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How to Boost Productivity Through Building Momentum

How to Boost Productivity Through Building Momentum

Momentum has a profound effect on willpower and productivity. Negative momentum can hurt your productivity tremendously and positive momentum can help your productivity tremendously. This article will describe how to stop negative momentum, how to build positive momentum, and how to sustain it.

You might notice that when you’ve been sitting around all day, it’s a lot harder to go to the gym than when you’ve been busy all day. Conversely, when you’ve been working 12 hour days every day, it’s easier to keep working than when you come back from a long Summer vacation.

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Below are six tips on harnessing momentum to boost your productivity.

1. Cut Negative Momentum

Feeling unproductive can hurt your confidence and make you even more unproductive. You first must cut negative momentum before you can start building positive momentum. Recognize that what you’ve done (or not done) in the past is in the past. Don’t beat yourself up for something you can’t change. Be in the present moment. In the present moment, you have a choice about how to proceed. This is a tactic I’ve learned from meditation.

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2. Start with Small Wins

Like pushing a heavy object, going from standstill is the hardest part. Once you get it moving and start building momentum, it gets easier. For personal productivity, start with small, less intimidating tasks. Trying to tackle a huge task without a warm-up seems daunting. Failing to do so would be discouraging. Start small to build some momentum before trying to tackle bigger tasks. The confidence you get from the initial accomplishments will help you with larger tasks later on. To illustrate, if you want to run a marathon, you wouldn’t start by trying to run a marathon, you would start by trying to run a mile or two.

3. Reward Yourself for Accomplishments

Rewards give your brain some validation for hard work, which gives confidence and makes you crave more. Give yourself rewards after significant accomplishments. I’ve recently started taking James Altucher’s advice of writing a list of small wins and accomplishments at the end of the day–like a reverse to-do list. Writing down my accomplishments reinforces my productivity and helps build momentum. After major accomplishments you could go out for a nice dinner or dessert.

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4. Stay Consistent and Form a Habit

Once you build the initial momentum, sustain it by forming habits. Make a habit of continuing work hard and completing tasks. Do your best to stay on a consistent schedule. Get yourself used to working hard and completing tasks every day.

5. Take Pride in your Work

I’ve recently gained an appreciation for the feeling of pushing myself. I take pride in being productive. Pushing yourself, while difficult at the time, makes you stronger for the next time you need to work hard. Like running for those extra few minutes or doing that last rep at the gym, giving your brain and body the experience of pushing through will make it easier to push through next time.

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6. Take Breaks to Sustain Energy

Once you’ve built momentum, don’t forget to take breaks when appropriate to avoid burnout. Taking breaks will help you sustain your momentum and productivity over time. Be conscious of when you’re getting a lower return on the time you’re putting in, and just take a break. Keep yourself craving that feeling of pushing yourself. Don’t get sick of it. It might hurt your productivity in the short-term, but it will help you tremendously in the long-term to take breaks. Some feel they should always be pushing themselves as much as possible, but in practice, it can be quite detrimental to your productivity in the long-term to overwork yourself.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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