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7 Ways To Supercharge Your Productivity When You Work From Home

7 Ways To Supercharge Your Productivity When You Work From Home

With technology booming and gas prices rising, companies are allowing employees to work from home more and more. With this added perk, employees are taking on more responsibility to ensure they stay productive when they are out of the office.

Without the ability to walk across the hall and check on you, bosses often have higher expectations and expect tangible results. Therefore, employees working from home can improve productivity in a variety of ways to make sure they can meet this demand. Here are 7 ways to supercharge your productivity when you work from home.

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1. Create a space without distractions.

If you try working from home from your couch with the TV on, you’re going to struggle to stay productive. Ideally, create a home office without distractions of the TV, the kids, the dog, the spouse, and anything else that may be at home at the same time. If you don’t have a dedicated office, try to find a nice, quiet nook to settle down in your home. Small distractions can add up quickly and ruin productivity, so find a space that can keep you focused and ready to be productive.

2. Paint your home office in soothing colors.

Moss green, light orange, and warm grays can make a home office much more productive. And try to use a room with natural light and a warm feeling. The colors of your work environment matter, so do your research and find the mood you want to set to get the most done.

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3. Add Plants & Flowers to your home office.

Featuring plants and flowers in your home office can make a huge difference in your productivity at home. It will make the space feel more comfortable and put you in the right frame of mind to supercharge your productivity.

4. Schedule a time for lunch.

It’s easy to just head to lunch at odd times when working from home. Often, it’s possible to wait way too long to eat and end up eating much later than normal. Scheduling a time for lunch will make sure you’re out when your co-workers are because nothing is worse than getting a call right when you walk out the door. And when you eat at the correct time, you won’t crave food and snack all day, which can limit productivity. Each time you get up and head to the kitchen for a snack, you lose focus.

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5. Give your eyes a rest.

Find a time to get away from the computer, especially if you eat lunch while working. Take a portion of your lunch break and take a stroll around the block or do something around the house. Limit these activities to a certain timeframe, but giving your eyes a break from the computer can help you recharge and stay productive.

6. Create a comprehensive to-do list.

While creating a to-do list is always a great strategy, when working from home it’s even more vital. It’s easy to get distracted and lose focus when you’re in your house. Make a comprehensive to-do list with times you want things done by will ensure you stay productive all day.

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7. Check in with your co-workers & boss proactively.

Nothing can make working from home more unproductive than meddling co-workers. Take a proactive approach and make contact first. It will show that you’re in the groove and there’s nothing distracting you from home. If you send your agenda out in advance, your team will be much more less likely to check-in at an inopportune time and ensure that you can stay productive throughout the entire day.

By utilizing these tips while working from home, you can make your home work office even more productive than going to work!

Featured photo credit: Jaap Stronks via flickr.com

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Kyle Robbins

Founder, BrandingBeard.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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