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Psychologists’ secrets to productivity

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in Centerpiece,Time Management

“If you plan to do an unrealistic number of tasks, you’ll end up dreading the day ahead,” psychologist Alice Boyes writes. “Before I get out of bed, I mentally identify one important task that I will judge the day’s success by. I prioritize this task and any small but critical time-sensitive tasks.”

Boyes reached out to her peers to get their best tips on how to beat procrastination and maximize productivity. Here’s what they had to say:

• Do what works for you. There’s an abundance of advice on how to be more productive, but you need to know yourself and pick what will work for you—even if it’s contrary to conventional wisdom, Barbara Markway says.

Walk away from your desk. Taking a five-minute break to get up from your desk and move around every hour or two can go a long way toward boosting your concentration, Susan Newman says.

Make time to exercise. “Stress leads to binary (either/or) thinking, distractibility and procrastination,” Craig Malkin says. “Taking time to reduce stress enhances productivity by keeping you sharp and boosting your capacity for creative problem-solving.”

Work in chunks. “I’m most productive if I think in terms of getting a task done as opposed to spending a set amount of time on it,” Toni Bern­­­hard says. “Most people allocate a certain amount of time to a task; I do the opposite. I break the task down into doable chunks and then work until that chunk is done.”

Take care of small tasks. Little tasks left undone can nag at you for days, so just take care of them and free up your cognitive resources to handle more important things, Guy Winch says.

Write a first draft without worrying about quality. If you’re feeling paralyzed by writer’s block, just get your thoughts down in a rough form. Then you can come back later and make them sound good, Meg Selig says.

Cut yourself off from the Internet. “There’s a fabulous Firefox plug-in called Freedom that prevents your computer from connecting to the Internet for a programmed period, thereby removing temptation and allowing you to focus,” Beth Buelow says. “If completely going off the grid is too limiting (or too scary), LeechBlock is another handy tool that allows you to block specific sites at certain times.”

— Adapted from “15 Psychology Experts Share Their Best Productivity Tips,” Alice Boyes, Psychology Today.

Online resource: Here are some more ways to help boost your productivity.

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