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Three Keys to Being More Productive – From Our Archives

Three Keys to Being More Productive – From Our Archives

What does productivity mean to you? Yes, it is about getting things done, but more importantly it is about getting the right things done at the right time.  It is also about making decisions. I am sure you know the feeling of being busy all day long only to wonder at the end of the day what you actually did.  Being busy is not necessarily being productive.  Today’s reality is that we are constantly being bombarded by stimulus (ex. cellphones, internet, social media, news, blog posts, emails, texts, electronic billboards, pop up ads, etc.) we have to be vigilante that all that stimulus doesn’t distract us from the important things. It’s a bit like that dog in the movie UP that yells “squirrel” and runs off after another distraction. According to two online dictionary definitions, Productivity is “the quality state or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance or bring forth goods and services.” Or it means you “do a lot.” Both of those sound like being a robot; preprogrammed to action without thinking about whether or not what we are doing is important. How do you avoid that? First step is to set clear boundaries. That word has been overused somewhat but if you think of yourself with a fence around you and only one gate to get in that you control you will get a better idea of what I mean. All this outside stimulus just finds its way to our attention which takes our focus off of the important things or even just the things we want to do. With you in control you get...
How to Increase Motivation

How to Increase Motivation

Motivation – is what drives us to do something willingly. As Google says, “motivation is the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.” It can be an internal reason or an external one. If you are motivated by internal or intrinsic rewards then the motivation comes from within you; like the feeling of a job well done, pride in yourself for reaching a goal, etc. This is what we would like to foster in our children and ourselves. However, if you are motivated by external or extrinsic rewards – then things that can be bought or received (games, toys, $) will motivate you. This would be the “carrot” type of motivation. The opposite is the “stick” type of motivation where task completion is based on avoiding a punishment of sorts. There is a time and place for this type of motivation too but it has a downside. In Daniel H. Pink’s book, Drive, he mentions that the carrot and stick type of motivation only works for simple, and/or uncreative type activities. Once a reward or a punishment is introduced it tends to narrow the focus and limits creativity. Pink says, “The drive to do something because it is interesting, challenging and absorbing – is essential for high levels of creativity” (p45). So if we are to become more creative and motivated at work, school or home, then the task/project needs to have three things. Pink refers to them as autonomy, mastery and purpose. The first as Pink calls it is “autonomy.” Autonomy means that you get to decide about the task, the timeframe...
Effort or Grades – Which Means More?

Effort or Grades – Which Means More?

Every day scientists are learning more and more about the brain. Research is proving that the brain can continue to grow new synapses (connections) no matter the age providing that it continues to learn “new” skills. Do you believe that your brain can grow or were you born with a certain amount of intelligence and that’s all there is? I’m reading the book, Mindset, by Carol Dweck, Ph.D. Dweck believes that it is more important what you and/or your child believe about the brain and not what they believe about a grade or an IQ score. (Click here to watch a YouTube video of Dr. Dweck) Dweck’s premise is that there are two kinds of mindsets; fixed and growth. “Believing your qualities are carved in stone – the fixed mindset – creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. “  So you strive for the good grades in order to feel good about yourself. Then when you do poorly on something, you feel like a failure. Your motivation dwindles because in this mindset, nothing you can do can improve your grade. You’re stuck in a fixed mindset. On the other hand, “The growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts….everyone can change and grow through application and experience.” Same failed test causes the student with this mindset to study harder and to work at it until they get it. They are motivated to improve and believe there is no limit to what they can do with enough effort. So, as parents, do you praise your child for...
Motivation Holds the Key

Motivation Holds the Key

This month’s student strategy is actually written for your child. It is an example of one of the messages in the End Homework Hassle (EHH) E-Learning course. EHH is a program that sends daily emails to your child/teen’s email inbox with tips, strategies and information about learning. Please feel free to copy it into an email to your child. Motivation is that hidden power that gets you to do something that you might not have otherwise wanted to do. It has been defined as an “incentive, drive or desire to do.” It is the inspiration that pushes you to score that goal, or ace that test. It can help you keep at something when you would prefer to quit. Now I know that it can be difficult to motivate yourself when it comes to school stuff. I get that. But without understanding the “why” behind what you are doing, you may never find that extra motivation to get you through the tough times. They say there are two types of motivation, extrinsic and intrinsic. Some people are motivated by external or extrinsic rewards – things that can be bought or received (games, toys, $). Others are motivated by internal or intrinsic rewards. Intrinsic motivation is like the special feeling an “A” brings, or that feeling of pride in yourself when you make the honor roll. I think there are two other types of motivation – pain and pleasure. For those that are motivated by pain, they work harder to avoid the “pain” (getting grounded or losing the computer). Those motivated by pleasure are motivated to get things done in...
New Season, New Start: Goal Setting for Autumn

New Season, New Start: Goal Setting for Autumn

Happy Autumn! It is now officially autumn and I can see some of the leaves starting to change color here in the northeast. I love fall but I sometimes feel that it is the shortest season of all. Before you know it the cold temperatures will be here with the excitement (notice I didn’t say stress) of the holiday season. A new season for me means a new start but also serves as a reminder that the year is coming to an end. In fact there are only 98 days left to the year. Isn’t that scary? The reason I know that is thanks to Gary Ryan Blair who runs a “100 day challenge” program. I love the concept that it is not time to give up but rather time to push harder to get those goals off the list so come January 1st you are proud of what you have accomplished and motivated to keep going. So, I’m taking a different approach this season. I am not going to go crazy (please hold me to that) by taking on EVERYTHING I want to get done between now and winter. Instead I am going to focus on three goals for October, three for November and maybe one for December. The reason I say three is because you can’t just look at one piece of your life without realizing how everything else is related. For instance, if you have low energy, then you can’t possibly be as effective at work or at home. Coaches may use different names for each category but the basic “parts” of your life can be...