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Science Has It: You Should Stop Doing These 10 Things To Be More Productive

Science Has It: You Should Stop Doing These 10 Things To Be More Productive

Want to master the 24 hours you have in each day? Use these scientifically-backed strategies to be more productive:

1. Stop ignoring your ultradium rhythm!

Every person experiences a natural lull in productivity after doing an activity for about 90-120 minutes. This period is called the ultradium rhythm, and you shouldn’t ignore its power. Instead of trying to “push through” mental fatigue, it’s better to take a break when your ultradium rhythm cycles. Get up, walk around and do something different for up to 20 minutes.

You may even want to take a nap, especially if you work for a company that has a napping room or policy as do NASA, AOL and – not surprisingly – Google. After your break or some power shut-eye, come back to your original activity with more energy, creativity and focus.

2. Stop checking your social media accounts every hour!

Are you one of the millions of people who keeps his or her social media account live and active on your smart phone, tablet, laptop or desktop? Doing so presents an attractive nuisance, and you’ll end up wasting tons of minutes per day watching cat videos and finding out your second-cousin once removed’s neighbor’s boss saw a penguin at the zoo. Make a pact with yourself to relegate checking your social media accounts once or twice per day instead of allowing them to suck your time.

Spending time with people as people – and not avatars on a screen – was very useful for one Citrix vice president.  He discovered that relationships made in the “real world” were not only more satisfying than those made in social media, but that they produced a stronger sense of supportiveness.

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3. Stop saying “yes” to everything and everyone.

be lazy

    Are you a “yes” man or woman? It’s time to rethink the way you’re responding when you’re asked to do something. While you can’t always say “no” to your boss, your spouse or your friends, you are allowed to pick and choose most decisions you make during the day. By saying “no,” you can avail yourself of the scientifically-based Pareto Principle. The Pareto Principle claims that 20 percent of efforts produce 80 percent of results. Conversely, 20 percent of results consume 80 percent of efforts. Spend your 80 percent doing what matters, not what doesn’t.

    If this is a difficult principle for you to adapt, don’t worry – you can always schedule one day a week to say “yes”.  That’s what TED Talks’ guest speaker Tania Luna does.

    4. Stop checking your email incessantly.

    Most of us habitually check our email on an unstructured basis. That is, we look whenever we feel like it. This turns into a problem because emails can sap time that is better spent elsewhere. Get off the email train by making it a point to only check emails at specific points during your day. For instance, you may want to check yours at lunchtime, and then again in the evening.

    Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Work Week, recommends picking two specific times each day for maximum productivity.

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    5. Stop doing everything yourself.

    Sure, it can be thrilling to tell everyone that you are “doing it all,” but there’s no reason to try and be superhuman. Eventually, you’ll fail – miserably – without help. If delegating is tough for you, just remind yourself that the old adage “many hands make lighter work” holds true in all aspects of life.

    Need a little help?  Buy or borrow the Harvard Business School Press book Hidden Value: How Great Companies Achieve Extraordinary Results with Ordinary People.  In it, author Charles O’Reilly gives tips on how to begin the process if you’re uncomfortable with or unaccustomed to delegation.

    Reach out and get the assistance you need; in fact, you may want to start looking at areas where others can do the tasks you’re doing now. Free up your time to work on other things, and start really being productive.

    6. Stop trying to be perfect.

    Let’s get this on the table right now: You’re not perfect and you shouldn’t try to be. A research study published by University Affairs illustrates this point. The study showed that professors who were perfectionists had lower productivity levels than those who accepted the fact that they were only human. The moral of the story is that, on most occasions, being good is good enough.

    Besides, Google has had incredible success fostering leaders who weren’t top students from universities.  That says something.

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    7. Stop being busy all the time.

    A Harvard study and scientific evidence has shown that spending downtime by oneself is more important than we might have otherwise thought. Dubbed “The Power of Lonely” by a Boston Globe writer, the principle suggests that people have stronger memories of moments they spend by themselves. In other words, it’s time for a little introspection to get to the heart of who you honestly are, as well as what you want to do “when you grow up.”

    When Brigid Schulte slowed down, she found the time to pen Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time.  Schulte shows how doing less can be freeing, and recommends this to anyone who truly wants to be a success.

    #8. Stop saying “I can’t.”

    be more productive

      Want to kick a habit or keep yourself from overeating? Don’t tell yourself “I can’t,” because it just sets you up for failure. Instead, replace “I can’t” with “I don’t.” For example, those who say they “don’t” do something actually do it in half the cases of those who say, “I can’t.” If you want to give up smoking, tell yourself you “don’t” smoke rather than you “can’t” smoke; you’ll find that you have a better chance of quitting.

      Exercise guru Joe English talks about the power of “I can” in this blog post on Running Advice. While Joe’s discussion of “I can” applies mainly to exercise and working out, he touches on some universal strategies all of us can use to be more productive. Rather than thinking, “I can’t do this” or “I don’t know if I can do this,” Joe says he thinks to himself, “You can and you will.” Changing the way you think about the obstacles in front of you can have a huge impact on your daily productivity.

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      9. Stop multitasking.

      It seems like multitasking is embraced in our culture as a “given,” but it isn’t exactly efficient. Researchers examined the skills of multitaskers and were shocked to discover that they didn’t do well on any of the tasks to which they were assigned. Focus on single tasks, and leave the multitasking to those who haven’t read this article yet. You’ll be in good company – the CBS Evening News started discouraging multitasking in their offices and had fascinating results.

      10. Stop being so negative.

      Are you someone for whom the glass is always half-empty… or just empty? While a little negativity can be understandable, a lot of it will only cramp your style and keep you from achieving your goals. According to scientists from Japan, when we think negative thoughts, we color our world with pessimism and make it harder to attain success.

      So start looking at the glass a different way and enjoy your newfound outlook on life, business and everything under the sun.As sales guru Zig Ziglar said: “Winners evaluate themselves in a positive manner and look for their strengths as they work to overcome weaknesses.”

      As you can see, being productive means “stopping.” If that’s tough for you to do, just practice. Changing behaviors takes time. However, doing something for about 21 days usually makes it easier to continue with the routine. Make this day one, and in three weeks your productivity level should be much higher.

      Images by Wellington Sanipe and Tammy Strobel

      Featured photo credit: Lauren Hammond via flickr.com

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      Kayla Matthews

      Productivity and self-improvement blogger

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      Last Updated on January 13, 2020

      50 Motivational Quotes for Work to Inspire Success

      50 Motivational Quotes for Work to Inspire Success

      Let’s face it – no matter how excited you are about a new project or priority in your life, there will always be days when your motivation lags. Days when – despite all the progress you’ve made in the past – it just sounds easier to sit on the couch playing video games than to buckle down and crank out the work needed to meet your goals.

      In order to be successful, you must be able to motivate yourself past these humps. Whenever you feel your drive and determination lagging, turn to these motivational quotes for work to provide the extra spark of passion needed to keep you on track.

      Quotes about Goal Setting

      Whether you’re still in the planning phases of your business or whether you’re plotting a plan of attack to bring about your long-range vision, setting good goals is a critical part of succeeding in business.

      Check out these quotes for extra inspiration on how to turn your dreams into reality:

      quote-Benjamin-E.-Mays-the-tragedy-in-life-doesnt-lie-in-106113

        “The tragedy in life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.”– Benjamin Mays


        “By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands — your own.”–Mark Victor Hansen


        “Give yourself an even greater challenge than the one you are trying to master and you will develop the powers necessary to overcome the original difficulty.”–William J. Bennett – The Book of Virtues


        “The entrepreneur is essentially a visualizer and actualizer… He can visualize something, and when he visualizes it he sees exactly how to make it happen.”–Robert L. Schwartz

        Quotes about Achieving Excellence in Work

        Once you’ve got your goals together, you’ll need to put in 110% of your effort in order to transform these visions into reality. To increase your motivation to work at a consistently high level, take a look at the following words of wisdom:

        “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”–Aristotle


        “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.”–Charles R. Swindoll

        Desire is the key to motivation

          “Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal — a commitment to excellence — that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”–Mario Andretti


          “The secret of joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.”–Pearl Buck


          “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”–Vince Lombardi

          Quotes about Determination and Persistence

          Since every business or other endeavor is bound to hit some rough patches, it’s often a person’s level of determination and patience that brings about either success or failure. These positive quotes give you an extra boost of encouragement:

          “Enter every activity without giving mental recognition to the possibility of defeat. Concentrate on your strengths, instead of your weaknesses… on your powers, instead of your problems.”–Paul J. Meyer


          “Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.”–Hal Borland


          “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”–Calvin Coolidge

          quote-Thomas-Fuller-an-invincible-determination-can-accomplish-almost-anything-92190

            “An invincible determination can accomplish almost anything and in this lies the great distinction between great men and little men.”–Thomas Fuller

            Quotes about Leadership

            Whether you use it to engage your employees, to encourage teamwork or motivate others to follow your unique way of thinking, leadership is crucial. Take your leadership cues from these renowned leaders’ famous sayings:

            “The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born — that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.” –Warren G. Bennis


            “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.”–John Kenneth Galbraith

            Leadership is not magnetic personality

              “Leadership is not magnetic personality — that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people’ — that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”–Peter F. Drucker


              “The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.”–John Buchan


              “High sentiments always win in the end. The leaders who offer blood, toil, tears and sweat always get more out of their followers than those who offer safety and a good time. When it comes to the pinch, human beings are heroic.”–George Orwell

              Quotes for Success

              Think of success as a holistic process – one which results from the combination of goal-setting, excellence, patience, determination and leadership you prioritize throughout your career. These highly successful people provide you with an excellent source of motivation:

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              “Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.”–Stephen Covey


              “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”–Norman Vincent Peale

              Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.

                “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”–Winston Churchill


                “Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.”–John Maxwell


                “Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.”– Thomas J. Watson


                “The great successful men of the world have used their imagination.  They think ahead and create their mental picture in all its details, filling in here, adding a little there, altering this a bit and that a bit, but steadily building – steadily building.”–Robert Collier


                “It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.”–Arnold Toynbee

                Sports Quotes for Athletes

                You don’t need to be a Michael Jordan-caliber athlete to draw inspiration from the following quotes. Even if you’re just a recreational player or someone who’s using sports as a means to get back in shape after long periods of inactivity, the following motivational sports quotes will encourage you:

                “My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.”–Michael Jordan


                “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”–Lance Armstrong

                Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths.

                  “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”–Arnold Schwarzenegger


                  “I know what I have to do, and I’m going to do whatever it takes. If I do it, I’ll come out a winner, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else does.”–Florence Griffith Joyner


                  “Every time you stay out late; every time you sleep in; every time you miss a workout; every time you don’t give 100% – You make it that much easier for me to beat you.”–Unknown


                  “If you are hurt, whether in mind or body, don’t nurse your bruises. Get up and light-heartedly, courageously, good temperedly get ready for the next encounter. This is the only way to take life – this is also ‘playing’ the game!”–Emily Post


                  “We must train from the inside out. Using our strengths to attack and nullify any weaknesses. It’s not about denying a weakness may exist but about denying its right to persist.”–Vince McConnell

                  Quotes to Motivate Learning

                  Committing yourself to pursuing knowledge in a single area is a tremendous endeavor – one that often seems overwhelming given the depth and breadth of information that’s available today. Keep the following motivational quotes in mind if you’re learning:

                  “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.”–George Washington Carver

                  quote-William-Arthur-Ward-if-you-can-imagine-it-you-can-36189

                    “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.”–William Arthur Ward


                    “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”– Aristotle


                    “Success is not the key to happiness.Happiness is the key to success.If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”–Albert Schweitzer


                    “Wear your learning, like your watch, in a private pocket: and do not pull it out and strike it, merely to show that you have one.”–Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield


                    “He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.”–Chinese Proverb


                    “Study while others are sleeping; work while others are loafing; prepare while others are playing; and dream while others are wishing.”–William Arthur Ward


                    “Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled ‘This could change your life’.”–Helen Exley


                    “A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.”–Chinese Proverb

                    All-Time Favorite Positive Quotes

                    Finally, whatever your goals are in life, you can’t go wrong by taking the advice of the following famous motivational quotes:

                    “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”–Norman Vincent Peale


                    “Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinion drowned your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”–Steve Jobs


                    “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”–Maria Robinson


                    “Out of clutter, find Simplicity. From discord, find Harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies Opportunity.”–Albert Einstein


                    “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”–Lyndon Johnson

                    If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.

                      “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.”–Thomas Edison


                      “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”–Wayne Gretzky


                      “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”–Winston Churchill


                      “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson

                      Final Thoughts

                      To use these motivational quotes effectively, find the one that speaks to you. Although all of the phrases listed above can be considered “motivational,” only you can decide which one resonates with you most directly.

                      Next, take the quote you’ve settled on and copy it onto small index cards or other pieces of paper that can be stored around your home and workspace.

                      If you’re creative, you can create inspiration boards, signs or other decorative displays featuring your favorite motivational quotes – really, though, the most important thing is that your chosen phrase be accessible in a variety of different places. This will make it easy to access and review whenever you feel your motivation slipping away.

                      More Inspiring Quotes

                      Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

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