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You probably don’t want to admit it but you love distractions. In fact, just like monkeys, you get a shot of dopamine every time something pulls you in another direction. Why do you think you check your email so much?

Want to be more productive and get your focus back? There are no secret tricks here… do one thing at a time. Stop multitasking its just another form of distraction.

Easier said than done, I know.

Recently I sat down with Tony Wong, a project management blackbelt whose client list includes Toyota, Honda, and Disney, to name a few. He’s an expert in keeping people on task, so I thought he’d be a good person to ask.

 

Here are his tips for staying productive:

  • Work backwards from goals to milestones to tasks. Writing “launch company website” at the top of your to-do list is a sure way to make sure you never get it done. Break down the work into smaller and smaller chunks until you have specific tasks that can be accomplished in a few hours or less: Sketch a wireframe, outline an introduction for the homepage video, etc. That’s how you set goals and actually succeed in crossing them off your list.
  • Stop multi-tasking. No, seriously-;stop. Switching from task to task quickly does not work. In fact, changing tasks more than 10 times in a day makes you dumber than being stoned. When you’re stoned, your IQ drops by five points. When you multitask, it drops by an average of 10 points, 15 for men, five for women (yes, men are three times as bad at multitasking than women).
  • Be militant about eliminating distractions. Lock your door, put a sign up, turn off your phone, texts, email, and instant messaging. In fact, if you know you may sneak a peek at your email, set it to offline mode, or even turn off your Internet connection. Go to a quiet area and focus on completing one task.
  • Schedule your email. Pick two or three times during the day when you’re going to use your email. Checking your email constantly throughout the day creates a ton of noise and kills your productivity.
  • Use the phone. Email isn’t meant for conversations. Don’t reply more than twice to an email. Pick up the phone instead.
  • Work on your own agenda. Don’t let something else set your day. Most people go right to their emails and start freaking out. You will end up at inbox-zero, but accomplish nothing. After you wake up, drink water so you rehydrate, eat a good breakfast to replenish your glucose, then set prioritized goals for the rest of your day.
  • Work in 60 to 90 minute intervals. Your brain uses up more glucose than any other bodily activity. Typically you will have spent most of it after 60-90 minutes. (That’s why you feel so burned out after super long meetings.) So take a break: Get up, go for a walk, have a snack, do something completely different to recharge. And yes, that means you need an extra hour for breaks, not including lunch, so if you’re required to get eight hours of work done each day, plan to be there for 9.5-10 hours.

Author: Ilya Pozin
Source: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2DLdeK/www.inc.com/ilya-pozin/7-things-highly-productive-people-do.html/?_notoolbar&_nospa=true

Categorized in Science & Tech

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.comsaid: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

 

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.

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A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice. The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

“We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence

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A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.

Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.”

 

When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

As Herman Melville once wrote, “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.

Silence relieves stress and tension.

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It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

 

A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech.

“This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.

Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.

Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.

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The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

 

Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise. 

Summation

Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

Source:  lifehack.org

Categorized in Others

When a business loses momentum, it loses one of its greatest advantages. Here are five things that can stop your business dead in its tracks.

When you’re a growing business, momentum is invaluable.

It keeps your team looking forward, and thinking big. It feeds that buzz in the room – the one that isn’t directly related to the pile of crumpled coffee cups. It makes working till sunrise feel like the only decent thing to do.

In short, momentum gives your business its all-important mojo.

And you really don’t want to lose it. After all, about a third of new employers crash and burn within their first two years.

 

So, take heed. Here are five certified mojo killers that, given the opportunity, could seriously sap your business momentum.

1. Expanding too fast.

Growth may be your ultimate goal, but excessive, unchecked growth? That can actually put the brakes on your business – by destroying the things that, right now, makes it special: its culture, its values, its all-hands-on-deck mentality.

 

Top tip: As your business begins to take off, do make sure you’ve the right skills and managerial support in place – but don’t rush into hiring decisions. Every new recruit should complement and reinforce your culture. Also, take the time to regularly check your course, getting everyone together to review your shared vision and values.

2. Failing to trust your team.

If you don’t trust your people to deliver on their own, you risk making them less engaged in your business’s heroic struggle. You also risk wasting your time – time that should be spent on much more important stuff. This is a problem that’ll only worsen as your company grows.

Top tip: Share the responsibility for success with each new person you employ. Be transparent, trusting and communicative. Your people will feel empowered, happier and more motivated, and your business will feel the benefit of them firing on all cylinders – producing ideas and approaches you’d never have thought of by yourself.

3. Setting only long-term goals. 

When you launch a new product, top a thousand customers, or reach a revenue milestone, everyone feels the adrenalin kick. Those little kicks are essential to keep your business barreling forward. Super long-term, vague or non-existent goals leave people drifting, and put a slow but lethal drain on your mojo.

Top tip: One of the joys of being small is that it’s easy to communicate objectives, and keep everyone buzzing about meeting them. In addition to building momentum, setting short-term goals in each key business area – and sharing them with your team – will do two great things:

  • It’ll force you to find ways to evaluate the performance of everything you do – be it sales activity or marketing campaigns
  • It’ll keep you tweaking and perfecting your strategy

4. Taking your eyes off the customer.

Staying customer-focused sounds simple enough. But in reality, “ignoring customers” accounts for the failure of more than one in every ten startups.

 

Top tip: Regularly review the problem you’re helping your customers solve, and the factors – economic, social, political or technological – that can affect it. At the same time, look for related problems that you might, one day, be able to help with, too.

5. Resting on your laurels.

After a flying start, it can be tempting to take your foot off the gas – letting your business coast, while you serve your suddenly sizable customer base. Those laurels may be comfy, but resist resting on them for long. It’s vital to keep taking risks, and seizing opportunities.

Top tip: Staying full of momentum, and mojo, means staying hungry. Unless you’re reaching the absolute limit of what your business systems and resources can handle – and you’ve no way to upscale fast – you should keep marketing, innovating and driving growth.

Don’t stop ‘til you get enough. (And don’t stop then, either.)

Create the right conditions and momentum will come as naturally to your business as a rock rolling downhill. And that will keep you rolling on, even when – as every business does – you hit unexpected bumps in the road.

Source: forbes.com

Categorized in Business Research

While announcements regarding Android, self-driving cars and Google Fiber get more publicity, nothing has arguably been more important to Google's business than the improvements the company has been making to its mobile search engine and the search ads that run against mobile queries. Parent Alphabet's (GOOGL) second-quarter results show those improvements are still paying huge dividends.

Three months after selling off on a first-quarter miss, Alphabet is up over 4% after handily beating analyst estimates. Revenue rose 21% annually (25% excluding forex) to $21.5 billion, an improvement from the first quarter's 17% growth. Adjusted EPS rose 20%, to $8.42.

The sales growth pickup was fueled by a 21% increase in Google segment revenue to $21.3 billion. That, in turn, was driven by a 24% increase in Google sites ad revenue to $15.4 billion -- mobile search and YouTube are behind most of the growth -- and a 33% increase in "Google other" revenue, which covers businesses such as Google Play and Nexus and Chromecast hardware lines, to $2.2 billion. The Google network sites business, which sells ads on third-party sites and has been stung by Facebook's rapid ad sales growth, grew just 3%, to $3.7 billion.

Google's paid clicks -- the number of ad clicks or views on which the company recorded revenue -- rose 29% annually for the second quarter in a row. Paid clicks on Google sites rose an impressive 37% thanks to strong mobile search and YouTube ad growth; paid clicks for network sites were flat.

A shift toward mobile search and YouTube ads is still coming at the cost of lower ad prices: Cost per click fell 7%, courtesy of a 9% drop on Google sites and an 8% drop on network sites. But it only fell 1% sequentially, and the annual drop is better than the first quarter's 9% and the fourth quarter's 13%.

 

Restrained spending under CFO Ruth Porat remains the other big driver of Alphabet's strong financial performance. Adjusted operating expenses rose 15% annually, easily trailing revenue growth of 21%. And capital expenditures fell 16%, to $2.1 billion, which (along with revenue growth) helped free cash flow rise 53%, to $7 billion. Capex will probably start rising again soon, given Google's infrastructure needs, but for now it's a major tailwind.

"There's a story where basically the revenue went up, the expenses went down dramatically -- that was really really fabulous," said Jim Cramer, TheStreet's founder and manager of the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio, which owns Alphabet.

Google's strong ad growth wouldn't be possible if not for the investments it has made to make sure its search services remain a valuable utility to consumers in an app-dominated smartphone landscape. Those efforts include optimizing results based on location and device type, indexing the content of mobile apps and even (through its AMP initiative) improving the performance of third-party mobile web pages. Many of those efforts leverage Google's unmatched search data and machine learning algorithms; on the earnings call, Google chief Sundar Pichai said over 100 Google teams are using machine learning.

The growth also wouldn't be possible without improvements made to Google's core AdWords search ad platform. Over the past year, the changes have included creating more effective shopping and travel ad formats, letting mobile users pay for advertised items on Google's site, supporting larger ad headlines and descriptions, allowing ads to be customized based on location and providing a better interface for marketers running AdWords campaigns.

One weak spot in the second-quarter report: Traffic acquisition costs rose as a percentage of revenue for both Google sites and network ad sales. That was attributed to mobile search growth -- Google is believed to make considerable payments to Apple (AAPL) for the right to be the default search engine for Mobile Safari, and lesser payments to carriers and Android manufacturers -- and growing adoption of programmatic (automated) ad-buying platforms by advertisers.

Also, Alphabet's "Other Bets" reporting segment, which covers businesses such as Google Fiber, the Nest/Dropcam smart home unit, the Calico anti-aging drug unit, and Alphabet's self-driving car efforts, reported an $859 million operating loss, up 30% annually. Revenue, much of which is believed to come from Nest/Dropcam, rose 150%, but still only amounted to $185 million.

 

But for now, markets are willing to give Alphabet a pass for the losses incurred by Other Bets' long-term projects. At least while Google's core business keeps defying the law of large numbers and making mobile monetization fears look quite misplaced.

On Friday morning, Alphabet shares were trading up 3.9% to $795.64.

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13657296/4/mobile-search-and-youtube-are-letting-alphabet-defy-the-law-of-large-numbers.html

Categorized in Others

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