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10 Hacks That Can Change Your Day Immediately

10 Hacks That Can Change Your Day Immediately

As human beings, we have an amazing ability to overestimate what we can do in the next year and totally underestimate what we can do in the next 15 minutes. In these early days of 2013, it’s more important than ever to emphasize just how much of a difference the next 15 minutes can make in your day.

So, for now, forget the long-term and instead of focus only on what is right in front of you. The next year is not guaranteed: this moment right now is all you have.

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productivity hacks

    10 hacks you can do right now that will radically change your day:

    1. Make a list of five immediate actions that need to be done in order for progress to be made on the big project(s) on which you are currently working. They don’t have to be big: target what you know to be absolute “musts” and take massive action on them without hesitation or fear.
    2. De-clutter your workspace. Be ruthless with your organization, and toss out what does not belong or what no longer has a practical use. Embrace a zen-like workspace.
    3. Answer that e-mail you need to get to. You know which one I’m talking about: that e-mail that you know is crying out for a response. Maybe it’s work-related, maybe it’s personal; it doesn’t matter. Respond immediately and clear it from your mind—your focus is needed elsewhere. Oh, and before you hit send, be sure to make sure that the e-mail doesn’t suck.
    4. Write a letter or e-mail of gratitude to your parents. At first, this might sound a little strange, particularly if you don’t have the best relationship with your parents, but write a letter or e-mail simply thanking your parents for having you. Even if you’ve lost them, even if you don’t know them, even if they weren’t great parents, you can still write this letter. None of us would be here if our parents had not given birth to us, and that’s a unique bond that should not be ignored. Here’s the best part: you don’t even have to send it if you don’t want to, and the process will be an empowering, healing experience for you.
    5. Schedule a meeting that will move you forward. I’m not talking about having a meeting for the sake of having a meeting (ugh…those are truly awful). I’m talking about getting together with someone who has information that will be beneficial to you. This doesn’t have to be formal; in fact, it doesn’t even have to be related to your professional life at all. It can be dinner with a friend from whom you want marriage advice, for example. Just get that person on the phone, and then get that meeting on the calendar.
    6. Answer two very important questions that will keep you productive all day long: What’s important now? What’s next?
    7. Do absolutely nothing for 15 minutes straight. Yes, choosing to do nothing is, in fact, doing something. Spend 15 minutes in silence, with no agenda, giving your mind and spirit and chance to refresh and regroup. I promise that when the 15 minutes are up you will be able to return to whatever you’re working on with a new perspective.
    8. Celebrate the fact that you are still breathing at this very moment. A huge thing you have going for you is in the “plus” column right now. Turn on some music and dance, get out of your chair! Be grateful that you’ve made it this far.
    9. Change your setting. Get out of the office and go for a walk outside to breathe in the air. If it’s raining, go outside anyway! Admire the life-giving miracle taking place before your eyes.
    10. Simply start whatever big project you’ve been putting off or thinking about, no matter how big it seems. In high school, I had a teacher who told me that when you start something you are already half-finished. That has worked for me to this day, and it can work for you, too. Get started right now!

     

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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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