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10 Things People With Remarkable Willpower Do Differently

10 Things People With Remarkable Willpower Do Differently

This article lists the 10 things that people with remarkable willpower do differently. If you need convincing that you should improve your willpower then this list should do it.

1. They eliminate too much choice

There actually is such a thing as too much choice. Barry Swartz explains in his book The Paradox of Choice how counter-intuitively people feel overwhelmed and less satisfied if they are given too many good options. People with willpower write a shortlist of 3 – 5 options and make satisfactory choices.

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2. They do the hardest thing first

You’ve got to Eat That Frog pro-ports Brian Tracey in his book of the same name. Folk with remarkable willpower focus on finishing the one task that provides the most value or renders other tasks pointless. This single mindedness is a productivity strategy that anyone can employ and by attacking the less appealing task first you will set yourself up for the rest of the day to be a success.

3. They refuel frequently

Folks with great willpower make sure that they keep their energy levels topped up. By having small amounts of food regularly they do not go through sugars highs and subsequent crashes. By avoiding the boom and bust approach to fuel intake it ensures that they have adequate energy for when your willpower is tested.

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4. They rest frequently

Energy is incredibly important to people with remarkable willpower. To keep energy levels topped up make sure to rest frequently. Whether this is taking a nap in the middle of the day or taking a short break depends upon the individual. It is far easier to stick to a plan if you have the energy to make rational good decisions.

5. They have routines

There isn’t an endless supply of willpower available. As a result it is a great idea to have routines for stuff that doesn’t require decision making or sticking to your guns. A good example of this is having an early morning routine. When you get up, what you eat and any other ritual should be consistent every day. This might sound boring but if you agonise over what to have for breakfast then you will be using up valuable decision making and willpower holding energy.

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6. They anticipate when willpower is weakest

For most people willpower is at its lowest when they are tired, hungry or stressed. Have a think about when you make less than ideal decisions. This is when your willpower is at its weakest. Rather than trying to combat this head on avoid making decisions at these times by falling back onto good routines or avoiding the kind of activities that could lead to bad decisions – i.e. no late night internet shopping.

7. They exercise

Exercise creates more energy and helps keep you healthy. Rather than thinking you need willpower to exercise think about the additional willpower that going for a good walk or jog will give back to you. Drop your exercise regime into a routine and you are onto a massive winner.

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8. They eat healthily

The mind and body are all part of the same system – so shouldn’t be considered separately. So if you are looking for a way to improve your willpower then look at the food you are consuming… I’m not advocating only eating rabbit food, but if you reduce the number of refined carbohydrates and increase the amount of unprocessed foods you eat then not only will you feel better but you will also get positive willpower side effects.

9. They get things done

If you have remarkable willpower then you will find that you get more things done. Keeping top of your task list and realising your goals is achieved by the practical application of your willpower.

10. They stop doing things

Remarkable willpower also gives you the tools to stop doing the kind of things that you dislike. Whether this is saying yes to everyone, quitting a habit or changing a quirk of personality you no longer like then this is all possible when you harness your willpower.

Featured photo credit: Sean Rademaker via flickr.com

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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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