Get more done.

By David Joel Miller.

Ways to be more productive.

Garden in a boat.

Get More Done.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Would you like to get more done?

Do you feel like you are having difficulty being productive?

Here are some simple tips to improve your productivity and help you get more done each and every day. Try introducing some of these ideas, one by one and see if your productivity doesn’t increase.

Maintain a healthy blood sugar – energy level.

Your brain burns a lot of calories.  By some estimates up to 25% of all the calories you will use every day are burned in your brain. Not having enough fuel on board reduces your ability to do work. Lack of blood sugar results in fuzzy headed thinking.

Kids who skip breakfast do more poorly in school.  Adults who don’t eat something early will find that their will suffer.  Start your day off with a healthy breakfast.  Being productive requires energy for both your brain and your body.

Get enough sleep.

Most people become chronically sleep deprived.  You may be able to get by on reduce sleep for a single night, or even a couple of nights.  But if you continue to work with less than enough sleep, your productivity will decline.  Chronically cutting your sleep short is not a way to improve your productivity.

Eat healthy.

Getting things done requires maintaining your body.  It is not enough to simply taken in calories.  Those calories need to include nutrients necessary to maintain health.  Many people’s diets are high in sugar, fat and low nutrient ingredients.

Get exercise. Move around.

Make sure you get plenty of exercise.  Take frequent breaks.  Get up and move around.  Staying in one position too long can wear you out.  Today more and more people work at desks jobs, working with papers, computers and ideas.  The result of this inactivity is a body that can’t support the brain that is doing so much of your work.

Eliminate what distracts you.

Distractions are the chief enemy of productivity.  Try to eliminate the distractions in your environment.  Close unneeded Internet windows.  If possible, use music or white noise to eliminate the distraction of conversations or other noises in your environment.  Cut down on the need to attend to things other than your main task at hand.

Practice focusing.

Focusing, paying attention, is a skill that needs to be practiced.  Young children rarely have good attention skills.  The way those attention paying skills develop is by practice.  Work on improving your ability to pay attention.  Notice when your mind is wondering and quickly bring it back to the thing you need to attend to.

Pursue your passions. What interests you?

The majority of all learning is emotional not intellectual.  You learn things that interest you.  Pursue your passions.  Think about the things that interest you and incorporate those into your work. Think about learning a new skill, something that might excite you.

Take breaks. Chunk work.

Productivity declines the longer you stay on a given task.  Break time-consuming projects up into smaller chunks.  Take short breaks between each chunk. Early in the day you’re likely to be able to do longer periods of work on a particular project.  As the day progresses you may need to take more frequent breaks or switch to other tasks.

Recharge your batteries. What fills you up mentally?

Productive people invest some time in recharging their batteries. Use your time off, your breaks and lunch to do good self-care. Read something for fun, listen to your favorite music, make time to talk to friends and coworkers.

For the big projects, plan, prioritize and break up.

Some projects can be overwhelming.  Starting off not knowing where you’re going can result in poor productivity.  For large projects start by developing a plan.  What will need to be done first, second and so on.  Break large elements down into smaller pieces.  It helps to estimate how much time each part will take.  Pay attention to things you need to complete before you can start the next phase.

Have a clear picture of the desired outcome.

A lot of effort can be wasted when you are not sure what you are trying to accomplish.  Write out some goals for the project you are working on.  It helps to run these goals by your boss or your customer.  You have not accomplished much if you created something that doesn’t meet another’s needs.  You will work a lot more efficiently if you have a clear definition of what you are trying to accomplish.

Get the help you need.

Rather than trying to do everything yourself, identify those things where you could use others expert help.  Few people are skilled at everything.  It is a lot more efficient to get help from people who have expertise in areas where you are less skilled.

Try these tips for improved productivity.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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Whatever happened to self-control?

By David Joel Miller.

Is self-control a lost art?

Controler

Self-Control.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Self-control is not something you’re automatically born with.  The ability to control yourself is something that develops over time.  As often as we hear about a lack of Self-control you would think that the growing and development of Self-control was a lost art.

Newborn infants are remarkable for their lack of self-control.  Babies cry whenever they want something, and they are totally irresponsible when it comes to eliminating their waste products.  What does it take for these infants to grow into people who have some amount of Self-control?

Parents are the best teachers of self-control.

In the early stages of life, parents have to provide the control that children are lacking within themselves.  Parents who do not make an effort to control their children teach that child they cannot be controlled. If the child cannot be controlled by the parents, then how could they possible control themselves?

Increasingly we see young people, and even those into middle life, who have somehow concluded that Self-control was something you were either born with or will never have.  They have convinced themselves that they cannot control themselves.

How is that related to addiction whose hallmark is loss of control.

Can you see how all people who lack self-control in the small, day-to-day items would be at an extra risk of developing an addiction?  People who find it difficult to resist the urge for more food, to spend more money or to behave in responsible ways, are likely to find drugs and alcohol impossible to control.

Those who are low in Self-control give the job of Self-control up to someone or something that can readily control them.  Addictions like to control their victims.  People with poor impulse control frequently get convicted of a crime.  If you can’t control yourself often the state is willing to appoint a probation officer or parole agent who will take over the job of controlling you.

Which is in control – the mind or the body?

Some people struggle to determine where their lack of control resides.  Should their mind and their thoughts control them?  Or is it the body that is in control?  This false dichotomy, that there are two parts to us, the mind, and the body, makes it difficult to learn Self-control.

Our mind, those things we are thinking about, has a huge impact on how our body feels those things.  Our body, those physical sensations of hunger, thirst and being tired, strongly influence how our mind thinks.

Willpower is a skill that you can grow and exercise.

Willpower is not some separate thing that you have or do not have.  If you feel you’re short on willpower don’t blame your genes and at this point, it’s too late to blame your parents.  Begin the process of growing your own willpower.

Willpower comes from our feelings and our thinking.

For more on this topic, willpower, and it’s closely related cousin won’t-power, check out the other posts on willpower at counselorssoapbox.com

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Boost your willpower.

By David Joel Miller.

Simple ways to increase your willpower.

Willpower and Temptation

Boost your willpower
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Willpower, both the making yourself do unpleasant things and the “won’t power” type where you have to pass up things that might not be good for you, are often in short supply. Some people just seem to have plenty of willpower and other people are constantly running out.

Whatever supply of willpower you have, it seems to be at its peak in the early part of day and then declines as the day moves on. Start your day with a good supply and you will get a lot more go out of your willpower. Here are some ways to recharge that willpower supply of yours.

Get more sleep for more willpower.

Lack of sleep, an adequate amount, can cause all sorts of problems. When you are tired you do not feel like doing things, particularly things that will require a lot of willpower. People who get enough sleep appear to have an extra dose of willpower as a result of that dose of sleep.

Sleep is the “low hanging” fruit of self-care. Add in a healthy diet, some exercise and some emotionally healthy things and your willpower is bound to expand.

Improve your support system and improve your willpower.

Having people on your side helps stretch your willpower. People who support you can encourage you to do the hard things that require more willpower. They can also support you in avoiding those things that are not healthy. People who have lots of friends are less troubled about willpower than those who have few friends.

Make sure these friends are positive. Remember that resisting peer pressure thing? Well resisting peer pressure uses up tons of willpower. Having good friends that support you in doing the right thing will get you extra miles out of your existing willpower.

Manage your blood sugar to manage willpower.

Low blood sugar makes you feel tired and irritable. Eating a healthy diet and maintaining proper blood sugar can both help you have the energy to do the hard stuff. Not feeling out of sorts can also help you avoid the arguments and conflicts that come more frequently when you are low on brain fuel.

Careful though, over the long-term, high blood sugars, the kind that can lead to or be the result of diabetes, can cause you to just not want to do anything. Not sure? Talk to your doctor about your blood sugar. Do not wait until your body is totally out of go to get that diabetes diagnosis. Knowledge is power especially in the health area.

Create a schedule – making choices uses up willpower.

People report that they have less difficulty with willpower early in the day. The first few things go well. But as you do more and more your willpower gets used up. Each time you have to make another decision you use some more of that precious willpower.

Start your day with a lot of those willpower sapping decisions already done. End your day by making a list of the things you are going to need to do tomorrow. Each successive act you take needs less will power as you just keep working your way down the list.

Establish routines to maximize willpower.

Routines become automatic default settings in your brain. If you do things in a certain order, that takes the pressure off you to decide what to do first, second and so on. Use your daily outline as a tool to propel you through the rest of the day’s activities without having to think each choice though all over again.

Write out your goals and look at this list often.

Out of sight out of mind especially applies to things that are harder to do. Make a written list of goals. Reward yourself as you accomplish each goal on your list. Reminding yourself why you are doing things today that are hard to do, because you are working towards a set goal, can make staying on task much easier.

Rearrange your environment to reduce temptations – people, places and things.

Does it take willpower to stay focused? Reduce the distractions in your environment. Do not go to places where you will be tempted and then blame your fall on your lack of willpower. Bakeries are not places to stay on your diet and bars will not be good places to help you avoid drinking.

Do you get distracted by social media or videos? Close the windows, turn off the set and see how much less will power it takes when you are in the place to do what needs doing.

If you slip do not stay down – the F&@*it’s.

A single slip in your willpower is not an excuse to say that you just “can’t” do something. Learn from that slip and make the changes you need to make in order to stay on track. Giving up after one set back is a way to shrink your willpower.

Break tasks up into manageable chunks.

Facing one huge task can overwhelm anyone’s store of willpower. Break that task up into small pieces. Need to write a report – make up a list of the steps and check one or two off each day. Over time you will make amazing progress.

Trying to improve your life? You can’t do everything in one day. Make a few small changes and then practice these over and over. Of course if your life is way far out of control, like addiction or homelessness you may need to do some of the large work first.  Getting off drugs or finding a safe place to stay is the first job. Making more friends and eating healthy can wait till you’re off the drugs.

Those are some of the suggestions I have found that can help expand that most precious resource willpower. Have you found any other things that help you to have an adequate supply of willpower?

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Willpower Shortage

By David Joel Miller.

Willpower Shortage

Willpower and Temptation

Boost your willpower
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Of late it has become standard practice to decry the shortage of willpower here in America, maybe the shortage of willpower on planet earth. How did this worldwide shortage develop?

The shortage does not seem to be of recent origin. Writers from the Plymouth Colony, writing shortly after the founding in the 1620’s expressed their concern that people could not display significant willpower to avoid breaking the laws. I am told that there are passages in the Bible about a lack of willpower though I am not sure if it is found in the book of Leviticus or not. Presumably this world-wide shortage of willpower has been going on for thousands of years.

If we can find oil deep under the sea and rocks on the moon why is it that there has been no significant discovery of additional willpower in all these millenniums? Perhaps we have been looking for the wrong thing in the wrong places. Behaviorists, like Martin and Pear believe they have discovered the source of the will power shortage. They say there are in fact two very different creatures that we are calling willpower and that we keep looking for the wrong one in the wrong place. Could that be?

Determination

Willpower One, might more properly be called determination.  This is the will power required to do something that we know would be good for us but that is unpleasant or painful while we are doing it. Exercise is a good example. We all know we should do more exercise. It has all those positive benefits like loosing weight and being healthier. But it is hard to think about doing something that involves effort and possible unpleasant pain when there is that nice warm comfy couch sitting there and there are 36 new movies on the cable that beg to be watched.

It takes a special brand of will power to give up a current pleasure or reward, sitting on the couch and watching movies, to secure a far off benefit like weight loss and improved health. To continue to engage in this effort for a deferred gain we need lots of positive encouragements and reinforcements. This is why people who exercise in groups where they encourage each other are more likely to succeed than those who try to do an exercise program alone.

The problem with shortages of this first kind of willpower is that the current negative of the action does not seem to have much connection to a far off positive result like weight loss. It is hard to make yourself do something today for a gain a long time from now. This kind of will power deficiency also accounts for the lack of retirement savings of many citizens.

One way to offset this is to turn the negative into a positive. Instead of exercising, pick a hobby that involves activity. Square dancing comes to mind. You get some positive people interactions coupled with the advantage of exercise and it could be fun.

Self-denial

Will Power Two, maybe we should call this self-denial, is the kind of will power needed to get ourselves to give up something that we know is not good for us but is so much fun. In this type of willpower the problem is to skip those extra goodies that put on the pounds. We know that obesity is bad. And we know that eating a few extra calories will over time pack the pounds on. But it is hard to connect in our minds the extra pounds and the health impairment a year from now with the one extra cookie. Usually the one extra cookie wins out.

In trying to cut down on things like extra cookies or cigarettes the challenge is to give up a current pleasure for a far off good. Addictions fall in this class of shortage of willpower. One behavioral approach is to create a script that you say to your self. Behaviorists call this self-instruction. You might say to yourself that you do not need that drug or that cookie and that you are looking good. Substance abusers find that the more time they spend with people who encourage them to stay sober the more likely they are to succeed.

At this point we are almost a month into the year. How many of you have given up on your New Years resolution? Did you read my series on stages of change? Think about where you are in this change process and how you might start moving forward.

If you are short on will power, what positive things could you use to reward yourself for doing those hard to do things? What could you do to make giving up those current pleasures to secure a long-term goal feel less like a sacrifice?

Anyone out there have an experience to share that involves making a change and increasing your willpower?

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books