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A Neuroscientist Shares 5 Ways to Hack Productivity

Feed your mind

Self-care is vital for proper mental function. 

  • Get plenty of rehydration, a healthy diet, and regular exercise to keep blood flowing to your brain.
  • Eat healthy snacks throughout the day to keep your energy levels consistent.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Work hard and play hard. Work hard at work, but then have intentional off-periods where you're relaxing and rejuvenating.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

A Neuroscientist Shares 5 Ways to Hack Productivity

A Neuroscientist Shares 5 Ways to Hack Productivity

https://99u.adobe.com/articles/64788/neuroscientist-sahar-yousef-hack-productivity-multitasking-myth

99u.adobe.com

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Key Ideas

Higher cognitive performance

Our brain can change throughout our lifetime, in relation to factors like behavior, process, and environment. It means we can still improve ourselves with strategic and incremental changes to our daily routines.

For example, you can increase your ability to focus for more extended periods of time by training your attention.

Find your internal rhythms

To improve your mental ability, you have to understand its natural peaks and drops throughout the day. It can be different for every person, so pay attention to what time of the day your mind is functioning at its best.

If you find it difficult to see what time of day your mind is functioning best, keep a productivity log. At two-hour intervals, write down your physical and mental status. You'll find a pattern of peak performance or sluggishness.

Multitasking is a myth

Most people have little pockets of time throughout the day, between meetings and calls and emails, with 15 minutes here, and 30 minutes there. To perform at your best depends on simple time management hacks.

  • Set aside one or two times a day to check and respond to all your messages and emails, then close your inbox.
  • Try and structure your day in one-to two-hour chunks of focused work.
  • Introduce a clear protocol for colleagues to contact one another in case of an actual emergency.

Build new associations

Our brains are continually changing and learning, making it possible to change and manipulate depending on what we're exposed to.

Think strategically about what environment you work best in and protect yourself from any other distractions that could decrease your performance. Intentionally create an environment to do specific types of activities. That way, your mind has a preset expectation associated with each situation.

Feed your mind

Self-care is vital for proper mental function. 

  • Get plenty of rehydration, a healthy diet, and regular exercise to keep blood flowing to your brain.
  • Eat healthy snacks throughout the day to keep your energy levels consistent.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Work hard and play hard. Work hard at work, but then have intentional off-periods where you're relaxing and rejuvenating.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Time blocking
Time blocking

It's the practice of planning out every moment of your day in advance and dedicating specific time “blocks” for certain tasks and responsibilities.

When you fill your c...

Time blocking and focus

By scheduling every minute of your day you not only guard against distraction but also multiply your focus.

Also, focusing on one task at a time can make you up to 80% more productive than splitting your attention across multiple tasks.

Cons of the time blocking practice
  • It takes a lot of time and effort.
  • Few of us (if any) have the same schedule every day.
  • We’re bad at estimating how long tasks will take to do.
  • Constant interruptions and “urgent” tasks can destroy your system.
  • Flexibility is key in most workplaces.
  • You can lose sight of the bigger picture if you focus just on each day.

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Reduce the stress of clutter
  • Apply constraints and stick to them: to tabs open in your browser, notebooks, magazines etc.
  • Use small storage spaces: Less room means less room for c...
Find places that inspire you

You might not be in a position to choose your workspace, but there are quick fixes: look for a spot with natural light from a window or skylight, take a walk outside when you feel stuck, or simply explore a new location. 

A new environment can quite literally lead to new ideas.

Task association

It's when your brain knows that when you’re in a certain place, you’re taking a certain action.

Take advantage of the way different locations affect you. Our brains love habits, and if we can associate certain qualities with different places, it can help us get into a better working flow. 

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Living the 80/20 Life

The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle, states that we need to focus on the few things that get us the most benefit.

For a lot of events, approximately 80% of the effects c...

The Most Important Tasks (MITs)

Choose three Most Important Tasks for each day, and focus completely on gettting them done within a specific time.

If you add more than three, and you might not get them all done. By limiting yourself to a small number of things, you force yourself to focus only on the essential.

Success List

Instead of following a to-do list, make a shorter one called "success list". Why make one?

  • It aims you in a specific direction
  • It is an organized directive.

If your to-do list contains everything, then it’s probably taking you everywhere but where you really want to go.

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Routines reduce mental fatigue

They tell your brain what’s expected of it:

  • They reduce decision fatigue and that fight-or-flight stress that can get in the way of taking act...
Building routines for the non-work parts of the day

When you have a pre-existing routine, it’s easier to fit work into it when it arises.

If you’re working from home on a regular basis, it’s good to get into a habit of showering and getting dressed, because it provides some parameters that say, ‘Work day has begun!’

Work structure

Develop a reserve of cues that tell your brain it’s time for work and outline a structure you can tap into whenever you need to get down to business.

For example, work from the same place (and do nothing but work there) or listen to the same music or background noise.

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The new normal

Global companies, from the UK to the US, Japan to South Korea, have recently rolled out mandatory work-from-home policies amid the spread of the new virus.

Working from home will become t...

Clear communication

The key to working from home is clear communication with your boss. Your manager might not be used to managing people virtually or may not have a ready-to-go suite of tools for remote workers.

To prevent a breakdown in communication, you need to know exactly what's expected of you from day-to-day. Ask your boss for a 10-minute video call to start and end the day. Reach out to coworkers and managers regularly so that you won't get forgotten.

Treat it like a real job
  • Don't lounge around in your pajamas. Treat it like a real job.
  • Create a space exclusively for work that is removed from distractions, just like you would at your office desk.
  • Create boundaries within your home that your family members understand when you're 'at work.'
  • Bookend your day. If you can't enter and leave a physical office that creates more precise boundaries, use psychological transitions like a 20-minute coffee in the morning, then exercise right after work.

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Get an early start on the day

Early hours are important because they tend to be free of most distractions and give you an opportunity to get focused

An early start will allow you to squeeze in more time...

Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Breakfast is a crucial part of getting a strong start each day, especially if your morning routine includes exercise. Add a balanced, protein-rich breakfast to your routine and reap the health benefits, such as:
  • Balanced blood sugar levels, which helps maintain your energy throughout the day
  • Improved short-term memory and mood
  • Faster recovery and renewed energy after workouts
Better use of the commute to work

Some of the ways you can be productive during your commute include:

  • Catching up on podcasts or listening to business-related audio books
  • Hands-free calling to get a head start on critical or time-sensitive issues
  • Reading and responding to emails (for those who use public transit)
  • Researching and preparing for presentations

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Busy with meaningless stuff

We can all feel very busy, but despite all this bustle, we often don’t feel particularly productive from day to day and often let the "big stuff" go unattended.

If we want to take back contro...

What you're currently doing

The act of becoming aware of where your attention is focused helps you to direct your attention where you want it to be - on creating something significant.

Setting time aside

To learn to control your attention, set aside at least one time period per day to focus without interruption. Let it be no more than 90 minutes at a time. Do something important but not urgent.

Ask yourself: Are you scheduling time daily to focus without interruption?

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Clean up your workspaces

End the workday by taking a minute to tidy your desk, save everything you’re working on, and close of all your tabs and windows. Make sure your work app notifications are automatically snoozed outs...

Review your "to-done’s"

Boost your mood and motivation by taking the time to review your completed tasks at the end of each day.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to stay motivated and build momentum at work is to celebrate your progress.

The procrastination “doom loop”

Confront the things you’ve been putting off. If you keep putting things off, you'll feel guilty and that makes you want to avoid them even more. You will get stuck in the “doom loop” of anxiety and avoidance.
Break this loop by identifying the tasks that you’ve been avoiding, break them down into smaller tasks and schedule the next step for the following day.

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Stop Reacting

Don’t check your email or anything else that is going to dictate your behavior.

If you start your day by checking and replying to emails, it means you'll just react as new things come ...

The Things That Matter Most

Most of us get 80% of results from 20% of the work we do. So focus on that 20%.

Don’t be vague. Specify what you need to get done - research shows that having concrete goals is correlated with huge increases in confidence and feelings of control.

Use Your “Magic Hours” Wisely

You have 2-2.5 hours of peak productivity every day. You may actually be 30% more effective at that time. For most of us, this happens in the morning.

Those are the hours when you should be working on your main goals. Why would you want to waste that on a conference call or a staff meeting?

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