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You May Not Realize It, But These 6 Small Habits Can Block Your Way To Success

You May Not Realize It, But These 6 Small Habits Can Block Your Way To Success

There’s a historian by the name of Will Durant who summarized an idea of Aristotle’s as, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” With that being said, often times your habits determine your success—or form road blocks. If you can find a way to rise above habits that are hindering your success, you will find that you will be able to reach the potential you’ve always had.

These six self-destructive habits are a good place to start making some changes:

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1. Checking your phone during a conversation

Think about the last time you were having a conversation with someone and they picked up their phone to check a text message or glance over when a notification popped up. It’s a really big turn off when you feel you aren’t being listened to. And it’s likely that while distracted, you’re probably missing some important information. When you’re having a conversation, focus all your attention on the conversation. By putting your phone away, you will find that the conversations you have will be more enjoyable when you fully immerse yourself in them.

It’s an out of sight, out of mind type of thing. If you can’t see it, there’s a good possibility that you’ll forget all about it for the time being. By doing this, you’ll find that the conversations you have will be more enjoyable when you fully immerse yourself in them.

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2. Dwelling on failures from your past

When you mess up it’s hard to not be really critical of yourself. You get those feelings of hating yourself, not feeling good enough, inadequate, etc. It’s normal to feel like that from time to time, but it won’t do you any good to provoke self-hatred by continuously dwelling on those mistakes. Try to train your mind to look at your mistake(s) as an opportunity to walk away with a lesson rather than beating yourself up and swimming in negative thoughts about yourself.

Instead of dwelling, start asking yourself questions about what led you to make the decision you made. It’s beneficial to adopt the habit of asking yourself questions about your failure rather than dwelling on the failure itself.

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3. Keeping relationships with toxic people

Toxic people tend to make their mark in our lives and manage to stay there. It doesn’t matter where you work, there’s always going to be someone that just really gets under your skin. You may find that your skin cringes with even the thought of this person. By letting this person influence you to the point where it affects your performance and mood at work, you’re hindering your success. When you feel these thoughts flooding into your mind, replace them with thinking about how grateful you are for someone else in your life. It doesn’t do you any good to think about the people who don’t matter when there are plenty of people out there who deserve your attention.

4. Comparing yourself to others

Not doing this can be really hard, I know. You may find yourself doing it sometimes without even realizing it. You lose control over your happiness when you compare yourself to those around you. When you’ve accomplished something that makes you feel good and satisfied, don’t allow another person’s opinion and/or their accomplishments take away those good feelings you have. It’s nearly impossible to not let what others think of you get into your head, but over time you can learn to quickly remove that negativity and keep moving forward.

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During these times, it’s important to remind yourself that your self-worth is something that comes from the inside. Keep this in mind—you’re never as bad as someone says you are.

5. Gossiping

They’re everywhere, you can’t escape them. People who love to gossip get a ‘high’ from other people’s short-comings and failures. It may seem tempting at first to engage with others and talk about someone else’s personal/professional life, but after awhile you’ll start to realize that you feel really awful about hurting other people. Instead of doing that, pay attention and talk about the positive things going on around you. People are very interesting, and there is so much you can learn from them. Have you ever noticed that a person who compulsively gossips is rarely happy with their own life? Remember that.

6. Being distracted by notification pop-ups

It’s very hard to stay focused every time a notification pops up on your phone or email. Each time your phone or computer makes a noise, it grabs your attention and causes your productivity to drop. Getting notifications multiple times throughout your day may make you feel like you’re being productive, but that’s far from the truth. Every time you get distracted, it’s taking your attention away from the things that need to be done. A task that should take you only a few hours can easily turn into an all-day affair if you’re not mindful of how distracting it can be.

To eliminate this, turn off your pop-up notifications while you’re working. Set certain times during the day when you check your phone and email. For example, when you get to work in the morning, when you take your lunch break, and then again right before you head out to go home for the day. You’ll start to realize how much more productive you are this way.

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Erica Wagner

Erica is a passionate writer who shares inspiring ideas and lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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