The science of productivity

productivity photo: productivity productivity_zpsea7599bd.jpg

You need to understand some things about the science of productivity to move forward. I have a few questions for you.

    Do you fear how hard your next project will be?
  • Are you so unproductive that you feel worthless?
  • Do you multitask a lot? How good are you at multitasking?
  • Do you think you would need to undergo a mental makeover to finish your work on time and do a good job?
  • If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you need to watch this video. In fact, I’d even recommend that you watch it if you answered no to all four of them, because its only a few minutes long. The solutions to these problems might be a lot easier than what you think.

    It was recommended that you come up with an accountability chart. Something I would add to that is an accountability buddy. This is where you would find a friend who works on the same things as you do. Remember that it could be a personal goal like losing weight, or if you and your friend are working on some project for work – there are no limits. So if you and your friend are both writers, share with each other what you wrote about on any day that you’re supposed to write. If either of you fail at your goal, ask for an honest answer why, and there should be some kind of consequence for it. A real life example given in the writer’s digest was that if you slacked off instead of writing, you had to make a donation to your least favorite political cause.

    The procrastination problem

    Procrastination is a common reason why people are unproductive. We all procrastinate, and to become less of one you should first realize that there isn’t much at stake. This guy will explain it further.

    Not all unproductive people don’t know what they shouldn’t be doing. Maybe there is something along the lines of writer’s block that is stopping you from coming up with feasible solutions to whatever problems you are facing. It could also be that your own work space needs to be adjusted.

    Is the Starbucks Diet a realistic way to lose weight?

    Redesigned logo used from 2011-present.

    Redesigned logo used from 2011-present. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Starbucks and other coffee chains are known for high priced premium drinks with high calories and other goodies that you generally wouldn’t expect someone to buy if they’re trying to lose weight, or save money.

    But there is a women who recently lost a lot of weight by choosing to eat all of her meals at this large chain. She admitted that most people couldn’t lose weight from the diet because most people would get bored from what limited choices they have to eat, and we all know about the money issue. But coffee is better for your health than previously thought, and it can help keep your appetite under control without adding many calories (as many fluids can.) There are conflicting studies, and right now it sounds like its good for you in moderation only.

    If you eat something with butter at such a place, you can add some cinnamon to it which they often times have (it is a healthy substance with antioxidants and can assist with weight loss.) Otherwise you could go to the grocery store and buy cinnamon sugar butter. I personally don’t feel comfortable eating a meal that isn’t varied, or the same foods all of the time. This is part of making sure that eating is fun and enjoyable. You can’t rely on highly processed foods so much for that short term, feel good experience. Foods with are heavily processed such as pop, candy, and hot dogs help to spoil your taste buds and don’t allow you to enjoy natural foods as much. You’re kind of like a lab rat if you eat lots of processed foods.

    I don’t recommend choosing a full blown “Starbucks Diet”* but just so you know, refills at this place only cost 54 cents (at least where I live, in Minnesota.) At most Caribou Coffee’s, refills are free. If you bring in a snack of your own like a healthy trail or nut mix, you can spend time at these places socializing or working at a very minimal price. Coffee shop sounds are said to boost your creativity.

    *I don’t even recommend “dieting” in general, as this word implies something you only do in the short run. It also makes the task of losing weight sound like a big chore.

    Overcoming writer’s block

    Some related terms which mean the same thing or almost the same thing include creative block, musician’s block, and artist’s block.

    writers block photo: writers block writersblock.jpg

    People who have a case of writer’s block have at least one or more of the following negative things going on : Procrastination / laziness, depression, a negative attitude (example – “I really do it anymore and that’s just the way it is”), and they stick to routines too often. Often times, people with this ‘condition’* won’t explore new avenues nearly as much as they should because they don’t realize the benefits of breaking routines, taking breaks, and looking at other creative works for ideas and inspiration. Exposure to new and interesting things helps to create new pathways in your brain, and you evolve as a person. This is almost common sense, but its a simple fact which seems to be forgotten too much.

    Come up with a list of things that amuse you, excite you, frighten you, make you happy, or any kind of strong emotion. Think of things that make you jealous. What is the point of this? Stronger emotions help us to take action, unless maybe something happens to us to cause these emotions. So rather than walk through the ghetto by yourself at night to take risks, it would be better to watch a movie that excites you (if you don’t do much of that already.) Doing this, in addition to something else you might not do such as reading an article from a magazine you’ve never considered looking at, is something which exposes you to different things which can give you ideas on what to create content about.

    There might be other things you need to do to defeat writer’s block, which is not a disease but a state of mind. Do you not have much of a life right now? Are you constantly around work, kids, and other demands? If you can’t put aside any time for just you, then getting rid of the block might be more than challenging. Also, consider all of the ways that you can help break your routine. This could be anything from taking a different route to work, shopping at a grocery store you’ve never shopped at for the sake of it, making a different kind of a meal, or brushing your teeth with the hand you wouldn’t usually use. Keep your attitude in check while you’re at it. Thoughts like I can’t come up with anything worthwhile can be replaced with  We all start somewhere! 

    What have you done so far to try and get over your block, before reading this post? Its probably not very effective, whatever it is. Bringing new stimuli into your life isn’t necessarily everything. If video games, social media, and other addictive online habits were taken away from you, could that help? Write down some of your own non-productive hobbies and habits and promise yourself that you’ll give that up for a while. Be specific about when you’re allowed to go back to it, so that you’ll take your written goal seriously.

    A very quick guide to setting goals

    goals photo: 2013 Goals 2013goals.png

    Maybe you’ve heard before that writing down the goals you want to achieve makes it more likely that you’ll achieve them. If you’ve never even heard that, then you are without a doubt on the right website. Setting goals is easier than completing them, but it is a fundamental step.

    Lets say that you meet a morbidly obese senior citizen. This person might have stories to tell about how they’ve tried to lose weight in the past, and now they’re not trying anymore because they don’t have many years left. Little do they realize as they sip down their Pepsis (diet or not) that there still is hope, and there is no excuse to guzzle down a substance which was designed to addict (so big companies can profit at your expense.) People make excuses not to do good things time and again. If this fact of life weren’t true, we could be socially and technologically ahead by the equivalent of hundreds of years.

    Not only should you write your goals down, they should be realistic and reasonably challenging. They can’t be too easy or too hard. If you’re really fat and you have a goal to lose 15 pounds within one year, this is too easy. If your goal is to lose 40 pounds in one month, this is could happen but the issue would be that its too dangerous, more than it is too hard. So you’ve got to be honest with yourself when asking if its a good challenge or not.

    The goal needs to be measurable. If your goal is to have “a beach body that girls will love” by the start of next summer, its a good start but its way too vague. You need to quantify the goals with something like “I want to bench press 225 pounds by next summer and I’ll get a free session with a personal trainer at the YMCA to start this.”

    Whatever it is you want to accomplish in life, find a way to quantify these goals. If your goal is to get a four year degree in chemistry, this is pretty specific but you need to know what is necessary to achieve it. It would be better if you wrote down what career you planned on getting into instead. Time and money spent in college should be for purely practical reasons, rather than for any ego at all. Career assessment tools can help you figure out what would be a good path for you.

    You should write in a journal about your progress, steps you’ve taken, things you plan on doing next, set backs, as well as different thoughts / feelings you get on your journey. Something important to know is you’ve got to positively set goals. Although its “positive” to not yell at coworkers, this isn’t whats meant by that. You need to take out words like “don’t”, “no”, “stop”, etc and replace them with Yes/Do statements.

    Think of your own brain as a big lump of clay which needs daily molding to get into the kind of shape you want it to be in. Every decision you make becomes a part of who you are, and as that chunk of clay in your head gets older it will gradually get harder to mold. What projects have you been longing to start? Write it as a comment below.

    Easy portion control

    You’ve probably heard the term “portion control” before- weight loss lingo for controlling how much you eat. Doesn’t it sound stressful and boring to sit there and count up calories for every meal you eat? There are lots of available diet plans which you could read about in magazines and other publications but wouldn’t it be nice to have a cool alternative to that which will always be handy? (as long as you’ve got an internet connection)

    English: Cheeseburger 20 years ago had 333 cal...

    English: Cheeseburger 20 years ago had 333 calories well a modern cheeseburger contains 590 calories. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    In this post I’ll tell you about a website that’s free to use. Its called Eat this much , and is described as an automatic diet planner. You enter in the number of calories you want to consume over the course of the next 1-3 meals and it will bring up results of healthy meals with whatever amount of calories you specified! If you’re not pleased with the results of one meal (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) or if you don’t like the results of all the meals, you’ve got a refresh option for it to pick something else for you.

    So if you ever dread walking into a grocery store because you’re not sure how much time you’ll be spending in there, that awesome website should help you immensely. And of course, such a tool will allow you to achieve your fitness goals sooner rather than later. With the help of such tools I hope that tedious meal planning becomes a thing of the past. Another  site worth mentioning has a Calorie Calculator  - you enter your age, weight, height, how often you exercise, and put down your weight loss goals. Then it tells you about how many calories you should eat per day to lose weight.

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    Are you losing weight too fast?

    If you’re overweight, its a common fantasy and obsession to lose it as fast as possible because they’re in a big hurry to look good, feel great, and impress their peers. Some people lose weight too slow (these are often people who give up on the dieting) and a smaller portion of people will lose it too fast. You should probably lose no more than several pounds per week.

    If you’re losing weight too fast (which is pretty dangerous), here are some symptoms you might experience.

    • You may be losing too much water weight. When you lose too much of this at a given time, it can lead to constipation and diarrhea. Not that you should freak out if you get diarrhea when trying to lose weight, there are other causes of this as well (example – maybe the clerk at the fast food restaurant didn’t wash his hands before preparing your food.)
    • Fatigue. You might feel as if your energy runs out too fast, and you could be more irritable. Performance at work or school might go downhill.
    • Malnutrition. If you’re not taking in enough good foods, or if you’re exercising too much, you won’t be getting all of the nutrients you need. Your body needs calories to function, and all kinds of problems can and will arise if you’re not getting a sufficient amount of vitamins A through Zinc. Some vitamins are associated with better moods and are antidepressants, so if you’re malnourished you might lose the drive to get in good shape really fast.
    • Worsened appearance. A lack of fat, water, and vitamins and make your skin dry, bones brittle, and your complexion may deteriorate. The goal is to look better, not worse.



    Spending lots of time online can make you mentally ill

    English: PET scan of a normal human brain

    A Swedish study claims that always being online will help you to develop mental illness. The study might sound very interesting to you before you read about it, and its likely to sound boring to the point where you’d call it “common sense” after you find out what the study has to say.

    There is a big correlation between internet addiction and problems such as stress, depression, and sleep disturbances. Most studies I read about teach me something new, but this one didn’t. I thought that maybe the radiation from computers or WiFi made it more likely you’d develop schizophrenia or Alzheimer’s (not to say that it doesn’t!). A more more enjoyable mention of this study can be found at Web Pro News. The link between online addiction and impulsiveness and procrastination is easy to understand. People who spend way too much time on the internet without any good reason were probably a little messed up to begin with, or if we lived in a world without the internet some other kind of unhealthy habit might take its place.

    English: PET scan of a human brain with Alzhei...

    English: PET scan of a human brain with Alzheimer’s disease (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    The ongoing development of technology helps make workers more productive, and at the same time it helps many of us become lazier in our own personal lives. You can figure that people who are impulsive and lazy will on average be more prone to depression and insecurity. One thing the study didn’t mention is that internet addicts and video game enthusiasts don’t get any thinner from their lifestyles. There are a lot of skinny nerds out there, but if you’re fat it doesn’t help to overuse such technology. Fat people should stop taking the easy way out so much, but who’s going to motivate them? If you love anyone who is overweight show them some love and get them off the couch. Being morbidly obese makes you seem a little bit insane (Why do they let themselves end up like that?)

    There is a possible link between too much belly fat and Alzheimer’s Disease.

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    When small changes in your diet make a big difference

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    “I’m fat, and there isn’t much I can do about it because of my age, genetics, busy lifestyle, etc” if you know anything about losing weight, you know that such a statement isn’t true. Easy, gradual weight loss is achievable through small changes in your diet. If you can eat healthy throughout the day while feeling satiated- that is, full and satisfied with the taste of the foods you eat, you’re definitely on the right track. People who feel uncomfortable with their diet at the end of the day will fail eventually, whether they realize it or not.

    Don’t let the “biggest losers” on TV fool you into thinking that its too hard to be fit.

    One of the big problems is the constant availability of junk foods. I would enjoy living in a town where the only grocery stores and restaurants available were organic / health food. McDonald’s and similar chains could do us all a favor (including themselves, for their own image) by having an organic menu. On this menu there would be grass fed beef, whole grain wheat bread, milk shakes made from organic milk or almond milk, etc. This menu would be a lot more expensive but they would attract a crowd of people who never eat at fast food chains. Imagine a bunch of yoga loving, latte sipping college graduates and fat welfare moms all enjoying their dinners in the same room.

    Education is the first step to losing weight naturally

    If you have yet to start making good changes in the foods you eat, whether its some lame excuse or general procrastination, you can stop postponing a healthy lifestyle right now by coming up with a plan. Read past articles on this blog and also consider checking out a book called Eat this, not that! where you can learn a lot about what kinds of foods you should avoid, and what to replace them with.

    What are some people saying about Eat this, not that?

    Happiness Gap: Are conservatives happier than liberals?

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    Wouldn’t it be nice to know which groups of people tend to be happier than others? According to Chris Mooney, conservatives are happier. This is not the first person or the first article to postulate this, and I have yet to see an article that says the opposite. One thing pointed out in this article is that religious people and married people are happier, and conservatives are more likely to be religious and get married than liberals. But you can’t just look at one thing like that to conclude why.

    Generalized personality traits of conservatives were compared with liberals, and republicans are said to be more extroverted, and more likely to have a fixed belief system than democrats.

    I doubt that Fox News had anything to do with this study, but Bill O’Reilly and his crew might have had an ego boost if they heard about it.

    When studies like this come out, its natural to think it must be political. And the person who writes such an article knows this, so they have to back their data up as best as they can. I tried Googling for a study which claimed liberals were happier than conservatives and I couldn’t find anything. Similar fascinating article: Is political philosophy biologically determined? It also talks about body language differences among libs and cons.

    I noticed a liberal blogger’s response to what Chris Mooney said, and his response and it seemed deeply flawed when he gave a couple of “examples” of bumper stickers that conservatives have.  (“Don’t Re-Nig in 2012″,  and “I earned it – You can’t have it”). I’ve seen The Amazing Atheist also imply that a racist attitude like this is typical of conservatives. Sam Seder examined this bumper sticker’s purpose a little deeper.

    I did a Google search for the happiness levels of blacks and whites, and a lot of articles were about studies which purported that blacks have become happier than whites over the past few decades. One study of interest said that black women were heavier, yet more satisfied with their bodies than white women. There are so many more happiness gaps to be studied and explained. Rich > Poor, Old > Young, etc etc.


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    So, readers… I’ve got a question for you now. Does this kind of information have any impact on your happiness? No? Are you sure? :-) A study doesn’t necessarily prove anything. The general regional differences could also have something to do with it if its true (there is more sunshine in southern states than this is in northern US states.)

    Eat your fruit, don’t drink it

    …Unless you add vegetables to it.

    orange juice with carrots and ginger

    I’ve experimented with mixing different juices and vegetables together. Sometimes it was a gross combination which didn’t taste good, and often times I made good judgments with the selection of fruits and veggies I chose to blend. As an example, the mixture of grape juice and romaine lettuce did not turn out good. I wouldn’t have done it if my thinking was a bit more clear that day, but trial and error is part of learning how to cook well. As I would have imagined, carrots and orange juice tasted better than orange juice and its also a guilt free drink to have because a lot of that sugar is diluted and there is more nutritional benefits than straight orange juice.

    I should point out the difference between a juicer and a blender. Its useful to have both of these at once, to give you a lot more options. A juicer extracts juice from fruits which are high in water content such as apples, citrus fruits, parsley, and pineapples. It is specifically good at separating chunks and residue from the fruits/veggies, while blenders are good for liquefying or shredding anything inside of the blender into one.

    So its good to stay away from fruit drinks which are high in sugar, but you must not forget that tasty, healthy smoothies can be drank on a regular basis to help you get all of the nutrition you need and more.