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You Need To Keep These Items On Your Desk If You Want To Increase Productivity

You Need To Keep These Items On Your Desk If You Want To Increase Productivity

Nowadays, productivity hacks can be found everywhere. Things like setting up a particular type of environment, having a certain mindset, or preventing distractions, and so on are common when productivity comes up in conversation. But have you ever thought what kind effect the objects on your desk have on your productivity?

Here are some things that I’ve found have worked for me when they’re sitting atop my desk or lack thereof.

Containers Filled with Pens or Other Writing Utensils for Productivity

One of the simplest things that I’ve done to increase my productivity is have multiple containers filled with pens and markers and pencils and all kinds of other utensils. It only takes one pen to get the job done of course. But when presented with such a variety, I’m able to really choose what I think is best for the project that I’m working on. For example, if I want to write, I go for a ballpoint pen. If I was to draw or doodle, a pencil works. If I want to color inside of the lines, I have a cup full of sharpies waiting to be used.

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But why does this increase my productivity?

The honest truth is: I don’t actually know. Maybe it’s psychological. Maybe it’s the fact that in my head, I know that pens are what makes my work get done. They sit in those containers and stare at me until I get my job done. It might work for you, too.

Sticky Notes for Reminders and Inspiration

In plain view, I have 11 sticky notes with life questions that I ask myself every so often. I also have a pad of sticky notes handy for whenever I need to jot down some notes or thoughts that I want to remember. That being said, sticky notes have helps me stay productive.

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How?

Again, I’m not really sure. I know that you’re thinking, “Hey, this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” And that’s okay if you don’t think so. But if you really want to increase your productivity and you have no other options, you’ll start to do anything possible to get those juices flowing.

Pictures of Loved Ones and Favorite Places for Motivation

One thing that I do know is that the people that I am closest to in life are the people who consistently motivate me to succeed. They serve as constant reminders of why I even am on the journey that I’m on. That’s one of the things that really motivate me to be productive.

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This is simple: find pictures of your family or friends, your significant other or your dog, or even places that you want to travel to. Put them somewhere that you can constantly see them. And whenever you feel like you’re not being productive, give them a gander and kick yourself into high-gear.

Nothing (to Help You Focus)

Completely clear off your desk and give yourself a simple surface to study or work on your craft. Minimalism is something that I find often gives me a chance to really clear my head and focus on what’s in front of me. Sometimes that’s all it takes for me to increase my productivity levels. It may not be the most effective way for some people; distractions can come in all shapes and sizes, including via thoughts. But nonetheless, if you want to jumpstart your productivity, don’t be afraid to clear off your desk and work in simple terms.

These may not work for you. That’s okay. But if they do, I’d appreciate it if you shared it with your friends.

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Want to supercharge your brain? Here are 15 simple ways to do so.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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