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5 Ways Opportunity Addiction Can Negatively Affect Your Career

5 Ways Opportunity Addiction Can Negatively Affect Your Career

Gambling addicts and hoarders may seem like two very different groups of people. The former risks losing everything and the latter doesn’t let anything go. Although there are many different reasons why people gamble, as well as many different reasons why people hoard, a large proportion of people in both of these demographics seem to share a common problem: addiction to perceived opportunity.

Gamblers see opportunity in every bet.

According to a study of pathological gambling in the journal , “Chasing losses was associated with increased activity in cortical areas linked to incentive-motivation and an expectation of reward.” Chasing losses is widespread among gambling addicts, driving the individual toward perpetual investment in a game where they are mathematically guaranteed to lose everything over time. Although the opportunity is not real, it is the perceived opportunity keeping gamblers trapped in the downward spiral.

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Hoarders see opportunity in every possession. 

Many hoarders face a similar cognitive trap. In the book Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Thingsthe authors present case studies of various hoarders. One common trait among many hoarders is the idea that some day their stuff will come in handy; throwing something out could mean throwing away a potential opportunity. One hoarder described her inability to discard any special offers from the mail, believing that one day the offer would be of use. Addiction to perceived opportunity keeps hoarders trapped in the downward spiral of acquiring so many trivial possessions, but lacking the ability to make any meaningful decisions regarding how to manage it all.

Opportunity addiction is a major component of FOMO.

Fear of missing out (FOMO), has recently become a popular concept. It is often discussed as a modern anxiety characterized by fearing social exclusion; but this is only part of the problem. Just like gamblers and hoarders, FOMO is a form of addiction to perceived opportunity. Think about it; compulsively checking your phone, Facebook page, or email is more of an addiction than a fear response.

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Here are five ways opportunity addiction can negatively affect your career:

  1.  Spreading yourself thin by getting involved in too many projects.
  2.  Checking emails too often at the cost of doing focused work.
  3.  Cluttering your desktop with documents that might be important.
  4.  Passing out too many business cards at conferences without deeply connecting.
  5.  Checking LinkedIn too often.

The thought of opportunity may limit your action toward actual opportunity.  

Opportunities are created when you build skills that allow you to provide something of value in the world or when you connect with others who want to use your product or skill. The former is education and personal/professional development; the latter is sales/marketing. Opportunity addiction distracts us from doing the things that matter by allowing us to take an easy way out.

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Holding on to the idea that we will eventually hit the career jackpot, we compulsively distract ourselves by checking messages, saving articles or offers we believe we’ll deal with later, and spamming potential contacts or customers without getting to know them or their unique needs.

Be aware of your habits.

Addiction to perceived opportunity may be an ingrained part of the human condition, but it can be overcome. Recent research in the field of Neuroscience is demonstrating that our habits can become addictions. Habits are also a key target among Cognitive-behavioral therapists who treat addictions. Among addicts, strong desire is triggered during particular daily routines, actions, or physical locations.

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If you find yourself regularly squandering your time on tasks that keep you from doing the work that matters, create a plan to break the habit. Just as you would set an alarm-clock across the room to prevent your arm from habitually turning it off without you noticing, identify problematic points in your day and pre-plan an alternative way of conducting your task, bypassing situational triggers. This is distinct from anxiety treatments that slowly expose individuals to their triggers. Addicts are retraining a dysfunctional reward mechanism rather than a dysfunctional fear mechanism.

We might want to reconsider the accuracy of the “F” in FOMO. Many fixations with new forms of media seem to be based on addiction rather than fear.

Featured photo credit: addictionmodesto via addictionmodesto.com

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5 Ways Opportunity Addiction Can Negatively Affect Your Career

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5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

Not being able to stay productive at work is a problem that everyone runs into at some point; no matter how much you like your job, there are certain factors that prevent you from staying at maximum proficiency throughout the whole day.

A lack of productive focus at work can lead to extra stress on yourself, missed deadlines, passed opportunities, raise denial, demotion and even termination.

So, if you are someone who has trouble with your productivity, here are five effective tips on how to be productive at work:

1. Take breaks

First and foremost, it’s important for you to take regular breaks. Trying to work throughout the whole day will tire your brain, which will then cause you to doze off and think about something else.

If you keep working your brain, it will fill up and get jumbled with information—sort of like a computer hard drive. Taking a break would be like resetting your computer so that it can start afresh, or de-fragmenting the data so that all the information is in order.

This is a great thing because it allows you to solve problems you were unable to solve previously, by seeing it differently; if you are able to organize your thoughts properly, you will be able to take in new information more easily.

There have even been studies about methods of saving time and staying proficient, and taking breaks is one of the leading factors.

According to Christine Hohlbaum, the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World, eating lunch away from your work area every day will greatly increase your productivity. Eating in your work area will give you the illusion that you are working, but whether you like it or not, your brain will begin to wander and think of something else and then you will be working tirelessly with no progress.

It’s important to take breaks before and during work too: if you come to work in a rush because you woke up late, your mind will not be mentally prepared for the day ahead, and you will spend the first 10 to 15 minutes trying to get organized and composed before you can actually start working.

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Instead, you should try to wake up 20 minutes earlier than the time it would take you to “just get” to work. Take that time to stare off into space and not worry about anything.

If you do this, your brain will be empty and ready for all the challenges it has coming for the next few hours.

If your employer only allows a set amount of breaks during the workday, that doesn’t mean you can’t just get up and walk around for a quick break every now and then.

Even if it’s only 5 minutes, it will refresh your brain and you will gain renewed energy to do your job.

Learn more about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

2. Pace yourself and balance your workload

One problem that most people run into is that they underestimate the amount of work they have to do, and end up doing 50% of the work in the last 20% of the time they have to do it. This is due to an issue of balancing one’s workload.

When you receive a project, or are doing a job you normally do, take some time to really plan out your work schedule.

Consider how much time it took you to do this last time; determine how you can break the project into smaller parts and which can only be accomplished on certain days, and whether anything might come up that could interfere with your plan.

All of these questions are important for starting on a project, and when answered, they will help you stay productive throughout each day.

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For example, if you needed to design a project to map out the amount of aid offered in various regions after Hurricane Sandy, you can break it up as follows:

You will need to know what organizations are offering help to begin with, how much aid those organizations gave or plan to give, which regions were hit by Sandy, and which regions suffered the greatest losses.

You start this project on a Thursday and know you have until Tuesday to gather this information.

In order to stay productive, you need to plan out your work week—now you know you can find out which organizations are involved in helping the Hurricane Sandy Victims any day since that information is online, but gathering information on the organizations may require you to call them.

Since phone calls can only be done during week days, you have to plan on gathering all of that information before the weekend comes.

That is just one example of a situation in which pre-planning your project will help you stay productive; had you researched the affected regions first, you would not have received the info on the organizations until the weekend, and may have missed your chance to call them.

That, in turn, would have wasted time you could have spent working on this project to finish it.

Knowing what you need to do, when you can do it, and how long it will take you, is important in balancing your workload and being more productive and efficient.

3. Put your work first

This is an issue that usually occurs with young people who are new to the workforce: they’re often tempted with offers to go out at midday, and then come back lost in thought and unfocused on their work-related tasks.

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While it is important to take breaks, your breaks should consist of you clearing your mind, not loading it up with other less important information—like sports.

However, that is not the only situation where you need to worry about putting your work first before all else.

In a work environment, the senior employees will oftentimes push some of their menial tasks onto the newer employees. If you fall into that category, you need to know that their work is not your work, so if you have tasks that need to be done, you need to do it first.

If you are a new employee, you must learn to say no to other people even when it means you may not be in their good graces anymore. You can help others out once your work is done, but you are paid to do your own work, not anyone else’s.

4. Don’t open your browser unless you need them

In this day and age, everyone is constantly monitoring their social network. This is a major pain point for companies, which is why many don’t allow employees to access their social networks on company workstations.

When you are at work, disconnect the internet from your phone and keep your browsers closed so you’re not tempted to log onto your social media accounts or browse any sites that are not work-related.

If you keep your browsers closed and phone tucked away, only to be used in an emergency, you will find yourself being a more productive employee right away. 

5. Try to be happy and optimistic

If you always have a negative outlook on life, you will be more distracted and less motivated to get work done, so it’s important for you to start your day off right.

This can be done by having a good breakfast or by taking time in the morning to watch one of your favorite TV shows before work.

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If you are happy, you will find yourself able to work much more productively as your mind won’t wander into worrying about something else.

Also, if you stay optimistic and keep telling yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to, the tasks will seem much less daunting and will go by much more quickly.

Take a look at more effective ways to stay positive at work:

15 Ways To Stay Positive At Work

Happiness and optimism are the keys to being a productive and happy employee.

All in all, heed the five tips above and you will find yourself being one of the most productive people at your company.

While you do not need to master them all, each and every one of them will help you become a better and more efficient employee.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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