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Productivity Hacks for Business Travelers

Productivity Hacks for Business Travelers

Keeping productive while traveling means that you don’t have a backlog of work to battle through when you return to the office — it also means that you might actually have some time to check out the sights while you are away (yes, seriously!). All it takes is a bit of organization, some life-changing gadgets, and a couple of apps that will assist in making your life so much easier! Here are top tips for epic business travelers.

Worldwide Wi-Fi

Yes, it exists — get online in millions of locations around the world. You can even connect when you are in-flight. From hotels to airports, convention centers to trains; a global Wi-Fi pass means you can keep working when you need to wherever you are without having to even think about roaming charges.

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Apps That Organize

There are a few more apps that will help you keep on top of things: Tripit stores all of your itineraries so you don’t have to rummage through loads of papers or search your emails; everything is easy to find in one place. Another great app for expenses is Expensify. You can take photos of receipts and collate all your expenses, and then at the end of your trip, you can send it all to the accounts department so you don’t have to deal with your expenses when you get back to the office.

Pre-Packing

If you travel for business often, save yourself loads of time and leave a set of toiletries, your international SIM card, travel adapter, passport, and phone charger in your suitcase, so you never forget the essential items. This also enables you to pack in minutes!

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Portable Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi isn’t always available, so it’s a good idea to have a backup solution so you can make sure you can get some work done or browse the web if you need to. Grab a portable Wi-Fi hotspot, as one of these will enable you to set up a private Wi-Fi hotspot for you and as many as 32 devices (most portable hotspots support about 10–15 devices). You can use them anywhere in the world. If you make sure you get one that is unlocked, you can use any SIM card inside, so you can always get the best data rates.

Making Use of Waiting Time

Traveling means a lot of waiting time: at the airport, on the train, in a taxi, etc. You can make use of this time by getting work done, planning what sights you want to see, and charging your gadgets. The more organized you are, the smoother your trip will be and the more time you will have. Download an app called maps.me; not only will it enable you to navigate your way around your destination, but it also enables you to plot where your hotel is, where the meetings you have are, and where attractions  you want to visit are. What’s more, you can plot these locations using color-coded pins. This essential app means you can zap between appointments and see sights on the way.

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Currency Cards

These are so handy to have when you haven’t converted any money, and you can’t find an ATM. What’s more,your company can buy it for you preloaded with money in the currency of your choice. They are really useful when you are in a hurry, or if things don’t go to plan, especially since you can add more money using your phone. Less running around trying to find cash means more time doing something productive.

Power Banks

The last thing you want is to run out of battery as that will significantly impact your ability to be productive. Make sure you have a high battery capacity power bank with you to prevent such incidents. You can get power banks that charge the average device up fully 20 times before they need recharging — and they fit in the palm of your hand. The average phone is 2000mAh so you will need a power bank that is at least 10000mAh, especially if you have other devices (tablets, portable Wi-Fi, laptop, etc.).

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What are your top tips for staying productive while you travel for business?

Featured photo credit: Productivity Hacks for Business Travellers via lifehack.org

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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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