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5 Time Management Tips That Will Improve Your Productivity And Your Health

5 Time Management Tips That Will Improve Your Productivity And Your Health

Life can get hectic; that is something all of us will admit. With the endless amounts of deadlines needing to be met, dishes piling up in the sink and taking care of your younger brother, sometimes you wonder, “Why are there only 24 hours in a day?”

Truth be told, not many of us spend the time we have wisely. Chances are, too much time is spent on Facebook or any other form of social media. And I’m sure you’ve been distracted while doing work before. This is why I’m sharing tips that will improve productivity and health—because I’m confident everyone could benefit with more productivity. So here are 5 time management tips that might just help you maximize the 24 hours you have in a day!

1. Use lists.

For some, using lists is a great way help increase productivity. However most of the time, people create to-do lists that don’t work at all. While to-do lists might be a valuable tool, I like to complement my to-do list with some other list to make them work better.

Here are some examples:

The 3 Task List

Write down the 3 most important task that you need to complete. I like to split them into 3 different categories, the first would be work related, second would be something health related and third would be any other task you can think of.

An example would look like this:

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1. Write the first draft of an article.

2. Perform a 30 minute run.

3. Buy a present for Sarah.

The goal here is to finish all 3 task before sunset and 2 of the tasks need to be finished by the afternoon. Using this list will ensure that even if your productivity level is bad, you get the three most important things done in one day.

The “Don’t Do” List

This list is simple, all you have to do is write down three bad habits that might be preventing you from completing your task. Stick a reminder on your wall or computer and try not to do any of the 3 items on the list.

Here’s an example:

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1. I won’t check my emails first thing in the morning.

2. I won’t go on Facebook when I’m writing an article.

3. I won’t leave my chair unless performing work for 30 minutes.

The key here is to set a specific time frame to those list. By doing so, it gives you a solid idea of how your time is being  managed. This will vastly improve your productivity.

2. Turn off notifications on your smartphones and tablets.

With the rise of smartphones and tablets, accessing social media has never been easier; however, this convenience can come with a price. Most people find it hard to concentrate because they are so famous, they get Facebook notifications every 10 minutes.

Keeping your notifications turned on can potentially be distracting. So by turning them off, you can ensure nothing will distract you once you are performing work. If you want to take it a step further, you can always uninstall all your social media apps on your phone.

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3. Using specific software and apps.

While social media apps can be potentially distracting, there are apps and software that can help you manage your time better. Sometimes even if you have an iron clad will, it’s hard to resist the temptation of constantly refreshing your news feed. If that’s your problem, this might just be your solution.

1. Cold Turkey & Self Control

This software for your computer let’s you set a specific time period to block popular social media sites that might be distracting. There is also a function which allows you to white list or restrict specific sites.

The beauty is that unless you are a genius hacker, it’s almost impossible to bypass the the lock once it’s activated. In that way, you might be forced to do something productive.

Cold Turkey supports Windows, while Self Controls supports Mac.

2. Self Control (android)

This app prevents you from using any apps on your smartphone for the amount of time you’ve set. Despite the same name, it’s completely different from the one which works on Mac.

3. Focus@Will

Focus@Will plays music that is scientifically proven to help you focus. It definitely helped me stay focused and the tunes are pretty calming. The best part is, there is a free version too!

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4. Include breaks.

Time management doesn’t necessarily have to be all work and no play. As a matter of the fact, including breaks in between work is a great way to maximize your productivity. Working on something for too long, especially when you hit a mental block is not an efficient way to use your time.

Instead of sitting down and pulling your hair, scheduling breaks in between is a good way to hit the reset button. I like to have a 10 minute break for every 50 minutes of work I do. During that time, you are free to do anything.

Some good ideas would be to incorporate a few bodyweight exercises such as squats or push ups, watch a short funny clip or even surf Facebook or Twitter. Just do something that will take your mind off work. This will help your mind stay fresh.

5. Get enough sleep.

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    Sleep is a highly overlooked aspect when it comes to productivity and health. People who lack sleep have an increased chance of storing fat and falling sick, and decreased cognitive performance. Doesn’t exactly sound like the way to become a productivity doesn’t it?

    So aim to get roughly 8 hours of sleep per night.

    Incorporating short power naps lasting 20–30 minutes into your day is also another fantastic way to keep fatigue at bay. Optimizing your sleep is definitely one of the easiest way to start helping you lead a healthy and productive lifestyle. Since it’s that simple, start doing it right now!

    Featured photo credit: Productivity via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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