter, but meaning is always dependent upon tonality. In workshops, I have students say “I love you” like a toddler, a murderer, a lovesick schoolboy, a dying wife after 50 years of marriage. How you say it matters as much as what you say.

It’s the same with daily expressions such as “No,” or “I disagree.” Try it with multiple emotions, and you’ll see how important tonality is. If you want to convey authority, practice that with common expressions. If you tend to come off as cold, and you want to convey warmth, practice that. If you want to inject more positivity into your interactions, then add positivity .

Start noticing the tonality of your voice and others and the social dynamics in your life will start shifting. Importantly, those with whom you interact will notice too. This article on Vixen Daily shows you how to use body language to become more well liked by everyone around you.

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3. Add a personal touch.

When people communicate, it’s out of a desire to connect with each other — even if for a brief moment. To raise the level of connection people feel with you, try establishing touch. Now, there are many kinds of touch — and some of it can feel unwelcome. You may remember George W. Bush’s unwelcome massaging of Angela Merkel’s shoulders.

To create a sense of appropriateness, start slow. Simply high-fiving the person when you both agree on something you really like gives them to opportunity to join in the initial touch, and that’s a two-way interaction rather than forced upon them. Or, at a moment of agreement or laughter or sudden closeness or understanding you can briefly touch someone’s upper arm. A simple touch like that is usually not felt as intrusive and it can quickly deepen the connection that you’re having with another person.

Studies show that simple touch increases feelings of good will — something that every savvy restaurant server knows. That touch on the shoulder along with the check? It adds between 19–28 percent great tip, according to some studies. For insight into the best body language for negotiating with people, check out this article.

4. Are we far apart or close?

Whether you know it or not, the physical distance that you’re close or far away from a person influences the kind of impact you have on them. The closer you are to a person when you’re communicating, the deeper the connection will be felt between the both of you. If you’re farther away, the lesser the connection will be.

Of course, the “Seinfeld Rule” holds true here — which is that an overly “close talker” can feel inappropriately intrusive. Try modulating your physical distance and see for yourself. Speak to a friend then get up and slowly distance yourself from your friend as you’re speaking. You’ll feel a psychological difference, and they will too.

Here’s another spatial-intimacy trick of the trade. Instead of standing directly opposite someone, which can create a primal “confrontation” feeling (especially if you physically larger), try standing to a person’s side and speaking with them, which half-looking out at the world together. It’ll have the both of you feel as if you’re a team.

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This article has great body language tips to apply to your life.

5. “Oh! We are alike!”

In our brains, we have what we now know as “mirror neurons.” These mirror neurons help us understand one another and the gestures we make to each other. Simply put, mirror neurons induce us to “mirror back” speech patterns or physical gestures as an unconscious was to create a sense of “tribe” or likeness.

So how can you use them to your advantage to create a sense of connection? Simply mimic the gestures, key words, vocal tonality, and pace of speech of the person you’re talking to. Doing this will deepen the connection level between you two because we all have a similarity bias, which means that we tend to like people whom we find our similar to us.

If the person to whom you’re speaking speaks quickly, try matching that pace. If they use an unusual word like “indubitably,” find a way to work that into your vocabulary while talking with them. If they pound the table while enjoying a joke, do the same. If they lean in to listen closely, then you lean in to listen closely to them.

These may seem like insignificant gestures, but they create a tremendous amount of familiarity and comfort — which is a way of saying primal safety. You may convey all kinds of messages with the words you speak — when you speak — but your body always broadcasts frequencies of information about you twenty-four-seven.

The question is, which frequency — friendly or unfriendly, safe or unsafe, authoritative or submissive — do you want to send? These five fundamental body language secrets will speed your toward your goals.

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Featured photo credit: bad boy Look by Ryan McGuire via imcreator.com

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Nick Bastion

Love Expert, Relationship Coach, Author

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Last Updated on October 28, 2021

15 Strategies for an Effective To-Do List

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15 Strategies for an Effective To-Do List

One of the age-old productivity techniques around is the classic and effective to do list, and for good reason. It’s one of the most productive ways for you and everyone else to get anything done. Whether it’s a mental list or something that you are writing down, a to do list is an essential productivity tool.

At the same time, it is one of the most confusing productivity tools around. Many people discredit this for various reasons and don’t believe that a to do list is any good. But my argument is that maybe you and other people aren’t making an effective to do list, so here we will go over how to get one done right.

Why Bother With an Effective To-Do List?

You’ve Been Using Them Wrong

Before jumping into strategies to make an effective to do list, it’s worth knowing why you should bother making one. The first important point is that many people have been making to do lists all wrong.

Two of the most common mistakes are:

  • People use lists as a measurement of whether they are productive or not.
  • They put too many items on the list.

It’s understandable why you or other people do this, though. A to do list is a productivity tool, so it makes sense to pile on tasks. However, the brain doesn’t work that way. If you have a lot of tasks on your list, it feels like torture as the list never ends.

At first, it can feel nice that you always have something to do, but keep in mind that you only have so much time in a day. It’s important that you place more value in quality work rather than sheer quantity.

On that same note, if you are someone who has a tendency to seek validation, a to do list can be tough. There will be days where you won’t get everything done due to life events. This creates unnecessary pressure and sends you into a stress whirlwind.

It Helps You Stay Focused

When you build an effective to-do list, the main goal of these lists is to provide clarity and focus. If you’ve been doing them wrong, you may have noticed that you are focusing in on a task on your to do list and getting it done.

This may be overshadowed by the multiple items on your list, but you are focusing on a task during a given time. You really see this in action when you consider having a shorter to do list, though.

I understand that a to do list isn’t for every single person, but this focus is helpful to people when starting out. You’re still not certain about your goals or the path that you want to take. You may also struggle to determine the next step to work towards.

A to do list is a guide you can refer back to it whenever you need it. Furthermore, the techniques that I’ll be mentioning below will make to do lists more effective for you.

15 Strategies for an Effective To Do List

You’ll begin to see how powerful a to do list is when you consider the various strategies you can incorporate in one. This is your to do list, so pick from the strategies below to find what suits you. If you’re not certain, don’t be afraid to experiment and mishmash several combinations.

Remember that the road to success is one with many branching paths, so the methods you use are your choice.

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1. Break the List Into Two Parts

The first strategy is to break a list into two parts. These two parts are called dailies and to do’s.

Dailies are the everyday tasks that you want to develop more. For example, if you want to make a habit out of exercising in the morning, a daily task could be following a 15-minute workout routine or going for an hour-long walk.

Your to do’s are non-daily tasks that you need to be getting done at some point. Maybe you need to prepare a report at work or make a presentation. You can put that into your to do column.

This is an effective strategy because it saves all the clutter that most people gravitate towards. As mentioned before, people stuff their lists, and a lot of it is usually tasks they you would do anyway, like going grocery shopping or dropping the kids off at a friend’s place.

2. Put a Limit on Items

If you find breaking your list into two parts too much, I’ll suggest brevity to be a virtue when making these lists. You can set any number of items, but the key is that you do have a set limit in mind. Some people have no more than seven while others go as low as three. Do what makes you feel comfortable.

The idea behind this is to narrow in on the most important tasks that you need to accomplish that day. Of course, there are other things that you’ll be doing during the day, and that’s fine, but you want to prioritize the items that on your to do list before the day is done.

3. Use Checklists for Complex Tasks

If you’re already making narrow lists but are putting in tougher tasks, my suggestion is to break that task down. Whether it’s full-on steps you need to take or jotting down important details that need to be present is up to you.

Either way, this allows you to ensure that you’re getting everything done the proper way and that you’re not missing any key details or steps.

4. Tackle MITs First

MIT is the “most important task.” Another way to look at this is to tackle the largest and most intimidating task first[1]. Why you want to do this goes back to how our brain works.

You may feel compelled to do the easier tasks first before getting to the bigger task, but the problem is that these tasks—even the easy ones—drain your energy. Furthermore, if you have a really big task to complete, chances are that’s going to be on your mind over the course of the day. That means you’re spending more energy just thinking about it.

All of that wouldn’t be a problem if that big intimidating task was dealt with first thing in the morning.

5. Create a “Done” List

Another interesting approach to consider is to have a “done” list. This is a list of the tasks that you’ve completed from your to do list. Many people find it satisfying to merely cross an item off their list and be done with it, but depending on what you’re putting on those lists, a done list could be inspiring.

Imagine if you are someone who places above-average difficult tasks on your to do lists, activities that require an hour or two to complete properly. This can inspire you to do more if, after a day of working, you notice just how much you accomplished over the course of the day via this list.

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6. Make Your List Easy to Spot

From colorful paper to posting it in an obvious spot, you want your list to be in a place where you can spot it easily. Mind you, you don’t need to have this list in front of you all the time as it could create unnecessary stress. But setting it to one side is a nice idea—a glance to the side and you know exactly what needs to get done.

7. Add Gaming Elements to It

If pen and paper isn’t your thing when making to do lists, there are several apps that can guide you along as well. The beauty of to do list apps is that there is more room for creativity, and some of the developers incorporate games into them.

For example, Todoist has an achievement system where individuals earn badges as they complete more tasks. There’s also Bounty Tasker, which makes you feel like your tasks are side quests in a video game.

8. Give Yourself Deadlines

Work expands to fill time allotted.

It’s an old philosophy that still rings true with how we are productive. For example, say you’re assigned to write a report, and you’re given a week to do it. You’ll likely work on it steadily throughout the week. Or if you’re a procrastinator, you’ll put it off until the night before and finish it.

But what if you’re given that same task and only allotted an hour to complete it? You’ll likely get the report done, but you’ll prioritize the main, important points and highlight those rather than fill it with unnecessary fluff.

The whole point of this is that with your goals and the items on your to do list, you want to have deadlines. When it comes to to do lists, my suggestion is to give yourself a day to complete the tasks there. This is enough pressure and incentive for you to work hard on them.

9. Add Tasks When They’re Fresh

Another strategy is to assign yourself tasks even when you are working on something else. Keep in mind it’s not something you have to do right now, but this can help with people who are struggling to think about what to focus on next.

This is along the same lines as when you hear something interesting and you write it down. It’s a wise thing to do as it saves you the bother of having to dwell on that idea rather than focusing on the task at hand. It also saves you from having to recall what the task is if you’re the type to write up the next day’s to do list at the end of the day.

10. Be Comfortable With Revising Your To-Do List

Depending on your overall mindset, another good strategy is to look at your to do list and make changes to it. If you’re practicing the previous strategy, there may be a possibility that your to do list is getting lengthy and you’re setting unrealistic expectations that you can finish it all.

By giving yourself the opportunity to revise your to do list, your allowing yourself to spread out your tasks rather than have them clumped up. This helps your mindset as you’re not overwhelmed by the list.

11. Write Tasks, Not Goals

You should have separate lists for your tasks and your goals. The idea is to not put goals on your task list at all.

While tasks can help you lead to your goals, goals are larger desires and not something that you can achieve over the course of the day. For example, “learn to speak French” is a goal; however, you can break that into a task by saying “read French content for 15 minutes” or “watch a movie in French.”

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This also extends to objectives, too. You can see these as milestones. Going back to the example of speaking French, an objective can be, “discuss my favorite foods with someone in French.” It’s the desired outcome that you’re looking for from your practice.

12. Keep To Do Lists Brief

Here, brief means scannable in that you can quickly look over at the list and know what needs to get done. How you can do this is by focusing on the keywords of specific tasks and not dragging them out. For example, say your garage is a mess and you want to clean it up. Instead of writing a lengthy sentence, keep it short and write something like “clean garage for 30 min.” or simply “clean garage.”

With this strategy, you’re spending less time writing the task down when making the to do list. Furthermore, you’re relying on trigger words to get your mind to recall specific details for that task.

13. Have Multiple Lists

As mentioned above, it’s a good idea to have separate lists for various things, like having a separate list for goals, objectives, daily tasks, and to do’s. Another way you can look at it is to have a system where you are consulting from three lists.

These lists are:

A Master List

This is where any of your long-term goals are, things like moving to a new house, getting out of debt, or building a business. These are things that will take a year or more to accomplish.

A Weekly Project List

These are things that you want to accomplish by the end of the week. These are things that will move the needle slowly towards some of the items on your master list. From the previous example, these could be doing research on getting a business loan, house hunting, or setting up a savings account.

A High-Impact List

Lastly, these are tasks that need to be accomplished today. Whether they are related to the previous two lists or not doesn’t matter. This is where high priority tasks are placed. Examples can be calling specific people or working on a project or a report that’s due soon.

By having these lists in place, you’ll be referring often to the weekly project list and the high-impact list and determining whether a weekly task should be moved to that list.

As you do that, you’ll begin to notice how much your daily life has an impact on those goals that are written on that master list. That can be inspiring since what you are doing is actively bringing you closer to your goals.

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14. Don’t Ramp up Difficulty Until You’re Ready

Some of the strategies mentioned can seem easy on the surface, but they require a lot of mental fortitude. Motivation is an unusual thing, and our brains are wired to process a certain way. If you’re looking for genuine change and something that sticks, the best principle is to keep things simple and easy at first.

It may be a drag, but you don’t often realize how those baby steps can play a crucial role in you being able to start running and chasing your dreams. Don’t be ashamed if you have to start off with simple tasks for yourself. Even going back to daily tasks that you do anyway like showering, doing the laundry or shopping for food is a good way to start.

Putting those items on the list at first makes you feel like you’ve had a productive day. From there, you can challenge yourself with more difficult tasks. Incorporate an exercise routine or spend a half-hour on a task that means something to you.

The idea is to ease yourself into a routine so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

15. Measure Your Time

The last strategy that can help you is to measure your time. How long does it take you to finish a specific task? You don’t need to go for specifics, but make a point of timing yourself over the course of a week and get the average time spent on that task.

Why is this important? This information can be broken down in two ways.

The first way is to use it as a marker to boost efficiency. Depending on the task, you can find new ways to achieve the same results in a shorter time.

It also allows you to know what you can do in a given day. If you know that it takes you an hour or so to go through your entire morning routine, you’ll be more conscious about how you move through that routine.

Furthermore, if you know what tasks you’ll be doing the next day, you can better manage your time since you know roughly how much time it’ll take to get everything done.

Final Thoughts

Building an effective to do list is not as easy as it seems.

There are all kinds of unique strategies to try out, some more challenging that others. However, if you are motivated to use this productivity tool to make your life easier, then it will get easier.

All that you need to do is keep putting effort and experiment and reevaluate when necessary. So get started with your to do lists today.

More Tips on Using an Effective To Do List

Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews Digital Content Production via unsplash.com

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