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3 Steps to Become a Lean, Mean, Productive Machine

3 Steps to Become a Lean, Mean, Productive Machine

Why does every day seem more stressful than the last?

You’ve busted your butt working mind-numbing hours, yet it feels like you accomplished nothing. At the end of the day, the same question always pop up. Where did all my time go?

In the morning, you start off fresh and ready to conquer the world. But when the evening creeps in, you barely touched your to-do list. You ask yourself, is it normal to always feel overwhelmed? When does it end? You think it’s impossible to catch up, but it’s not. You just need some help. Here’s three steps that will surprise you to achieve more:

Step #1- Use Facebook

Yes, you read it right. I’m telling you to use the second most distracted website, but for good reason. Here’s why:

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A study was conducted by the Academy of Management to find out which control groups were the most productive. In those groups, the most productive were the participants that used Facebook for 10 minutes. They found the Facebook group was 16 percent more productive than the group that wasn’t allowed to use the Internet. And nearly 40 percent more productive than the group that was allowed no breaks.

Have you ever wondered why we gravitate towards Facebook? We are inherently social creatures, regardless if we’re introverts or extroverts. By being social, we are happier, less stressful, and have the sense of belonging. When you need a break, use Facebook to catch up with an old friend or find out the latest scoop. The productivity problem that we encounter with social media is we don’t know when to stop browsing. How can we, when there’s picture of a cute cat jump-kicking a dog. And the attractive headline displaying “Cat Norris” doesn’t help either.

This is how you can stop. Set a timer for 10 minutes when you open Facebook. This next step is very important. After the timer,  do not click on that cat meme. Close Facebook.

Step # 2- Use Your Limited Resources Wisely

We are fully aware that time is a finite resource. We are only given 24 hours in a day. So best thing to do is make a detailed plan to maximize our time. And create goals to accomplish that day. This is how top elites operate. Sounds good right.

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But there’s this one itzy bitzy problem. We have another finite resource. It’s called energy. That’s why a lot of productivity articles suggest taking breaks, sleeping eight hours, and eating well. It’s to increase our energy. Lets face it. We are most productive when we have a lot of energy and motivation.

Some CEOs intentionally block their schedule when they have a lot of energy. And typically it’s during the morning.  Top performers like LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner have implemented this approach. If you want high achievement and big results, you need big and high energy. Knowing how to get it and keep it, well that’s the tricky part.

Here are some ways you can jumpstart your energy:

  • Listen to music- It’s activates dopamine, reduces stress, and lightens your mood.
  • Make your environment filled with energy- Put a picture of your family in your desk area. Have your favorite quote in view. Maybe use the cat meme (that you didn’t click on) as your desktop screensaver. Put your goals right on your wall to remember why you’re working hard.
  • Change your physiology- Motion creates emotion. When we find ourselves frustrated, knock out some pushups. Force a smile for five minutes straight, or take a short walk. You’ll be surprised how changing your physiology quickly charges your energy levels.

Step #3- Burn Your To-list

The problem with to-do list is we treat every task equally. Productivity is not about being efficient, it’s about being effective. To be effective, you need to figure out your most important task. Successful people are successful because they focus on the most important task and say no to everything else.

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That’s why you need to burn your to-do list and create a success list. A list that consist of one item. That item is the most important task of the day. The task that if you completed today will have the biggest impact on your work.

Yes we need to pay the bills, do the laundry, and everything else to maintain our lives. But if we don’t focus on the most important task, everything else will feel like a waste.

Having the Most Productive Day Ever

Instead of going home frustrated. You went home feeling uplifted and accomplished. Because you focused on what matters most rather than crossing off some list.

You will be the type of person who goes to work with a big goofy smile while everyone looks like they came out of a funeral parlor. Maybe someone at work wants to slap that smile. Nonetheless, you earned that smile. Because you learned to connect with others through Facebook. And you learned to increase your energy. Possibly, higher energy than a six-year old eating a bag full of halloween candy. Okay… Maybe not.

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But you will be happier, better, and more productive.

Featured photo credit: KaboomPics via kaboompics.com

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Last Updated on August 21, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. Hello promotion, here I come!
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. No, thanks Alzheimer’s; you and I are just not a good fit.

So how to train your brain to learn faster and remember more?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new.

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.” Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

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But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

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Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

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I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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