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20 Things Highly Successful People Do In Their 20s

20 Things Highly Successful People Do In Their 20s

Most people hit their stride in their thirties and forties. Studies show that major life milestones previously reserved for twenty-somethings , like marriage, buying a home and starting a family are occurring later in life.

But that doesn’t mean that the twenties aren’t an important decade for personal and professional development. Instead, they are a time when character development occurs and choices set a course for the future.

Let’s look at 20 life changes highly successful people made in their twenties.

1. Try Different Industries like Martha Stewart

martha stewart

    Martha Stewart worked as a model and then as a stock broker on Wall Street before beginning the catering business that led to her eponymous company. All of that experience led her to be successful.

    “There were very few women on the time on Wall St. … I never considered myself unequal.”

    Of course we know she met uber-success with her lifestyle brand, but those early experiences in modeling and stock brokerage imparted important lessons. So don’t be frustrated if you aren’t in your permanent profession yet!

    2. Build Sweat Equity like Oprah

    oprah

      It might be hard to remember a time when Oprah wasn’t a superstar. But she paid her dues as a radio television news reporter in Nashville, Tennessee, and Baltimore, Maryland, bouncing between different stations to learn the craft after college.  After 5 years, she was given her own show in Baltimore, which lasted 8 years. Next came a morning show in Chicago. The Oprah Winfrey Show wasn’t nationally syndicated until 1986, after 15 years of work in broadcasting.

      “What other people label or might try to call failure, I have learned is just God’s way of pointing you in a new direction.”

      Don’t be frustrated by being the “low man on the totem pole.” Everyone needs time to learn and grow outside of the pressure of the spotlight. Even Oprah.

      3. Learn from Hitting Rock Bottom like Tim Allen

      tim allen

        For some people, hitting rock bottom puts the future into clear focus. Comedian Tim Allen, now starring in the ABC sitcom Last Man Standing, was arrested for cocaine possession and drug trafficking in 1978.

        “When I went to jail, reality hit so hard that it took my breath away, took my stance away, took my strength away. I was there buck naked, humiliated, sitting in my own crap and urine — this is a metaphor. My ego had run off. Your ego is the biggest coward.”

        If you’ve recently made a mistake, remember that a little perspective and humility go a long way! Turning that mistake into a learning experience shows maturity as well as personal and professional development.

        4. Find the Right Life Partner like Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos

        kelly ripa and mark consuelos

          Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos married in 1996 when they were both in their twenties. She went on to huge fame, starring in the Regis and Kelly Show (now Kelly and Michael Show), and he starred on All My Children and now Alpha House.

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          Finding the right partner offers a foundation for both your personal and professional life.

          “He is the person I was meant to be with forever, and I think he feels the same way. We really do have quite an allegiance to one another. No matter what, we support each other in everything we do.”

          5. Make Your Own Education like Steve Jobs

          steve jobs

            Staying in school is clearly the safer path to success. But for some young entrepreneurs, college is not necessary. Steve Jobs famously dropped out of Reed College and started Apple Computers with Steve Wozniak in a garage. At his 2005 commencement address to the graduates of Stanford, he explained:

            “After six months [at college], I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.”

            6. Take a Risk like Marissa Mayer

            marissa mayer

              Marissa Mayer was given 14 job offers after graduation at Stanford University. One of those was from Google – at that time the company only had 19 employees and no women on staff.  But she went on to be a part of some of the most successful Google products before transitioning to Yahoo to act as CEO.

              “I helped build Google, but I don’t like to rest on [my] laurels. I think the most interesting thing is what happens next.”

              7. Start a Business like Jay-Z

              20140121bwJayzMag06

                Sean Carter had rapped under the nickname Jay-Z for many years, but it wasn’t until he founded Roc-A-Fella Records with two friends that he became a star. Under his own label, Jay-Z released Reasonable Doubt, which is now widely thought of as a classic hip-hop album.

                “There’s not a lot of people who have come of age in rap because it’s only 30 years old…As more people come of age, hopefully the topics get broader and then the audience will stay around longer.”

                8. Take Advantage of Compounding Interest like Warren Buffet

                warren buffet

                  Putting a few hundred dollars a year away now and letting compounding interest work its magic for decades until retirement will result in more money than trying to play catch-up with the same amount later in life. And with our collective credit scores hovering below average in a lot of places, that’s advice we should take. Warren Buffet had that figured out, since he started investing right after college.

                  “I will tell you how to become rich. Close the doors. Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful.”

                  9. Work in Sales like Howard Schultz

                  howard schultz

                    There is a lot that can be learned in sales that will teach lessons for future success: how to make a good first impression, how to persuade and convince others, how to take rejection well, among many other things.  Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz started as a Xerox salesman. That led him to a job as a coffee machine salesmen, which is how he crossed paths with his current career.

                    In his book, Pour Your Heart Into It, Schultz writes:

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                    “Cold-calling was great training for business. It taught me to think on my feet. So many doors slammed on me that I had to develop a thick skin and a concise sales pitch for a then-newfangled machine called a word processor. But the work fascinated me, and I kept my sense of humor and adventure. I thrived on the competition, trying to be the best, to be noticed, to provide the most leads to my salesmen. I wanted to win.”

                    10. Find a Mentor like Condoleezza Rice

                    condoleezza rice

                      Long before she became Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice took a class at the University of Denver taught by Dr. Josef Korbel (father of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright).  His leadership and passion for Soviet and eastern European politics inspired Rice to change majors and pursue that career path.

                      The two stayed in touch, the mentor encouraging his mentee to pursue a doctorate, which led her to a professorship and placed her on the radar of federal government agencies.  According to this NPR story:

                       “To Rice, Korbel was a dazzling mentor, the person she cites as having inspired her to become a diplomat.”

                      11. Go to School like Eric Schmidt

                      Eric-Schmidt

                        If dropping out of school is part of the story of success for some, staying in school and learning as much as possible is a more common and sure path to achievement.

                        Eric Schmidt, former CEO and now executive chairman of Google, is among the richest people in the world. Schmidt spend many years studying, including an undergraduate degree at Princeton, a stint at the International House Berkeley, then an M.S. degree for designing and executing a campus-wide network of computers at UC Berkeley. To cap it off, he got a Ph.D. in computer engineering.

                        In an address to Berkeley students many years later, Schmidt explained that part of his inspiration came from campus life.

                        “Back then, back when I was, like you…it felt like a new world was being imagined right here on campus, in all the different labs and workshops and dorms. There was something in the air that made you think — something that made you dream.”

                        12. Be Willing to Work 24/7 like Richard Branson

                        Richard-Branson

                          Richard Branson, founder and owner of Virgin Group, got his start when he opened a record label in his 20s.  For a man who is trying to launch one of the first commercial space flights, it might be hard to picture him pounding the pavement and worrying about making ends meet. His advice? Hard work pays off.

                          He said in an interview of his early years:

                          “Building a business from scratch is 24 hours, 7 days a week, divorces, it’s difficult to hold your family life together, it’s bloody hard work and only one word really matters — and that’s surviving.”

                          13. Work in Retail like John Steinberg

                          john steinberg

                            Similar to sales, retail offers a lot of life lessons that will serve you no matter which career path you choose. John Steinberg, CEO of Daily Mail North America, learned a lot working retail with his sister. He ran all over the store, selling lots of low cost items, while his sister stayed in the high-priced section and only sold a few pieces a day. But his sister had higher profits.

                            “I learned that…if you can work smart on items with high order value and high margin, you will always be better off than working hard on low value, low margin items.”

                            He also says he learned the importance of technical expertise and responsibility in that retail position.

                            14. Learn a Trade like Harrison Ford

                            harrison-ford

                              It’s hard to imagine Harrison Ford struggling like you and me, but he did.  After heading to California to pursue acting, the work wasn’t steady enough for Ford to pay the bills.  He took up carpentry to earn extra money, learning from books and taking on small projects to begin.  Eventually he was recommended to Hollywood and music industry executives and stars, which gave him foray into more acting jobs.

                              “I had helped George Lucas audition other actors for the principle parts, and with no expectation or indication that I might be considered for the part of Han, I was quite surprised when I was offered the part. My principle job at the time was carpentry, I had been under contract as an actor at Columbia and Universal.

                              I had a house at the time I wanted to remodel, a bit of the wreck of a house. I’d invest money in tools but wouldn’t have money for materials, so I realized this was another way of putting food on the table. And allowing me to pick and choose from the acting jobs that were being offered at the time.”

                              So don’t think a particular field or line of work is below you. Consider your talents and think about trade jobs. You never know where they may lead!

                              15. Share Your Good Fortune With Others like Steve Wozniak

                              Steve-Wozniak

                                Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple Computers with Steve Jobs and is often cited as the person who brought on the personal computer revolution.

                                When it came time for Apple Computers to go public, Wozniak thought some of the longtime employees were being left out of the stock option agreements. Unhappy with the distribution of the stock, he sold cheaply or gave away thousands of Apple shares to those he felt had been treated unfairly. Why? Woz, as he is called, said,

                                “I’d rather be liked than rich.”

                                16. Give Yourself A Timeline like Jon Hamm

                                Premiere Of AMC's "Mad Men" Season 6 - Arrivals

                                  The Mad Men star had a difficult time getting work when he started in Hollywood. John Hamm shared an apartment with other actors and found it difficult to get cast when he was in his twenties. After three years of no work, he gave himself an ultimatum: get work by age 30, or switch jobs.

                                  Of that time, Hamm said:

                                  “You either suck that up and find another agent, or you go home and say you gave it a shot, but that’s the end of that. The last thing I wanted to be out here was one of those actors who’s 45 years old, with a tenuous grasp of their own reality, and not really working much. So I gave myself five years. I said, if I can’t get it going by the time I’m 30, I’m in the wrong place. And as soon as I said that, it’s like I started working right away.”

                                  Sometimes a change in perspective is the inspiration needed to be successful.

                                  17. Remember Your Dreams like Ang Lee

                                  Ang Lee, best director nominee for his film "Life of Pi", arrives at the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood

                                    Filmmaker Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Life of Pi, Brokeback Mountain), spend his twenties taking on odd jobs related to film and theater: working as an editorial assistant and helping crews with equipment while trying to write and shop his screenplays to Hollywood executives.

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                                    He took on “Mr. Mom” duties to feel like he was being a true partner to his wife, the family’s primary bread winner. When he was ready to give up, she encouraged him to always remember his dreams, and that inspired him to redouble his efforts. Lee wrote:

                                    “Sometime after, I obtained funding for my screenplay, and began to shoot my own films. And after that, a few of my films started to win international awards. Recalling earlier times, my wife confessed, ‘I’ve always believed that you only need one gift. Your gift is making films.”

                                    18. Pick A Solid Business Partner like Bill Gates and Paul Allen

                                    paul-allen-and-bill-gates-in-the-early-days-jpg

                                      We’ve already covered the importance of picking a solid life partner, but hitching your wagon to someone else’s in business is also important.  Bill Gates started Microsoft with Paul Allen when they were both in their twenties after becoming friends in high school. Said Allen,

                                      “Our great string of successes had married my vision to his unmatched aptitude for business.”

                                      Despite the unraveling of Gates’ and Allen’s partnership after Microsoft was under way, Allen still admits that, in the early days, “We had an amazing friendship and an amazing partnership.”

                                      19. Overcome Insecurities like Kristen Wiig

                                      kristen wiig

                                        Most people who know Kristen Wiig from Saturday Night Live wouldn’t believe that she was terrified of public speaking. But she overcame that fear in her 20s by taking an acting class at the University of Arizona.

                                        “I don’t really like talking in front of groups of people. Through high school if ever I had to give a speech, I would try to get out of it or not go to school that day… But I took the class, and I liked it, and the teacher was really encouraging for me to keep doing it.”

                                        So use your twenties to conquer fears head on, instead of letting them grow and cause more anxiety later in life.

                                        20. Let Your Failure Help Set Your Course Like Suze Orman

                                        suze orman

                                          Most people turn to Suze Orman for financial advice without realizing she’s come by her knowledge of bankruptcy first hand. After waitressing for several years, she decided to open her own restaurant. She got backing from loyal customers, and without personal knowledge about investing, gave her money to a broker to invest on her behalf. A get-rich-quick scheme from the broker failed, and Orman lost all of her capital. Yet this experience led her to learn more about investing, and she went on to become a broker at the same firm. Now, Americans look to her:

                                          “My job is to be the financial truth crusader. …Hope for the best. But plan for the worst.”

                                          So if you’ve suffered a setback in your twenties, may you use it as inspiration to forge a new, better career!

                                          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via pixabay.com

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                                          Kayla Matthews

                                          Productivity and self-improvement blogger

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                                          Last Updated on November 27, 2020

                                          15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

                                          15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

                                          Where you work has an enormous impact on how you work – on your ability to focus (and stay focused) and your overall ability to be productive. That means the design of your office, whether you work at home or in a larger company environment, is of supreme importance. This isn’t just about Feng Shui, this is about producing results and getting things done.

                                          According to studies done on workplace and productivity, the most significant factor in determining an employee’s ability to focus is their physical environment. In fact, it’s been said that a well-designed office can increase your productivity about 20%. However, despite the studies and statistics, nearly half of the employers interviewed don’t consider workplace design a good business investment.

                                          So what is a productivity hack to do? What if you work in an environment that doesn’t promote focus?

                                          Check these 15 factors and make changes where you can. A little adjustment can produce a lot of impact.

                                          Lighting

                                          Lighting is one of the most important factors in staying focused and feeling inspired to create, yet it’s one of the most overlooked and least invested in. Bad lighting can cause fatigue, eyestrain, headaches and overall irritability. Dark spaces can actually produce depression.

                                          If you work in a company office:
                                          You probably have no control over your general lighting so bring in your own, if need be. Consider using natural light bulbs or a light therapy device.

                                          If you work from a home office:
                                          Open the windows and doors and let natural light in. Using lamps in a variety of areas for cloudy days or when it’s dark.

                                          Chair and Table

                                          If you’ve ever sat at a desk to do work but found yourself adjusting, stretching and moving too often to actually stay focused, then you’re aware of the importance of having a correctly fitted table and chair. In today’s work environment where so many of us are sitting for most of our day, it is critical that your throne fits your body probably.

                                          Consider these quick ergonomic checks:

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                                          • Eyes 24-36 inches from the computer screen. The top of the monitor should be below or at eye-level.
                                          • Feet should be on a foot rest or resting on the floor.
                                          • A slightly reclined chair posture is best to reduce pressure on your spine and minimize lower back pain.

                                          If you work in a company office:
                                          Ask for an adjustable chair. Add pillows for your lower back or bum, if you need it. Many companies will also provide risers for computers to adjust the height of your computer screen (and a separate keyboard to keep your hands and wrists in the ideal position)

                                          If you work from a home office:
                                          Invest in a decent chair or at least use a few pillows to make the chair more comfortable. If the table is too high, add pillows to your chair. If it is too low, consider buying leg risers from your local hardware store and using books beneath your computer to raise the screen. Use a separate keyboard.

                                          Clutter

                                          Your mama was right, it’s important to clean up your room. Clutter may help the creative mind create, but it isn’t necessarily helpful for focus and productivity.

                                          If you work from a company office: While you can’t control the cleanliness of the office at large, do keep your own environment around you clean. Spend 10 minutes every morning or evening making sure things are put away, filed, organized and generally out of sight so you’re not distracted by it later.

                                          If you work from a home office: Because you work from home, the entire house or apartment is potential for distraction. If you can afford it, hire a professional cleaning service to keep your home clean. If not, schedule a specific day and time to clean your home. Commit to doing daily pickup at a specific time. And spend at least 10 minutes every day making sure your office  is organized and tidy.

                                          Room Color

                                          The colors around us all have an effect on our moods and brain function. It evokes both a physical and emotional response. So choosing the right colors for your work space has the ability to affect your productivity. For instance, blue has been said to illicit productivity. Mind you, too much of anything can be overwhelming, even color.

                                          If you work from a company office: Bring in items from home that are a certain color that inspire you and keep you focused. Use postcards, magazine cutouts, even just blocks of color will do.

                                          If you work from a home office: If you work from home, you have much more control over the colors around you. Consider repainting a wall, adding color to the table you work at, or hanging pictures that are dominated by a specific color.

                                          Room Temperature

                                          Most offices keep their temperatures around 65-68 Fahrenheit but it turns out that this might not be good for productivity. Warmer rooms actually make people more productive.

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                                          If you work from a company office: Most offices are regulated by somebody else, so bring a space heater, sweaters and blankets to your work space.

                                          If you work from a home office: Depending on the season, open the windows or adjust the heat or a/c so that you’re more comfortable and warm. Pile on the sweaters in the winter or add a space heater to your feet.

                                          Room Scents

                                          Like the color of the space you work in, our sense of smell can powerfully affect our mood, mindset and thus our productivity. Consider adding scents to your work space to jar your mind into focus when you start to notice yourself drifting off.

                                          Try using these scents to stay focused:

                                          • Pine – Increases alertness
                                          • Cinnamon – Improves focus
                                          • Lavender – Helps to relax you during a stressful work day
                                          • Peppermint – Lifts your mood
                                          • Citrus (any) – Wakes you up  and lifts your spirits

                                          If you work from a company office: Most people will not appreciate added scents to their work environment so you’ll need to keep it subtle. Keep essential oils in your bag or drawer and when you’re in need of a boost put a few drops on a handkerchief or cotton ball.

                                          If you work from a home office: Use candles, incense or essential oils. You can also simmer herbs and spices in the kitchen to fill your home with a warm scent.

                                          Noise Level

                                          The noise level in a work environment can vary greatly depending on the size of the team you work with, the office design and company culture. But make no mistake, the noise around you affects your ability to stay on task. Not only can it be distracting, it can also raise stress levels making your ability to sustain productivity far more difficult.

                                          If you work from a company office: Bring in noise cancellation headphones and use music services like Spotify or Songza and choose concentration boosting sounds, like white noise.  Find out if your office offers quiet work spaces for times when you need the utmost focus.

                                          If you work from a home office: Sometimes the complete quiet can be as distracting as an office. Use a service like Coffivity to mimic the noise of a coffee shop, which has been said to help with concentration.

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                                          Air Quality

                                          Air quality can drastically affect our ability to focus and think clearly. Get this: OSHA estimates that the total annual cost of poor air quality in office environments costs employers $15 billion “due to worker inefficiency and sick leave.” Yeah, it’s serious business.

                                          If you work from a company office: Talk to them about installing air filters. If there is a way to bring in fresh air through windows or doors, arrange to have them opened for at least a portion of the day. If nothing else, get a personal air filter to have on your desk or nearby.

                                          Also, get a plant (or better yet, have the company buy and use more plants in the office!). Plants are great at filtering the air and providing clean, purified oxygen.

                                          If you work from a home office: Open windows and doors and let in the fresh air. Install an air filter or get a portable air filter to keep near your desk. And, yes, you too should get a plant.

                                          Different Spaces

                                          If you can manage it, give yourself more than one space to work from. Putting yourself in a new space with different qualities and things to look at quite literally shifts your brain and helps you stay focused.

                                          If you work from a company office: Many offices offer a variety of environments to work from: your personal space, lobbies, break out rooms, conference rooms, kitchens and eating areas and, if you’re lucky, they also provide lounge areas. Use all these spaces to vary your routine. Make sure your supervisor knows so they don’t think you’re slacking off and know tat you’re actually getting more done!

                                          If you work from a home office: If you work at a desk, add a comfortable couch or chair to the room. If your space is less flexible or ultra tiny, think about more creative ways to change your work space. Rotate the pictures on your walls every couple of days. Sit on the other side of your desk. Get a lamp and multiple colored bulbs. Or go work at a café, the library or in a park.

                                          Organization of People

                                          Most employers organize employees around job function or in specific divisions. Instead, studies show that people are more creative and productive when they are sitting with colleagues that share the same goal or client. Not only are you able to get answers and generate solutions quicker, but because you’re directly accountable to the people around you, you’re more likely to stay on task and productive.

                                          If you work from a company office: Ask your employer if you can experiment by clustering your group together in a conference room for a day or a week. Get feedback from everybody involved. Show the results. If your company won’t make permanent adjustments, perhaps they’ll allow you to work together a couple times a week when the conference room or lounge area is free.

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                                          If you work from a home office: This is a little bit more difficult because when you work at home you’re not with colleagues. You can recreate a similar space digitally, however. Create a Skype group and have everyone logged in during working hours. You can do morning accountability and check-ins while remaining available for questions, solution-finding and general banter that promotes creativity.

                                          Idea Storage

                                          Ever been working hard when you’re suddenly distracted by a great idea? At first you try to push it away, but then the next thing you know you’re 20 pages deep into an online search on the topic. Ideas should be encouraged and cultivated, but when they come right in the middle of another task it can be incredibly distracting. Instead, create a place to store your ideas that’s easily accessed from your work space.

                                          For both a company and home office: Keep pads of paper around, have a chalk wall, get a white board – when you have a spark of inspiration write it down right away to get it out of your head then return to the task at hand. Then, at the end of the day or when you have free time, collect all the ideas and review them. With a little time and space you can better decide if it’s worth pursuing or better to leave it on the back-burner.

                                          Refreshment

                                          Our brain needs nourishment to keep going, especially when we’re driving hard and staying focused. You can let a rumbling stomach go on for only so long before the brain shuts down. Assuming your different is like wanting your car to keep driving without having to stop and fill it with gas. A novel idea, but not realistic.

                                          If you work from a company office: Pre-make snacks for the day and/or week. Or, bring in prepackaged snacks. Keep in mind that junk food has properties of diminishing returns so if you’re buying your food prepackaged think nuts, fruit, unsweetened yogurts, and hummus and crackers. Likely, your company provides coffee, tea and water so you don’t have to worry about supplying that for yourself.

                                          If you work from a home office: If you work from home, this can be a key distraction. Try to reduce the number of times you walk into the kitchen each day. To do this, keep quick and   easy snacks pre-made or prepackaged ready and near your desk. Keep a water bottle nearby. And consider bringing a kettle into your office and stocking tea and coffee so you’re   not tempted to wander around the house and lose time poking through the pantry.

                                          Bring in Nature

                                          We are biological creatures, first and foremost. So we are deeply affected by our access to (or lack of) the natural world. It’s important for our psychological and physiological functioning, which directly affects our ability to be productive.

                                          If you work from a company office: If you don’t have windows in or near your work space, bring in pictures of the outdoor world. Keep a picture of something natural as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks outdoors at lunch or in between major tasks. Just a few minutes outside in the fresh air and sunshine can boost our mood and shake out the doldrums. Be sure to add a plant to your desk, too!

                                          If you work from a home office: Keep the shades open and, if you can, let in fresh air. If you can’t see anything natural out of your window, keep pictures of the natural world as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks. Or, just step outside and put your feet on the ground. Put plants in your office – research shows that having live plants in your office makes you more productive, happier and less stressed.

                                          Digital Space

                                          For most people, our primary work is housed within our laptops and our physical environment simply the backdrop to our digital lives. Make sure your computer has software that helps you sculpt the digital environment that best elicits productivity. Use focus apps like this one or this to decrease distractions. Or design your day using intervals with an app like this one to keep you at your peak focus throughout the day.

                                          Featured photo credit: Phil Desforges via unsplash.com

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