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The 12 Days of Giveaways: Day 12 – JetPens

The 12 Days of Giveaways: Day 12 – JetPens

    Today’s the last day of Lifehack’s 12 Days of Giveaways holiday promotion. It’s been a lot of fun to offer our Lifehack readers a chance to take home some great products to help them bring their personal productivity skills up a notch or two. (Or three. Or more.)

    For the last giveaway, we’ve got a Paper Productivity Starter Kit courtesy of JetPens.

    But before we get to that, let’s talk about yesterday’s Helvetindex Cards giveaway. More specifically, let’s reveal which 5 Lifehack readers are going to have a bundle of 100 cards sent to them for answering the following question:

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    “When do you find yourself reaching for paper over digital tools — and why?”

    The winning comments, some of which come from our website and some from Facebook, can be found below::

    “I’ve stepped away from electronic task lists. No medium, no matter how hi-tech it is, will ever replace the flexibility of paper. Everyday I have a 3×5 that has all my appointments/scheduled items, reminders, tasks that need to be done, and tasks I want to have done. Writing those kinds of things down is faster when I’m busy in the middle of the day than typing it into a device.” – Brian Damitz

    “I adore index cards! But those flimsy ones from Staples just don’t feel right, so I’ve been printing my own on heavy card stock in different colors, with little grids. These look even nicer. I reach for paper for the quickest capture of ideas, reminders, to-dos, quotes, everything–and the humble index card is my paper of choice.” – Andrea Graham

    “No carefully typed list or mind map online or on a smartphone can replace the satisfaction of seeing my own hand channel my thoughts rather than some impersonally neat font. I reach for paper over digital tools when I have ideas that need expressing right at the moment. The absence of a delete key either frees me from any inhibitions about my thoughts or forces me to consider them more clearly. Either way, my output with a pen is more authentic than that with digital tools.” – Catherine Zuo

    “I reach for paper over digital tools when I need to brainstorm. For some reason when I’m using digital tools, my mind moves to fast. Paper allows me to really process my thoughts and to make connections that I wouldn’t otherwise make.” – Donnie Nicole Smith

    “I find myself using old fashion systems anytime I need to make sure that I will actually do something… Which is pretty much always. I found long ago that the more modern solutions are only good for me to capture lists with. So my Omni Focus tools (Ipad and Mac) are filled with running lists of all types, most importantly all of the awesome books I come across that I want to read. As for organizing my life and getting things done paper is the only way I can keep an organized system. I would love to try the Helvetindex cards becasue the only other 2 decent cards I have ever found are Levenger (which I am not in love with) and Exacompta but They can be hard to come by at times. It is nice to see that there is potentially a new choice. What I like most about the idea of Helvetindex cards is they are actually 3×5. The Exacompta are larger which is the only other downside to them at times.” – Bornagainscholar

    Congratulations to all five winners — now go out and get some small binder clips so that you’ll be ready to assemble your Hipster PDA for the new year!

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    About Today’s Giveaway

    JetPens is an amazing resource for those who are especially fond of using paper to help you get things done. Carrying a wide variety of well-known and highly-regarded writing tools as well as some hard-to-find goods that many fans of paper covet, you can’t go wrong with placing an order through JetPens.

    JetPens has generously offered what we’ve called the Paper Productivity Starter Kit, which contains a good sampling of popular items across several categories. Anyone who is a fan of pen, pencil and paper will be familiar with some of its contents as well. The retail value of this package is approximately $50, but the value you’ll get by using it is far greater.

    What’s in the Paper Productivity Starter Kit?

    Everything you need to get started using paper as your primary productivity tool is here. Thanks to Brad Dowdy at JetPens for putting this stellar combination of products together in one amazing package.

    How to Enter

    In order to enter to win this package from JetPens, you need to leave a comment below or on our Facebook fan page that answers the following:

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    “What are the 3 things you’ve written down as goals for 2012 — and did you use a pen, pencil or device to capture them?”

    Leaving a comment on both our Facebook fan page and here at Lifehack.org will get you 2 entries, so but you need to give us two items that you like the most – no copying and pasting!

    The Fine Print

    Employees of JetPens and of Stepcase (including current independent contractors of both) are not eligible for this contest. The prize can only be shipped to addresses within the continental United States, so keep that in mind when entering. The winning entry will be judged by the Stepcase Lifehack editing team and winners will be notified on the platform in which their winning entry was placed (either on the Lifehack.org Facebook wall or by email through our commenting system here the website). For those entering contest with a comment on our site, in order to be considered eligible, you MUST leave a contact email when leaving a comment (it’s the only way we’ll know how to contact you). Entries must be submitted by 10 am Eastern the following weekday and winners will be chosen by 12 pm Eastern time on the same day. The winner will be announced the same day on Lifehack.org, and will be notified beforehand.

    Good luck!

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    (Photo credit: Pen on Blank Notebook via Shutterstock)

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    Mike Vardy

    A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

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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

    Reference

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