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Work smarter, not harder

3 ways to reach your big goals while hardly breaking a sweat.
By Aileen Santos |

In his book The Now Habit (A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play), Dr. Neil Fiore presents a proven plan especially designed to help people stick to their "big goals" and reach them. "Big goals" include those personal projects which we know are important to us, but which we sometimes never get around to actually implementing so that they can really take off--such as our dream business!

Interestingly enough, the foundation of Dr. Fiore\\\'s solutions have less to do with managing our time, and more to do with managing ourselves.

Instead of telling people to work harder, he presents psychologically-based techniques for using our brains to work smarter. Here are three of them:

1. Change your "I have to" to "I choose to" as well as your "I should" to "I will".

One reason many people procrastinate is that it\\\'s in our adult nature to not want having other people tell us what to do. Surprisingly, this truth applies even when we are the ones already telling ourselves what we\\\'re supposed to do. Our subconscious reaction is still to rebel, and "show them who\\\'s boss."

To get your own subconscious mind working for you, choose more empowered words to describe your tasks. Words like "I will" and "I want to" (e.g., "I want to get these business permits approved.") will shift your mindset from that of a "forced employee" into one of a "producer/owner," and motivate your brain to find solutions rather than reasons to do other things.

2. Aim for just 30 minutes each of FOCUSED OUTPUT each time.

Focused work means focused work: no distractions, no phone calls, no looking at Facebook, no checking of e-mails, no Googling for this one specific word, no thoughts of anything at all that is not about actually DOING the TASK at hand.


This might sound like a daunting task to a lot of people, but the truth is we can do this: if we think in terms of 30-minute blocks.

Thirty minutes of focused attention on one thing at a time is not just a more manageable (and realistic) goal for those who have many things to do, but also maximizes the way our brain works. After 30 minutes of focused attention our minds usually need time to recover, and--if you have blocked off two hours to devote to an important project--you can add 5- to 10-minute breaks between each 30-minute period to give your mind the necessary rest.

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