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How to Be a Productive Passenger

How to Be a Productive Passenger

Do you find yourself stuck in a car as a passenger for long drives with nothing to do? The driver is occupied, and often the passengers can find themselves at loose ends.

We are going to solve this dilemma once and for all today with suggestions for how you can use your time more productively as a passenger to get work done. First off, if your driver needs navigation help or has questions they are always your first priority, especially if you are in the front passenger seat.

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These tips are also useful for those who are passengers in a plane, train or bus.

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Be a More Productive Passenger by Getting Work Done in the Car

There are a lot of options for fun, productive activities, but we are going to focus here on getting work done. Here are a few ways to be a productive passenger as someone with an online business and little to no wifi access on the road:

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  • Write articles either on your iPad, laptop or using a Livescribe pen (my favorite). Writing articles while a passenger is one of my favorite uses of car time.
  • Brainstorm with Mindmeister on an iPad, or simply with a pen and paper. Topics to brainstorm about: think about where your business is going in the next few years, map out a new product idea, or come up with article ideas.
  • Record a video for visitors to your website or social media hangouts. Use the new Instagram Video for short messages and upload them immediately or record longer messages with SocialCam or iMovie.
  • Edit videos on your laptop and prepare them to upload when you have wifi access again.
  • Create Infographics or other photos messages to share with your readers or on social media.
  • Watch training videos – I bet you are like me and there are a lot of things you want to learn more about in order to grow your business, but it can be hard to find time to watch all of this material. Watch videos on your iPad or laptop, be sure to use a headset out of consideration for your driver, and consider speeding up the playback with eNounce (laptop) or Swift (iPad).
  • Read training material – I save small eBooks and pdfs of training material to Evernote to a Notebook that I make sure is fully downloaded on my iPad for offline access. These notes are great reading while on the road. Alternately, save them to your Kindle or your computer’s hard drive.
  • Take notes while you learn – I use a Livescribe (Sky) pen and notebook to take notes while I read or watch training material. This way I can also write ideas on how I can personally use the information and with the Sky pen it will upload those notes automatically to Evernote when I am back on my home wifi network. You can also simply use a pen and paper.
  • Assess where you are – Look back at the goals you have for your business. Are you on track to reaching them, or have you gotten derailed by shiny objects? Use some of your time as a productive passenger to assess your position.
  • Make a strategic plan – If your goals aren’t clear, define them now. Write them down and be sure you put them in a place where you can easily access them and see them often. Start making a plan to reach those goals.
  • Write your to do lists – Write out your general “need to do” list for the next 6 months, 3 months, 1 month, and for the coming week. Use these lists to reference your daily to-do list against—are you doing the activities today that will help you reach those larger to-dos? Don’t forget to make sure your to-dos are in line with your business goals.

Do you have a favorite way to be a productive passenger that wasn’t covered above? Be sure to share it with us in the comments below.

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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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