Multi-tasking doesn’t get work done (apparently)

7 Things Highly Productive People Do (According to Inc.com)

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“You probably don’t want to admit it but you love distractions. In fact, just like monkeys, you get a shot of dopamine every time something pulls you in another direction. Why do you think you check your email so much?

Want to be more productive and get your focus back? There are no secret tricks here… do one thing at a time. Stop multitasking—it’s just another form of distraction.

Easier said than done, I know.

Recently I sat down with Tony Wong, a project management blackbelt whose client list includes Toyota, Honda, and Disney, to name a few. He’s an expert in keeping people on task, so I thought he’d be a good person to ask.

Here are his tips for staying productive:

  1. Work backwards from goals to milestones to tasks. Writing “launch company website” at the top of your to-do list is a sure way to make sure you never get it done. Break down the work into smaller and smaller chunks until you have specific tasks that can be accomplished in a few hours or less: Sketch a wireframe, outline an introduction for the homepage video, etc. That’s how you set goals and actually succeed in crossing them off your list.
  2. Stop multi-tasking. No, seriously—stop. Switching from task to task quickly does not work. In fact, changing tasks more than 10 times in a day makes you dumber than being stoned. When you’re stoned, your IQ drops by five points. When you multitask, it drops by an average of 10 points, 15 for men, five for women (yes, men are three times as bad at multitasking than women). 
  3. Be militant about eliminating distractions. Lock your door, put a sign up, turn off your phone, texts, email, and instant messaging. In fact, if you know you may sneak a peek at your email, set it to offline mode, or even turn off your Internet connection. Go to a quiet area and focus on completing one task.
  4. Schedule your email. Pick two or three times during the day when you’re going to use your email. Checking your email constantly throughout the day creates a ton of noise and kills your productivity.
  5. Use the phone. Email isn’t meant for conversations. Don’t reply more than twice to an email. Pick up the phone instead. 
  6. Work on your own agenda. Don’t let something else set your day. Most people go right to their emails and start freaking out. You will end up at inbox-zero, but accomplish nothing. After you wake up, drink water so you rehydrate, eat a good breakfast to replenish your glucose, then set prioritized goals for the rest of your day. 
  7. Work in 60 to 90 minute intervals. Your brain uses up more glucose than any other bodily activity. Typically you will have spent most of it after 60-90 minutes. (That’s why you feel so burned out after super long meetings.) So take a break: Get up, go for a walk, have a snack, do something completely different to recharge. And yes, that means you need an extra hour for breaks, not including lunch, so if you’re required to get eight hours of work done each day, plan to be there for 9.5-10 hours.” –  Check out the site this is from…

Meditation

Clear Your Mind and Enrich Your Productivity

“We could say that meditation doesn’t have a reason or doesn’t have a purpose. In this respect it’s unlike almost all other things we do except perhaps making music and dancing. When we make music we don’t do it in order to reach a certain point, such as the end of the composition. If that were the purpose of music then obviously the fastest players would be the best. Also, when we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.” – Alan Watts.

Meditation can be helpful and is a great way to help put things in perspective for you. Meditation can help with focus and multi-tasking. Clearing the mind of clutter will help you de-stress. I meditate every day before I sit down and do my homework. Depending on how much I have to get done I will meditate from 2 minutes to 20 minutes. It is up to you and the time frame you have available to meditate. Clearing the mind this way helps relax you and can lead to better productivity.

Here is a list of a few of the benefits it can bring you:

LOVE : Meditation enhances self love. This is often denounced in our society as being selfish. There is a huge difference between the two. Meditation enables us to love ourselves better. When we love who we are then love permeates every aspect of our life. It shows up in how we treat our selves. Others perceive these undercurrents and many a times treat us accordingly. Only if we love ourselves will we allow anyone else to love us. This self love thus creates more love in our lives.
POSITIVE ENERGY : When we meditate the flow of positive life force increases. We are brimming with energy. The effect of this positive energy is two fold. We are filled with positive mood enhancing thoughts. We work better. Our creativity is at its zenith.
CLARITY OF THOUGHT: Another benefit of meditation is clarity of thought. The silence inside us helps in contemplation. When we are serene we can notice even a little ripple . It helps in seeing things in the right perspective. Our reactions are more attuned to the situation.
FORGIVENESS : Meditation helps us in cultivating forgiveness. It makes us realize how human we are. Forgiveness is very important especially in the context of self. Sometimes it is more difficult to forgive ourselves. When we carry a grudge in our hearts, we carry dead weight. When we are able to forgive that weight lightens. Light hearts can soar

Let’s pull weeds and plant flowers and take this time now to meditate.

You don’t need to go out and buy a yoga mat or take meditation classes to meditate. Do so on your own with this quick and easy guide.

1. Sit at your desk before you start to study or do work with your feet flat on the floor. Make sure the desk in front of you is clear of any items in front of you.

2. Sit up straight and make sure you are close enough to the table where you can rest your arms from elbow to fingertips flat on the desk in front of you.

3. With this posture complete now close your eyes.

4. Focus on your breathing, in and out, in and out. Think of nothing else.

5. If it helps you put on relaxing music for you.

6. Take as long as you need to feel relaxed.

Examples for Improvement: The Overview

Social Media can be used to help students de-stress

Knowledge is power so why not help use the socratic method to spread a 24/7 stress-free message for our students to access in one place?

Here you will see examples of some posts I might use in Twitter or Facebook weekly.

Currently Anxious About School Work?

When you are doing simple tasks like cooking dinner, driving or maybe the harder things of homework or working on projects, make sure to take a step back and take a deep breath. Repeat to yourself slowly that “I’m all right, right now.” You can also say this out loud if you’d like.

Like mentioned in one of my other posts, focus on the present.

Presently you are breathing, you are alive, you are not harmed. Notice that, while feeling “all right right now”, you can still get things done and deal with problems. The fear that bad things will happen if you let yourself feel okay is unfounded; let this sink in. Settling into the basic sense of okayness is a powerful way to build well-being and resources in your brain and being.

Take a two minute break. Take a deep breath and relax.

Posture is everything. Sit up straight while working. Your body’s hormones have a tendency of producing more endorphins (the happy, feel good hormone) while doing this.

Reassess what is important to you. Ask yourself what you are thankful for and remind yourself why you are here at this moment.

Find support in friends and family: often talking out the stress of your day helps de-stress.

Go outside and stretch your legs, take a walk around the block and then get back to work.

Essentially I would like a place to provide challenges that are known to help reduce stress for students to go and look at and access when they feel stressed. Also in a place like a Facebook group students can help comment on what works for them to de-stress.

 

Let’s Address the ‘Stress-Free’ Week UPB Puts on Before Finals Each Semester

Help Bring a Healthy Sense of Self Message Through Social Media

“Remember, college is like any other investment: if you invest in it too conservatively you limit what you get back from it. On the other hand, if you invest everything you have, you have everything to gain.” – Jerry Price

Each semester a week before finals are held the university program board puts on a ‘stress-free’ week for students. They provide a variety of activities for the students to participate in that may help reduce stress caused by the final exams and projects that are most commonly due at the end of the semester. One such activity, Furry Friends For Finals, brings in rescue dogs on campus for students to pet and play with. Unfortunatly what UPB lacks to cover are the stresses of other large exams and project due dates that are scattered throughout the entirity of the semeter.

Students need a place that is offered by Chapman University to go and de-stress at all times of the semester. I understand that a program such as the ‘stress-free’ week the UPB puts on is hard to duplicate and keep running at all times so I propose a solution. We live in a social media world where students sometimes spend more time online than out and about. Social media is low maintenance and can exhibit a higher traffic flow than that of an event held on campus. And it can be accessed by students at anytime of day rather than the tabling hours of 11am to 1pm.

I wish to provide an online source using social media whether it be Facebook or Twitter or both where students can go and read tips and tricks that will help guide them to getting back on track or relaxing. Who can access the greater public of the undergraduate class than Jerry Price! On his page displayed on the Chapman website he provides a letter where he agrees with most of my posts. I only wish that we can help the students old and new understand the underlining message in a weekly updated post about how to find perspective, learn the law of little things, and find their own niche. Jerry Price says this underlining best on his webpage, “Remember, college is like any other investment: if you invest in it too conservatively you limit what you get back from it. On the other hand, if you invest everything you have, you have everything to gain.”

I am targeting the head of student affairs as my change agent because I believe they want the same things for the student body as I do and together we can help benefit the student body with my proposed solution.

Below I’ve left a quick mention of what student affairs speaks about the importance of sense of self:

“Finally, the Student Affairs staff advocates for your learning by providing engaging learning experiences for you outside the classroom. Specifically, we aspire to create engaging environments and meaningful experiences that facilitate the following learning outcomes:

    • A Healthy Sense of Self
      Students will develop an honest understanding and appreciation of themselves and an ability to make individual choices that promote their health and well-being.”

Lets ask you.

Due Date Worth the Stress?

Due dates don't always have to be stressful

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” ~St. Francis of Assisi

Life is all about chances, choices and the memories made by them.

Yes due dates are important. They establish a way for students to keep organized and multi-task. Unfortunatly they cause the most stress. They make big projects feel even larger with a looming deadline of a due date over your head. Although it is important to respect the ‘due date’ do not let it overwelm you. The major factor is when students feel pressed for time. To help alleviate stress try and space yourself out. When given a major project with a solid looming due date so far away, do not ignore it. Split the project up evenly and give yourself due dates. Make sure to abide by them.

Unfortunately I myself like many others are hindered by procrastination. We feel as though we can put it off until the pressure of little time remaining pushes us to do it. Some can not spread themselves out with projects and become faced with the stress of a lot of work in a little time. In this instance I offer you to become very organized with the time you have alloted yourself.

Procrastinators can sometimes focus under presser and hence why they procrastinate in the first place. When you feel stressed remind yourself of the ‘right now’ exercise of reminding you to think in the present and that you are breathing and living.

It helps to talk with your teacher. Express your thoughts with them a few weeks to maybe a month before that you may be worried about on time completion. Your teachers don’t bite. They can be very understanding. If they don’t give you an extension they can help you with a plan on how to work on the project or study for the exam in a way that can help you. Talking with a teacher can also help you understand in more detail what they are expecting from you which can help your overall grade.

Chapman requires teachers to have office hours where their students can use this for help. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS! More times than non it will help make the due date of a project or exam feel less stressful. Also the teacher can become more empathetic to you knowing you care about the course work they teach and give you even more pointers not covered in class.

Finding Perspective

Find Your Perspective of the World

"The pessimist sees-difficulty in every opportunity, the optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

“What the caterpillar calls the end the rest of the world calls a butterfly.” ~Lao Tzu

When you are bogged down with work and stress you tend to forget that you aren’t the only one who is feeling this way, nor are you the only thing out there in the world. Take a second step back and realize how minute your problem is compared to others and compared to your lifespan. Do not try to conquer time but instead try and forget it for a bit. Work at a pace that is good for you. I invite you to use an interactive website that helps put things in perspective for you. There are a lot bigger, and smaller, things out there than yourself.

The Scale of The Universe

In the link above you soon realize how small we are in the universe around us. Your problems may start to feel minimal as well, or may not. I hope while looking at this link you also take into the concept that this project or final that you are stressing over is such a small part in time of your life span. This too shall pass. Why fret over something that may only concern you for such a small part of your life.

Reassess what is important to you. Ask yourself what you are thankful for and remind yourself why you are here at this moment. A priority that you are stressed about, like a project for a class, can just be a small stepping stone for you to gain the high knowledge of a college graduate. Take a moment to pat yourself on the back and be proud that you got into Chapman. You worked so hard to get where you are

this one project is not as big as all that you will and have accomplished in the past and future.

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If you are experiencing anxiety or stress right now, take a close look at this moment, right now. Probably, you are basically all right: no one is attacking you, you are not drowning, no bombs are falling, there is no crisis. It’s not perfect, but you’re okay.

By “right now,” I mean this moment. When we go into the future, we worry and plan. When we go into the past, we resent and regret. Underneath all the to-ing and fro-ing, you are okay. Underneath your desires and activities is an aliveness and an awareness that is doing fine this second.

Understand the importance of your happiness and try as best you can to put that at the top of your priority list. Find perspective within yourself. Find your inner peace. Focus on the present. Understand you are not alone. Enjoy what you do because all you do here for school will help you in your growth as a student.

 

 

The Law of Little Things

Myself taking the "two minute" break to watch the sunset in Holland.

A common saying in Tibet, “if you take care of the minutes, the years will take care of themselves.”

Each moment of practice is usually small in itself, but those moments really add up. It’s the law of little things: because of slowly accumulating changes in neural structures due to mental activity, lots of little things can wear down your well-being–and lots of little things can get you to a better place.

As college students we can train our brains on how to react towards finishing highly stressful looming projects due at the end of a semester with practicing a positive attitude while you work. It helps not to worry about the graded aspect. Try to just be proud of the work you do and the desired grades will follow.

If you souly believe that the project you were assigned  helps you one way or another in your growth towards being a college graduate from learning how to put a press kit together for a PR/Ad major to as simple as learning how to put a powerpoint together for a marketing class. Everything we do here at Chapman has a purpose, whether you see it now or in the future looking back. Little by little you can develop a positive attitude with practice.

Make sure you only think about the task at hand in front of you. Try not to think about ALL THE PROJECTS you have to have done by the end of the week.

It’s like exercise: any single time you run, do Pilates, or lift weights won’t make much difference—but over time, you’ll build up your muscles. But you have to stick with it for it to work, so focus on one thing at a time. Life these days is so busy and complicated that it’s great to have just one thing to keep in mind.

The key point is to make it a priority to feel good, to look for everyday opportunities for peacefulness, happiness, and love, and to take all the little moments you can to marinate in well-being.

Procrastination starts with one little thing at a time. Soon your responsibilities can build up and you can start facing the feeling of anxiety. Make sure to pace yourself. Enjoy the time you have with little breaks but also by spreading your priorities up (if you can) into little chunks throughout the day. This can help you feel less stressed.

In one of my comments to a previous post I was given a website that I felt very helpful towards the law of little things by a fellow classmate of mine, Chelsea (twitter: @Chels_Gregory). The site gives you a calming two minute experience where you can focus on your breathing. So I challenge  you to take two minutes out of your time studying to view this site whenever you feel stressed and…

do nothing for two minutes.

It Starts in the Way You Think

Think Positive

“The brain takes the shape the mind rests upon. If you regularly rest your mind upon worries, self-criticism, and anger, then your brain will gradually take the shape–will develop neural structures and dynamics–of anxiety, low sense of worth, and prickly reactivity to others. If you regularly rest your mind upon noticing you’re all right right now, seeing the good in yourself, and letting go then your brain will gradually take the shape of calm strength, self-confidence, and inner peace.” from the book Just One Thing by Rick Hanson. (Pub. Date: October 2011)

This is where practice comes in, which simply means taking regular action (thought, word, or deed) to increase positive qualities in yourself and decrease the negative ones.

Let be, let go, then let in.

Point out and be with what causes you stress, release  it, and replace it with something more beneficial.

Matters of the mind are a matter of resolve and diligence. It can prove to be sometimes very challenging and uncomfortable. We push through for resolve and diligence for the benefit of positioning our thoughts towards positivity.

The key point is to make it a priority to feel good, to look for everyday opportunities for peacefulness, happiness, and love, and to take all the little moments you can to ‘marinate’ in well-being.

Finding your Niche

Find Your Niche

Find Your Niche

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes YOU come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 

Especially during stressful times such as those few weeks before finals, students tend to forget to set aside time for ‘mental health’ days. These days I believe should be set aside where you do nothing but what makes you happy. In the busy work load of a few weeks before finals week students may not have an entire day to devote to the alleviation of stress but it’s important to set aside moments for yourself.

Now everyone is different in their own way. Everyone has different actions and activities they can do to help with stress, it is all about finding your niche. What makes you ‘tick’ and how you can help ease the looming ‘tock’ of stress that follows during this time of year.

Take a moment, sit up straight. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Focus on a time when an action or activity you did made you feel happy and carefree. For some it can be painting, taking photos, exercising, cooking or playing guitar. These are only a handful of things. One of the first steps to helping de-stress is finding what makes you happy and channeling that in a timely manor that can work into your schedule. You might think you don’t have the time, but believe me you do, at least somewhere throughout your week.

For those of you who choose exercise a classmate of mine provided a great post in her blog about how to de-stress before final exam tests. Check it out!