Inspiration

Please find enclosed our selection of inspirational quotes, tips and sayings. We will add to these in the future so please bookmark this page. Also, please feel free to right-click copy any image and share on your social network. Also, please check out our extensive self-help library in the member's area.

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Staying Focused Starts at Night

Staying Focused Starts at Night

Staying Focused Starts at Night

Introduction

We are often faced with tasks that cannot be completed during the day. This is not always a problem, as much research has shown that you can get more done at night granted that you are still getting enough sleep afterwards. For night owls, this is even more true.

A couple reasons why some people are more focused in the evening are because you are more relaxed and there are less distractions. This is true not just for night owls, but for most people in general.

You are More Relaxed at Night

At the end of the day, most people breathe an audible sigh of relief—the major tasks are done, and your mind is free until tomorrow. For some this means that their minds shut off for the evening, but for night owls it can provide a burst of motivation.

This is because we are more relaxed if there is less expected of us at that particular time. Chances are, your boss or coworkers won’t be calling you at 3 am. There is also the sense of relaxation that comes with:

  • Lack of expectation for news or communication

    • New laws, policies, or major COVID updates are not likely to be released at night

  • You don’t expect to make or receive phone calls from family and friends

  • There will likely not be new work assignments designated in the late evening hours

This lack of expectations allows your mind to relax and makes you better prepared to complete tasks efficiently.

There are Fewer Distractions

There is much less going on in the evening than during the day, including:

  • Minimized contact with others

  • Fewer outside noises

  • Fewer tasks to complete

When you are faced with limited external stimuli, your ability to focus improves drastically. People associate the day with activities such as mealtimes, fitness routines, school, and work, but our nights are generally considered open. The song “Night Time, My Time” comes to mind.

The truth is that during the day, there is stuff going on all around us—its inevitable to get sucked in from time to time, which diminishes your ability to focus. At night, this is a non-issue.

Conclusion

The bottom line in all of this is that focus begins at night mainly for night owls, as there are some diehard morning people who are most productive in the wee hours of the morning. However, for those night-dwellers, focus is greatly improved because of being in a more relaxed state and faced with fewer distractions that could hinder concentration.

Staying Focused During Breaks

Staying Focused During Breaks

Staying Focused During Breaks

Introduction

When you are working for a long time, it is extremely beneficial to take short breaks. However, if you become too absorbed in your down time, it can be difficult to get back into the flow.

For this reason it is important to maintain some level of thought on your current task, even when you’re taking an interlude. One way to stay focused is to engage in energizing break activities—this is particularly effective for study sessions. A couple of these activities include going outside and practicing meditation.

Going Outside

Never underestimate the impact that a breath of fresh air can have, especially when you are fully focused and engaged in a task. You can start to feel cooped up and restless, and even a brief outdoor endeavor can make a big difference.

Some options for breaktime outdoor activities include:

  • Taking a quick walk

    • If you have a dog, you can take them with you

  • Sitting on the porch, patio, or other outdoor space

  • Go out and pick up your favorite coffee

Along with the benefit of alleviating restlessness, taking short walks also help with brain function, cognitive performance, and memory—all of which you can use when your break ends.

Practicing Meditation

Meditation has a myriad of benefits when you’re trying to maintain a level of focus. It can take as little as a couple of minutes to make an impact on your brain and ability to refocus when the time comes.

Some suggested meditation practices are:

  • Deep breathing (for any duration of time)

  • Stretching or doing yoga

  • Sitting down in a quiet, empty room to be alone with your thoughts

Since what some find relaxing others don’t, it is best to pick an activity that is the most soothing to you for your meditation period. Some people enjoy listening to a bit of soothing music, petting their animals, or tidying up the room to be the most relaxing.

The ultimate objective is to choose a tranquil activity that will refresh your mind without making you sluggish—you may have to experiment with different techniques until you find the ones that work best for you.

Conclusion

Taking breaks during a focus-driven task is one of the most effective ways to maximize focus and attention. Though everyone has different methods of recharging, two that have been proven most efficacious are going outside and meditating. Don’t be afraid to investigate other types of downtime activities—it will pay off in the long run!

Making a To-Do List

Making a To-Do List

3 Tips for Making a To-Do List That Actually Helps

Introduction

In theory, to-do lists are a quick and easy way to help you get things done. However, there are many factors to consider to create the most effective list possible. Prioritizing, consolidating, and detailing in your to-do list are 3 fantastic ways to start.

Prioritizing

Nearly all to-do lists involve large-scale and menial tasks. Though we are tempted to get the hard stuff out of the way first, sometimes the smaller tasks must be completed before you can start the larger ones.

Also important to consider is that certain jobs take longer than others. Try to arrange your list to by combining high and low-intensity tasks

  • This allows you to accomplish more throughout the day because of time management

  • Just the act of visualizing your tasks on a list can help

    • Seeing it written out makes it easier to rate things in order of importance

    • You may decide that certain tasks are better left for another day

Making a note of consistent tasks, such as household chores or running errands, can help you anticipate your list’s schedule and set more realistic goals.

Consolidating

It is recommended that an average to-do list should have 5-10 tasks, depending on how long they take to accomplish. For example:

  • If you have laundry scheduled, the machines can be running while you do other things

    • Thus, you can accomplish more in that time period

To avoid having unplanned tasks added to your day, try to establish a cutoff. If you have a list that is pushing the time constraints, make it a closed list:

  • This can be done by simply drawing a line under the last item on your list

  • The line acknowledges that you cannot add any more tasks to that particular set

You also have the option of taking preemptive measures. For instance, if you have a document to review at work, try to scan it and/or construct an outline before the task begins. Or, if there’s a hulking load of laundry to be done, sort it in advance so it’s easier to tackle later.

Detailing

One final takeaway for making the most effective to-do list is to use as many details as possible. Goals and tasks that are clear-cut are easier to accomplish and of better quality.

To do this, focus your list on the actions themselves. If you are a student trying to improve your grades, rather than having “get good grades” on the list, try breaking it down into individual tasks:

  • Do homework on time

  • Study more for tests

  • Attend class daily

Another way of further detailing your list is to include something called if-then planning, which details not only the task itself, but also when and where it will be done. For example:

  • If (when) ___ happens, then I will ___”

    • If it’s a Wednesday, then I’ll take out all of the garbage cans”

Conclusion

There are many employable methods that can assist you with an effective to-do list. This includes prioritizing, consolidating, and detailing your tasks. Presenting them in such a way will help you accomplish more in the most efficient way possible.

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How to be Mindful While Staying Focused

How to be Mindful While Staying Focused

How to be Mindful While Staying Focused

Introduction

Staying focused on a task in and of itself can be tricky. This is further complicated when you must maintain active mindfulness during the activity, as your brain could become stretched thin.

Being mindful involves becoming self-aware of our thoughts in the present. Though this sounds easy, research has actually showed that people spend almost half of their time thinking about other things when trying to accomplish a task. Our brains essentially go into auto mode, where it is common to overlook important details or other considerations.

How to Achieve Mindfulness

Mindfulness does not begin simultaneously with the task—you must first put yourself into the right mindset. Try meditating briefly by taking deep breaths and organizing your thoughts before you begin so that you start with a fresh, clear mind. If you notice yourself drifting, repeat the deep breathing process.

Focus and awareness are two key components of mindfulness:

  • Focus refers to capacity to concentrate only on the task at hand

  • Awareness refers to ability to filter out unnecessary stimuli (ex. an email) while also being receptive to necessary stimuli (ex. a call to attention from an employer)

At times the thought of taking a break seems unfathomable, but research has shown that taking micro-breaks throughout the day actually increases mindfulness because it lets you reorient yourself to the present task.

Similar to the logic of deep breathing exercises, it can also be helpful to take a moment and get back in touch with your surroundings when you’re feeling distracted. You can do this by tapping into your senses:

  • Visual environment (sight)

  • Surrounding/background noise (sound)

  • Physical sensations (touch)

  • Lingering flavors (taste)

  • Physical environment (feel)

Why is This so Hard?

Our minds are constantly processing a million things at once, so it’s easy to become preoccupied. For the most part we are considering the past and future along with the present, which makes it hard to focus on just one. To modify this, try to empty your mind of everything except your current activity and block out other events.

Because we are taught that accomplishing the most amount in the least time is optimal—which technically, it is—this practice also makes it easy to fall prey to multitasking. Multitasking has been proven to diminish efficiency and productivity, often leaving you worse off than you started. Instead, give your full attention to whatever you do to increase both the quality and quantity of your work.

Conclusion

Staying focused while being mindful can seem like a daunting task, but there are ways to set yourself up for success. Being in the present and diligent in your work may require some refocusing, but don’t be discouraged. Getting into the habit of these practices can make you the model of efficiency!

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Can You Train Your Brain to Focus?

Can You Train Your Brain to Focus?

Can You Train Your Brain to Focus?

Introduction

The fast pace of the modern world makes it very easy to become distracted. There is often so much going on that we become scatterbrained trying to get it all done at once, which decreases our ability to focus. In order to stay on task throughout its duration, we can retrain our brains to handle extended periods of time dedicated to one singular thing.

The good news is that this is totally achievable, it will just take some work on your end. Practicing focus for a significant amount of time and minimizing time spent on electronics are two of the most effective ways to do that.

Practicing Focus - Improve Focus and Concentration

Because the brain is a muscle, you can train it to work at an optimal level. Practice makes perfect is the key concept here, as the activity of repetition can help make focusing easier in the future. Do not neglect short breaks, though, as our attention spans are only capable of so much concentration.

This practice is comparable to an exercise routine. You usually have a set amount of time and reps for each activity, and your focus is set on the routine for its entire duration. Practicing focal techniques is similar:

  • Every task needs an allotted amount of time

  • Within each task there are certain amounts of effort required

  • Frequency and repetition of these activities causes muscle memory, even in the brain

Practicing focus also teaches you how to reach a state of “flow”, which is equivocal to being “in the zone”. This is the optimal state for focus and productivity because you are completely immersed in the task at hand. It is easier to tune out the world when your whole mind is focused on something in the present.

Minimizing Electronic Time

The technological advances that we have today are beneficial, but also wreak havoc on our attention spans, which are necessary for focus. Phones and TV train our brains to process frequent bursts of short-term information rather than focusing on one particular thing.

A few ways you can refocus your mind despite of electronics are to:

  • Set a specific time to use your phone

  • Silence your phone or put it on Do Not Disturb when working

  • Keep devices out of sight and reach when working

  • Limit TV time to after your work is finished for the day

Even just these small adjustments can do wonderful things to train yourself to focus.

Conclusion

It might take some time and effort on your part, but the bottom line is that it is possible to train your brain to improve focus. Making changes to your routine, such as setting aside time to practice focusing or limiting technology usage, can be very effective tools to maximize your efficiency and ability to concentrate.

 

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How To Stay Focused – Does Coffee Help?

How To Stay Focused – Does Coffee Help?

Can Coffee Really Help You Stay Focused?

Introduction

There have been many studies about the effects of coffee on productivity. Caffeine is the main source of effects experienced, as it is a stimulant—this means that it kicks our nervous system up a notch and is thus a good facilitator of focus. Two ways it does this by increasing your levels of alertness and mental performance.

Though its benefits are substantial, use caution to monitor your coffee intake. On the flip side, too much can be counterproductive towards your goals and inhibit cognitive abilities rather than improve on them.

Mental Performance and Alertness

Some tasks are just plain tedious; there’s no way around it. Going through this process can make you feel sluggish and decrease patience throughout the day, and sometimes a cup of coffee is just what you need to reorient yourself.

Studies assert that caffeine can improve concentration and attention. This is especially useful in times when you are:

  • Experiencing a midday lag

  • Experiencing lack of sleep

  • Performing extended repetitive tasks

  • Working at night

Because your attention span wanes throughout the day, sometimes a cognitive boost is needed to power through it. One or two (depending on your tolerance) cups of coffee can not only renew your focus, but also improve on mental acuity. This means that you can continue to be effective and thorough, even when a day drags on.

Be wary, though, as too much caffeine can cause jitteriness and actually impair your productivity. Moderating your coffee intake, such as limiting yourself to 2 or 3 cups daily, is an easy way to make sure you don’t overdo it and experience a crash later on.

As a stimulant, the caffeine in coffee actually blocks brain receptors related to fatigue. In reasonable amounts it can be a great way to increase cognitive abilities, including:

  • Self-control and willpower

  • Decision-making

  • Memory

  • Attention and concentration

When You’ve Had Too Much

Conversely, drinking excess amounts of coffee can be detrimental. Caffeine as a stimulant is good in small amounts, but too much has the opposite effect.

Sleep patterns, for example, are strongly impacted by caffeine intake. Too much coffee late in the day may make it harder to fall asleep. It can also cause a decline in sleep quality and quantity, which increases your need for caffeine during the day—this can become a vicious cycle.

The consequences of this cycle wreak havoc physiologically. Some of these impairments are:

  • Elevated blood pressure

  • Elevated adrenaline

  • Higher risk of “crashing”

    • This is when the caffeine in your brain wears off

    • You are often left with less energy than when you began

Conclusion

In moderation, coffee can be great for productivity. It increases cognitive functions and alertness to maximize your daily output. However, too much can cause significant problems. As long as you monitor consumption, caffeine can be a useful tool for success.

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3 Reasons to Say Goodbye to Multi-tasking

3 Reasons to Say Goodbye to Multi-tasking

3 Reasons to Say Goodbye to Multi-tasking

Introduction

Multitasking may sound promising, but in reality it severely hinders productivity and performance. In fact, it can reduce your productivity level by almost 40%. This goes for everyone, including parents with busy schedules, students, and people in the workforce.

Across the board, multitasking comes highly unrecommended. Though there are plentiful reasons why, three of the most important are that our brains can’t handle it, it compromises work quality, and decreases efficiency.

Our Brains are Incapable of Multitasking

At the foundation of it all, our brains do not have the capacity to accurately focus on more than one task at a time. Because multitasking requires your mind to alternate between different things, it can cause your brain to malfunction.

This means that your cognitive processes will not be as attentive or susceptible to new information. Though you may feel confident that you’re getting a lot done, in reality you are losing touch with your priorities:

  • You may finish multiple tasks at once, but you cannot rank their importance

  • The brain cannot give balanced values when multitasking

    • This means that you can overlook top priorities and lose sight of objectives

Compromised Work Quality

When you are multitasking, you often become overwhelmed with your workload, and this leads to taking shortcuts. Though you may be the first to complete a task, it will severely reduce its quality. Even worse is that the more we cheat by taking these shortcuts, the more likely we are to make a habit of it.

Another consequence of multitasking is that it kills creativity. Your mind needs a certain amount of free space in order to think in the abstract, and if you’re multitasking you won’t have any room left over. If this happens, there likely won’t be producing any innovate ideas, which is essential in life.

Decreased Efficiency

Finally, multitasking can have a negative impact on efficiency. Research shows that the more tasks you try to tackle at once, the less efficiently they will be completed. Because the goal of multitasking is to improve efficiency, this is very counterproductive.

Consistent multitasking can really wipe a person out, which further hinders your progress. The added stress can lead to:

  • Burnout (being exhausted from the constant heavy workload)

  • Inability to problem-solve

  • Inability for critical thinking

  • Inhibition of abstract thinking

It is impossible to fully apply yourself to a job if you attempt to multitask, as it can wear down on your mind and body. In this state, you will become far less efficient that you would be if you tackled one at a time.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that multitasking is not sustainable for several reasons. Some of these are subsequent brain impairments, decreased work quality, and reduced efficiency. Though it may be good in theory, multitasking will cause more harm than good.

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The Pomodoro Technique: The Key to Effective Time Management

The Pomodoro Technique: The Key to Effective Time Management

The Pomodoro Technique: The Key to Effective Time Management

Introduction

In literature and online, there are a plethora of techniques, tips, and tricks to boost time management. Efficiency is the ultimate goal when you are completing any given task, and the Pomodoro Technique is a notorious method to achieve it.

The Pomodoro Technique asserts that working with time, rather than against it, can help you successfully complete tasks. In this case, a pomodoro refers to a concentrated work session. The steps of this method are as follows:

  1. Select a task

  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes

  3. Work exclusively on the task until time is up

  4. Take a break for 5 minutes

  5. For every 4 pomodoros, take an extended break to do something not related to the task at hand (usually 15-30 minutes)

This work-break alternation is an excellent way to maximize productivity, as well as keep your thoughts and work organized.

The Many Benefits of the Pomodoro Technique

Getting the Most of It

Using this technique is founded in maximizing productivity. It claims three core concepts for gaining the most out of your pomodoros:

  1. Combine smaller tasks into one pomodoro

    1. These should be simple tasks that can be performed in short amounts of time

  2. If a task requires more than 4 pomodoros, separate them into different sessions

    1. This helps maintain steady progress

  3. Strictly follow pomodoro time limits

    1. Each 25-minute work session must be uninterrupted by external stimuli, including those from your phone

Even if you complete your pomodoro before the timer goes off, use the remaining time to review what you have done and expand on your thought process—do not begin your break early or start another task.

Reasons for Effectiveness

This technique has been known to reduce procrastination because it:

  • Breaks down large or multiple tasks down into manageable steps

    • It makes them easier to surmount and helps establish time blocks in which to accomplish these objectives

  • It also helps reduce distractions

    • Having the 25-minute dedicated pomodoros can actually train your brain to improve its focus and block out potential hinders to productivity

      • This is particularly useful in modern times, when our phones are a constant and major source of interruption

Additionally, the technique helps you get an accurate estimation of how long tasks will take. It is easy to over or underestimate the amount of time spent on work or other activities, so creating a block schedule for yourself is a great way to have a visual and concrete map of your daily tasks.

Conclusion

The Pomodoro Technique is a tried-and-true time management method that uses simple steps to increase productivity. By setting a specific schedule for yourself that is broken down into smaller tasks, you have all the tools you need to be a more efficient worker.

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