Mind Tricks For Better Productivity 2 – Four Ways To Relax Your Mind To Boost Productivity


[This is 10th chapter in the #ProductivityHacks series currently running on Trak.in]

In the last chapter of mind trick series, we had discussed how we can fool our minds into better productivity by using structured procrastination and by taking our work into the coffee shop. Before writing that post, I had myself experimented with these methods, found them to be amazingly effective.

In the movie “3 Idiots”, you may remember the scene where Aamir Khan tells his room-mates to keep assuring your heart, “All is well.. All is well” by thumping your chest with fists.

This method actually works, as it reassures our heart that everything is fine, and keep on doing what you are doing. This mind trick series is almost just like that; reassuring and reaffirming our minds that there is no fear or danger and we can function normally.

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It has been observed that loss of productivity happens when we are surrounded by fear, uncertainty and doubts. When such circumstances arise, we are crippled with indecision, delaying the most important tasks and procrastinating. These mind tricks help us to overcome this state of indecision by infusing more courage, more ideas and hence subsequently, more productivity.

In this part of mind tricks, we shall discuss 4 more methods which can help us relax our minds, and thereby generating even more productivity:


Power Nap

Rosalind Cartwright, chairman of the department of psychology at Rush University, and Dr. Alon Avidan, the associate director of the sleep disorders program at UCLA conducted several experiments, which led to some interesting discoveries regarding sleep disorder and the effect of a short power nap in the middle of day.

They noted that between 1 PM and 3 PM in the afternoon, a nap of 15 to 20 minutes can greatly improve our productivity as it induces more creativity, imagination and ideas.

But caution should be taken to limit this nap only between 15 and 20 minutes:

“The longer you nap, the more likely you are to wake up from deep sleep, leading you to feel confused and groggy. Also, if you sleep too late in the day, the tendency would be to get into the first deep sleep of the night from which you would wake groggy and grouchy.”

National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep for every adult, and any lack of that bring serious complications to the human mind.

Source: http://rosalindcartwright.com/ and http://www.sleepfoundation.org/

Listen to Music You Hate

Whenever you enter a mall or a hyper market, you are greeted with music. Ever wondered why? It is because listening to your favorite music releases a harmone called dopamine, which makes you feel good and lively. Hence, you can shop more.

But this is opposite to productivity!

Once you start feeling good by the dopamine effect, you will delay the important tasks and start procrastinating. In addition to that, if your favorite music has words in them, then the language centers of the brain gets activated, further delaying the important tasks at hand as you start understanding and comprehending the meaning of the words.

Hence, scientists suggest listening to ‘unfamiliar’ music to increase productivity. Better, listen to music which you actually hate.

FocusAtWill is a wonderful blog, which does experiments on Music and Science, and as per them, “The single most important factor to consider when choosing a genre is what kind of music you usually listen to for fun and entertainment when you are not trying to be productive. And then, counter-intuitively, it’s best to select the very opposite kind of music…. Why? Because your brain gets pleasure, releasing dopamine when it hears music you like and listen to a lot, and music that is associated with good times or strong memories of any kind will reduce the focus enhancing effects when used as a productivity tool. So if you never listen to classical music, try it for this, and the opposite is true, if you always listen to jazz, then try the ambient channel.”

Hence, next time you are feeling unproductive, just start the music which you hate and start watching your productivity skyrocket to unprecedented levels!

Lighting and Temperature: The Workplace Environment

Getting up early is often advised by Productivity Gurus for improvement. Ever wondered why?

Yes, your mind is fresh and the ideas come zooming in during that time. But one very important reason for getting up early is that, our eyes will get more exposure to sun-light, which is infact one very solid reason for productivity.

In several experiments, it has been found that our productivity levels drop down alarmingly when we are forced to work under artificial lights. [Source]

The environment around us plays a major part in determining our productivity levels. Lighting and temperature should be regulated and experimented for best productivity.

In another temperature related experiment, it was found that “When temperatures were low (68 degrees or 20 degrees Celsius) employees made 44% more mistakes than at optimal room temperature (77 degrees or 25 degrees Celsius)” [Source]

Yes, these experiments were conducted under controlled environmental conditions, but the results suggest us that workplace conditions and the temperature and lighting regulation does impact our work results. No single thumb of rule may apply here, but you should yourself experiment out different conditions and find out the optimal conditions for more work and better productivity.

Personally, I have observed that working in natural light and somewhat cold climate boosts my productivity; may be it has to do something with my astrological sign which is dominated by Moon; A different topic, which we will research later.

[Other sources: 1, 2]

See pictures of cute animals: The Power of Kawaii

Kawaii is a Japanese word meaning “Cute”. Scientists at Hiroshima University in Japan conducted a very famous experiment wherein students were required to do a task involving their creativity before and after viewing pictures of cute animals.

Surprisingly, after watching the images, their productivity increased 44% on an average basis.

Although they haven’t explained the exact things which goes inside our mind after watching cute cats and puppies, but it is strongly believed that this makes us alert and more creative.

As per the study, “Caring for babies (nurturance) not only involves tender treatments but also requires careful attention to the targets’ physical and mental states as well as vigilance against possible threats to the targets. If viewing cute things makes the viewer more attentive, the performance of a non-motor perceptual task would also be improved.”

[Source: Nittono H, Fukushima M, Yano A, Moriya H (2012) The Power of Kawaii: Viewing Cute Images Promotes a Careful Behavior and Narrows Attentional Focus. PLoS ONE 7(9): e46362. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046362]

May there is atleast some logic behind the insane popularity of cute cat and puppy pics all over the Web. Just go to Youtube and search for Cute Cat Pics. You will be amazed by the views of the videos they generate!

But I will say, this is a very viable and easy productivity hack for those, who wish to improve their performance and generate more output.

This concludes our mind trick series for better productivity.

A word of caution: These 6 productivity hacks should be performed in a limited quantity. You should keep a tab on the time spent on everyone of these methods, as they can easily make you comfortable and in place of improving productivity, it can actually decrease it. For example 15 to 20 minutes of nap is quite beneficial. But if you stretch it to 2 hours, then your whole day is wasted. Listening to unfamiliar music is good; but after some time, if you start enjoying the same, then it will cripple your productivity. Watching cute cats is fine, but not if you start opening 10 videos at a time, and watch each and every video to the end.

Hence, be responsible while attempting these productivity hacks!

Previous Chapters in “#ProductivityHacks For An Entrepreneur” Series

  1. Understanding Importance of Time
  2. The Morning Activities
  3. The Four Step Plan
  4. Creating; Managing & Optimizing Lists
  5. Mastering Art of Collecting Information
  6. The Science of Creating a Process Out of Chaos
  7. How To Complete A Project Successfully
  8. The 6 Stage Model of Reviewing Your Productivity
  9. How To Fool Our Mind To Boost Productivity

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