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10 Things Babies Can Teach Us About Productivity

10 Things Babies Can Teach Us About Productivity

Babies are typically known for sticking to mainly four things only: eating, sleeping, crying, and pooping. You wouldn’t hire a baby to do a job for you or become your life coach, but as it turns out, observing the way babies behave can actually help you get back in touch with your primal instincts so you can get more things done in today’s modern, chaotic world.

Productivity has a lot to do with simplified tasks and techniques that support maximum efficiency, and what better way to study the art of simplicity than by watching what a baby does? Here are 10 things to pay attention to next time you have to babysit your little niece or find yourself smiling and making faces at a baby in a stroller at the supermarket.

1. They get really cranky when they haven’t had enough sleep.

    Babies sleep a lot. Up to 15 hours, in fact. And when babies don’t get their nap time in, they let the world know that they’re tired and unhappy about it by screaming their heads off and fussing over everything.

    A lot of adults, on the other hand, often sacrifice sleep for work and other responsibilities. Without adequate sleep, perception and judgment are affected, resulting in lack of focus, poor decision-making, more errors, and an increased vulnerability to stress.

    Science tells us that enough sleep is necessary for our brains and our bodies to function optimally. And even though eight hours has always been considered the magic number adults are supposed to strive for, it really comes down to the quality of sleep you get rather than a fixed number of hours.

    2. They’re not afraid of messy situations… in fact, they love them!

      You’d never meet a baby who was actually afraid of making a mess. Whether it involves getting chocolate cake all over their faces, leaving piles of toys on the floor in every room in the house, or somehow getting a hold of the magic markers and drawing on walls and furniture – babies just accept the fact that messiness happens, and that’s okay.

      When we grow up, though, we learn to think more logically and start to follow societal norms. We quickly figure out that messiness is bad and intimidating and should always be avoided in the adult world.

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      It’s no wonder so many people end up downplaying or abandoning certain tasks or goals that could present them with challenge and get kind of messy. Something like a complicated client project or a disaster of an email inbox is enough to put any regular adult off.

      But challenge, struggle, and messiness are essential parts of progress, growth, and achievement. If you believe that everything is always supposed to go smoothly and perfectly all the time, you’re living in a dream world. As soon as you recognize and accept that, you should see some positive changes in your own level of productivity.

      3. They’re always learning new things.

        It’s obvious that babies have zero experience when it comes to life skills. Between sleeping, eating, and pooping, they have to spend the rest of their time constantly learning everything they can about themselves, their surroundings, and the people that are in their lives.

        There may come a time in our adult lives when we think we’ve got all the knowledge and experience we need to carry out a task or get something done. But assuming you know everything about something and saying you can do it better than anyone else is the ultimate closed-minded, stubborn way to limiting your own productivity potential.

        Always stay open to learning. Things never stay the same, and there are so many other people with different skills and experience who are willing to teach and show you how you can use them yourself to open up new doors for improving the way you work and get things done.

        4. They squirm and move around a lot.

          When they’re not sleeping, babies can usually be seen wiggling around and putting objects in their mouths and even mimicking gestures they see adults doing. Babies who can crawl or walk are even more active than that, and it’s not uncommon for parents to feel completely wiped out after even just a few hours of chasing their kid around the house.

          An active baby is a happy baby, and us adults sure could learn from that. Too many of us spend our lives moving from our beds, to our cars, to our desks, back to our cars, to the couch, and back to bed again. We’re always sitting and many of us don’t get nearly as much physical activity as we should.

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          Studies show that our mental performance is influenced by our physical movement throughout the day. Regular exercise (even something as simple as a 30-minute leisure walk) can contribute to all sorts of different areas of mental power — from sharper concentration and improved memory, to enhanced creativity and faster learning.

          5. They’re not hopelessly addicted to technology like the rest of us.

            Okay, so maybe there are a lot more babies becoming increasingly mesmerized by their parents’ iPads or smartphones these days, but at least they don’t carry them around with them wherever they go and they don’t constantly check them every five minutes of every day.

            A baby isn’t going to stay satisfied with a screen in his face for very long, and neither should adults. Becoming a slave to your devices by staying on the email drip and checking Facebook multiple times in the span of an hour only contributes to distraction and higher stress levels.

            You can be a happier, healthier, more productive person by limiting screen time and making sure you unplug completely every once in a while.

            6. They’re natural explorers and problem solvers.

              Babies are wired to learn through exploring everything they can get their little hands on. And when they’re faced with a problem, they set out on a journey to figure out a solution. A baby may reach out to touch the family pet’s face and fur to try and understand it better while another baby may figure out how to climb right out of his crib by himself after deciding he wants out.

              To become a more productive person, you need problem solving skills. Identify what tasks may be unnecessary, time consuming, or distracting. Develop a system that you think will work, take some time to experiment with it, and then make changes or fine tune it until it works best for you.

              7. They’re always living in the moment.

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                You don’t have to observe a baby’s behavior for long to understand that they’re really only interested in what’s happening in the present moment. They’re not worried about tomorrow’s diaper change or yesterday’s flavor of baby food – all they care about is what’s going on right now.

                When it comes to getting things done, adults can place a hindrance on their own performance and efficiency by getting too preoccupied with worries about what already happened in the past or what might happen in the future. It’s easy to get carried away with focusing too much on previous criticism or anticipating how you’ll stack up to people’s expectations, so much so that it gets in the way of doing your best work.

                Practice being more present so you can perform at your fullest potential. The past is behind you, and the future isn’t here yet, so why worry about it?

                8. They’re not obsessed with pleasing everyone.

                  As adults, we all want to be liked. Babies, however, couldn’t care less about how the entire world perceives them. Of course they want to be loved by the people around them, but they don’t excessively worry about their appearances or their actions with regards to other people’s opinions of them.

                  A baby will gladly throw a tantrum in a public place or ignore the fact that her hair is a mess right before a professional photo shoot. But adults will do the exact opposite by letting their extreme desires to impress and win the approval of other people get in the way of what they’re truly capable of doing.

                  To improve your productivity, you have to find what works for you, regardless of what other people may think. Everyone is different, and if you think you have to sacrifice something you know is right for you in order to please other people, then you need to reevaluate what’s most important to you.

                  9. They ask (or cry) for help when they need it.

                    All babies need the help of their parents and caretakers to help them learn and grow. When they need help with something – a toy that fell out of reach, a full diaper that needs changing, or even a TV channel change to a favorite cartoon show – they’ll let you know they need your help by screaming, crying, shrieking, making silly noises, or gesturing to try to communicate what they want.

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                    Adults are often much more reluctant to ask for help when they need it, though. A lot of people convince themselves that they need to do everything their own way and end up taking on more work than necessary, or they assume that they’d be a bother by asking someone else for a hand.

                    It’s time to get over your fear of asking for help and worrying that other people won’t get things done your way. More often than not, people are happy to help. And when you get help from the right people with the right skills and experience, you may find they actually do a better job than you ever could have done.

                    10. They don’t let trivial problems prevent them from doing what they do or being who they are.

                      As mentioned in the beginning of this this article, babies are simple creatures. Unlike their adult counterparts, they don’t get caught up with small details in every little thing they’re faced with. They’re too busy learning and trying to understand the bigger picture about whatever it is they’re doing.

                      Some people say that babies are just drunk adults. In a lot of ways, it’s kind of true. Babies are far from perfect, and adults have a hard time accepting that they themselves are never going to be perfect either.

                      Even when you’re having the most productive week or month or year ever, problems are bound to arise at some point. The key is to not sweat the small stuff, and learn to focus on the positive work you’re doing rather than all the tiny little things that may be preventing you from getting what you want to get done.

                      Set yourself free from the perfectionist mindset. More progress and achievement is lost by worrying about failure and imperfection than by committing to a plan and working through it with a positive and optimistic attitude.

                      More by this author

                      Elise Moreau

                      Elise helps desk workers lead healthier lifestyles. Visit her website on her profile to get a free list of health hacks.

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                      Last Updated on October 16, 2019

                      Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

                      Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

                      Do you like making mistakes?

                      I certainly don’t.

                      Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

                      Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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                      Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

                      Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

                      • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
                      • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
                      • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
                      • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

                      We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

                      If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

                      Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

                      Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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                      When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

                      Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

                      We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

                      It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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                      Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

                      Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

                      Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

                      1. Point us to something we did not know.
                      2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
                      3. Deepen our knowledge.
                      4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
                      5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
                      6. Inform us more about our values.
                      7. Teach us more about others.
                      8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
                      9. Show us when someone else has changed.
                      10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
                      11. Remind us of our humanity.
                      12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
                      13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
                      14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
                      15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
                      16. Invite us to better choices.
                      17. Can teach us how to experiment.
                      18. Can reveal a new insight.
                      19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
                      20. Can serve as a warning.
                      21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
                      22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
                      23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
                      24. Remind us how we are like others.
                      25. Make us more humble.
                      26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
                      27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
                      28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
                      29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
                      30. Expose our true feelings.
                      31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
                      32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
                      33. Point us in a more creative direction.
                      34. Show us when we are not listening.
                      35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
                      36. Can create distance with someone else.
                      37. Slow us down when we need to.
                      38. Can hasten change.
                      39. Reveal our blind spots.
                      40. Are the invisible made visible.

                      Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

                      The secret to handling mistakes is to:

                      • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
                      • Have an experimental mindset.
                      • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

                      When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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                      When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

                      It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

                      When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

                      Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

                      Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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                      Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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