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8 Easy Ways To Be More Productive Today

It may not be easy to quit, but science tells us that multitasking is not all it's cracked up to be. Staying focused and concentrating on one task at a time is worth a shot and we may end up getting more done (and feeling a whole lot calmer) in the long run.

While most of us are susceptible to multitasking, research suggests that people who have a harder time blocking out distractions and focusing on a single task are more likely to be multitaskers. Those of us who do multitask often overestimate just how successful we are at doing so, to boot.

But there's hope for us yet. Once you're willing to accept that multitasking isn't doing us any favors, follow these tips for focusing on one thing at a time -- without sacrificing productivity.

Put down the phone (gently!). Block out distractions while you work, hang out with friends or play the guitar by turning off the phone, TV and anything else that draws you away from what you're actually doing.

Get into a routine. This can be helpful if you spend a good chunk of your day on the computer or working from home. Instead of diving in to tasks willy-nilly,set up a schedule that tells you what to work on and when (and be sure to incorporate some breaks into the day). That way, you'll know what to expect from yourself each time you sit down to work (and you'll be less tempted to goof off online or tinker with household repairs).

Set goals. Know what you're going to do before you start doing it. If you have no clear path, distractions can come easily. Before starting a new task, take a few minutes to plan out the steps you'll need to complete and in what order -- that way, you'll be less able to wander. An important step of goal setting? A quality to-do list.

Eat a good breakfast. Turns out taking a second to chow down on a healthy breakfast can help boost concentration and focus. Bonus points if that mealincludes some protein.

Meditate. Studies suggest that regular meditation can boost brain function and is associated with better focus and attention. It can also help reduce stress when a massive to-do list is looming.

Listen well. We're not being the most productive when we're half listening to someone while checking our phone, Facebook and LinkedIn all at once (also, it's just plain rude). To be a better listener (and get the info you need the first time),face the speaker and look him/her right in the eye and stay present with the conversation. Who cares if you have 12 unread emails; this person deserves your attention.

Cut out clutter. To help avoid distractions, stay organized. Find a place for everything on your desk and keep your paperwork in order so you're not wasting time searching through piles of files (say that five times fast). This goes for your desktop too: Keep files organized and close extra browser windows and taps so you can work with a clean screen. For an extra boost, apply some Feng Shui principles to your workspace.

Give yourself a break. Catch yourself staring at your computer? Literally, just staring at it? Probably time for a break. Studies show taking brief breaks during a task can improve focus. So take a walk around the block, get up and do some jumping jacks or take five minutes to face the wall and breathe deeply. It's good for you, and it's good for your productivity -- win-win!

4 Ways To Add Years Onto Your Life

The quest for immortality is as old as history itself. Today, we study the habits of those who live the longest, and invest countless billions in technology we hope will allow us to live forever.

Life expectancy is the statistical measurement of the years a newborn child can expect to live, barring accidents and unnatural events. Live expectancy in the U.S. is currently 75.7 years for men and 80.8 years for women. No one has found a way to cheat death, at least not yet. The top causes of death in the U.S. are heart disease, cancer,  stroke, chronic lower respiratory disease, and accidents.

Specific lifestyle choices may help you live a longer, healthy life. While many seem simple, there is a science behind how they slow the aging process.

4 Ways to Add Years Onto Your Life

1. Restrict your work week: Working no more than 40-50 hours each week adds a year and half to your life. However working reasonable hours through retirement actually adds years to your life.

2. Calorie restriction: The theory is simple: Eating less helps you live longer. Reduce your daily calorie intake by 25 percent. Being in a state of slight hunger stresses the body, making it stronger and more resistant against the aging process. Taking in fewer calories also slows metabolism, and studies suggest people with a slower metabolism live longer. Calorie restriction gives cell autophagy process a boost. Autophagy is how cells remove damaged parts and recycle these materials into new parts. By removing these damaged parts, cells may age more slowly, increasing longevity.

3. Red wine: Resveratrol is a natural ingredient in both red and white grapes. Its benefits include cardiovascular health, protection from macular degeneration, protection from free-radical damage, and healthy blood sugar levels. Low doses of resveratrol protect both the heart and brain by preventing cell damage, activating a cell’s survival mechanisms. Free radicals are unstable, organic molecules responsible for aging and tissue damage.

4. Death by chocolate: Dark chocolate is a great source of flavonoids. Flavonoids are antioxidants that reduce oxidative cell damage caused by free radicals. Free radical damage has been linked to aging, heart disease, and different types of cancers. Studies suggest the flavonoids in dark chocolate actually slow the aging process and help prevent age-related disease.

5 Habits to Prevent Workplace Gain

It's no wonder that work is a major strike against a healthy lifestyle, considering that many of us spend 40 hours (or more) at a desk each week. It's bad enough that we're sitting all day, but there are other work-related factors that contribute to an expanding waistline.


Many offices keep the kitchen stocked with soda, candy, crackers, and chips. Not to mention the birthday celebrations, office-sponsored happy hours, and “Pizza Fridays” can make it hard to stick to a healthy diet. And let's face it, no one likes to be excluded from some good office fun! So take charge of your work life, and add these healthy habits to your daily to-do list. They can certainly help you prevent packing on those desk-bound pounds.

Try Not to Sit at Your Desk All Day — Going to the bathroom and grabbing lunch just doesn't cut it! Remember to get up from your desk as often as you can — this will help release your muscles while also giving your seated posture and eyes a break. What's more, it also gives your mind a mental break and alleviates stress that can cause you to reach for high-calorie treats. Use this time to either walk around the office or stretch. Some other ideas to keep you moving: walk to a colleague's desk instead of sending an email; ask to have a "walking meeting" outside instead of in a conference room; and take the stairs over the elevator. We're also fond of quick workouts that you can do during your lunch break like going for a run, power walk, or 30-minute gym session.


Bring a Huge Salad For Lunch —  Skip the lunches out, and aim to bring a homemade salad every day instead. Low in calories and full of fiber, you can eat an enormous bowl of veggies without doing damage to your waistline. Include a variety of greens and fresh veggies in your salad, along with a low-fat protein source like chickpeas, cottage cheese, baked tofu or tempeh, or grilled chicken. And don't forget to pack a low-cal dressing or keep it simple with a squeeze of lemon and cracked black pepper. Packing a salad for lunch doesn't just keep your calories in check—it can save you money, too. Be sure to vary the veggies and protein source each day to prevent boredom.


Use Your Minty Breath to Prevent Snacking — After you finish each meal, snack, or that cup of joe, hit the bathroom for some dental hygiene. Not only will brushing your chompers prevent cavities and bad breath, but your minty mouth will remind you that you already ate and aren't really hungry for a handful of M&M's from your co-worker's desk.


Keep Healthy Snacks Stashed in Your Desk Drawer — All those platters of goodies in the break room can knock you off the healthy path. So, avoid temptation by keeping a stash of good-for-you munchables in the office fridge or in your desk drawer. Yogurt, cheese sticks, fruit, cut-up veggies, crackers or carob-covered peanuts offer way more nutrition than a cupcake.


Sip on Water All Day — Did you know that a 12-ounce Coke is 13 calories? And we’re not mentioning the sugar content, by downing a can of soda each day adds 715 calories to your workweek. Stay hydrated and energized with nature's beverage instead. Keep a reusable water bottle on your desk, and take sips throughout the day. Water isn’t just calorie-free; it gives your belly the sensation that it's full, which cuts down on mindless snacking.

Sources:

  • "Is Your Job Making You Fat?" CBSNews. CBS Interactive, n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.
  • "Prevent Weight Gain at Work." FitSugar. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.
  • "Prevent Workplace Weight Gain." Womenshealthmag.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.