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Specific Ways To Be Productive In Different Months

Specific Ways To Be Productive In Different Months

Managing our productivity and energy effectively depends on the seasons. By looking at demands on our time from the perspective of the whole year, it will be much easier to manage our year. For purposes of this example, I have structured the months and seasons as they occur in the Northern Hemisphere. With a bit of imagination, you can apply these ideas elsewhere.

Winter (December, January, February)

Winter is a season full of special challenges. With the holidays of December and the cold weather, many people struggle to make progress. Make the most of this time by implementing the following principles:

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  • Review The Past Year’s Accomplishments. Completing an Annual Review in December is a practice that many of the most productive people in the world practice. This practice will help you capture insights on goals achieved and ideas to help you become more productive in the coming year.
  • Plan The Year. January are the perfect time of year to make plans and set goals for the year. Writing your goals down is an excellent technique to motivate yourself in January will keep you going even when the weather discourages you.
  • Prepare Taxes. Preparing for your tax return is hardly fun (unless you are excited about receiving a large refund!). By starting the preparation process in the winter, you will avoid the last minute panic that many people face. If you have good files from last year, you can use that as a starting point.
  • Read A Big Book: Reading is one of the most important habits we can practice to become more productive. By exposing yourself to good writing, your own writing and understanding of the world improves. In February 2015, I started reading Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow, a biography that is over 800 pages long. It is an outstanding book and perfect to read during the long, dark nights of winter.

Getting through the long dark months of the year requires some inspiration and fresh ideas. Use these resources to stay renew your motivation and increase your productivity.

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Spring (March, April, May)

Spring signals the return of nature after the dark and cold of winter. Spring is also a great opportunity to improve your productivity.

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  • Spring Break: In Canada, most schools have a 1-2 week March break vacation. Elsewhere, you may have Spring Break. Taking a short vacation as winter comes to a close is a great way to give yourself fresh ideas. If you have been struggling with a business problem, diving deep into some good business books over spring break may be the most productive decision you make all year.
  • Boost Productivity By Getting Outside. Our physical health and wellbeing is a major contributor to our productivity. When the spring season arrives, longer days mean you have the chance to get more sun light. Taking in a walk through a nearby park will help to reduce your stress levels and improve your mood.
  • Increase Your Productivity With Networking. In April and May, it is time to get outside and meet other people. Strong relationships – at home and professionally – do wonders to increase your productivity. You can use this season to attend local Meetup.com events related to your work – this is a great option for people interested in technology and marketing (interests that are well represented on Meetup.com).
  • Outer order contributes to inner calm. According to author Gretchen Rubin, the order of our homes and lives increases our sense of calm, a key contributor to productivity. Spring is the perfect time to get started on that long neglected spring cleaning project at home. At the office, you can also take this opportunity to dispose of obselete materials and archive old emails.

Summer (June, July, August)

For many people, the summer signals relaxation, leisure and fun. It’s a habit we developed as we went through school – the prospect of summer holidays was always exciting. In the working world, summer is a great time to get ahead. As more and more people go on vacation, you have the opportunity to get more done.

  • Get Ahead While Everyone Goes Into Vacation Mode. Many companies slow down in Juy and August as a large percentage of the workforce goes on vacation. This is the perfect time to create professional assets, resources that you can use over and over again at work. The slow months of the summer are also a perfect time to assess your performance: are you reaching your work goals? What can you change to do better?
  • Get Training To Improve Your Productivity. As the pace of work often slows in the summer, it is a perfect time to get training. You can take an online course, attend a conference, or start a self study program. If you are looking for a general program to improve your productivity and organization, I recommend reading Getting Things Done by David Allen.
  • Plan A Bucket List Experience. In my view, productivity means achieving your goals which can certainly go beyond career and business goals. The summer is a great time to work through your bucket list, especially if you like adventure sports.

Fall (September, October, November)

The closing months of the year bring new perspectives. Students return to their studies, charities launch donation campaigns and companies push to achieve their business goals.

  • Review Progress on Goals Set Earlier in The Year. If you have set goals earlier in the year (preferably using a proven system such as Michael Hyatt’s 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever!), the fall is a great time to review your progress. You may be pleasantly surprised with your progrress on some goals and disappointed in other cases. The fall is your opportunity to improve your productivity by getting focused on your goals.
  • Expand your network by attending events and reaching out. In the fall, many professional associations offer new programs and events. You can advance your career by actively participating in associations – attend seminars, ask questions and look for volunteer opportunities.
  • Choose one major activity to complete in the year. The final few months of the year are a great opportunity to get ahead. While everyone else is thinking about the fall holidays, this is your time to get ahead by doing the work others will not do. For the best results, choose a single goal or activity to complete in the remaining months of the year.

Featured photo credit: Autumn Leaves/jbom411 via pixabay.com

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More by this author

Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Last Updated on October 17, 2018

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?

If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.

Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)

So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.

1. Meditate

We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds.

Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.[1]

Fortunately, meditation can help you out.

Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.

And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

2. Get plenty of sleep

If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then I’m guessing you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.

How much sleep should you be getting?

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Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.

Now, I’ll be honest with you, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!). But if you care about improving your short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?

Yes, there are.

Try these three things:

  • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
  • Don’t eat too late
  • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory…

3. Challenge your brain

When was the last time you challenged your brain?

I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or undersleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games.

To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself, has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.

There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

  • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it, try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

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4. Take more breaks

When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively remember working all the hours under the sun – and many under the moon too!

At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat and tears.

However, I was wrong.

Taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

Let me explain.

Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it – in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.

It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.

What’s the answer?

Make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.

5. Learn a new skill

I love this quote, as it’s 100% true – but frequently overlooked:

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

Let me give you an example of this:

Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you – rather than letting you work in your own way.

Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction in to learning a new skill (computer coding). It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.

Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.

6. Start working out

If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory.

Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

“But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.

Not a problem.

A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines.[2] So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.

Interested in getting started?

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Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

  • Join a gym
  • Join a sports team
  • Buy a bike
  • Take up hiking
  • Dance to your favorite music

7. Eat healthier foods

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

This applies to your brain too.

The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health too.

Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.

Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain – leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

Want to be mentally healthy? Then eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

  • Turmeric – helps new brain cells grown
  • Broccoli – protects the brain against damage
  • Nuts – improves memory
  • Green tea – enhances brain performance, memory and focus[3]
  • Fish oilfish oil supplements can increase your brain power

Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

Final thoughts

I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.

You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.

But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.

Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

Reference

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