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The Best Productivity Podcasts of 2011

The Best Productivity Podcasts of 2011
    Photo credit: cybass (CC BY-NC 2.0)

    Remember self-help tapes? You used to throw them into your car or Walkman when you were going on a lengthy trip so that you could “grow on the go” and hope to return home all the better for it. Or you’d put them on rather than read at night so you could improve various aspects of your life.

    Well, podcasts that discuss various aspects of productivity very well could be the evolution of those self-help tapes. To a point.

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    To be more accurate, they can also serve as a successor to radio programs that discussed these topics. They can also be a source of news in the world of productivity and work philosophy. Actually, podcasts have a wide variety of applications for today’s audience.

    So with this year soon coming to a close, I thought I’d be a little proactive and get you listening to the best productivity podcasts of 2011 — before you really have to start thinking about how you’re going to make next year even better than this one.

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    Back to Work

    Hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin on the 5by5 network, Back to Work brought Mann back into the podcasting spotlight. At its core, it focuses on Mann’s new message of doing work (as opposed to just looking at ways to do the work) and it is both informative and entertaining. I’d expect nothing less from these two gentlemen, and they deliver wekk in and week out.

    Enough: The Minimal Mac Podcast

    While this 70Decibels program (featuring Patrick Rhone and Myke Hurley) may look on the surface that it is all about the Mac, that isn’t always the case. Yes, Rhone and Hurley do love their Apple gear (as do I), but episodes of Enough have often gone beyond that scope. Occasionally they welcome guests on the show, with trusted Internet folk like Brett Kelly, Shawn Blanc and Dave Caolo stepping into the mix. All of this adds up to a fresh and inviting look at productivity, minimalism and organization on a regular basis. And they’re shorter than most podcasts, too. A bonus for those who want to get their podcast fix in and go.

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    Get-It-Done Guy’s Quick and Dirty Tips to Work Less and Do More

    Another short weekly podcast, Stever Robbins offers short tidbits of valuable info that you can easily apply to your everyday lives. This podcast makes what is often a dry topic more lively and accessible than most websites or podcasts do. If you want to start your day with a great tip to get you moving forward, this one is certainly worth subscribing to.

    The David Allen Company Podcast

    The official GTD podcast. This regularly updated podcast features David Allen speaking on topics of interest to those following the world of productivity – or for those who just want to get better at getting things done. The David Allen Company Podcast offers a varied approach to the podcasting realm, delivering interviews and seminar-styled presentations as part of the menu. Worth checking out – especially if you need to brush up on your GTD best practices.

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    ZENandTECH

    One of the newest entries in the podcasting landscape, ZENandTECH is a real treat to listen to. Again, episodes aren’t terribly long, and the two hosts (Georgia and Rene Ritchie) have a great chemistry. This isn’t a traditional productivity-type podcast; it falls more in line with what Enough is doing, but with a balanced approach to technology and mindfulness.

    There are many other productivity-style podcasts out there on the web to listen to, but the aforementioned ones offer the most informing, educating and entertaining programming that I’ve heard on a consistent basis.

    Do you have a podcast that you listen to that helps you be more productive? Let us know about it in the comments.

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    Mike Vardy

    A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

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    Last Updated on January 15, 2021

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

    Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

    Posture

    First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

    • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
    • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
    • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
    • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

    All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

    Facial Expressions

    Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

    • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
    • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
    • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

    If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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    1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

    A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

    The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

    This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

    2. Relax Your Face

    New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

    To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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    3. Improve Your Eye Contact

    Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

    The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

    To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

    3. Smile More

    There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

    Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

    4. Hand Gestures

    Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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    It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

    5. Enhance Your Handshake

    In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

    “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

    It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

    6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

    As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

    Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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    Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

    Final Takeaways

    Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

    If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

    More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

    Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

    Reference

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