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12 Time-Tested Hacks to Improve Your Productivity at Work

12 Time-Tested Hacks to Improve Your Productivity at Work

Creating positive work habits will consistently help you to boost your creativity. The following habits have been used to boost productivity and lift morale in the workplace for many, many years. They have stood the test of time, because they hold value and people continue to build their career using them as their foundation.

Arrive Early

Arrive early and be ready to start your day as soon as it is your time to check in. Arriving early eliminates the rush and allows you to start your day on your own terms, without worrying about whether or not you will be late or that you won’t be able to meet your deadlines. When you arrive early, you can start getting your tasks organized and start your day with a smile.

One always has time enough, if one will apply it well.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Always Be Prepared

Always be prepared. Make a list of things you need to do when you first arrive at work in the morning. Know what supplies you will need and gather them together the night before so that all you have to do is come to work, clock in, and begin your day.

You can’t make up for lost time. You can only do better in the future. 
– Ashley Ormon

Work As A Team

Working as a team makes the day go by faster and it also allows you to get to know your co-workers. Working with one another makes it easy for everyone to meet their respective deadlines. While everyone will have projects that are their sole responsibility, you can always lend a hand to others when your work is complete.

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.
– Michael Jordan

Communicate Effectively

Communicate effectively so that everyone is on the same page. Make sure every member of the team understands what is going on, when deadlines are and who is responsible for each individual task. Communication is the life blood of an organization and if it is not used effectively, things will not work as smoothly as they should.

Define what your brand stands for, its core values and tone of voice and then communicate consistently in those terms.
– Simon Mainwaring

Accuracy Matters

Always check your work for accuracy. This includes spelling, grammar, punctuation and math problems. Anything that is in printed form should be double and triple checked for accuracy. Making sure all of your information is accurate is a sign of professionalism and pride in your work.

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Watch every detail that affects the accuracy of your work.
– Arthur C. Nielsen

Consistently Meet Deadlines

When you have deadlines to meet, make sure all of the work is finished, fact-checked for accuracy, and put together in a professional manner. Try to turn in the project prior to the deadline. Waiting until the deadline is upon you makes the project look rushed. Always strive to be early.

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
– Abraham Lincoln

Be Organized

Organization is extremely important. If something happens and you are not available, being organized allows you to guide someone through your office to find exactly what is needed without wasting a lot of time hunting through a jumbled mess of papers.

Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.
– A. A. Milne

Arrive Clean and Well Groomed

People who take pride in their appearance will also take pride in their work ethic. Always arrive clean and well groomed and with the attitude that you are ready to take charge of the day. The better you look, the better you feel and the more likely you are to produce over and above what is expected of you.

Our existence and our environment enclosed entities of divinity.
– Lailah Gifty Akita

Be Efficient

Efficiency is key when you are trying to be productive. Prepare a schedule. Take into consideration what tasks are on the schedule for the day and make sure you have enough time to devote to each one. Being efficient will help you stay ahead of the game and make sure you have taken care of all of the tasks on your daily list.

Obviously, the highest type of efficiency is that which can utilize existing material to the best advantage. 
– Jawaharlal Nehru

Take the Initiative

Take the initiative. Do what needs to be done and strive to be the very best at everything you attempt.

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Don’t wait for your ship to come in, swim out to it.
― Cathy Hopkins

Pick a Day of Rest

While Sunday is an ideal day of rest, it’s advisable to log in to your computer briefly on Sunday to assess your Monday game plan, and you will feel more relaxed and sleep soundly on Sunday night.

I look my best when I’m totally free, on holiday, walking on the beach.
– Rosamund Pike

Make Sure Your Goals Are Realistic

Harboring unrealistic expectations prepares you for failure. Take one step at a time and pursue your goal diligently, but gradually. Instead of lofty, idealistic goals, keep goals that are real and attainable.

Often you need to take some risk, but it must be a realistic risk, you can’t take a crazy risk.
– Sergei Bubka

More by this author

Beth Worthy

CFO at GMR Transcription Services, Inc

12 Time-Tested Hacks to Improve Your Productivity at Work

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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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