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7 Unique Ways to Be More Productive in 2017

7 Unique Ways to Be More Productive in 2017

There is nothing better than feeling a sense of fulfillment—may it be in your business, career, school, or everyday life. Achievement truly boosts our confidence, and motivates us to continue doing what we do. It encourages us to work harder because we see that our hard work has paid off. In most cases, we experience a sense of fulfillment when we deem ourselves as productive.

A common misconception of the word “productive” is that it means doing more work in less time. However, it actually means achieving a significant result; not just in quantity, but also in quality.

For instance, if you were a shoemaker and you were given an order to make 10 pairs of shoes, and you were able to create all of these pairs in a short amount of time, but with very poor quality, it would not be considered productive since your customers would most likely ask you to redo most of the work, which of course would take more time. Or worse, your efforts might not even bring any additional sales to your business at all.

Real productivity is when you create something of high quality in the least amount of time possible.

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Now, you may be wondering how to achieve productivity in general. Sure, there are hundreds of ways to be more productive, but let us take a look at the most unique and effective steps.

1. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is a person’s ability to be fully present and to live in the moment. While it is true that each one of us has this natural ability, not all of us know how to use it. Oftentimes, the word “mindful” is just understood as minding your own business, but it truly goes beyond that.

To practice mindfulness in your work means focusing on what you are working on, and only on that. Do not let your mind wander. Daniel Law, a Sydney marketing consultant, is well-known in his industry for being laser-focused when it comes to getting his clients results. This, in turn, has earned him a positive reputation.

When you are engaged in important work, it is imperative that you do not find yourself thinking about your last lover, or your next meal, but instead remain focused on the task at hand. Research has shown, again and again, that practicing mindfulness leads to making better decisions and thus, becoming more productive.

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2. Outsource work

If you find that your assigned work is not within your capability, then do not be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help will allow you to save more time. So, rather than incorrectly doing the job by yourself, outsource the work. Ask someone else who is an expert in what you are trying to do; ask them for advice and tips that can help you work accurately and more efficiently.

3. Make a list

If you truly want to be more productive, make a list of the things you want to achieve. Plan ahead of time and get yourself ready. A lot of people choose to not think ahead about the things they want to attain because of the fear of failure, but when you actually write down your goals and create a checklist when making plans, the things you have to do become real and don’t remain in the back of your mind.

4. Know when to say “No

As mentioned previously, most people think of productivity as being able to do 100 tasks in 1 hour, which is completely wrong. We already know that true productivity means completing a good amount of work with the right quality, so knowing when you have enough work to do is a major contributor to productivity.

When a person keeps saying “yes” to everything, chances are that person will go out of their mind trying to get so many things done at once. Additionally, that person may also accept tasks that are beyond his/her skills. This will compromise the quality of work, and may possibly lead to wasting time.

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As long as you know your limits, you will be productive. Do not go overboard, make sure you know when and what is enough, and learn to tell others and yourself, “No.”

5. Avoid multi-tasking

Contrary to the famously advised art of multitasking, one should not do too many different things at once. Ryan O’Connor developed a massively successful brand in One Tribe Apparel by giving important priorities “undivided attention before moving on to other tasks.” Psychologists maintain that multi-tasking for more productivity is a myth that does not do you any good. It only causes the brain to engage and disengage, again and again, when you shift between different tasks—obviously, this is not what we want if we aim to be productive.

Engaging and disengaging between tasks will take up a lot of time, and will compromise the quality of your work as the brain adjusts to the new task and re-adjusts back to the old one.

6. Develop habits you can associate with good performance

It might sound silly, but it works. The notion “mind over matter” is actually effective when it comes to productivity. When your mind connects habits that are practiced simultaneously with tasks that produce positive or good outcomes, it will make it easier for you to perform and achieve the results you desire.

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An example of a ritual may be eating chocolates while writing essays. If this is continuously done successfully, it is possible that eating chocolates will be what it takes for your brain to activate its essay-writing mode. With that, productivity is around the corner.

7. Be courageous enough to decide

Do not spend too much time deciding whether or not do something. Make a decision and challenge yourself. Shaun Ling, founder and executive chairman of iPRIMA Media, built a successful branding company by being decisive and leading his team of associates courageously. Taking too long to decide will only lead to delay in work. Of course, decision-making also involves having the courage to take up challenges—and accept both positive and unfavorable outcomes alike.

Indeed, the journey towards productivity is quite challenging, but with these productivity hacks, there is no doubt that it is attainable.

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Sara Jane Adkins

Blogger at Natural Healthy Living

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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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