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25 Awesome Board Games That Will Make You Smarter And More Creative

25 Awesome Board Games That Will Make You Smarter And More Creative

We all (probably/hopefully) have fond board game related memories. What if I told you that all that time you spent throwing dice with the family had measurable long-term benefits? The following board games are especially amazing in terms of cultivating your priceless brain cells!

1. Ticket to Ride

1

    What it is:

    This is a game where you try and connect cities on the game board by building railways. Whoever builds the longest railway, or finishes with the highest score, wins the game.

    How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

    Ticket to Ride, while simplistic at a glance, is a strategy game at its heart. There are several ways in which you can inhibit other players and their expanding rail lines, and multiple paths to victory. It’s a game where you can hone your manipulative skills, develop your logistical abilities, and even learn a bit of basic geography!

    2. Takenoko

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      What it is:

      This one reminds me a bit of World of Warcraft’s farming minigame, except, they’re really not that similar besides the fact that both deal with pandas. In Takenoko, you grow bamboo to appease the tastes of the resident sacred black and white bear. Whoever grows and maintains the best bamboo farm and satisfies the panda best, wins the game.

      How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

      There’s no better way to learn some organizational skills than to put together a farm, even if it’s a board game based one! Plus, you’ll certainly grow (pun?) your detail-oriented related skills in the process, since victory depends on the quality of your farm. Just as in real life, those who are the most fastidious are likely to come out as the winners.

      3. Stratego

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        What it is:

        Ah, a classic. Basically, two players are given an army, whose ranks/power are hidden from their opponent. Among these soldiers, you hide a flag. Whoever captures this flag first, or takes out enough of the enemy’s troops, wins.

        How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

        The name says it all. This game is all about strategy. In one sense it’s a mind game since you’re trying to find the other player’s flag, and attempting to make predictions based on the rank of the unit you’re attacking. While you might not become the next Napoleon playing this game, your analytical and observational skills will surely get a boost…

        4. Settlers of Catan

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          What it is:

          If you’ve played the Civilization games, you’ll have a decent idea about what this game is like. Settlers is all about building up territory and resources until you have enough points to win the game. Much like Civilization V, you play on a hexagonal game board with randomized resources. Apparently, it’s popular among college aged kids (though I wouldn’t know since I never got invited to the cool board game parties).

          How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

          It’s all about resource management, trade, and prescient planning with this one. This game will, with luck, make you more frugal or at least more aware of the limited nature of the resources you possess (i.e. money). Often in this game you’ll be backed into a corner or given a plot of land with few resources, and making do with what you have is necessary to win. A good life lesson, if there ever was one.

          5. 1812 – The Invasion of Canada

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            What it is:

            This game is about the oft glazed over War of 1812 (if you can tell me why this war started without Googling it, I’ll give you a virtual cookie). Two factions, one British and one American, vie for control over territory in North America. Whichever side ends with the most zones under their control wins.

            How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

            At the very least, this game will teach you a little bit about history, since I’m betting at least ninety percent of people know nothing of the specifics of this particular war. The fact that the Native Americans are on the British side will tell you a little bit about early U.S./Indian relations. As with Stratego and Settlers, you’ll also develop your planning (scheming) skills and get a better idea about how wars are fought.

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            6. Euphoria

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              What it is:

              The goal of this game alone makes it worth playing: you need to take control of a dystopian city. To get there, you’ll need to step on opposing players (figuratively), keep your workers uneducated, and find other morally questionable ways to rise to the top of the dictatorial food chain. If you are an aspiring autocrat (any Mr. House fans here?) or have a natural tendency to believe in your superiority over others, this one’s for you.

              How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

              What better way to hone the skills necessary to compete in a capitalistic society like America than to test your mettle in a game about conquering dystopia (which is at only a tiny bit worse than our current system)? While it probably won’t help you rise up any corporate ladders in real life, you’ll be better prepared to take advantage of others when given the opportunity.

              7. Amerigo

              25boardgames#7

                What it is:

                A game about exploration, with a twist. Your actions are determined randomly, at least in part. A tower located in the middle of the game board contains colored cubes that, when jostled free at the bottom (whenever a player adds more cubes to the tower), determine what you’ll do. The cubes will direct you in your mission of exploring a South American archipelago, where you’ll build towns and create trade routes in order to acquire victory points.

                How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                This game will make you think. Not only will you be doing the typical planning and resource management, but you’ll need to base all of your moves around what the tower gives you. In other words, this game will test your ability to react to ever-changing circumstances; always a useful trait to have.

                8. A Game of Thrones

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                  What it is:

                  This game has a simple premise, even if you aren’t familiar with the titular book series/television show. Whoever conquers the most land gains the Iron Throne.

                  How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                  This one, while improving your strategic abilities, will also improve your knowledge of the Seven Kingdoms. Perfect in today’s world, where knowing Game of Thrones lore is almost as essential as learning actual history. Additionally, as in the show, you’ll be put in situations where diplomacy, and perhaps betrayal, are your only options.

                  9. Kemet

                  25boardgames#9

                    What it is:

                    Relive your sixth grade fantasies and create the Egyptian Empire you always wanted! This is a game mainly centered on war, with other things going on simultaneously that you’ll have to manage.

                    How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                    As with many war games, you’ll need to make sure you balance your resources. You may do a lot of damage to your opponent militarily, but forget about everything else you need to manage, such as your workers and upgrades. Anybody who wants to be a better leader will find a lot to like about this game, since it requires an ability to keep up with all of your ever-fluctuating responsibilities to win the game. If nothing else, you’ll learn a bit about Egyptian culture and iconography…

                    10. Trajan

                    25boardgames#10

                      What it is:

                      A board game about ancient Rome! That should be enough to pique your interest. Your goal in this game will be to acquire as much power as possible, through multiple avenues.

                      How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                      You’re learning more about the Roman Empire. Isn’t that enough? No? Ok, well I suppose you’ll be able to brush up on your lobbying skills, since a large part of this game deals with influencing Roman politics in your rise to the top. Of course, there will also be lots of war and trading, since this is the Romans we’re talking about after all.

                      11. Small World

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                        What it is:

                        Like the name implies, Small World gives players an unnaturally tiny game board to work with. Never has the phrase “this town ain’t big enough for the two of us” had more meaning. You’ll need to grow your fledgling empire by kicking other players (literally) off of the map.

                        How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                        This game will teach you all about balance. Since there’s so little room to work with, you’ll have to rush to colonize the board. That being said, grow too quickly and you’ll over-extend yourself, ending your empire’s existence faster than you can say “Julius Caesar.”

                        12. Clue

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                          What it is:

                          Does this one require an extensive explanation? The game’s all about finding out who the killer was, their weapon of choice, and the room where the murder occurred.

                          How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                          Make like Sherlock Holmes and improve your powers of deduction! Clue probably won’t qualify you to become a professional sleuth, though hopefully it will make you more observant!

                          13. Agricola

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                            What it is:

                            Build a farm! Whoever constructs the best one, wins. It’s more complicated than it sounds though, as the game takes into account every little aspect of your homestead when determining the final score. Concentrate too much on raising animals and not maintaining your home? That could cost you the game.

                            How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                            As in real life, Agricola gives you multiple avenues to victory, and you’ll have to determine which ones will have the most beneficial effect to your farm, and thus your final score.

                            14. Twilight Imperium

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                              What it is:

                              This is a game where you can live out your life-long dream of ruling an empire…in space!

                              How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                              Your brain is going to get a workout playing this one, that’s for sure. Really, that’s not surprising considering that you’ll be running galactic-sized civilizations in this game, compared to the earth-based ones in previous examples.

                              15. Descent: Journeys in The Dark

                              15

                                What it is:

                                From the looks of it, this is a board game version of a classic dungeons and dragons game (I’m no expert but I did read Ready Player One…). One player serves the role of the proverbial dungeon master, while the rest play as the stereotypical heroes.

                                How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                                If you ever wanted to hone your latent maniacal psycho killer traits, there’s no better way to do so than to be a dungeon master. That being said, you’ll learn a lot about reacting to random, often terrible situations playing the role of the hero as well.

                                16. Chutes and Ladders

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                                  What it is:

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                                  Well, this one probably needs no explanation. Basically, ladders are good. Chutes are bad!

                                  How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                                  Let’s face it; life can be pretty crappy sometimes. You get thrown about a hundred curve-balls every year, so it’s nice to be able to handle yourself well in times of crisis. In Chutes and Ladders, you’ll often find yourself randomly knocked down several squares for no reason other than sheer random chance, much like what happens in reality. Better to test how you handle adversity in a friendly kid’s game first, right?

                                  17. Shogun

                                  17

                                    What it is:

                                    Take on the role of a Daimyo (basically a Feudal Lord) during Japan’s Sengoku or “Warring States” period. Each player is offered the same courses of action; it’s up to each individual to determine the ones that will best lead their state to victory.

                                    How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                                    For one, you’ll learn a lot of cool Japanese vocabulary. “Daimyo” is a pretty nifty word to know off the cuff, after all. Also, since every player has the same options, you’ll really have to out-think your opponents if you want to beat them.

                                    18. Pay Day

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                                      What it is:

                                      Think of this as an easier version of Life or Monopoly. You’ll be given a monthly salary, and you’ll need to budget it well to win.

                                      How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                                      If you have kids, they’ll definitely learn something about the value of money playing this game. Speaking as a young adult myself, you really don’t understand what it’s all about until you get your first bill or emergency expense thrown at you, so the earlier you learn to cope with it, the better. Also, this game is great at demonstrating the fickle nature of the capitalist system.

                                      19. Scotland Yard

                                      19

                                        What it is:

                                        Assume the role of a detective for Scotland Yard. If you don’t know what that is, then you’re already learning something! The goal is to catch the escaped mastermind criminal before he eludes your grasp…

                                        How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                                        If anything, it’s great to immerse yourself in a bit of British culture, since European countries are looked upon as being so “cool” these days. Other than that, you’ll get a brain boost from having to predict and anticipate the criminal mastermind’s movements.

                                        20. Acquire

                                        20

                                          What it is:

                                          Be a pretend real estate tycoon and use underhanded business tactics to ensure that your business crushes the others. The wealthiest player wins!

                                          How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                                          This will definitely give you a taste of what it’s like to be an investment banker on Wall Street. You’ll have to invest in stocks, orchestrate mergers, and manage your business in a way that results in the most profits. Though you may never own an actual real estate empire, these skills might prove to be useful anyways. Remember, it’s a cutthroat world out there! Better to understand the people draining your bank account than remain mystified by the process, right?

                                          21. Chess

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                                            What it is:

                                            After such an eclectic list of games, I’m sure you’re scratching your head at the inclusion of good old chess. For those not in the know, the goal of the game is to take out the opposing player’s king.

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                                            How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                                            There are way more strategies out there for chess than I can write about here. Suffice it to say, to become even semi-decent at chess, you’ll need to have good analytical skills and an ability to predict your opponent’s moves far in advance. Both of which could come in handy in any number of professions.

                                            22. Scrabble

                                            22

                                              What it is:

                                              Another old favorite! It’s what everyone used to play before Words With Friends stole its thunder. Using the letters given to you, make words to gain points. Whoever ends up with the most points, wins!

                                              How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                                              One thing I’ve learned in life is that people’s vocabularies are painfully limited. If I have to explain to somebody what the word “facetious” means one more time I think I’ll blow a gasket! Play this game a lot and you’ll be improving your word reservoir, which everyone around you will appreciate.

                                              23. Pandemic

                                              OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

                                                What it is:

                                                A zombie game! Who doesn’t like those? There’s no one winner in this game; you either defeat the virus and all win, or allow the infection to run rampant and lose as a team.

                                                How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                                                Though I love saying that I hate group projects, it’s a fact that cooperation is key to success in this world. What better way to see if you have the ability to work with others than to determine if you and a few buddies can defeat the zombie plague?

                                                24. Diplomacy

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                                                  What it is:

                                                  Use all of your cunning and intellectual faculties to try and negotiate your European nation to the top of the pre-WWI era food chain.

                                                  How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                                                  Learning about history always makes you smarter, and this is no exception. Everyone wonders how something like World War I could have started, and this is why. Complicated alliances created through convoluted diplomatic processes. Can you address your country’s needs without angering others? Can you do so better than actual turn-of-the-century leaders? If your answer is yes, perhaps you should seek a job in congress…

                                                  25. Le Havre

                                                  25boardgames#25

                                                    What it is:

                                                    I’ve always been interested in ships, so this game caught my eye. Basically, you’ll have to oversee a harbor. In the process you’ll build ships and develop your port by constructing useful structures. It’s a game all about building your harbor’s economic potential.

                                                    How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                                                    Though airplanes replaced ships for travel purposes, ships still dominate when it comes to the trade of goods. There’s no better way to understand how this system (which basically sustains our current way of life) works than to manage your own harbor and see how you do in managing the import and export of cargo. If anything, you’ll see just how difficult maintaining the profitability of all this is. Like they say, it all comes down to logistics!

                                                    I hope you enjoyed reading this list as much as I enjoyed creating it! There are a lot of strange, eclectic games on here, so be awesome and try a few of the crazier ones out. If you’ve played any of these, let me know what you thought of them in the comments below… unless it’s in reference to chess or scrabble, I’m pretty well-versed in those!

                                                    Featured photo credit: dice-072504-1.jpg/MorgueFile via mrg.bz

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                                                    Last Updated on January 2, 2019

                                                    Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress

                                                    Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress

                                                    The end of the year is the time when everyone tries to give you advice on how to live healthier, look better, and earn more money.

                                                    It’s understandable if you find yourself lost among all the tips and opinions. Sometimes you no longer know what you truly want to achieve next year – and what’s just imposed by society.

                                                    To help you out, we’ve made this article about the things you should remove from your new year’s resolution list – instead of adding to it – to make your daily life more harmonious and peaceful.

                                                    So just make sure you cross these off your New Year’s to-do list – your body, mind and soul will be thankful.

                                                    1. Stop Buying Meaningless Gifts

                                                    We all know the sense of obligation – when we have to buy a gift for an event or celebration that’s already tomorrow, but we still have no idea of what to give.

                                                    Take these tips close to heart for all upcoming holidays, including birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc.:

                                                    Stop focusing on the material objects

                                                    Instead of focusing on what material object to give, think about the emotion you want to evoke[1] in the gift recipient, and then pick a symbolic gift that can support or represent that emotion. For example, you can gift coziness by presenting a “comfort set” with warm socks, tea, candles, etc. Or give motivation by presenting a beautiful planner or notebook.

                                                    Plan gifts in advance

                                                    We know this is easier said than done. But if you try to plan which gifts you’ll need in the upcoming months (try making a list three or four times a year), ideas will more likely come to mind and you’ll avoid that last-minute shopping. Not to mention, you’ll be able to keep an eye on sales to get the best prices.

                                                    Suggest a better way

                                                    If you’re tired of exchanging gifts for birthdays and holidays, initiate a different approach. For example, draw names among family members and agree that each one only buys a present to that one person they got. Alternatively, you can agree not to share gifts among adults, and only give presents to kids of the family. Or, ask friends to donate to charity instead of buying a gift for you.

                                                    Go for common experiences instead of exchanging gifts

                                                    You can agree (with your partner or the extended family) to go on a common trip, dinner or another activity, instead of spending money on gifts.

                                                    Sometimes you’ll have to be the one who initiates breaking the rules that have been accepted in the family for years. But if you suspect that you’re not the only one in the group who’s tired of gift-hunting, you’ll surely find support for your suggestions.

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                                                    2. Don’t Exaggerate with Diets and Fitness Resolutions

                                                    It’s no secret that TV shows, article headlines, and ads (not to mention our healthy diet-obsessed friends) make us feel like we need to look better, slimmer and younger than we actually are. But going on yet another diet or starting a fitness plan with the wrong motivation rarely leads to great results.

                                                    If you are like many people, you have probably signed up for an annual gym membership at least once in your life – only to drop it one month later.

                                                    How do you balance a good resolution for a healthier life without pushing yourself into commitments that won’t last?

                                                    Here’s what you can do:

                                                    Set a healthier pattern

                                                    For example, do meat-free Mondays or reduce meat consumption to three days per week (less saturated fat for you and better for the environment). Or choose to eat only healthy food at least three days a week or only on weekdays (e.g. make sure your meals contain vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy products, and protein). This way you’ll already have a healthier diet while still being able to treat yourself with a snack on weekends or parties.

                                                    Get a fitness watch

                                                    Fitness watches like Fitbit or MiBand are tiny accessories that will count your steps, calories burnt and will serve as an excellent motivator to move – or to take the stairs instead of the elevator.

                                                    Find a physical activity that you enjoy

                                                    Even if you are not that fond of doing sports, you can definitely find an activity that you’d do with pleasure. Think about what you’d like – from taking up Nordic walking to pilates or even exercising at home.

                                                    Try intermittent fasting

                                                    This is an alternating cycles of fasting and eating. For example, stop eating at 8 pm and restart not sooner than 12 hours later. This approach has been proven to have numerous health benefits, in addition to weight loss.

                                                    Skip cabs or driving to work and opt for cycling or walking instead

                                                    You’ll burn calories, breathe some fresh air, and save money – win-win!

                                                    3. Put a Cap on Your Daily To-Do List

                                                    In today’s busy world, planning your day in a stress-free way is actually an art in itself. It’s natural to want to be a loving parent, a diligent employee, an active member of the local community and probably several other individual roles.

                                                    But playing all these roles requires energy and meticulous planning. How not to lose yourself amidst all the appointments and responsibilities? And – most importantly – how to still find time for relaxing and recharging yourself?

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                                                    These daily planning tips will help you have more stress-free days:

                                                    Leave bigger intervals between meetings

                                                    If you schedule too many appointments or chores in a day, you’ll probably end up late at some point, and as a result – more stressed. There are many different reasons why people are late, but poor planning is a major factor too.

                                                    Plan time to relax

                                                    As weird as it may sound, you should try and schedule your resting time. For example, if you only have one free evening this week, and a friend tries to squeeze in a meeting, feel free to say no. Don’t feel obliged to specify the reason for your refusal, just say that you are busy.

                                                    Try to be a little pessimistic

                                                    We’re often packed with plans or running late for errands because we tend to be overly optimistic – about the traffic, the time it takes to do things, etc. Instead, try an opposite tactic — assume you’ll hit traffic or the meeting will take longer.

                                                    Try waking up earlier

                                                    Sometimes even waking up 30 minutes earlier can give you the much-needed head start for several errands of the day. But remember to get enough sleep every night, even if it means going to bed earlier.

                                                    Plan your day the day before

                                                    Chances are your day will be much better organized if you pack a lunch and lay out an outfit before going to bed.

                                                    Designate a time for checking emails and social messages

                                                    If you start checking your messages between appointments, you risk getting lost in a sea of messages that need replies. Designate a time for this activity or do it in case you arrived early to a meeting.

                                                    4. Let Go of Unhealthy and Time-Consuming Habits

                                                    If there’s one thing we should get rid of in the new year, it’s the habits that steal our time, provide instant gratification but don’t offer any value in the long term. Or even worse, leave a negative impact on our health.

                                                    Here are some common (and pointless) habits along with tips on how to get rid of them:

                                                    Binge-watching TV series

                                                    Even if most online television platforms offer you lists of “Best TV Shows to Binge Watch”, being addicted to series is a major time-waster.

                                                    You can manage this addiction in several ways, for example, watch one episode per day (or a few per week) as a reward, only after you’ve finished an assignment or done a house chore. Or try replacing this habit with exercise or reading a book – this will be hard at first but should stick after a few weeks. You can also try to track how much time you spend on TV or movies – seeing how much of your life you are wasting might urge you to do something about it.

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                                                    Running on coffee

                                                    Being a coffee addict is kind of a stylish addiction nowadays, but it’s not that innocent as it may initially seem. Besides addiction being a problem in itself, drinking too much coffee (more than 500-600 mg of caffeine a day) may lead to nervousness, insomnia, an upset stomach, a fast heartbeat, and even muscle tremors.[2]

                                                    As a solution, try switching to tea or edible coffee – a more sustainable, healthy, and productivity-enhancing alternative. For example, Coffee Pixels are solid coffee bars that generate a more even energy kick throughout the day without the coffee-induced abstinence and dehydration.

                                                    Procrastination

                                                    Fighting procrastination requires some serious willpower. If it is a problem in your daily life or work, try ”eating the frog” in the morning – get over your biggest or hardest tasks first, then tackle everything else.

                                                    Alternatively, use time tracking software to monitor exactly how much time you waste on unproductive actions, websites or apps. Once you know exactly how much time you’re spending unproductively, try to limit your time on social media, for example to just 20 minutes per day.

                                                    If nothing else works, try bribing yourself — promise yourself to do something fun or pleasant when you finish your assignment.

                                                    Whichever habit you want to give up, consider using some habits building tools to make a contract with yourself and reward yourself for milestones achieved.

                                                    5. Stop over-consuming

                                                    We live in the age of consumerism – huge manufacturers with their promise of a comfortable life on the one hand, and growing environmental threats – that are the direct result of our modern lifestyle – on the other hand. There’s only one solution – try to consume less whenever and wherever you can.

                                                    Before making additional purchases, ask yourself these questions:

                                                    • Do I really need it? Did I need it yesterday?
                                                    • Can’t I buy it used or borrow it from friends?
                                                    • Can I rent it?
                                                    • Can I make it myself?
                                                    • Am I buying the most sustainable version of this product?

                                                    For example, check if the brand you chose is conscious about the environment, for example, are the products they manufacture energy efficient? Do they try to use less packaging?

                                                    Also, if you often find yourself buying too many groceries, promise to buy only the amount that fits in one shopping bag (that you bring along). If you often forget to take your shopping bag with you, get yourself a 2-in-1 wallet with a built-in shopping bag for more eco-friendly shopping.

                                                    6. Learn to Unplug from Your Phone

                                                    Today’s world is crammed with information, and many people struggle to keep focus on what’s truly important. There’s just too much going on in the world – too much to read, to watch, to know, too many conversations to participate in.

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                                                    But how to refuse the temptation to check the phone and start using social media in a controlled, not a compulsive way?

                                                    Some tips for managing your phone-dependency:

                                                    Spend only a limited amount of battery per day

                                                    For example, start your day with 50% battery life, and manage your phone usage so that you’ll make it till the evening.

                                                    Block distracting apps and notifications on your phone and computer

                                                    Choose one-hour, two-hour or longer blocking sessions and enjoy the positive impact this will have on your mood and productivity.[3]

                                                    Set your phone on flight mode

                                                    When you start doing an important task that requires full focus, set your phone on flight mode so that nobody can disturb you.

                                                    Leave your phone at home or in the office when you go for lunch

                                                    You’ll see that the feeling of being unreachable for a moment is actually very liberating.

                                                    The Bottom Line

                                                    As a new year begins, we’re all excitedly looking forward to what adventures await ahead of us.

                                                    But this year, promise yourself this:

                                                    Instead of having a never-ending list of tasks and commitments, focus on the truly meaningful ones. And cross-out all the rest without feeling guilty.

                                                    Less is more. Make this year count. We’re all rooting for you.

                                                    Featured photo credit: Brooke Lark via unsplash.com

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