Just Do It: How to Work When You Really Don’t Feel Like It

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Procrastination hurts. Hitting next episode on Netflix can provide momentary relief, but it’s a fleeting high. Whether you’re avoiding a sink full of dishes, a new presentation deck, or a date with the treadmill, delay has the power to transform a simple task into a Mount Everest of a to-do list.

Research shows that in the long term, procrastination significantly decreases our health, wealth, and happiness. For example, in a survey of 10,000 people by Carleton University’s Procrastination Research Group, 94 percent of respondents said that procrastination negatively affects their happiness. A full 19 percent said the effect is extremely negative.

The flip side of procrastination is motivation. According to Psychology Today, “motivation is literally the desire to act and move toward a goal.” When you’re building a business, that desire is essential — and it can also be infuriatingly evasive.

But success doesn’t always start with extraordinary motivation. Just like a snowball gathering speed, sometimes motivation builds after we begin. I’ve experienced this phenomenon firsthand. For example, I’m not a highly motivated person. I don’t leap out of bed at 6 am, I don’t love swinging kettle bells, and I don’t read 100 books a year.

Related: 10 Tips to Help Entrepreneurs Get Motivated

Yet, I’ve slowly grown my startup, JotForm, into a company with over 4.3 million users and 130 employees. I usually manage to squeeze in a daily workout as well.

My point? Accomplishing our goals simply doesn’t require consistent motivation. We can achieve big things, even when we don’t feel like doing the day-to-day tasks.

End the destructive cycle of procrastination.
Avoidance gradually increases our anxiety, making us even more likely to procrastinate, and then the pattern escalates. To end this vicious cycle, it’s important to identify why we’re dodging a specific activity.

Heidi Grant Halvorson and E. Tory Higgins, co-authors of “Focus: Use Different Ways of Seeing the World to Power Success and Influence,” explain that motivational focus affects how we approach life’s challenges. “Promotion-focused people see their goals as creating a path to gain or advancement and concentrate on the rewards that will accrue when they achieve them,” Grant Halvorson and Higgins write in Harvard Business Review.

“Prevention-focused people, in contrast, see their goals as responsibilities, and they concentrate on staying safe. They worry about what might go wrong if they don’t work hard enough or aren’t careful enough.”

These two types can also affect how we procrastinate. Prevention-focused avoidance is about preventing a loss. For example, you need to hire your first employee, but you’re worried about choosing the wrong person. A mis-hire would drain time and money, so you postpone the process entirely.

Promotion-focused procrastination occurs when we see a task as a way to level up, but we still can’t summon the drive to get started. For example, you might believe that yoga would offset some entrepreneurial stress, but you reach for an espresso every morning instead of the mat.

Clearly, our emotions are tangled up in both promotion and prevention focus. On either side of the equation, the “feeling like it” part becomes a slippery slope. But as Melissa Dahl wrote in a 2016 article for The Cut: “You don’t have to feel like getting something done in order to actually get it done.”

Related: How Mark Cuban ‘Gets Shit Done’ and Stays Productive

Let that soak in for a moment. When you’d rather visit the dentist than tackle analytics or spreadsheets, cut your feelings out of the equation. Decide in advance exactly where and when you’ll dig in and then forget about emotions. Don’t think about it or weigh the pros and cons. If you planned to start at 3 pm, simply start. Commit to the schedule you created.

Harness the power of momentum.
Every morning, I spend at least an hour writing morning pages. This daily routine creates motivation for my day. I don’t summon the inspiration for this practice; I just do it, and then I start to feel excited about the projects ahead.

Once we take even the tiniest step forward, momentum will soon keep you rolling. That’s because sustained momentum toward a goal creates a compound effect — the principle that consistent, incremental effort can produce dramatic changes over time.

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett is one of the world’s most successful investors, and the third-wealthiest person on the globe. He also provides a prime case study in the compound effect.

Between age 32 and 44, Buffett grew his net worth by 1,267 percent. That’s a pretty impressive number, until you look at his next 12 years. From 44 to 56, he increased his net worth by a staggering 7,268 percent. He built his chain of investments, and never looked back.

Don’t break your chain.
We often hear about the “Seinfeld Strategy,” which the comedian used to hone his famous skills. Years ago, he hung a wall calendar in a prominent location and drew a big, red “X” through the day if he had written new jokes. As the X’s began to pile up, his motivation grew. “You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt,” Jerry Seinfeld told a young comedian. “Your only job is to not break the chain.”

Related: Jerry Seinfeld Grilled Mark Zuckerberg About His Morning Habits and Secretly Broken Arm

Many people now use this strategy to track everything from jogging to cooking to saving money and working on their startups. Author James Clear says the Physics of Productivity — that is, Newton’s First Law applied to habit formation — explains why this tactic is often successful. “Objects in motion tend to stay in motion,” Clear writes. “Once a task has begun, it is easier to continue moving it forward.”

Taking initial action, like starting the job description or emailing a colleague for references, makes it easier to continue that dreaded hiring process. Routines can also enhance the power of forward motion. If you want to write a blog post, choose a time each day when you’ll write just one paragraph. Maintain this routine until you’re done.

Want to accelerate your momentum? Create a ritual to pair with the routine. Do five minutes of mindful breathing. Open a “chill out” channel on Spotify and plug in your headphones. Or pour a fresh cup of coffee, then get started.

The act you choose is far less important than the ritual itself, because daily repetition “primes” your brain to tackle the task. Over time, a pleasant ritual can even create positive anticipation around the work, rather than a death spiral of procrastination.

Sparking the flames of progress.
Motivation isn’t the fire that will fuel your success. It’s not willpower or restraint, either. According to Jeff Haden, author of The Motivation Myth, motivation is a result, not an elusive state that precedes meaningful activity. Motivation is “the fire that starts burning after you manually, painfully, coax it into existence, and it feeds on the satisfaction of seeing yourself make progress,” writes Haden.

The drive to pursue a difficult, yet desirable goal often shows up after we get down to work. The first step might be small, but it’s a massive leap toward whatever you desire. So, do whatever you can to start.

Determine what compels you to hit the brakes, create firm schedules to dodge procrastination, and establish rituals that feel good. When we get out of our own way, progress is almost inevitable. A tiny spark quickly grows into a fire.

You Increase The Risk Of Depression The More You Do This One Thing At Work

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Is it just you and the office cleaners again? Amerisleep polled 1,188 workers, 90% of which have stayed late at work by at least 15 minutes, and 75% say they’ve had a job that’s asked too much of them.Working late is common and often necessary; 66% of employees polled work late “sometimes” or “often.”

People tolerate it – to an extent. Respondents consider one day a week working late and 29 minutes overtime “acceptable.”

Too much more may bum you out. The results of a study published in PLoS ONE in 2012 suggest that people who regularly work more than 11-hour days had over twice the chances of developing major depression, compared to employees who worked about eight hours a day.

A full 82% of respondents were asked, or pressured, by a manager to work late. Of those who felt “pressure,” to work late, 69% felt that their job was at risk if they didn’t do it.

Work smarter, not longer?

You may not even perform your best working late. According to a study, it’s easier to get stressed in the evening, because your body releases less cortisol – the body’s stress hormone – in the evening, as opposed to the morning.

The culture of working overtime slides into home life. Respondents said working late caused them to break promises to their spouse (56%), friend (55%), or child (48%). Because of working late:

  • 66% spent less time spent with family
  • 61% spent less time spent with spouse
  • 53% spent less leisure time at home

Researchers at Cornell University found that 10% of employees working more than 50 hours a week had serious issues at home. That percentage rose to 30% when they worked more than 60 hours.

Working late had a negative effect on the emotional well-being of 57% of workers, and the physical well-being of 54% of them.

A well-known study following over 10,000 civil servants in London found that overtime work is bad for the heart – people who worked three or more hours longer than a seven-hour day had a 60% higher risk of heart-related problems such as “death due to heart disease, non-fatal heart attacks, and angina.”

Of course, you don’t even want to know what terrible overtime-related malady they have in Japan: karoshi, or death from overwork.

How To Spend The First Hour Of Your Work Day On High-Value Tasks

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Don’t begin the activities of your day until you know exactly what you plan to accomplish. Don’t start your day until you have it planned. — Jim RohnEvery morning, get one most important thing done immediately.There is nothing more satisfying than feeling like you’re already in the flow.And the easiest way to trigger this feeling is to work on your most important task in the first hour.Use your mornings for high-value workLean to avoid the busy work that adds no real value to your work, vision or long-term goal.

Low-value activities, including responding to notifications, or reacting to emails keep you busy and stop you from getting real work done. Make time for work that matters.

In his book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, David Allen says, “If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.”

Research shows that it takes, on average, more than 23 minutes to fully recover your concentration after a trivial interruption.

Productive mornings start with early wake-up calls

“In a poll of 20 executives cited by Vanderkam, 90% said they wake up before 6 a.m. on weekdays.

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, for example, wakes at 4 a.m. and is in the office no later than 7 a.m.

Meanwhile, Disney CEO Bob Iger gets up at 4:30 to read, and Square CEO Jack Dorsey is up at 5:30 to jog.”

The first quiet hour of the morning can be the ideal time to focus on an important work project without being interrupted.

Don’t plan your day in the first hour of your morning

Cut the planning and start doing real work. You are most active on a Monday Morning.

Think about it. After a weekend of recovery, you have the most energy, focus and discipline to work on your priorities.

Don’t waste all that mental clarity and energy planning what to do in the next eight hours.

Do your planning the night before.

Think of Sunday as the first chance to prepare yourself for the week’s tasks.

Monday mornings will feel less dreadful and less overwhelming if you prepare the night before.

If you choose to prioritize …

There are one million things you could choose to do in your first hour awake.

If you choose to start your day with a daily check list/to-do list, make sure that next to every task you have the amount of time it will take to complete them.

The value of the of putting time to tasks is that, every time you check something off, you are able to measure how long it took you to get that task done, and how much progress you are making to better plan next time.

Get the uncomfortable out of the way

You probably know about Brian Tracy’s “eat-a-frog” – technique from his classic time-management book, Eat That Frog?

In the morning, right after getting up, you complete the most unwanted task you can think of for that day (= the frog).

Ideally you’ve defined this task in the evening of the previous day.

Completing an uncomfortable or difficult task not only moves it out of your way, but it gives you great energy because you get the feeling you’ve accomplished something worthwhile.

Do you have a plan from yesterday?

Kenneth Chenault, former CEO and Chairman of American Express, once said in an interview that the last thing he does before leaving the office is to write down the top 3 things to accomplish tomorrow, then using that list to start his day the following morning.

This productivity hack works for me.

It helps me focus and work on key tasks. It also helps me disconnect at the end of the day and allow time for my brain to process and reboot.

Trust me, planning your day the night before will give you back a lot wasted hours in the morning and lower your stress levels.

Try this tonight.

If you’re happy with the results, then commit to trying it for a week.

After a week, you’ll be able to decide whether you want to add “night-before planning” to your life.

Want to get more done in less time?

You need systems not goals. I’m creating a new course, Systems For Getting Work Done to help you create a personal productivity system to get 10X more done in less time. Sign up to be notified when it launches.

This article first appeared on Medium.

To Feel Happier At Work, Share ‘The Real You’

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The study examines 65 studies focusing on what happens after people in a workplace disclose a stigmatized identity, such as sexual orientation, mental illness, physical disability, or pregnancy.

Eden King, a coauthor of the study and an associate professor of psychology at Rice University, calls the decision to express a stigmatized identity highly complicated.

“It has the potential for both positive and negative consequences,” she says.

The research overwhelmingly indicates, however, that people with non-visible stigmas (such as sexual orientation or health problems) who live openly at work are happier with their overall lives and more productive in the workplace. Self-disclosure is typically a positive experience because it allows people to improve connections, form relationships with others, and free their minds of unwanted thoughts, King says.

Workers who expressed their non-visible stigmas experienced decreased job anxiety, decreased role ambiguity, improved job satisfaction, and increased commitment to their position. Outside of work, these people reported decreased psychological stress and increased satisfaction with their lives.

But the study found that the same results did not apply to people with visible traits, such as race, gender, and physical disability.

“Identities that are immediately observable operate differently than those that are concealable,” King says. “The same kinds of difficult decisions about whether or not to disclose the identity—not to mention the questions of to whom, how, when, and where to disclose those identities—are probably less central to their psychological experiences.”

Because most people appreciate gaining new information about others, the expression of visible stigmas is likely to have less of an impact, King says.

“Also, people react negatively to those who express or call attention to stigmas that are clearly visible to others, such as race or gender, as this may be seen as a form of advocacy or heightened pride in one’s identity,” she says.

The researchers say more work will help understand the motivations for expressing different stigmas. They say they hope the meta-analysis will help workplaces and policymakers protect individuals with stigmas from discrimination.

The study appears in the Journal of Business and Psychology. Additional coauthors are from Rice University; Texas A&M University; the University of Memphis; Xavier University; Portland State University; and the University of California, Berkeley.

Source: Rice University

How To Make The 4-Day Work Week Possible, According To Someone Who’s Done It

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Andrew Barnes is a fervent advocate for the four-day work week. And we might want to listen to him, because he knows what he’s talking about.As the head of Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand-based company that provides estate planning, philanthropy and investment advisory, Barnes did a trial run of the shortened schedule in March and April 2018. It was so successful that he adopted the policy full-time last November.


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“We are all recognizing that how we work today is not fit for the 21st century, that the pressures of work-life balance are intense, and that the concept of how we work needs to change,” Barnes told Quartz at Work.

Most people may assume that the four-day work week is all about work-life balance and employee wellbeing, and it may well promote both. But, Barnes cautioned, that can’t be the emphasis when business owners decide to adopt the policy.

Instead, he said, the secret to successfully transitioning to a shorter work week is highlighting something else over wellbeing.

So what is it?

It turns out that, to not lose revenue and be happy with the transition, employers should focus on productivity when announcing the change to their workers.

“We sat down with each team and we said, ‘Right, let’s agree what is the base of productivity that you’re delivering now,’” Barnes told Quartz at Work. “And then the deal was, provided you delivered on the productivity goals, you would be gifted a day off a week.”

That gift could be revoked at any time if a team isn’t doing what they need to keep up their output. For some people, Quartz notes, that can mean increased stress, as “employees tend to police one another’s behavior.”

“It’s almost like a social contract with the team and the rest of the business,” Willem van der Steen, a manager at Perpetual Guardian, told Quartz. “You can’t really hide anymore.”

Productivity shines in a short work week

Still, the benefits are fairly indisputable. During Perpetual Guardian’s trial last spring, productivity went up by roughly 20%, while far more staff members felt they could “manage work and other commitments,” according to Quartz.

With the program in place for perpetuity, Barnes has set up a system where employees can opt in, but they don’t have to if it’s not their work style. Only about half of the company’s staff chose to take him up on the four-day work week, though he expects those numbers to continue to grow. Those who already went through the change have more time for family or additional training, they say.

For those in leadership positions who are interested in potentially trimming their work hours, Perpetual Guardian is releasing a paper on Feb. 19 with advice on how to move forward.

“We’re saying to companies all over the world: Just try this,” Barnes said. “What’s the worst that can happen? If you do a trial, your staff will love you for it, even if it fails.”

5 Thoughts That Are Making Your Work Day Harder Than It Needs To Be

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Whether you work in a traditional office environment or in a more freeform professional atmosphere, the way you personally frame interactions and activities in your mind contributes enormously to your overall career satisfaction. According to Inc. journalist Jessica Stillman, 5 particular thought patterns can interrupt your progress and stifle your ability to find fulfillment in any situation, including in the workplace.

Here, you’ll find the mental scripts to avoid at work and what to do instead.


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1. “It’s about me.”

To a certain extent, we as human beings take every interaction personally. That’s natural and normal. But in the workplace, it’s important to remember that your individual thoughts and feelings aren’t always central to professional discussions. So if your colleague responds to a question more brusquely than you’d like, don’t assume that she dislikes you or that you’ve done something to upset her. She may just be stressed and overworked in ways that have little or nothing to do with you. Keeping perspective on these circumstances will go a long way toward keeping you centered and focused.

2. “This has to be perfect.”

If you constantly strive for excellence at work and feel disappointed if a project turns out less-than-perfect, you may fall victim to an “all or nothing” mentality that can ultimately undermine your professional progress. Remember that there’s no such thing as a flawless triumph, and as long as you’re investing effort and resources in your job-related tasks, you’re setting yourself and your company up for success.

3. “I’m not happy, so it’s not worth it.”

In her piece, Stillman mentions the current cultural fixation on “happiness,” “wellness,” and “joy,” positing that many Americans see these emotions as the be-all-and-end-all of satisfaction and dismiss anything that doesn’t fall into those categories. However, difficult situations and challenging scenarios come with the territory of almost any professional workplace. If you can accept those not-so-fun realities and handle them with aplomb, you’ll be well-positioned for future happiness at work.

4. “Becky is right, this all stinks.”

We’ve all worked in atmospheres populated by dramatic colleagues and tactless managers. These make for a tough office climate, but telling yourself that you won’t fall victim to the negativity of others will keep you motivated and will allow you to focus on the parts of your job that bring you satisfaction.

5. “I’m too stressed to exercise/eat well/sleep more.”

When in the throes of work-related chaos, it’s easy to let your health fall by the wayside. Sleep deprivation, poor eating habits, too much caffeine…that’s all part of the deal, right? Well, it shouldn’t be. Keeping yourself as strong and physically healthy as possible positively affects every aspect of your life, including your work performance. Make these goals the priorities they deserve to be.

A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.

How To Get A Job Without Prior Experience

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Here’s the challenge everyone who starts their career faces: You can’t get a job because you don’t have experience, but you can’t get experience without getting a job.It’s called the experience paradox or Catch-22 of getting a job. It’s a real challenge. And if you can’t overcome it, you can easily set your career 3 to 5 years back.


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Worse, I’ve seen young folks and people who switch careers destroy their potential by making the wrong decisions early on.

I don’t want to scare you. You can still overcome the Catch-22; but not with conventional career advice. Because what’s the standard advice for people who want to build a career?

“Create a resume, browse job boards, and respond to job applications.” Sorry to disappoint you. If you take that route, you will end up like most people: Frustrated and underpaid.

Don’t worry, there’s a different way. With the right strategy, you can break into any industry and earn what you’re worth.

But I have to warn you. It takes at least twice as much work. However, that shouldn’t be a surprise to you. If you want to have a better career than most folks, guess what; you have to BE better than most folks.

When you do the following 2 things, you will become better—that will significantly increase your odds of getting a job without prior experience.

1. Be The Person You Would Hire

Why is it that companies prefer to hire experienced people for a role? When I started my career, I didn’t understand it.

The reality is that there’s a massive difference between someone who doesn’t have experience at a particular job and someone who has two years under their belt.

Even though two years might not sound like a lot of time, it’s actually a lot of time to learn the ins and outs of a job. And especially when you recently got out of college; because your first two to three years are all about learning to be a professional.

Some people never become serious about their careers. They wake up at a time so they can come to the office just in time. They prefer to sleep in. And they are the first to leave at 5 pm. They don’t ask questions, don’t seek out mentors, LOVE their lunch break, and chit-chat with their co-workers every chance they get.

Imagine you would be the CEO of a company. Would you want a person like that on your team? Of course not.

I must be honest; I used to be like that too. But I realized that attitude will not bring you far. If you want career success, you need to take it seriously. You only get rewarded for results. And what brings results? Skills.

Now, the good news is that increasingly more companies are putting emphasis on the skills of the people they want to hire—not their experience.

In his book, The Virgin Way, I read that Richard Branson, the famous founder of Virgin (that employs approximately 71,000 people), hires for character and skills. He prefers to actually get to know applicants instead of asking them a bunch of boring questions.

If you seek out companies who hire for experience and skills, you have a good chance of getting hired—even if you don’t have experience.

There’s only one condition: You must be a person YOU would hire. Someone who’s not only a professional but also has the skills to do a good job. If you feel like your skills are not that good yet, spend more time on your craft.

So how do you find a company that hires for skills and character? You ask.

Look, getting a job is NOT easy. It requires a lot of manual labor. Sometimes you need to reach out to hundreds of people to even get an interview. So that’s what you do. Be ready to do whatever it takes.

You reach out to people in HR of companies you’d like to work for. And you ask them about their interview process. How does the application process work? What are the characteristics you’re looking for in candidates?

You can use that information to apply for jobs you’re interested in. But unlike people who blindly apply, you know what they are looking for.

2. Do Free Work

Often, being good at your job and having information about the application process won’t cut it.

I’m a big fan of demonstrating your skills instead of talking about it. During the interview, we only talk. But when you offer to do free work for a company, you actually demonstrate your skills in a real-life setting.

So how can you do free work? Larry Stybel, a clinical psychologist, wrote an article for HBR about his experience launching his career. He shares 3 great tips:

  1. Look for a company you’d love to work for and then be specific about what value you will provide—What will you exactly do for the company? No need to overpromise. It’s better to be honest about what you can. Identify a person you want to work for, and reach out to them directly. Also send your resume along (watch my video on how to create a graphic resume with Canva for tips).
  2. Be specific about what value you will receive—Start with the end in mind. What do you want to get out of it? A reference? A potential job? Experience?
  3. Be specific about the time frame—You don’t want to keep working for free forever. In Stybel’s example, he said: “I promised to work two days a week for two months.” Often, you can’t even work full-time for free. Nor is it something I recommend. Use your time to keep searching for a job.

One of the key lessons for everyone launching their career is to consider yourself as a learning machine. When you feel too proud to learn or work for free, you will be stuck sooner than later.

But when you keep improving yourself and reaching out to people in the industry you want to work in, it will ultimately lead to a real job.

This article first appeared on Darius Foroux

3 Ways Meditation Can Catapult Your Career

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Anyone that’s been to a yoga class recently has heard of the concept of meditation. Chances are, in 2019, you will start hearing about it more in the workplace, too. According to a report by the CDC, the number of American adults saying they meditated jumped from 4.1% in 2012 to 14.2% in 2018.

The benefits of meditation can help you in many aspects of your life, but here are three ways in which the practice can benefit your career.

  • It can help you realize what you really want. For the most fortunate of us, the hunt for a job meant finding out what truly makes us happy and turning that into a career. When that dream isn’t realized right away, it can cause depression and complacency, and ultimately result in the death of that dream. Meditation can not only help you practice self-awareness, but acceptance, as well.
  • It reduces stress. Work can be a huge stressor for most people, especially if there is a large sum of money on the line. When it comes time to grind, that stress can be a real hinderance. For example, a survey from EveryDay Health found that 57% of respondents say they are paralyzed by stress. Mindfulness meditation, even done for only a few minutes a day, can help reduce stress and anxiety, as demonstrated in a 2013 Massachusetts General Hospital study.
  • It gets creative juices flowing. If you work in a creative realm, you understand the concept of walking away and revisiting. Sometimes, when you’re stuck on an idea that you can’t seem to work yourself through, it is best to take a walk around the block and come back to it. When you don’t have that much time, however, focusing on your breathing and meditating for a few minutes allows your brain to do a soft reset.

While it may still seem like a foreign concept to some, the importance of meditation cannot be diminished. As I tell many of the entrepreneurs and job seekers I coach, even if it feels strange, what do you have to lose? I invite you to try it today and see how you feel.

Ashley Stahl is a career coach who helps job seekers find their purpose, land more job offers and launch their dream businesses. Visit AshleyStahl.com for free courses, resources and more.

‘Night Owl’ Brains May Not Function As Well for Daytime Work

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A new study finds that “night owls” — those whose internal body clock dictates they go to bed and wake up very late — appear to have fundamental differences in their brain function compared to “morning larks.”

This suggests that night owls could be disadvantaged by the constraints of a normal working day.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham discovered that night owls, who typically have an average bedtime of 2:30 am and a wake-up time of 10:15 am, have lower resting brain connectivity in many of the brain regions associated with the maintenance of consciousness.

Importantly, this reduced brain connectivity was tied to poorer attention, slower reactions and increased sleepiness throughout the hours of a typical working day.

According to the Office for National Statistics, around 12 percent of employees work night shifts. It is well-established that night-shift workers often face huge negative health consequences due to the constant disruption to sleep and body clocks.

However, this type of disruption can also result from being forced to fit into a societal 9-5 working day if those timings do not align with one’s natural biological rhythms. Since around 40-50 percent of the population identify as having a preference for later bedtimes and for getting up after 8:20 a.m., the researchers say much more work needs to be done to investigate any negative implications for this group.

“A huge number of people struggle to deliver their best performance during work or school hours they are not naturally suited to,” said lead researcher Dr. Elise Facer-Childs, from the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Human Brain Health. “There is a critical need to increase our understanding of these issues in order to minimize health risks in society, as well as maximize productivity.”

For the study, the researchers looked at brain function at rest and linked it to the cognitive abilities of 38 individuals who were identified as either night owls or morning larks using physiological rhythms (melatonin and cortisol), continuous sleep/wake monitoring and questionnaires.

The participants underwent MRI scans and then completed a series of tasks, with testing sessions being undertaken at a range of different times during the day from 8  a.m. to 8 p.m. They were also asked to report on their levels of sleepiness.

Self-identified morning larks reported being least sleepy with their fastest reaction time during the early morning tests, which was significantly better than night owls. Night owls, however, were least sleepy and had their fastest reaction time at 8pm in the evening, although this was not significantly better than the larks, highlighting that night owls are most disadvantaged in the morning.

Interestingly, the brain connectivity in the regions that could predict better performance and lower sleepiness was much higher in larks at all time points, suggesting that the resting state brain connectivity of night owls is impaired throughout the whole day (8 a.m.-8 p.m.).

“This mismatch between a person’s biological time and social time, which most of us have experienced in the form of jet lag, is a common issue for night owls trying to follow a normal working day. Our study is the first to show a potential intrinsic neuronal mechanism behind why ‘night owls’ may face cognitive disadvantages when being forced to fit into these constraints,” said Facer-Childs, who is now based at the Monash Institute for Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences in Melbourne, Australia.

“To manage this, we need to get better at taking an individual’s personal body clock into account — particularly in the world of work. A typical day might last from 9  a.m.-5 p.m., but for a night owl, this could result in diminished performance during the morning, lower brain connectivity in regions linked to consciousness and increased daytime sleepiness.”

“If, as a society, we could be more flexible about how we manage time we could go a long way towards maximizing productivity and minimizing health risks.”

The findings are published in the journal Sleep.

Source: University of Birmingham

7 Lucrative Side Hustles

Author Article

7 Lucrative Side Hustles

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Whether you need a little extra cash to make rent or you simply want to explore your passions outside of work and get paid for it, a side hustle can be a lucrative way to bring in more income — without waiting for your boss to hand out a raise.

The side hustle economy is booming. In fact, according to a study from BankRate, nearly 37 percent of Americans have a side job, and they’re making an average of more than $8,000 every single year.

Your side hustle is exactly what it sounds like: A gig that you juggle alongside your day job. Balancing your side hustle against everything else isn’t easy, but it can be lucrative, not to mention fulfilling.

Related: The Best Employees Have Side Hustles — Here’s Why

If you’ve got a passion that pays, you probably already have a good side hustle going. But if you’re in the market for a little extra dough and you’re not sure where to start, this list of the seven best hustles should help.

Start up your sole proprietorship and see which of these options might work best for you:

1. Instagram influencer.

Influencers are so effective as marketers because they are seen as authentic and trusted — to their followers, they are friends, not advertisers. Therefore, you might find incredible traction within your field (and beyond) if you’re able to monetize your social media activity, particularly on Instagram.

Take, for example, the growing community of teachers as Instagram influencers. They inspire fellow education with their color-coding, organizing, decorations and curriculum planning, and some of them get paid more — much more — for their IG work than their “full-time” job. This is a long-term play, however. You need to be well-established in your niche before brands think about approaching you for paid work.

2. Real estate agent.

If you live in a competitive real estate market, you probably know someone in this business. The real estate business is enormous and can be lucrative, based on how much time and energy you have to devote to it. Real estate is a great venture to start part-time as you build a client base and learn the intricacies of the business.

To become an agent, you’ll need to take a course and pass a test to obtain your local real estate license. You may also want to work under a brokerage that offers you protection and leads on clients, so there is a bit of an upfront, as well as ongoing, cost.

Showing houses and apartments, however, typically happens during unusual or non-work hours, like nights and weekends — which means it could fit right into your schedule.

Related: The Top 10 Side Gigs for 2019

3. Accountant.

Helping small businesses or other sole proprietors with their taxes sounds like a tough side gig, especially with the rise of easy-to-use tax software. But about 70 percent of small businesses outsource their tax preparation duties, meaning there’s a market for being willing to roll up your sleeves and learn how to prepare taxes for others.

Doing remote monthly bookkeeping for small businesses on retainer, writing and producing a web seminar or e-book on how to file, or helping businesses craft a business plan they can use when applying for a loan are all small, but focused, ways to put some accounting knowledge to good use.

4. Photographer or videographer.

Taking photos or videos is an excellent example of a popular hobby that can become a lucrative side hustle if you’re willing to invest in the tools and in building up your client base.

Good freelance photographers and videographers are often hired by individuals, businesses and organizations to document events, take headshots and work at parties like weddings or engagements. You can set your own rates depending on the quality of your equipment, your time in business, your particular style and whatever other variables go into the difficulty of taking the pictures/videos and editing them on the side.

5. SEO/content writer.

A great way to break into freelance writing is to offer businesses your services as a content writer, with an emphasis on helping with search engine optimization. If you’ve always been a skilled creative writer and want to start making money from the craft, a few free courses or blog posts can teach you the basics of writing with an eye towards SEO-friendly content that businesses need to rank higher in search.

Small businesses are increasingly using blogs and social media content to attract new customers and drive traffic to their website. Create a website, craft an introductory email, and start pitching businesses on the idea of you writing content for them on topics related to their industry.

6. Coaching or consulting.

Have you become an expert in your chosen field and want to pass your knowledge and skills on to those trying to make a name for themselves? Are you the friend everyone turns to for advice, because you’re not just a good listener but preternaturally wise? If so, professional or life coaching could be a fun avenue to explore.

Good coaches are typically credentialed by an organization like the ICF in order to assure clients of their background, but there is no law that says you need one. You could start coaching on an informal basis before making the leap to more professional coaching. Coaches typically have a niche in leadership or executive coaching, life coaching, relationship coaching or career coaching.

Consulting in your field is also a strong possibility if you’re experienced enough to justify the role. Selecting a niche and setting up a website or platform to begin marketing yourself is the first step. Networking to find and develop clients is the next.cra

7. Crafting.

This one is worth mentioning because of its popularity. It’s one of the biggest side hustles out there that is arguably available to everyone — unlike a slightly more specialized hustle like construction/repair work. If crafting is your hobby and you feel confident that you can sell your wares to people outside of your friend group, it’s easier than ever to set up an Etsy or Shopify page to promote and sell whatever it is you make to the masses.

Be careful not to turn a hobby you love into an ecommerce job you hate: Stay true to what drew you to the craft in the first place and don’t overextend yourself.

A side hustle isn’t just about the money. According to The Hustle, a larger percentage of survey respondents say they “love” their side gig more than their actual job –and since side hustlers make an average of just $686 a month, it likely has to be a labor of love. If you can find a hustle that helps you save for a vacation or afford a nicer apartment, however, you’ll love it even more.