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Our brains can be stubborn about solving problems at our jobs. It wants to avoid as much stress and effort as possible. Those times that we want to nap midday or put off our work for hours are some examples of the brain’s clever tricks.
It’s also hard to feel productive when we live in the digital age. Nowadays, there are so many apps that exist for our benefit. On our phones alone, we can set alarms, track the weather, and upload files without moving from our desks. By the time our brains realize how fast these apps can finish our work, they lose the patience and energy to start right away. Before we know it, we end up waiting until an hour away from the deadline to start working.
You probably know a friend or colleague who is always on the phone while doing other things. They might be driving in their car, signing documents, or eating their food while still glued to the screen. This “multitasking” lifestyle might make you think that it’s faster and easier to get things done.
Unfortunately, your friends aren’t actually multitasking. It’s impossible; studies on the brain show that it can only concentrate on one task at a time. What is actually happening is that your mind shifts focus from one priority to another. In other words, you’re actually just jumping between different tasks. That’s the reason why driving while on call or text is illegal. You simply can’t focus on driving while you’re on the phone, no matter how fast you can type.
To trick your brain into being productive, the best plan of action is to focus on one task at a time. By dedicating your mind to a single job, your undivided attention will help you spot any flaws or errors that need fixing. Think of how much faster you could write a report when there’s nothing else distracting you. Remember that doing one task at a time is faster, easier, and healthier than trying to solve everything at once.
To activate the one-task mindset, list all the tasks you’ll be working on for the day. Divide them into smaller tasks if possible. Write them all on a piece of paper, which will be your checklist. After that, fold this checklist until you only see one job at hand. Do whatever the task is and check it off once you finish. Only then should you unfold the next goal underneath. The more you focus on just one task, the quicker you’ll run through the whole checklist without getting distracted.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when your mind has to deal with so many tasks in one day. For example, imagine what a doctor feels when they see a room full of patients. Even if they want to help, they might feel tired just by realizing how many people need checkups. This applies to us at the office or in the workspace. When we see our tasks or schedule, we might feel like quitting or resting first before we start.
The problem is that you’d still leave your tasks unfinished. That same doctor would still have another set of patients to meet the next day, even if they took a day off. The more times you skip your tasks for the day, the more you’ll have to compensate for. It’s not healthy, because you’ll be working twice or thrice as hard and you might get emotionally burned before the week is over. So, how do you trick your brain into being productive?
One way to kickstart your mental productivity is with: the “one more” mantra. It’s easy to do and you can say it to yourself whenever you feel like calling it a day. Simply look at your task and whisper to yourself “Just one more, then I’m done”. Make it a promise that you’ll only do one more project or task before you stop. Your brain will begin to lighten up and feel better as you finally get the job done.
However, once you finish this task, you’ll notice that your body feels more energized and motivated. These emotions come from the brain feeling happy after you did your job. Some of you might feel like you could do “one more”. If you can, go for it! The more you promise to stop after finishing one more, the more work you can actually get done. Your brain won’t even feel upset when you do finally finish. After all, you’ve just finished a lot of work in one day.
Aside from telling yourself “one more job,” there’s another trick to trick your brain into productivity. When you do your “final” task, choose the hardest possible one in your daily checklist. What job requires the most energy, focus, and time to finish? By choosing the most exhausting job, you will feel relieved when finished. More importantly, your brain will be ready to accept the other tasks because they seem less stressful and demanding.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you say “work”? Your brain might conjure up pictures of paperwork or deadlines or coffee. While these things aren’t dangerous, they carry an emotional weight. You might feel the urge to sit down and sigh as soon as you see this image. You might want to throw up or massage your head to try and relieve the stress. In short, your brain has been trained to assume that work and stress are the same.
While your job can be demanding, it doesn’t have to feel negative. To trick your brain into being productive, try associating your tasks with something you like. For example, remind yourself of the lovely house you own. Paint a mental image of the comfy bed and the large TV you worked so hard to afford. When you remind your brain how “work” got you to such luxuries, it’ll feel more ambition and motivation to succeed.
Music is one of the most powerful mind boosters in the world. Listening to it can make you feel energized and happy as you work. Try playing “productivity playlists” while at work to keep associating work with something you enjoy. These songs are designed to stimulate the parts of your brain while being soothing and relaxing melodies. For example, you can listen to this two-hour video of relaxing jazz or this 50-minute track of low fidelity (lo-fi) beats.
When you check your schedule, you’ll find several moving parts that need to be planned out. On a typical work day, you’ll need to pick the outfit for your meeting, the lunch you’ll have during your break, and the documents you must submit before 5 o’clock. So many decisions in a single day will have the same effect as multitasking. You might feel out of breath just an hour before heading to the office. So, how do you trick your brain into being productive?
One method used by celebrities and figures like Barack Obama is to wear the same clothes to everything. Whether at a social gathering or a private meeting, they keep their clothes similar, if not identical. This action can be your brain’s “automatic response” to recurring problems. In other words, you train your brain into choosing or doing the same thing for a specific job. It’ll be a force of habit that won’t use up too much time or thought to do. Think about it: how often do you need to change your work outfit? You’re likely to wear the same suit and tie combination every day.
What’s significant about the “automatic response” is that your mind won’t waste time trying to solve problems outside your work. If you buy the same coffee from the same store or cook the same meal for every lunch, it’s easier to proceed and focus on more demanding things. It may seem routine, but it gives your mind more space to concentrate on its efforts. Once you finish your work and have free time, that’s when you can begin to think about a new meal or a fun game to check out.
Making meals can be tiring, but it doesn’t have to be a daily chore. One way of automating your meals is by following a “meal prep” schedule. Once a week, spend a couple of hours making five to six portions that you can safely store in your refrigerator. For example, you can make a BLT sandwich or a tuna salad with carrots and peas. That way, when the workweek starts, you can simply step in and out of the house with your finished meal. Best of all, you could even
Isn’t it funny how often people break down because they haven’t had a break? Unfortunately, this kind of behavior is dangerous. Some people spend so much time preoccupied with work that they don’t give themselves room to breathe. You risk overheating your mind like an engine that won’t shut off.
Some may think the best solution is to have a long and extravagant vacation. These folks might consider going abroad or to the beachside as the only way to de-stress and cool down. However, that can take years to afford, and sometimes, you can’t wait to give yourself some rest.
Instead, consider giving yourself a period to stop what you’re doing and close your eyes. Even five minutes of guided meditation at your desk can help you relax your thoughts. Listening to meditation videos or focusing your attention on breathing alone gives your mind some time to relax. It’ll stop trying to answer various questions or worry about uncontrollable possibilities. Instead, by mentally pausing and closing out the world for a few minutes, your brain can sort out its worries and rest comfortably.
Beyond guided meditation and office yoga videos, one easy trick to pause your mind is to set times for different things. For example, you can select the alarm for when you should shut off from work completely. Think of what time you will sleep tonight, and set the clock to strike an hour beforehand. Once you hear it, turn your phone off or mute all notifications. Setting aside a full hour to stop thinking of work allows your mind more time to drift into a relaxing and energizing sleep. More importantly, you won’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to receive notifications about work emails. Undisrupted sleep is just as precious as an alert mind.
Check our latest video on how you can plan your productivity after you know how to trick your brain into being productive.
How do you trick your brain into being productive? With these five secret triggers, you can trick your mind into working efficiently and effectively. It can be tough to make your brain enjoy your job and the tasks required. However, following these mental hacks can make you feel more accomplished and satisfied at work. More importantly, your mood and your health will feel much better with a job well done!
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