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This Is Your Brain on Productivity


The real science behind how to be more productive may surprise you. It’s easier and feels better than berating yourself for not having enough willpower. It’s all about working with your brain, not against it.

(Photo Credit: jetheriot/Flickr)

Gregory Ciotti of Sparring Mind and Mitchell Moffit of ASAPScience made a video explaining the brain science behind productivity — what works and what doesn’t. Understanding our psychology and how our brains work gives us real power to improve our productivity and behavior.

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Willpower Is Not Enough

Stop beating yourself up. Willpower is finite and you will run out of it. The trick is not to try harder or magically develop more willpower; the trick is to work with your brain to get things done. The following three tips teach you how:

1. Just Start Something

Getting started is the biggest barrier to productivity. Once you get the ball rolling, you will want to finish. Your own psychology is likely to nag at you until you complete the tasks you started.

Break down projects into smaller tasks, and just start them. Once you start, you will keep thinking about the task until you finish it.

2. Deadlines

Give yourself deadlines. Write down tasks do to each day, and write down when each task must be finished. When complete, cross out that task. It will feel rewarding mark things as “done.” This little piece of positive reinforcement (which is, essentially, a reward) will make it easier to keep getting tasks completed, because it feels good.

3. Disciplined Schedule

Working straight through all day long is not disciplined; rather, it is exhausting. Exhausting oneself does not make one more productive. It may sound counter-intuitive, but if you wish to be more productive, take breaks. Set up a schedule of about 90 minutes of work and 15 or 20 minutes of break time. The breaks renew and refresh you so you have the energy you need to be productive for the next 90 minutes. At the end of the day, you will find you got more done because you took breaks.

Tell Us What You Think

What do you do when you need to be more productive? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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