Five ways to work harder

Another Monday is upon us, and if you’re anything like me, sometimes it can be hard to dive immediately back into work after a long, beautiful weekend. Willpower and self-control are not the only things that can help you get things done though, there are several little tricks you can play on your brain to make it work harder. Many of them can be applied to any goal – not just your professional ones, too!

1. Jam Out!

Listening to music makes your brain’s nucleus accumbens activate. This triggers the release of dopamine, the “pleasure chemical.” This is the same chemical that gets released when someone leaves a comment on your blog (hint, hint ;-) or you receive a new quality follower on Twitter. You want more and more. The element of surprise plays largely into the amount of dopamine released.

0 m9xiDXit0DpDES3YListening to music you love while working, not only helps you take a medial task and make it fun, but it can actually help you complete the task faster. A study published in the journal of Neuroscience of Behavior and Physiology also found that it can help you be more productive, while also making fewer errors!

2. Start Small & Commit

You don’t have to start big to get the job done. Often times, I find myself breaking things into pieces…a set of sub-goals for my overall goal.

For example, I am trying to get my house ready to sell. Instead of becoming overwhelmed with the HUGE task of getting the house touched-up, I’ve broken my to-do list into smaller tasks, broken down by room. I am instantly gratified when I get to scratch off an item, even if it is as small as “I am just going to complete this one corner.”

3. Time Yourself

As long as you don’t cave under pressure, set a timer for having certain tasks completed. For example, if you have something to get done around the house, tell yourself you only have a half hour for a task that you think will take a full hour. I find this incredibly useful when I am in a pinch for time, but still need to get a few things done.

It doesn’t just help when you are stretched for time, either. Say you only have an hour to get the day’s prospecting in. Set a timer and require yourself to stay focused on reaching out and researching your prospects during that time. No email. Cell phones silenced. Quality time for you and your prospects. Using the timer encourages you to stay focused and cruise through the task at hand.

4. Reward Yourself

Ever been on a diet, only to have it fall apart two weeks in? Hey, there’s no shame – it’s hard to stay motivated from week to week without breaking your overall goal down into smaller “sub-goals”. Once you have your end goal in mind, set out smaller milestones that you can celebrate.

By rewarding yourself for completing the smaller tasks, you’ll stay motivated to keep going towards the end goal (that otherwise would seem less desirable).

Were you able to reach out to those 10 new prospects before Friday this week? Reward yourself with a breakfast and latte at your favorite local cafe.

Take it a step further and make it friendly competition. Give your friend the money to get your desired reward and have them give it to you when you’ve completed the task you’ve set out to do.

5. Check Out Cute Fur Babies!

ScreenShot168Yep. Crazy, huh? Looking at cute baby animals can actually improve your concentration and productivity. A study conducted by Hiroshima University in Japan found that looking at pleasant and cute images can actually increase your concentration. Participants in the study increased their performance in concentration tasks by an incredible 44%!

The theory behind the increase in concentration was that caring for babies requires careful attention to the targets’ physical and mental states, as well as a vigilance against possible threats. If viewing adorable little fur babies makes the viewer more attentive, then the performance of a non-motor perceptual task would also be improved.

Be careful though – set that timer before you get sucked too far into puppyland!

What are some ways you stay productive?

Please feel free to leave your tricks in the comments below!

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