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Routines Make You More Productive. You Probably Just Never Knew How.

Routines Make You More Productive. You Probably Just Never Knew How.

The most successful people have structured routines – and for good reason. Structured routines make you more productive and effective. Instead of running around with a vague idea of what you want to accomplish, the right lifestyle routine can turn you into a productivity monster. Here’s how:

Routines Create Structure

Most people either don’t know what they want or don’t have a focused way of going about getting what they want. Having a routine eliminates both of those problems by forcing you to do a few things:

  1. Know what you want.
  2. Figure out how to get it.
  3. Add that activity somewhere in your schedule.

Once you have those three steps in place, you’re farther ahead than 90% of people flitting around from task to task with no real outcome or goal in mind.

Routines Eliminate Distraction

Without structure, it’s easy to let non-essential things get in the way of actual work. Because you haven’t designed exactly how you want to spend your time, it’s easy to let other people come in and steal 15 minutes here, and 30 minutes there.

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With a routine, you have a game plan.

You don’t get the luxury of indulging people in things that distract you from your goals because you know exactly what you must do in order to get the end result that you desire.

You Don’t Have To Think About Work – You Just Have To Work

The best benefit to creating routines is that you don’t have to think about work – you just work. I think the number one productivity hack in the world is simply deciding what to do.

Most people start “working” without knowing what they want to accomplish.

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By creating a routine and having exactly what you want to accomplish laid out, you take the guess work out of “what” to do and can focus on just doing it.

You’re no longer thinking about all the work that you have to and how you’re going to do it – you can simply go ahead and get it done.

You Can Find Your Rhythm

Ever been in “the zone?” That place where everything is easy, you zoom through work, and obstacles seem to scatter out of the way?

Chances are there were a certain set of circumstances and surroundings that allowed for that to happen and helped you perform optimally. A routine lets you take those circumstances and creates a scenario where they happen regularly and predictably – making “the zone” that much easier to find. Once you have the basics in place, over time you can tweak that routine to become more and more effective.

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This makes finding that zone more likely to happen more often, and when it does happen, lets you perform better – being more efficient and more effective across the board.

This is essentially how I ended up creating what I call workstation popcorn – my daily work flow for achieving optimum productivity while writing out of multiple coffee shops a day.

A System For Your Life

If you think about it, a routine is nothing more than a system for your life. Just like programmers create a certain program that will execute a function whenever it runs – a routine creates an environment and structure to your life that lets you execute certain tasks at will.

Meanwhile, implementing them seemingly melts any obstacle in the way, since you’ve created a routine that eliminates the distractions in your day and lets you focus on only the tasks at hand that you must do.

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How has using routines helped you become more productive in your career?

Featured photo credit: Juhansosin via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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