Brainy Productivity Hacks

While the world at large rewards the hustle of getting things done and go, go, go, the world at large has also created an environment that rewards the attention span of a gnat. How can we retrain our brains to return to a state of flow and productivity to break the bad habits of too many tabs and “where was I?” and “Ooh, shiny!”

We’re huge admirers of the work of Anne-Laure Le Cunff at Ness Labs, so we consulted her extensive articles on mindful productivity to put together a quick reference guide for you.  

The Ten Minute Rule

Ever felt less and less productive as you kept working on a project or some other form of work, and then just stopped altogether? The 10-minute rule is a tried-and-tested way to avoid this, as your brain wants to do what is “good now, rather than what feels better later.” 

You essentially need to trick your brain into thinking you’re starting a new task every 10 minutes to keep it engaged (which is why it’s easiest to digest information in lists or steps vs. walls of paragraphs). Start working in intervals of 10 minutes, so work on a project for 10, then do jumping jacks for 10, then work on your to-do list for 10. There is no obligation to stick to 10 minutes once you get ‘in a zone’ and go over it — what you want to pay attention to is when you begin to lose your pacing, because it’s time to move to a new task.

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Is it Too Late?

One thing that may keep you in your slump is the idea of lateness. Sometimes you feel like you’ve put something off for so long, maybe it’s just not worth doing anymore. You’ve lost your chance and it’s too late. 

Time anxiety is significant, and the closer a deadline approaches, the larger your looming sense of “not wanting to” becomes. Time anxiety is the fear of wasting your time, using your minutes meaninglessly and not spending every moment being productive. So instead of actually using time the way you should, you worry about wasting time instead. What there is to do is start!

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Writing as a Thinking Tool

Putting your thoughts down on paper is a method that helps you see things in a more concrete way, which is why we’re often told of the benefits of brain mapping and journaling. It puts your ideas into the tangible, physical world where they can be examined and more easily executed.

Since we also consume so much content, it’s useful to write about the things that stay with us, as they can support those core ideas and help us to see things from 40,000 feet. There are various methods for this (including Building a Second Brain), and Ness Labs has some interesting thought-starters to help you organize your ideas.

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Eisenhower’s Method of Prioritization 

U.S. President Eisenhower was an accomplished man, and his method for productivity is one of the simplest and most effective. 

First, it’s critical to understand the difference between important and urgent: Important tasks are ones that bring you closer to your overall goals, and urgent tasks are ones that need to be finished before an impending deadline, with consequences if not completed. 

This method requires you to divide your tasks into 4 different categories: important and urgent tasks, unimportant and urgent, important and not urgent, unimportant and not urgent.

This leads you to dividing your tasks, finishing them in the order of categories above. This helps with effective prioritization and productivity with focus on the most critical items. 

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Burnout vs Boreout

We hear much about burnout and its various causes, but what about “Boreout?” The cranky sister of burnout, boreout is a lack of interest in your work and life, leading to deep exhaustion. Where burnout typically stems from overstimulation or overdoing it, boreout is the slippery slope down from that peak. It is the understimulation of your work, when you find no joy in it anymore, and nothing inside it to keep you engaged and motivated. 

Instead of fully depleting the love for your purpose and craft, it’s important to slow down and focus more time on efforts you believe in, and learn to say no and yes to the right things for you. 

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Global Round-Up is our Friday collection of interesting tidbits and tools from around the globe, curated to support women founders as they scale their ideas.

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