Welcome to the third and final part of our Productivity-Increasing Mind Hacks.
Mind Hack #19: Don’t Put in That Over-Time
More hours do not always equal more results!
Far from it, in fact, when you’re dealing with the brain. Because there’s definitely a point of diminishing returns with quality cerebral output.
And don’t forget the lessons of the Unschedule from Mind Hack #1.
Constantly moving forward to tackle all the things you meant to do earlier can create a demoralizing cycle that robs life from you with little reward.
So if it’s getting late and you still haven’t finished what you wanted, sign off for the day and try to do better next time. At some point just beating your head against the computer more will NOT make anything better come out of it…
Mind Hack #20: Create Artificial Deadlines
A deadline is a powerful way to get a lot more work done in a less time, and many remote workers find it’s the only way to keep moving.
If you went to college, you probably remember how Parkinson’s law dictated your life. Professors would give you way too much time to finish things, thinking it was all you could take. But you’d wait all month and get it done in one or two nerve-wracked days.
They would have served you better by teaching you and your brain the focusing power of a tight deadline.
Don’t just have a project deadline either – break projects down into small, manageable chunks and set artificial deadlines throughout. Put them right on the edge of your comfort zone to find out what you can really do.
Some people just function at their best by forcing themselves to stop the brainstorming and jump into the doing.
And finishing early leaves an emergency cushion in case you need to make big changes before the actual due date.
Mind Hack #21: Perfect the Art of Always Starting
Struggling to find your motivation to start?
Constantly putting things off for later?
Often what causes this is your subconscious associates too much pain with what needs to be done or perceives the project as too big.
Trick your brain by setting a timer for “just 10 minutes.”
Anyone can find the motivation for 10 short minutes.
And the real power of this technique is that once you start you’ll often fall right into your flow and end up working for hours.
As you get used to this habit, longer periods of time, like “just 25 minutes,” will kickstart things just as easily. The more time you spend in the flow, the more your brain wants to be there and the easier it gets.
Mind Hack #22: Allow Yourself a Little Morning Indulgence
If it really just drives you crazy to wait all day before checking social media, playing a game, or reading emails…
Okay, go ahead – check it when you first get online.
5-10 minutes max and then get back off.
This allows you to “get your fix” and catch any important messages – but get off fast so you don’t lose the whole day to it. No nagging feeling in the back of your mind that you might have missed something.
After a week of this your subconscious might accept that there’s rarely anything pressing and you won’t need to do this anymore.
Mind Hack #23: Use Pomodoro for Regular Work Blocks and Breaks
A lot of people swear by the Pomodoro technique, a time management strategy that separates work into (usually) 25-minute blocks separated by 5-minute breaks.
There are different ways to approach this, but a common method is:
- 25-minute work block
- 5-minute rest
- 25-minute work block
- 5-minute rest
- And so on…
After about 4 pomodoro intervals, you’re encouraged to take a 15-20-minute break.
FocusMe Productivity software has Pomodoro Features built right into the program, and it’s all automated based on your settings.
The power in Pomodoro is it keeps work blocks small and digestible while putting breaks on a time limit too, so you can’t wander off and get caught up in something else.
And the 30-minute intervals (25-minute work bloc + 5-minute break) fit nicely into an hourly workday.
Mind Hack #24: How to Always Make Time for the Biggest Rocks in Your Bucket
Dr. Stephen Covey (author of “The 7 Habits of Highly-effective People”) advocated always putting “the big rocks first.”
Covey’s metaphor is filling a bucket with rocks, pebbles, and sand. What’s the best way to do it?
Well, if you filled the bucket with sand first, you’d leave no room for pebbles or rocks.
But if you put the big rocks in first, the pebbles can fill in the spaces between the rocks, and the sand can fill the spaces in between.
The “big rocks” are your most important goal-related projects. Pebbles are small, less important tasks. And sand is the “filler” tasks that often leave no time for the things that matter.
It’s an apt metaphor for why you should always tackle high priority actions first.
You just have to ask yourself – does filling your time with tasks ever pay if it crowds out the space that would have accommodated your biggest rocks?
Mind Hack #25: Give Your Mind the Bait to Keep Moving Forward
Rewarding yourself for reaching small milestones and completing projects to dangle a carrot in front of yourself.
A simple way to do this?
Write out a list of things you’ve been wanting to do or buy (even if you intend to do or buy them already). And then indulge your desires as you put in a certain number of hours or hit a particular milestone.
Your brain quickly learns that it gets rewards for working.
If you find this technique falling flat, though, because you don’t ever actually get to reward yourself, you may need to adjust. Again, remember the lesson of the Unschedule: Depriving yourself completely can be self-defeating.
Here’s how you can counteract that. Reward yourself for smaller achievements early on, so you’re not running a marathon to hit your first finish line.
Sometimes your brain just needs to learn what goal achievement actually feels like.
After you build up a bank of small wins to whet your appetite, then start demanding more of yourself.
Mind Hack #26: Give Yourself a Computer “Curfew”
Not only are computer screens disruptive to healthy sleep, but spending half your night in the digital world after work can be disruptive to happy living. Not to mention make you feel like you never checked out of work at all.
Give yourself a “computer curfew.”
For example, force yourself to shut down all computers and devices at 8:30 pm. So you can wind down and listen to music, read, or just spend time with family.
If you’re using FocusMe, you can set these rules in virtual stone, making it impossible to open your apps or browsers. You can even retain access to certain programs, like Spotify for music, while keeping yourself out of everything else.
Keeping your nights completely free not just of work but any digital activity is one of the quickest and easiest productivity hacks anyone can implement starting tonight.
Mind Hack #27: Inject Your Work with Purpose
It’s so much easier to get passionate and engaged with what you’re doing if you have a bigger why.
If you don’t have one, hey, money isn’t a horrible place to start.
List out all the things you plan to do with your money – and that you couldn’t do without it. Reading over this in the morning can instantly remind you why working hard is important, perhaps even mandatory.
But the most powerful why will be bigger than you.
Think about the bigger picture. How does your work CONTRIBUTE to the world?
How does your product or service genuinely make people more satisfied, make them safer, or help them live better lives.?
Maybe at this moment, you just can’t get excited about the impact your work has on the world. Hey, we all have to pay the bills. But often even the most mundane work in the world has an important purpose.
Imagine a world without clean floors and unclogged toilets, for instance. Most things matter, or they wouldn’t exist.
So try to connect with what makes YOUR work matter.
If that still doesn’t work, can you think of your job as a chance to master a skill that will take you where you want to go? How would seeing your work as being paid to learn change your approach?
The simple question of why can completely transform a day of work.
Perhaps even an entire career.
Bottom Line: You Don’t Need A Drill Sergeant Standing Over Your Shoulder To Conquer Worlds At Home
Disciplining the brain is like leash-training an over-eager puppy.
What happens when you try to walk an untrained dog? It constantly runs circles around your feet, right? It’s wriggling little nose yanking it (and often you) this way and that.
How do you get it to settle down and follow, then? Kick it in the ribs? Scream at it and tell it what an unproductive loser it is?
Of course not!
Yet so many people take the “kick in the ribs” approach to getting their brain to behave. Is it any wonder it fails?
No, you give clear and simple commands. Reinforce them by gently but consistently guiding it back on track again and again. Maybe even the occasional treat.
Just like with the puppy, your mind needs the right guidance and conditioning.
This list of mind hacks can help you do it.
Now go teach your brain to behave.