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Not a People Person? You Will Be One After Reading This.

Not a People Person? You Will Be One After Reading This.

When I was in seventh grade, my parents switched me to a new school. As if middle school wasn’t hard enough, I had to start over with a whole new group of people. I was a 12-year-old introvert facing the worst thing that a 12-year-old introvert could ever face: finding friends. I was not, nor have I ever been, what you might call a “people person.” But I did my best and somehow miraculously survived those angst-filled years. Now, I’m much more social, but it’s still something I have to work hard on. Here are some of the things I do to help.

1. Remember names.

When I was younger, I was really good with names, but I always pretended that I’d forgotten someone’s name that I had just met, so as to not seem creepy. I now realize that that’s pretty dumb, but it seemed smart at the time. Now, I’m not as good with remembering names, but I use names when I can. People are usually impressed that you know their names, and it shows that you’re interested in them.

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2. Smile.

It’s surprising how effective smiling is. Just warming your face up a little bit when speaking to people really makes a lasting impression on them. You seem like a more genuinely happy and approachable person when you smile. It makes people feel good when you smile at them, so show off those pearly whites!

3. Be honest.

If someone asks what your hobbies are, don’t lie to them. Seriously, I’ve done that and it always leads to trouble. Once, in tenth grade, someone asked me if I played guitar, and I (stupidly) told them I did. In fact, I had never touched a guitar in my life, but I wanted to sound cool. Soon enough, that person wanted me to play with him sometime. I had to back out of that lie pretty quickly. Just be honest about yourself, and you’ll save everyone a lot of time and effort. People will like you for who you are.

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4. Ask questions.

People like to feel like others are interested in them. It’s just natural. Make sure you show interest in whomever you’re talking to by asking questions and acting attentive to the answers.

5. Be complimentary.

“Your house/this food/this party/your cat is great!” Whatever applies to the situation, use it. Complimenting someone on even the smallest detail will make a lasting impression and might earn you some friends by the end of the night.

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6. Stay positive.

Doing too much schmoozing can leave you feeling a little fake inside, and that’s totally normal. Just don’t overdo it on the elbow rubbing and keep positive thoughts going on in your head. You’ve got to genuinely enjoy socializing with the people you’re talking to, or there’s no point in talking to them at all. Keep a good thought.

7. Share.

People don’t just want to talk about themselves all the time (though, let’s face it, it’s fun)—they also want to hear about you! So put your two cents in every now and then. Being a people person involves giving and receiving, so don’t be afraid to let your personality come out.

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8. Put the phone down.

You’re not going to seem very social if you’re glued to your phone all the time. Put it away and don’t let it distract you. Looking at your phone too much makes you seem disinterested in talking to the people right in front of you. It’s also often a safety net, so don’t let yourself use it. I know I’m guilty of messing around on my phone when I’m bored. Don’t do that!

9. Be genuine.

Yes, you want people to like you. No, don’t do whatever it takes to make that happen. You need to make sure you’re not being a pushover, or just acting like someone you think people would like. Act naturally, and you’re much more likely to be happy with yourself and those around you.

10. Just have fun!

Meeting new people, though sometimes stressful for us not-people-persons, can be really fun. Just get in the right frame of mind and you’re good to go.

Featured photo credit: Luc De Leeuw via flickr.com

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Maggie Heath

Maggie is a passionate writer who blogs about communication and lifestyle on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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