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Psyching yourself out

Open Loops: Your Central Nervous System: Your Biological Key to Productivity

Interesting article on ways to jumpstart your brain into action by changing something physical.

By mimicking the sympathetic reactions to a threatening environment (sitting up straight, standing, moving quickly, deeper breathing), it appears to be possible to activate the sympathetic system, which then takes over.  We are ready to act, or in our case, be productive.  We can also change our environment to one that causes the sympathetic system to activate, one that is more spartan, threatening, or simply uncomfortable.  The result?  We take action.  We are more productive.

This doesn’t surprise me a bit, and if it’s all true, it might confirm my hunch that sitting still and staring at a screen all day is a recipe for lethargy, lame thinking, and productivity inertia.

One trick that works for me is to unhook the sitting/desk/computer triad as a necessary combination for accomplishing what I need to do. On unproductive days, I try to shake myself away from even one piece of that combination: walk around, take the laptop to a coffee shop or—best of all—pretend that my time at the computer is very precious (instead of theoretically unlimited as it often is). Maybe play a mental game where I pretend I’m getting on a plane in 30 minutes, or some equivalent.

For some reason, changing just one or two factors about my approach, my setup, my assumptions, or my schedule—even if I know it’s just a self-imposed psych-out—can be just the jolt I need to get things happening.

Got a psych-out trick—physical or otherwise—that helps you get out of a productivity slump?

[Link: Lifehacker]

Zak's picture

Hilarious. I just posted a stick-it...


I just posted a stick-it note to my screen that says "Do you really need to be staring at the computer right now?"

I find that I get sucked into the computer, and it can take an act of will to pull me out. Of course, I need to look at it work, but when I decide to surf to take a break, then it's all-computer-all-the-time, and my brain and my eyes both start getting dulled. The trap is that it's hard to recognize this, and even if you do you (I) end up saying "I'll just make this one last tweak to Quicksilver/DevonThink/my blog" or "I'll just read this one more article on the NYT or Wired," and in the end you don't get the refreshment for your brain provided by stepping away from the computer and looking at things that don't glow.

So, a stick-it note on the monitor to remind me to ask the most important question: "Do I really need to be looking at this screen right now"?

(I was going to email Merlin with this hack when I saw this post)




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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