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7 Things You Should Do Today To Make Tomorrow Great

7 Things You Should Do Today To Make Tomorrow Great

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”- L.M.Montgomery

Tomorrow is going to be a great day! How many times have you been able to confidently state that? Not many, if you are like me. But thinking about it, a lot of the things you do today could actually make tomorrow much more productive and really satisfying. Try these hacks to make sure that tomorrow is really not going to be just like today.

“Tomorrow you promise yourself will be different, yet tomorrow is too often a repetition of today. And you will be disappointed again and again.”- James T. McCay

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 1. Check your email later instead of earlier

Procrastination has a loyal and faithful ally called email! Just think that every non-urgent email you read is stealing your time. Your chances of meeting that deadline are fading. Now, if you can mange to resist at least a little bit, you will have got those important things done and it will make tomorrow easier. Always check email towards the end of the day. Set up alerts for urgent ones so you are not missing out.

2. Limit your working hours

Everyone knows that working a 60 or 90 hour week is not nearly as productive as a 40 hour one. Our productivity goes down the hill rapidly as fatigue and weariness set in. Here is what I did. I made a pact with myself that I had to leave the office at 17.30 on the dot on Tuesdays and Thursdays as I had to get to my gym class. I told myself that I was free to work later to get urgent stuff done on the other three days. It worked like a charm. By doing this I was able to:

  • Become active after a sedentary day at the desk
  • Improve my work life balance
  • Boost my mood after the release of endorphins
  • Detach myself from that awful job

Not bad for one strategy. I also found that I was less stressed and I did not feel overwhelmed by too much work the next day. On the contrary, I was more rested and better able to face new challenges.

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3. Make a list of top priority tasks

It is much better to make a list at the end of today for tomorrow. First, you can see what needs to be done and what deadline you cannot afford to miss. Think about how today went and how you can improve on it. You can cross off things that can really be postponed. This will give you a sense of empowerment and control. I love crossing off things that have been done or can be put off.

4. De-clutter your space

There is an area of the brain which is activated when we have to give up an object we have become attached to. Look at a well known computer store and see how they have exploited this so that people touch the objects, become attached to them and then buy them!

But a lot of the stuff on our desk is not on sale and is serving no useful purpose at all. It is just taking up valuable space. In addition, it is a brake on your ability to think and act. Be ruthless. Throw everything you do not need and then find an easily identified place such as colored folders for all the rest. Think about the digital clutter too and get folders on your desktop to make things easier to find. So, start the clear out today and tomorrow will be a breeze.

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5. Update with colleagues

Another task to be done towards the end of the day is to check with colleagues and see what is happening with various projects, meetings, and deadlines. This can help you get your list of priorities for tomorrow up to date as you may have to make a few adjustments.

6. Don’t take work home

Now don’t spoil all this planning for tomorrow by taking work home. That will just be prolonging all the stress and invading your free time, thoughts and feelings with the work virus. It also suggests that you have time management problems that you need to address.

 7. Now start telling yourself tomorrow will be great

As you leave the office, start telling yourself that tomorrow is just going to be awesome. You know that you have paved the way beautifully. Pat yourself on the back for having cleared the desk, prioritized your tasks and got rid of a lot of junk into the bargain. Now go home and enjoy yourself!

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“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Featured photo credit: H. Jackson Brown Jr quote/BK via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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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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