Five ways to radically multiply your time and boost productivity

Scott Steinberg is a bestselling expert on leadership and innovation, and the author of Netiquette Essentials: New Rules for Minding Your Manners in a Digital WorldMillennial Marketing: Bridging the Generation Gap and Make Change Work for You: 10 Ways to Future-Proof Yourself, Fearlessly Innovate, and Succeed Despite Uncertainty. The founder of SELECT nightlife and entertainment magazine, and among today’s leading providers of keynote speeches, workshops and seminars for Fortune 500 firms, his website is

As fast-paced and hyper-kinetic as today’s business world is, we all want to get more done – and in less time. Happily for modern professionals, it’s never been easier to take back control of your schedule, and take back control of your working life. Using a few simple tips, tricks, and high-tech solutions, including a variety of apps and online services, virtually anyone can get a handle on their workday again, and get back to feeling more organized.

Below, you’ll find five ways to multiply your time, boost productivity, and get the most out of any given workday, regardless of whether you’re staying put, on the move, or sprinting through crunch time.

Organize and manage your schedule

How can the average working professional (let alone working parent) squeeze in sales appointments, power lunches, after-school activities with the kids, and the occasional yoga class all into the same day? Short of hiring an executive assistant, or cloning yourself, a variety of free and paid time management apps offer the next best solution.

Download myriad options to your desktop, laptop, or mobile device, and you can quickly optimize your calendar – or even let artificially-intelligent advisors automatically find holes in your schedule waiting be filled in. Some can even help you spot regular openings when you can slot in tasks you’ve always been meaning to get to, but can never seem to find time for.

Delegate and outsource tasks

It’s practically in every upwardly-mobile, career-minded individual’s DNA to want to micromanage everything – doubly so for freelancers and other self-employed workers. But until they invent 30-hour days, learning to outsource is the fastest way to multiply your time and output – a task online freelance service marketplaces can assist with.

Got a task or project that needs assigning? From creating killer packaging to building better logos, conducting market research, or revamping your website, countless providers are waiting to bid on it. To connect with writers, graphic designers, e-commerce consultants and more, just login to these online services, write a project description, and set a price – then watch the bids roll in. The next thing you know, you’ll be delegating tasks, freeing up time on your schedule, and sitting back smiling, watching as the busywork gets done while you finally get to knuckle down and focus on high-priority tasks.

Take back control of your time

Ever look up from your desk at 5 o’clock and wonder: Where did the day go? Start tracking your time with helpful stopwatch and timer software programs and keeping daily diaries and you can find out – then cut out all the attention-diverting distractions that keep you from getting things done.

A number of time sheet applications can also help in this regard, as can a few productivity-boosting tips. For example: Waking up earlier each day (to get more done before other distractions encroach). Focusing on the most important tasks first every morning (to get them out of the way faster, and make the rest of the day seem easier by comparison). And, of course, setting specific hours each day during which your door is closed (and email and instant messengers are shut down), so you can fully concentrate on the work at-hand.

Skip the busywork

Need to catch-up on email, send a text, or get back to a colleague stat? There’s no sense wasting time typing everything out when you can simply dictate messages instead. Many popular desktop and mobile devices and applications (as well as in-car-compatible systems) make it simple for you to speak your mind – and transcribe or share your thoughts on-screen in seconds.

Simply activate speech-to-text (a.k.a. voice recognition) features, and/or a Bluetooth wireless headset, and you can quickly get your point across by vocalizing thoughts… all without lifting a finger. Better yet, a growing number of solutions even let you save out lengthier conversations to full-fledged documents. So the next time you’re thinking of writing that great American novel or cutting-edge business book you’ve always dreamed of? Remember that it can be as easy as dictating 600 words every morning for a couple months while running on the treadmill.

Tap into high-tech solutions

You’ve got a great idea for a new or side business, a working plan, and the perfect audience in mind – but how to quickly grow and market it? Easy: Just drag and drop to setup a website, e-commerce platform, mobile interface and more, thanks to a growing range of providers that offer plug-and-play templates for basic business functions. Literally dozens of solutions exist that can help you mix-and-match photos, copy, and online shopping carts to build a homepage, blog, Internet storefront, and more in minutes. Likewise, you can also find countless off-the-shelf providers that can help you fulfill orders, or manufacture and deliver everything from books to branded memorabilia and even streaming online video courses on-demand.

As you’ll soon discover, the moment you’ve got a great idea is the moment you can tap into countless resources for quickly testing and promoting it – so what’s stopping you from prototyping or launching your next great business idea today?


8 Scientifically Proven Ways To Beat Mental Fatigue

This nice article by  Stephen Altrogge will help you stay alert and sharp mentally.

Are you dealing with mental fatigue?

Picture this scenario: You head to work, feeling as though you’re well-rested, and midway through your morning, you’re already tired. You’re drained and worn out, even though your day is barely started.

Or, through the course of a relatively light day of work — no meetings, no taxing decisions, no major fires to put out — you feel mentally and emotionally exhausted.

Or, you get these same feelings — mental tiredness, lack of brainpower to process even the simplest thoughts — on a Saturday, when things are at their least stressful.

If any of the above sounds familiar or you’ve had bouts with exhaustion, decreased motivation, lack of sleep or loss of appetite, or sustained irritability, you’re most likely suffering from mental fatigue.

Without proper care and attention to your mental health, mental fatigue can turn into far more severe conditions, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Burnout
  • Depression
  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Increased susceptibility to illness

In this guide, we’re going to break down what mental fatigue is, what causes it, and how you can overcome it. 

Photo by Callum Wale on Unsplash

What Is Mental Fatigue And What Causes It?

Mental fatigue or mental exhaustion is just that, the sense that your brain is running on empty. You can’t think clearly. It’s a challenge to process even the simplest information. You’re mentally and emotionally drained.

For many individuals, they feel like their mind is in a constant fog.

A few examples of mental fatigue might include: 

  • Asking someone the same question twice, without realizing it
  • Having to review basic information multiple times before grasping it
  • Snapping at unsuspecting friends, family, or coworkers over petty irritations

Concentration on any one task is nearly impossible, you have trouble focusing or maintaining focus, and even small things seem impossible.

Mental fatigue can happen to anyone at any time, especially those who’ve experienced very little rest over a certain period. Stress is a common trigger and the brain fog can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

For many people, rest is the solution to mental fatigue. In other instances, by simply stepping away from the source of stress for a while, you can take back control of your mental state.

For others, however, mental exhaustion may prove debilitating. If not dealt with properly, it can cause serious health issues that go way beyond brain fog.

In extreme cases, mental fatigue may lead to detachment and isolation from others, deep feelings of anger, apathy, or hopelessness. 

Photo by Finn on Unsplash

Symptoms of mental exhaustion

Although mental exhaustion is primarily associated with your mental health, it can also be detrimental to your physical and emotional wellbeing.

Emotionally, you can experience:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Feeling really unmotivated
  • Irritability (often increasing in intensity as the fatigue worsens)
  • Lack of productivity
  • Trouble focusing on even the simplest, most straightforward tasks
  • Feeling less positive and more pessimistic
  • Anger at the smallest issues or inconveniences
  • Lack of concern for yourself or those around you (even those you care about)
  • Isolation or detachment from others, either on purpose or subconsciously
  • Sense of impending dread or constant hopelessness

From a physical standpoint, mental exhaustion may result in:

  • Headaches
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight gain or loss (often dramatic changes)
  • Aches and pains
  • Chronic physical fatigue, weakness, tiredness
  • Trouble sleeping, including insomnia
  • Greater susceptibility to illness

Chronic mental fatigue will heighten physical and emotional symptoms. What may otherwise be a minor headache can become a crushing pain when mentally exhausted. A fleeting bout of anxiety in normal circumstances can result in uncontrolled worry.

Outward signs of mental fatigue

Beyond your mental or physical state, mental fatigue will also impact your behavior. If left unchecked, it can create rifts in your relationships, both personal and professional.

Mental fatigue places a strain on your social interactions, either causing you to lash out at others or withdraw from those closest to you.

You can also experience a sudden lack of motivation. The worse the mental exhaustion, the more likely you are to call in sick, look for reasons to avoid or miss work, or reject social or work-related commitments. 

In the worst cases, your productivity may drop dramatically, and you may not recognize the person you’ve become.

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Causes of mental exhaustion

Mental fatigue can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime, and in any environment. It can be caused by many different factors, both personal and professional. 

Some causes of mental fatigue and exhaustion include:

  • Jobs with high levels of stress 
  • Working extended periods without taking breaks
  • Having to make too many decisions, leading to decision fatigue
  • Constantly switching between tasks
  • Poor balance between your personal and professional life
  • Lack of satisfaction with your current job situation or being unemployed
  • Financial struggles
  • Living with a serious illness of having chronic health issues
  • Having to care for someone with a serious illness or who has chronic health issues
  • Being isolated socially

Bottom line: If you don’t pay close attention to your emotional health, social support system, or overall work-life balance, you’re more susceptible to mental fatigue.

Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash

8 Scientifically Proven Strategies For Overcoming Mental Fatigue

Thankfully, if you suffer from mental fatigue, there are ways to alleviate the mental drain. 

From changes in lifestyle and work habits to taking time for yourself, eliminating exhaustion isn’t difficult. It does, however, require developing healthy habits and sticking to them.

Structure your day to match rising and falling energy levels

One of the first steps to reducing mental fatigue is getting in tune with how your energy levels rise and fall. Even at your most rested, you deal with ebbs and flows of energy throughout your day. 

Everyone does. You have periods of high-energy and moments when that energy wanes. These up and down cycles are called “ultradian rhythms”, and each cycle lasts somewhere between 90 to 120 minutes. 

In their book The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz note:

These ultradian rhythms help to account for the ebb and flow of our energy throughout the day. Physiological measures such as heart rate, hormonal levels, muscle tension and brain-wave activity all increase during the first part of the cycle—and so does alertness. After an hour or so, these measures start to decline. Somewhere between 90 and 120 minutes, the body begins to crave a period of rest and recovery.

You’re at your most productive in 90 to 120-minute peak energy cycles and your least productive during 20-minute “troughs” in between.

To take advantage of your body’s natural rhythms, figure out when your peaks and valleys occur and schedule your day’s task around them. To learn your ultradian rhythms, keep a log for a few weeks of your energy levels each hour. This will give you a fairly good feel for when your energy is at its highest and when you need to take breaks. Alternatively, you can use the Rise sleep app to help you calculate your ultradian rhythms. 

Structure your day so that your work on your most important tasks when your energy levels are highest. When your energy levels dip, tackle the mundane stuff – answer email, review reports or saved articles, or perform low-priority tasks that don’t demand too much or your brainpower.

Spend energy on high-value activities

If you want to make the most of your brainpower, don’t let it go to waste. Like a vehicle left out in the elements to rust and decay, your brain loses its edge when it’s not regularly challenged or engaged. When you’re less engaged, it’s easier for mental fatigue to creep in.

Build your mental strength by engaging in high-value activities, like reading books (and not Facebook), learning a new skill, or doing hobbies and tasks that enrich you. Find activities and socialize with individuals that will improve your quality of life.

Obviously, there’s a time and place for turning your brain off and binging Netflix. But when your mind is constantly engaged in things you find fulfilling or with people you value, your mental health is less likely to suffer.

Eat foods that will fuel your brain

This is somewhat obvious, but it needs to be stated. Nutrition is a key factor in staying healthy and performing at peak levels.

Simply put, eating good foods will make you feel good. Eating bad foods will make you feel bad.

If you want to keep your mind at peak performance, eliminate refined sugars and heavily processed foods from your diet. Limit caffeine. When you eat, focus on proteins and snack wisely. Avoid candy bars or chips in favor of nuts (such as almonds), fruits, and whole grains.

Additionally, drink lots of water. Aside from the headaches it can create, dehydration impacts your ability to think, reason, and process information. Staying hydrated also maintains your energy levels and keeps fatigue at bay.

Reduce decision fatigue

If you’ve ever felt drained after having to make a bunch of decisions, then you know what decision fatigue is. 

In addition to draining on your ability to think clearly, decision fatigue can drain you physically. It can feel like you have a thousand pounds of weight on your head and your shoulders.

To avoid decision fatigue, which often comes from taking on too many tasks at one time, try setting aside specific blocks of time to address specific tasks.

For example, if you’re like most, you read and respond to email throughout the day. Instead, set aside a block of time in the morning and afternoon to address them all at once. Use Freedom to block your email except for those set times. 

In addition, take on your most important or pressing projects early in the day when your alertness and energy levels are at their highest. Your mental abilities will be clearer, your mind more focused, and your attention span longer.

By optimizing your time and keeping your attention on one thing at a time, you’ll be more focused on the decision-making process without them overwhelming you mentally.

Kill distractions

Of all the ways to beat mental fatigue, eliminating distractions is perhaps the most straightforward. And the most difficult to master.

After all, with so many online distractions to steal your attention from what’s truly important, wasting time is a modern-day pastime. Surfing the internet, scrolling through Facebook, watching YouTube videos, perusing Pinterest, curating playlists on Spotify, playing any number of addictive app games. And on and on.

All of this sensory overload, however, also overloads our brains. The more we engage with time-wasting distractions, the more stress they can create. 

Use Freedom to block the apps and websites that distract and overload your brain. Create a recurring session every morning so that you do deep work first rather than wasting time doomscrolling on Facebook. 

Photo by Gabe Pierce on Unsplash

Make exercise and sleep priorities

When it comes to your mental health, exercise and sleep are invaluable.

With exercise, it doesn’t require the time commitment as many people think. Moderate exercise – walking at a brisk pace every day for 20 to 30 minutes – can do wonders for your mental well-being.

Beyond helping you get into better shape physically, exercise boosts your immune system and increases endurance. It’s also a great stress reducer and will improve both your mood and anxiety levels. 

It’s critical that whatever your exercise routine, it’s easy for you to follow and stick to.

Sleep is also critical. Few things will improve your health faster than getting consistent, sustained periods of sleep. And the truth is, how you sleep (i.e. sleep hygiene) is equally as important as how much.

Your environment should be conducive to a good night’s rest. The room should be dark, quiet, and at a cool, comfortable temperature. Try to avoid electronics, particularly smartphones and tablets, at least two to three hours before bed. (Reading a physical book before bed is perfectly okay.)

As with exercise, create a sleep routine that is consistent and easily repeatable. Keep it calm and ensure that it occurs at the same time every evening (and that you wake up at the same time, too) to ensure the best night’s rest.

Take regular breaks throughout the workday

Conventional wisdom says that the harder you work, and the fewer breaks you take, the more productive you’ll be. While it may feel like you’re getting more done by “powering through,” the opposite is true. 

The reality is that your work slows, your focus drifts, and you grow less productive as the day wears on. You also stand a greater chance of increasing your stress levels versus those who take periodic breaks during the day.

Get up from your desk. Take a walk or do some other form of exercise. Sit outside. Visit with fellow coworkers for a few minutes about something other than work.

Even if it’s just for five to ten minutes, briefly removing yourself from the stresses of your day can be very calming. It also gives your mind a break and lets you quickly recharge for the next block of tasks. 

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Embrace the power nap

Finally, if your brain is on overload, or it feels like your mind is about to melt, shut it down, unplug it, and take a nap. Seriously.

Naps, especially power naps, are the equivalent of plugging in your smartphone in the middle of the day to get a little extra charge.

You may not be tired. You may still have plenty of gas in the tank. But a quick nap between 10 to 30 minutes can get your energy and performance back to their early morning levels.

Albert Einstein used naps to power his brain. His strategy was to hold something in his hand that would make a loud noise when it hit the floor. He would then settle into his armchair and nap until his hand relaxed and the thing he was holding hit the floor. This would allow him to drift into a light doze without falling into a deep sleep. 

Take Back Your Brain

Mental fatigue and exhaustion is a serious condition. Not only does it impact your mental and physical health, but it can also harm your productivity at work and your personal relationships at home. 

Worse, it can change who you are as an individual, result in depression, and seriously limit your capacity to function normally.

However, by taking stock of your mental health and employing one or more of the above methods for addressing mental fatigue, you’ll find yourself healthier, far more focused, and free from debilitating stress.  


3 Science-Backed Reasons You’re More Productive When You’re Busy

Chris McQueen: Is a writer on Productivity and Life-Hack topics. Believer in the word of God. Get your motivation for the week:

“Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”

It’s six o’clock. You should be done for the day. But, family is calling, a friend wants to meet you, and there’s just one more task to do for the day.

As you grab your third cup of coffee and head back to your home office, you know what’s about to come will take longer than expected. Editing the video for your Youtube channel is an endless task.

“I’ll need half an hour!” you call down to your wife as she prepares a lovely dinner. Its smell sends you down memory lane. But you catch that thought and take it captive. Now is the time to finish work.

As you work, you notice how you’ve improved your editing process over the last year. Each action is streamlined. You know which effects hook your audience.

Surprisingly, you get the task done in 30 minutes. Then, as you follow the smell of good food, you remember your achievements today.

Not only have you been for a run, written up a draft and called a few freelance clients, but you’ve also made a video and edited it just in time for the deadline tomorrow.

You ask yourself: “How come I get so much more done when I’m busy?” You think back a year and recall lying on a couch as you commiserated losing your corporate job. As you did nothing all day, your family suffered as a consequence.

This situation changed as soon as you started pursuing your dreams. Now you are content with your work and achievements. After dinner, you decide to do some research to find out how your day was so productive.

You Master The Deadline Effect

Can you recall that looming tax return deadline? Or do you dread the upcoming presentation due next week?

You’ll always push away tasks nobody likes doing. The only fix is to master the deadline effect. As Dan Ariely was of the curious people in our society, he discovered what effects deadlines had on us.

In the study he conducted with college students, he found that students with self-imposed deadlines for assignments outperformed their peers on the quality of their work.

Interestingly, not just any deadline will do the trick. Ariely found that students who gave themselves too much slack procrastinated just like those with too much time.

By choosing a realistic deadline that challenges but doesn’t stress you out, you will master the deadline effect like the pros.

You Bounce Back

We all stuff up, and sometimes even busy people stuff up and miss a deadline. It happens.

While quitters will instantly opt for the defeatist attitude and drag out the next deadline even further, there is an alternative.

study of 25 000 people found that busier people bounced back faster after missing a deadline. To prove this statement, the researchers used a productivity app that clocked users’ deadlines.

So when the busy person missed a deadline, it’d take them on average of 25.5 days to complete a task. People with time at hand took over 33% longer.

When you next miss a deadline, you won’t need to fret too much if you’re generally busy. Instead, keep yourself active with tasks and save over a third of your valuable time.

You Break Things Down

Tomorrow’s my first of three modular exams this semester. It has been a hell of a week already and will only get busier over the next few days.

The only way I managed to get through 200 slides and lecture notes and revise paragraph numbers from the german law was to break down tasks.

I split up my revision into small portions. Like a cake, I get to enjoy little pieces of work each day until exam day. While a knife cuts your cake, Pomodoro is the answer to your study sections.

Chris Winfield demonstrated in a personal case study how to cut work hours from 40 to 16.7. His claim to success is through the Pomodoro Technique. This is how it works:

As the picture shows, you plan your pomodoros, start the timer for 25 minutes, take a five-minute break and plan a long break after 4 x 25 minutes.

Simple right? A famous Brazilian novelist, Paulo Coelho, put it this way:

It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary

I’ve tried and tested Pomodoros. They work wonders. Every time I need to study, I aim to outperform my Pomodoro high score of 14 Pomodoros in a day. As a result, I’ve managed to improve my revision and tick more boxes on my To-do list.

Breaking tasks down into small subsections helps you achieve two things.

  • You set realistic deadlines
  • You break down big projects into manageable chunks

When you edit a video in two Pomodoro sessions, you have to optimise your editing flow and stop getting distracted. Twenty-five minutes isn’t a dealbreaker. It’s a realistic goal.

You’ll see how your busy life suddenly has gaps you used to fill scrolling through Instagram. Then, you can again fill these gaps with new hobbies and personal challenges.

I fill the gaps with blogging. I have two Pomodoros for writing each day. And I’m very impressed with the possibilities the technique provides us with.

Busy Lives Create Opportunities

Our research in this article has shown how mastering the deadline effect, bouncing back after missing a deadline and breaking projects into small chunks can help busy people find more time for stuff they enjoy.

Along your journey, you will throw perfectionism out of the window and pursue optimising the work you do. Consequently, you will create opportunities to create more than you consume.

Pursue a busy life with purposeful interactions. You deserve it.