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7 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR BRAIN MORE PRODUCTIVE TODAY 1. RECOGNIZE THAT YOUR WILLPOWER CAN BE USED UP Your willpower that keeps you from eating all the cookies in one sitting takes practice. Just like a muscle that can be trained through time, your willpower needs to recover. And like going to the gym, your willpower cant go on endlessly- hence why you may be tempted to eat a bowl of ice cream after you just finished your first grueling workout. The two ways we spend our willpower is exercising self-control and by making decisions. The harder the decision and the larger the amount of self-control required will easily sap your willpower by the end of the day and the combination of both can be exhausting5. 2. WRITE OUT A REALISTIC LIST FOR TODAY- AND JUST TODAY Writing a realistic list in the morning, when your brain is considered freshly alert, will make you more productive. Make sure its what you can actually accomplish and not filled with pie-in-the-sky ideas. This is one of the easiest ways to keep you and your brain on task. 3. PLAN FUTURE BREAKS BEFORE STARTING Doing shorter bursts of work will make sure you dont wear out too fast. Taking a break will motivate you to get more done if you know a break is coming soon and will make you more productive when you return, more than if you just worked all the way through. Setting an alarm is often recommended for around 52 minutes at a time, and then take a break for 17 minutes4. Taking breaks will help you finish the same project faster. 4. START SOMETHING YOU DONT HAVE TIME TO FINISH- SERIOUSLY Starting a task even if you are interrupted will make you more inclined to finish it. Human brains are wired to finish things and your unconscious will actually make you more focused if you actually start a project than if you just think about starting it. The Zeigarnik Effect3, as its called, shows how even if you are interrupted all day, you will be more determined to finish than if you didnt start at all. Your unconscious will quietly push you into finishing it. 5. STOP CHECKING YOUR PHONE Doing small things, like checking your text messages, can trick your brain into thinking its accomplished something worthwhile, even if you logically know you didnt. These distractions can trick your brain into releasing the euphoria of accomplishment that should be the mental reward for completing something. Your brain knows that doing some small distracting task will give it that rewarding chemical of an accomplishment high, and will try to detract you from doing your goal. Fight the urge and stick to your work! 6. STOP MULTITASKING Multitasking isnt for everyone- or most people. Some people are excellent at bouncing in between multiple things at the same time, but most people do a lot of things really badly. Fast isnt always better. A study released back in 2009 tracking human cognition showed that instead of doing multiple things at the same time, we switch between tasks extremely quickly. This is partly the reason why texting and driving isnt considered the best plan. 7. GET A GOOD NIGHTS SLEEP TONIGHT Sleep- actually sleep. Make sure to avoid your TV, computer, or phone for about an hour beforehand. The blue light emitted from your phone, your laptop, LED lights, and your TV suppresses the natural melatonin in your body, keeping you from getting the best sleep possible. Why the fuss? After all, youll survive, right? Maybe not. A decent nights sleep helps you make decisions- like when to merge into traffic1. It helps you form memories, helps you make new connections between two ideas, clears out the toxins of your brain, and helps you do physical tasks. The best thing, out of everything possible that you can do to be more productive and healthier long term, is get a better nights sleep. SOURCES: 1healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences/sleep-performance-and-public-safety 2American Psychology Association apa.org/helpcenter/willpower-limited-resource. 3.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/09/science-tells-you-how-many-minutes-should-you-take-a-break-for-work-17/380369/ 4news.health.com/2015/09/18/workday-breaks-help-employees-reboot-researchers-say/ 52012/08/16/zeigarnik-effect-clever-business-spielberg-lucas-rowling-all-use-it-unfinished-uncompleted-cliffhangers-its-need-for-closure/ http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences/sleep-performance-and-public-safetyhttps://www.apa.org/helpcenter/willpower-limited-resource.pdfhttp://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/09/science-tells-you-how-many-minutes-should-you-take-a-break-for-work-17/380369/http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/09/science-tells-you-how-many-minutes-should-you-take-a-break-for-work-17/380369/file:///C:/Users/aschmearer/Desktop/Newsletter/2016%20Newsletters/April-May/healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences/sleep-performance-and-public-safetyfile:///C:/Users/aschmearer/Desktop/Newsletter/2016%20Newsletters/April-May/healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences/sleep-performance-and-public-safety