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5 Ways You Can Use Pinterest to Be More Productive

5 Ways You Can Use Pinterest to Be More Productive

You probably think of Pinterest as one of the web’s most beautiful ways to waste time — one minute you’re finding a recipe, three hours later you still haven’t eaten. It’s definitely easy to scroll your way down a rabbit hole of pictures, quotes, and more. But the reason Pinterest is so easy to get sucked into — its easy-to-use, image-heavy, scroll-friendly interface — can also be used to make you more efficient.

How to get started: If you don’t already have it, add the “Pin It” button to your browser. It’s a free extension, and there are versions for Chrome, IE, Safari, and Firefox. One of the keys to putting Pinterest to work for you is pinning straight from the web, not just repinning what other users have pinned. For most of these tips to really work for you, you want to be sure that you’ve got correct links.

Here are five ways you can use Pinterest to actually be more productive.

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1. Plan your next vacation.

pinterest-trip-planner

    Headed on a trip this summer? Planning to have your smartphone or tablet along for the ride? Create a board just for planning your vacation. Research places to go, the best local eats, and what you want to see. Each time you pin something, put in a description that will help you remember what you liked about it (e.g., “good non-beach day hike”) and any vital info like the address or phone number. Before you know it, you’ve got your own personal travel guide. The images make it easy to remember what the place was or what you liked about it, and all the key info’s right there. Want to make it an even stronger resource? Make it a private board, and add details like your flight, hotel, or rental car confirmation info — you’ll have all your vital vacay info right at your fingertips.

    2. Be your own personal trainer.

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    pinterest-fitness

      Fitness boards are pretty common on Pinterest, but usually they’re mainly “fitspo” quotes and lists of activities. Motivating, maybe. Actually useful, not so much. Use Pinterest to get your body moving by creating a board (or boards) that’s an actual workout. Pin images or gifs that demonstrate specific exercises — the sites for magazines like Women’s Health and Men’s Health are great for these — and add how many reps or sets you want to do in the description. At home, your computer or tablet can be your visual workout guide, or tote your smartphone to the gym so you can see your moves.

      3. Have backup for your insurance.

      pinterest-insurance

        When calamity strikes — whether it’s a natural disaster or a break-in — people tend to tell you, “At least you have insurance.” And yes, having homeowner’s or renter’s insurance is vital. But actually getting the value of what you’ve lost isn’t easy, and companies often require you to show exactly what you had (even if you lost everything, you then have to spell out what “everything” is, down to the number of spoons and forks you owned). Create a private Pinterest board that itemizes your belongings — it’s sort of like shopping, but for stuff you already own. It’s also helpful because since your board will be on the web — not an Excel sheet in your computer, for example — no matter what happens to your home or your possessions, it will be accessible. For big-ticket items like electronics, it’s also worth putting the serial number in the description. Yes, this one will take a while, but in the event that you need it (and we hope you don’t!), you’ll be so glad you have it.

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        4. Be the best gift-giver ever.

        pinterest-gifting

          Pretty much everyone on Pinterest has a board for stuff they want. Instead, create a board that’s all about giving. (This one’s definitely got to be a private board if you want your friends and family to be surprised!) Whenever someone you shop for mentions something that they like or have always wanted, look it up and pin it. When their birthday or a holiday rolls around, your shopping is a cinch — and everyone’s amazed at how thoughtful you are. Want to be even more of a pro? Set your preferences so that Pinterest automatically emails you when the price on one of your pins drops. You can be a super gifter and save some cash.

          5. Make your own cookbook.

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          pinterest-meal-planner

            Pinterest can feel like a constant stream of food porn. Instead of just browsing (and drooling), hit up some recipe sites and get pinning. Pinning a recipe photo from a site that has enabled “rich pins” doesn’t just give you a delectable photo — when you click on your pin, it will actually give you the recipe right there. Not all sites have this enabled, so you’ll have to pin and then check on Pinterest; but when you’ve found a good site, go click-crazy! Not sure what you need from the store? Whip out your smartphone and tap a recipe on your cookbook board: You’ll see all the ingredients, broken out by category (meats, produce, dairy, and so on). At home, open up your laptop or prop up your tablet, and you’re cooking! With rich pins, you don’t even need to click through to the site — everything you need to make a delish meal is right there.

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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!

            More About Goals Setting

            Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

            Reference

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