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How to Maximize Productivity For The Perpetually Distracted

How to Maximize Productivity For The Perpetually Distracted

Most people in 2013 have a nasty habit of placing too much on their to-do lists. Each day, the list grows longer and we struggle to get even half of it done. Day in and day out we disappoint ourselves, and those around us, with our persistent lack of productivity and and palpable absence of achieved goals.

However, there are things you can do to make that to-do list an “all-done” list.

Why Can’t I Get Anything Done?

If you’re visiting this web site, you’re looking for ideas and inspiration. If you’re like me, you’re looking at this site when you ought to be doing something “productive.” If you clicked this article, you’re really trying to avoid some work. Is that you? It’s okay. It’s me, too.

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How was your drive to work this morning? Did you get stuck in traffic (if you didn’t and for some miraculous reason have never experienced traffic, bear with me)? Did you know that your brain acts in a similar way? It’s true—if you have too many things to process, it will clog up faster than the freeway during rush hour. How many times have you caught yourself just staring at your monitor, doing nothing in particular? Plus, the guilty feeling that follows isn’t very helpful, is it?

Well, guess what? Let it go.

Let Your Mind Wander

It seems counterintuitive, but if you have a hard time focusing on one particular task at a time, this method could work for you.

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If you have 8 tasks that need accomplishment in a given day, what’s your plan of attack? Do you order them from easiest to hardest? Hardest to easiest? In either one of those scenarios, there’s a point where you’ll freeze. A task that should take an hour now takes three or four because it’s hard to maintain your focus for more than 15 minutes at a time.

Don’t Fight Your Own Brain

Rather than try, futilely, to muscle through task #1 before moving on to task #2, allow yourself to move on to another project whenever your attention wanes. You’ll maintain your interest throughout the day and minimize the time you spend staring at your monitor. 

By cutting the “down-time” out of your day, you’ll get that list checked off a lot quicker. You may not check anything off until the afternoon, but as you wrap up your day, all your projects get completed with no feelings of guilt or wasted time.

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The Shower Principle

So—how and why does this work? Well, your brain never really shuts off. Your subconscious can work wonders when it’s not jammed up with unnecessary worry.

When your mind is otherwise distracted, your subconscious is freed up to process obstacles you might be trying to overcome. This method is referred to as “The Shower Principle,” and oddly enough, is best explained by Jack Donaghy, Alec Baldwin’s character on 30 Rock:

The Shower Principle is a term scientists use to describe moments of inspiration that occur when the brain is distracted from the problem at hand. For example, when you’re showering, if the cerebral cortex is distracted by showering then another part of the brain—the anterior superior temporal gyrus—is activated. This is the site of sudden cognitive inspiration.”

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Okay, granted 30 Rock is a sitcom, and “Jack Donaghy” isn’t actually real, but The Shower Principle certainly is. In fact, it works for me so frequently that when I’m writing on a deadline, I’ve taken up to 5 showers in a day. Other popular distractions include taking a walk, a drive, and even a quick nap.

So if you’re the kind of person who is constantly looking for a distraction (ahem, I caught you reading this so you’re already busted), try this technique. If you work in an office you might not have the opportunity to take a shower in the middle of the day, or your bosses might not understand just why they caught you napping underneath your desk, but allow yourself to take breaks when your attention span requires them. Watch a YouTube video. Do some jumping jacks. Find out what sufficiently distracts you and do it for five minutes. It’s like a reset button.

And if you get in trouble for doing jumping jacks at work, show this article to your bosses. While they are reading it, take a little nap under your desk. You’ll feel better.

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Last Updated on November 13, 2018

Do You Want to Know the Secret to Living a Fulfilling Life?

Do You Want to Know the Secret to Living a Fulfilling Life?

Don’t we all want to live a full, happy and satisfied life? For some of us, it need not be a long life as long as it’s been a fulfilling life of achievements, happiness and no regrets. But, how many of us actually go on to experience that entirely? It sometimes sounds more like a pipe dream–a fantasy rather than reality.

And then you’ll also get comments from some, saying that this ‘fulfilling life’ is only possible if you’re so rich that you don’t have to care about working, paying the bills or providing for your family. While there is some truth to that, I’m happy to say that financial freedom isn’t the only answer to living a fulfilling life.

Living a Fulfilling Life is Within Reach

Anyone can pursue a life of fullness, and it all starts with the willingness to learn. How many years has it been since you last attended a class in school? If you’re well into your adult years as a working professional, chances are it’s been a while. Do you remember the times where you had to wake up for early morning lectures? Or the times where you were rushing through a paper or project? And, of course there were the endless exams that you had to cram for.

As a young college student, I remember looking forward to the time when I would finally be done with school! No more homework, no more grades to worry about, no more stress! The learning was finally done and I could enter the working world.

Not so much!

Now that I’ve finally entered the working world, there are moments where I do wish to be a student again; it seemed less stressful then!

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There is simply so much out there that I still need to learn and experience. Yet I find myself pressed for time. With family commitments, my business and my own social life to juggle, I’ve had to keep on finding for new ways to learn and absorb new information efficiently. Over the years, I’ve found that by learning new skills and knowledge, I was able to find answers and solutions to my problems, which allowed me to achieve a greater sense of fulfillment.

Learning Never Ends

The truth is, learning never ends. Generally speaking, it is true that a formal education and the resulting qualifications are important in securing good jobs; jobs that allow you to excel, earn more and perhaps become more successful in our chosen career. But going to school is only one type of learning. All throughout your life, you’re learning in many ways. All these experiences shape and grow you into the person that you are today.

There are many opportunities to further your knowledge and develop the skills you need throughout life. Knowledge can be acquired and skill-sets can be developed anywhere. However, lifelong learning is about creating and maintaining a positive attitude to learning both for personal and professional development.

Many people overlook the fact that learning can take place anywhere and in many forms. Most would tend to think of learning as the years spent in a learning institute, which occurs mostly in their younger days. And once you go out into the working world, your ‘learning’ ends.

This is not how it has to be–in fact, lifelong learning is a gift that keeps on giving.

The Importance of Lifelong Learning

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Why is it important to become a lifelong learner?

A lifelong learner is motivated to learn and develop because they want to; it is a deliberate and voluntary act. Lifelong learning can enhance our understanding of the world around us, provide us with more and better opportunities, and improve our quality of life.

You’ll Remain Relevant in the Workplace

With advancements in society today, the human life expectancy continues to increase, which means more people are also retiring at a later age. So no matter what stage of life you’re in, being a lifelong learner brings its own rewards. It means we can get more personal satisfaction from our lives and jobs as we understand more about who we are and what we do.

This can lead to better results and a more rewarding working day in turn. Whether it’s for advancing your career, a personal interest or wanting to pursue new dreams, learning automatically pushes you forward towards progress and enhances your wellbeing.

You’ll Increase Your Earning Potential

From a financial point of view, a more highly skilled and knowledgeable worker is an asset to any company. This also leads to faster promotion with associated salary increases.

Someone who can offer more expertise will be of more value not just to employers but also to customers. Expertise is also, often, a key quality of an effective leader.

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And since you’ll constantly be accumulating knowledge, you’ll have an edge on those who don’t value lifelong learning and can’t bring as much to the table. Your extra knowledge will translate into transferable skills, which means you’ll always be primed to blow the competition out of the water.

Learning Gives You Options

Of course, one of the most rewarding reasons for continuous learning, is that it gives you options! Successfully changing career path in mid-life and spending time informally developing expertise is more common than ever, especially during rapidly changing market conditions.

Whatever your age, it’s never too late to start fresh in life. When you start educating yourself and exposing yourself to new knowledge and information, you widen your opportunities. This will allow you to do more than what you may currently be doing, or give you a way out if you’re not happy or fulfilled with where you’re at now.

Our economy is shifting increasingly towards short-term and part-time contracts with more flexible work-patterns. We have to adapt to changes going on in the work-world, make more of ourselves by stepping out of our comfort zones, and break the false ideas about our potential and how we believe life is going.

Gain More with Cornerstone Skills

You may be well into your career, but feel like somehow, something is still missing. Or maybe you’re not entirely happy with where you’re at in your career path and feel it’s time to reflect and perhaps do something new. Or you might be thinking of retiring soon, and thinking about next steps after retirement.

The learning never needs to stop!

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This can be your chance to go after a dream or interest that you’ve always had (but never had the opportunity, or time, to pursue). This could finally be the time for you to create the change that you know you should have made ages ago.

Why not take the first step to learn about 7 important Cornerstone Skills, which will help take your life to the next stage?

Whatever situation you’re in, having these 7 Cornerstone Skills will no doubt equip you to tackle the challenges of life much more efficiently. Don’t let age, your limitations or a comfort zone stop you from seeking greater rewards and self-improvement.

Transformation and change is in your hands–you have the power to make big things happen, and we can help teach you the skills. Don’t let life pass you by! It’s time to pursue a fulfilling and happy life.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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