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Which Productivity Trick Suits You Best? Find Out!

Which Productivity Trick Suits You Best? Find Out!

There are a lot of different productivity tricks, and when you try them, mileage will vary based on the kind of worker you are. But how do you find out which technique is right for you without wasting your time trying them all? Lifehack has you covered. Below are six productivity tricks that might work for your purposes.

1. Strict Deadlines

    A lot of people thrive off the pressure of a deadline, doing their best work the fastest they can because they absolutely have to get it done. Lighting a fire under someone is one of the best ways to get them to produce sparks. Of course, not every project has a strict deadline, so the productivity trick is to make you believe there is one. Reward yourself for reaching your imaginary due dates or punish yourself for missing them. This is a good productivity trick for those with the fortitude to accept rewards only if you reach your goals or the ability to accept the punishments if you don’t.

    2. Write Everything Down

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      This is one of the simplest productivity tricks. If you forget things easily, record everything you need to remember so that you’ll never be unprepared. Good to-do lists include Wunderlist, 2Do, and plain old pen and paper. Evernote is another invaluable tool, an external brain that can house all your thoughts, ideas, and knowledge.

      3. The Pomodoro Technique

        The Pomodoro Technique, one of the most popular productivity tricks, is pretty simple. You choose a task, set your timer for 25 minutes, work until the timer rings, then take a short break. After four Pomodoro sessions, take a longer break. It’s a great life hack for the people who get burnt out from working too hard. The regular pauses give you enough time to recharge your batteries, which lets you get back to work in full force.

        4. Louis C.K.’s 70% Rule

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          Louis C.K., the man responsible for writing, directing, editing, and starring in the FX show Louie, imparted some great advice in an interview for GQ. Here’s his productivity trick.

          “These situations where I can’t make a choice because I’m too busy trying to envision the perfect one—that false perfectionism traps you in this painful ambivalence: If I do this, then that other thing I could have done becomes attractive. But if I go and choose the other one, the same thing happens again. It’s part of our consumer culture. People do this trying to get a DVD player or a service provider, but it also bleeds into big decisions. So my rule is that if you have someone or something that gets 70 percent approval, you just do it. ‘Cause here’s what happens. The fact that other options go away immediately brings your choice to 80. Because the pain of deciding is over.

          “And, when you get to 80 percent, you work. You apply your knowledge, and that gets you to 85 percent! And the thing itself, especially if it’s a human being, will always reveal itself—100 percent of the time!—to be more than you thought. And that will get you to 90 percent. After that, you’re stuck at 90, but who the f*** do you think you are, a god? You got to 90 percent? It’s incredible!”

          You don’t even have to do 70%. You can pick your own percentage, whatever the amount is that makes you comfortable enough with your choice. This productivity trick is great for people who struggle to reach a decision, taking that burden out of their hands.

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          5. Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret

            Comedians are just full of productivity advice. Fun fact about this technique, though: Jerry Seinfeld denied coming up with the productivity trick named after him. He actually called it the dumbest non-idea that wasn’t his! But, regardless of its real inventor, Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret has helped a lot of people over the years.

            The trick specifically helps you do something on a daily basis. It involves getting a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hanging it on a prominent wall. The next step is to get a big red magic marker. Each day that you do the task you’re trying to do that day, you put a big red X over that day. After a few days you’ll have a chain. If you keep at it the chain will keep growing longer every day. You’ll take pride in that chain, especially after a few weeks of red X’s, and the only job left is to not break the chain. This is a great strategy for people trying to build a pattern. It’s especially effective when it comes to fighting addiction and living a healthy life, which are both challenges that you need to take on one day at a time.

            6. Work On Your Task for 10 Minutes

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              If you have trouble getting started on something, this productivity trick is perfect. Just commit to doing your task for 10 minutes. Anyone can do something for 10 minutes. But what happens is that when you spend those 10 minutes doing the task, you’ll get in the groove of things and feel committed to do a lot more.

              Which one works best for you?

              Featured photo credit: Fernando Mafra via flickr.com

              More by this author

              Matt OKeefe

              Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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              Last Updated on July 8, 2020

              How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

              How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

              What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

              When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

              In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

              While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

              As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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                Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

                Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

                The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

                But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

                However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

                This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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                Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

                We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

                Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

                Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

                The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

                When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

                When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

                How to Make Decision Effectively

                Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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                1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

                You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

                Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

                Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

                2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

                You don’t have to choose all the time.

                Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

                Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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                3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

                You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

                The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

                Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

                Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

                So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

                More Tips About Decision Making

                Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

                Reference

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