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3 Ways To Focus Your Wandering Mind And Fuel Productivity

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Do you have trouble staying focused? For several years I knew I wanted to start writing again and to build up a thriving side-hustle as a freelance writer. I would schedule my day so that I had time to write after work. Then I would get home from work, and start to write, only to find that my mind would quickly wander off.

Typically I would be either ruminating about something that happened in the past, or planning and worrying about the future. I know I am not alone in this struggle to focus. If you are like me, you probably experience the ‘monkey mind’ – a wandering and scattered mind that just can’t stay focused.

Not only does mind-wandering make us less productive, it can make us less happy. Indeed, a Harvard study found that when people’s minds were wandering, they tended to be less happy, because during mind-wandering our thoughts often tend towards negative rumination such as our worries and our regrets. .

I wasted a full year letting my mind-wandering get the best of me. I decided to get serious about learning to focus and to stop wasting time.

Here are three ways I have learned to focus the wandering mind:

1. Know your why

Remember your motivation for doing the task in the first place. This will greatly enhance your ability to focus and get things done. Make sure you know why you need the focus, and get clear on what will happen if you don’t focus.

Even if this particular task feels like is more something you must do than something you are motivated to do, think about the bigger picture. How does this task relate to a larger project or career goal that is highly motivating for you? For example, will this task help strengthen a particular skill you need to get a promotion or transfer into a new role?

If you can’t find one single motivating reason to be doing this task, consider not doing it at all. Move onto something else.

“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.” – William Barclay

2. Structure your workflow

We all have a finite attentional window. Structure your workflow to be in line with that capacity. Work can be seen as a series of sprints  – and to be our most productive and most creative, we need to unplug throughout our workdays.

This can be accomplished in two ways. The first is to schedule your most important work during the time you are typically most awake, energetic and focused.

Get to know your energy cycles, and when you are at your best. Schedule your workflow to be aligned with your best energy capacity. For example I always schedule creative or strategic projects for first thing in the morning, my most focused time of the day.

The second way is break tasks down into smaller tasks and schedule them in short spirits. Work for about an hour straight with no distractions, no multitasking or checking email. Then, take a short break and walk around the office or go get some fresh air. This will enable you to be more productive throughout the full day.

 

3. Monitor your mind

The most important way to stop the wandering mind, is to monitor it. Daniel Goleman, author of Focus, recommends periodic mind monitoring throughout the day. Noticing where your mind has gone – such as checking Facebook instead of working on that report – gives you the chance for an important check in: “my mind has wandered off again.”

That very thought disengages your brain from where it has wandered and activates brain circuits that can help your attention get unstuck and return to the work at hand. So each time you notice your mind has wandered away from the task at hand, name it by saying ‘wandering’ and then bring your mind back to the task you are working on.

If you notice that your mind always wanders to the same place, to social media or checking email for example, this might be a good indicator that you need to limit these distractions. Try working with your phone in another room or a few hours, or disconnect from the wifi in your office so it takes an extra step to get back online. That extra step should be enough to stop you from going online.

Practice makes perfect 

Time is our most precious resource, once it is spent we can never get it back. By continuing to be unfocused time slips by, and we may find that we are no closer to our goals than we were a year ago.

The good news is that we can change our ways and overcome the habitual thoughts patterns of the mind. Building our ‘focus muscle’ is like going to the gym. Willpower is like a muscle… over time with training, we can strengthen our attention.

“Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.” – Mary Tyler Moore

The reward for all this practice? By training our minds to be more focused, we will take action towards our goals, and be more productive and happier at work and in our daily lives.

How do you focus your wandering mind? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Heidi Hill is a writer and mindfulness educator intent on helping everyone reach their full potential. Heidi shares research-backed mindfulness tools to help people change their relationship to stress and reclaim their joy. Grab her free guide: 5 Simple Mindfulness Practices to Help You Focus and Instantly Increase Your Energy. You can also check out her website here: http://www.lifeinfullbloom.com.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Camilla Hallstrom

    Feb 22, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    Wonderful post, Heidi! I’ve recently realized how much more I got done by disconnecting my WiFi or by using a program like FocusWriter 🙂

  2. Robert Bowley

    Feb 20, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Hi Heidi
    I loved reading your article. Three really useful tips to remember. I couldn’t agree more, that practice is the key to them all.
    Looking forward to your next blog!

    Rob

  3. Yash Chauhan

    Feb 18, 2016 at 4:35 am

    Very good Article, Heidi !

  4. Christie

    Feb 17, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    Good post! I think we are all forgetting how to focus and concentrate. I blame it on all the beeping media we have surrounded ourselves with. We need to choose when we have media usage and then turn it off.

  5. Corinne Kerston

    Feb 17, 2016 at 4:00 am

    Hi Heidi,
    I have a huge problem with focus and lack of attention. I appreciate these wonderful tips.

    Corinne

  6. April

    Feb 17, 2016 at 3:53 am

    Great article Heidi! I really like your tips and will try to put them into practice. I think they’d be especially helpful when you are not super motivated to get to the tasks at hand.

  7. Charlene Rhinehart

    Feb 17, 2016 at 2:29 am

    Thanks for sharing, Heidi! Your first point about remembering your WHY is crucial. It’s easy to lose focus if you have lost your why. Keeping your why at the center of your ambitions will help you gain the strength needed to continue on your journey.

    • Heidi Hill

      Feb 17, 2016 at 7:03 pm

      Hi Charlene, thanks so much for your comment. I am glad you found the post helpful!

  8. Quinn Eurich

    Feb 16, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    Hi Heidi,

    I’m really big on your #1 tip! Not only does it help you focus, but when you think of the type of mindset you need in order to accomplish the task, it helps even more.

    That comes in very handy for me when doing those tasks I don’t particularly care to do, or when a piece of writing needs a specific tone.

    Good advice!

    Thanks very much for sharing!

    Qyubb

    • Heidi Hill

      Feb 17, 2016 at 7:07 pm

      Hi Quinn, thanks for your comment. I am so glad you liked these tips! – Heidi

  9. Sue Anne Dunlevie

    Feb 16, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    Hi, Heidi,

    Loved this article! Very interesting that an unfocused mind makes you less happy. Good reason to follow your steps.

    Thanks for the great info.
    Sue

  10. Dinesh N Sathe

    Feb 16, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    Great notes .
    Liked the ” Disconnect Wi-fi” point .
    Power of Focus is awesome .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Life

5 Mindset Shifts You Can Steal From the Movies to Have Blockbuster Success

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Image Credit: Unsplash

If only our clients had the passion of Potterheads. Remember the midnight premiers? Potterheads lined up for hours, dressed in full costume, wands a-blazin’. When the doors finally opened, they couldn’t throw their money at the ticket booth fast enough. How do you create that kind of enthusiasm for your own business?

I’m going to share five mindset shifts straight out of the movie business that you can use to fuel lifelong fanatics. Some of it is going to be tough love, but hey, nobody said getting your own fan club was easy.

1. Stay humble, stay hungry

Working actors audition an average of 67 times before booking a gig. 67 times! And that’s working actors—people who earn their entire livelihood from acting. Most entrepreneurs will hear this stat and say, “I get it. I need to accept failure 66 times.” But this isn’t about that. It’s about showing up 67.

Accepting failure is passive. You can accept failure from your couch. Showing up and trying, however, is active. When you show up, you commit to taking a step forward. And 66 times, you’ll get knocked down. It’s humbling. But on attempt 67, that step forward might finally stick.

Mindset shift: You have an insatiable appetite for success. You know that every failure is one failure down and that, soon, you’ll knock it out of the park.

“Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.” – Robert Kiyosaki

2. Treat your audience as kings

The box office doesn’t care what the director’s intentions were, how cool the writer is, or if the lead actor was featured in some fancy magazine, it cares about people in seats. And when thematic costumes clothe them (ala Potterheads), there are more of them.

In movies and entrepreneurship, your most critical metrics depend on your audience’s choices. So, the sooner you start treating your audience as kings and making everything about them, the sooner your metrics will start climbing.

How does the Harry Potter franchise treat Potterheads as kings? Movie premiers are 100% about the fans. They get to feel cool in costume, show off to friends, be among the first, hang out with other super-fans, and more. No matter what, putting your audience’s desire ahead of your own will always pay off in the long run.

Mindset shifts: Other entrepreneurs pursue immediate recognition. But you know that the more special you make your audience feel, the more success you’ll have down the road.

3. Depict compelling transformations

Humans have a fundamental desire for transformation. We love watching movies about redemption, growing up, settling down, overcoming adversity, underdogs, and more. Harry Potter is full of that stuff. Heck, the series even allowed a generation of readers to transform into adults alongside Harry.

This is why Before and After pictures are so incredibly persuasive. They help us to visualize the change we crave. And every single product or service on the market offers some form of transformation. All you have to do is call it out.  

Mindset shift: Bad entrepreneurs sell products. Good entrepreneurs sell solutions. Entrepreneurs who create rabid fans sell transformation.

4. Trust the fundamentals

When I took my first screenwriting class, the number of hyper-specific rules shocked me. Did you know that about 20 minutes into every movie, something dramatic changes in the protagonist’s life and propels them into a new world?

Don’t believe me? Time it. Unsurprisingly, one kid in my class completely ignored the rules. Even more unsurprisingly, his scripts sucked. When my professor called him out, the kid blubbered, “But Tarantino—” To which my professor replied, “Are you Tarantino?” No. No, he was not Tarantino.

The difference between you, me, that kid, and Tarantino is that Tarantino paid his dues. It’s extremely rare to find someone who became successful by completely ignoring the conventions of their craft. And the same is true for entrepreneurship.

Mindset shift: Nobody is “above” learning the fundamentals. You know that by appreciating the current structures and systems, you will be better poised to disrupt them in the future.

“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” – Steve Jobs

5. Kill your darlings

Once upon a time, an animation studio was four years into creating a film about the ocean. They had sunk thousands of hours, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into the project. Then, the unthinkable happened… Finding Nemo. You know what the studio did with their ocean movie? They scrapped it.

As entrepreneurs, once we invest a lot of time and energy into something, we’re afraid to abandon it—even if the circumstances that made it worth pursuing in the first place don’t exist anymore. It’s the sunk cost fallacy. It’s important to remember that regardless of if you keep chugging along, the investment you made is unrecoverable. On the flip side, the gains you made are still valuable. The only choice you have is how you move forward—and sometimes, that means changing course.

Mindset shift: No effort goes to waste, even if the resulting work becomes irrelevant. Instead of letting your ego rule your decisions, you choose the best course of action and move on.

Building enthusiasm for your business is a slow but crucial process. What techniques have you pulled from other fields to help connect with your audience?

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Life

How Stress Can Actually Improve the Quality of Your Life

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Image Credit: Twenty20.com

Naturally, those of us who experience less stress in our lives are more likely to succeed. So, it’s important that you learn how to reduce your daily level of stress, right? Maybe not. Recent research has shown the common wisdom about stress might be dangerously inaccurate. Psychologists tracked the health of 30,000 adults in the United States over an 8-year period. Participants were asked two important questions:

1.    “How much stress have you experienced in the last year?”
2.    “Do you believe stress is harmful to your health?”

The researchers found that people who experienced high levels of stress were 43% more likely to die in the study’s 8-year period. Doesn’t that prove stress is in fact bad for your health? Not exactly, stress was only harmful to the people who believed stress was harmful.

Those people who experienced high amounts of stress but didn’t believe it was harmful to their health were less likely to die than all other groups in the study. They were even less likely to die than the people who experienced low levels of stress (but believed stress is harmful.)

Put simply, people who believe that stress is not harmful live longer lives than those who believe it is. This study showed that it might not be stress that damages our health, but our beliefs about stress that damages our health.

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” – Elbert Hubbard

Breakthroughs In Stress Research

At first, this might be hard to believe. Kelly McGonigal elegantly explains this phenomenon in The Upside of Stress, “Stress mindsets are powerful because they affect not just how you think but also how you act. When you view stress as harmful, it is something to be avoided. Feeling stressed becomes a signal to try to escape or reduce the stress. And indeed, people who endorse a stress-is-harmful mindset are more likely to say that they cope with stress by trying to avoid it.”

People who believe stress is negative are more likely to avoid it by smoking, binge-eating, or watching too much TV. Afterwards, their physical health pays the price. Fortunately, research has shown that your beliefs about stress can be changed – and changing them has powerful benefits.

A study by Jeremy Jameson and colleagues had people endure a grueling social stress test. Participants were asked to give a 5-minute impromptu speech about their personal weaknesses to a panel of judges. To make this situation even more stressful, the judges were instructed to give negative feedback to the participant giving the speech. This study wasn’t just about sadistically putting people through social pressure, it was testing whether a mindset intervention could change how people react to stress.

Before giving the impromptu speech, participants were shown one of two videos:

  • The first video opened with the message, “Most people think that stress is negative… but research shows that stress is even more debilitating than you expect.”
  • The second video opened with, “Most people think that stress is negative… but actually research shows that it is enhancing.”

Participants who were shown the video that gave examples of how stress can be enhancing were less stressed out during the interview, felt more confident while speaking, and gave better interviews (as rated both by themselves and the judges). Even more impressively, although normally a stress response causes a person’s blood vessels to constrict, the blood vessels of participants who saw the pro-stress video remained relaxed.

“Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.” – David Allen

The Power Of Your Stress Mindset

So, a 3-minute video was able to change the way people responded to a stressful situation, not just psychologically, but physiologically. When we think stress is something we must avoid, stress becomes a negative feedback loop. We experience stress, we think it’s a bad thing, and then our stress makes us even more stressed (and on and on).

But, when we think stress is just a natural part of life, or even a good thing, we are able to embrace it instead of being controlled by it. This not only allows us to perform better in stressful situations, it also enables us to make healthier decisions (because we won’t attempt to avoid stress with unhealthy coping behaviors).

How do you handle stress? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Life

One Piece Of Simple Advice That Changed My Life.

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“Stay positive no matter what happens.”

That’s one simple piece of advice that changed my life.

I learned the importance of this advice the hard way when my life was traveling along just nicely. I had a high paying job, a booming blogging career, a partner who loved me, and enough money to live and enjoy a few simple pleasures.

I got to travel overseas to exotic locations and work even allowed me to have some pretty unique experiences like sleeping on a yacht and going surfing with a crazy bunch of entrepreneurs.

I thought I had it all.

People looked at my life and thought it was spectacular.


Deep inside of me, I knew something was not quite right.

I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Something about this so-called perfect life felt wrong.

Before I knew it, I broke up with my girlfriend, lost all of my work colleagues to competitors and found myself staring into a glass half full of instant coffee.

When I hit challenges, I found myself getting pissed off. I’d say to myself “Why me?” and “Get out of my way idiot, you’re blocking the path in front of me.”

How could an internet proclaimed self-help blogger have these crazy, messed up thoughts?

What was wrong was I’d forgotten how to stay positive. I thought that I was past the point of having to deal with challenges and I’d reached a level that I could never go back from.

“Personal development and inspirational content can make you feel invincible — especially when you’re the one creating it”

Sometimes the very thing you preach can be the one thing that is your own downfall.

As I analyzed the situation, I saw that I’d forgotten how to practice positivity.


How does one practice positivity?

By deciding to. Positivity is a choice.

Positivity is like going on an adventure and forcing yourself to see at least one good thing about the journey.

One little hack I used was writing down three things each day I was grateful for. I forced myself to do it at work and locked it into my diary for 9 am every morning.

During the career challenges I mentioned earlier, the lady that sits a few desks away from me described my situation as like being on the Titanic. She called my business unit the “Sinking Ship.”

Outside forces are going to have an effect on you if you let them. I chose to see positivity in what she was saying. I wrote down notes of how this could be positive.

It took a while, but eventually, I got the answer: The Titanic she described was a forced career change into something I liked even more. I’d become comfortable and that was the issue.

At that moment, I realized that I had the power within me to always see positivity if I wanted to.


It’s not about getting rid of negative thoughts necessarily.

It takes a lot of energy to remove or block negative thoughts. Choosing positivity is a much easier process to go through and it takes less energy.

Committing to yourself that there is at least one good outcome from every situation, forces your mind into positivity. It can be done.

You’re supposed to have negative thoughts. They keep you alive. Having zero negative thoughts is impossible. What helped me was balancing my thoughts to be more of the positive variety.


Gossiping and complaining breeds the opposite outcome.

Trying to stay positive no matter what is extremely difficult when you’re in conversations with people who are egging you on to complain, or gossip about someone or something.

The temptation is huge because whether we like it or not, it feels good.

The trouble with complaining or gossiping is that it only breeds more negativity.

You’re asking your brain to dish up negative possibilities and recall negative situations. The other person’s reaction to your negativity only rewards your brain for its hard work.

You can’t focus on being positive if you deliberately hijack your brain every time with gossip talk and picking faults with your co-workers.

People stuff up; they have different beliefs to you; they have other priorities.

Gossiping and complaining doesn’t make anyone else wrong. It does make you practice negativity though and that’s not going to change your life.


Take a long hard look at yourself.

Are you being positive most of the time? When I asked myself this question, I could see clearly that I was not.

I’d fallen into bad habits and allowed outside forces to manipulate my thoughts and turn them toxic.

My life started to change when I acknowledged what was going on and took ownership for it.

“It’s damn hard to admit as a self-help blogger that you’re being extremely negative and ruining your own success. It’s somewhat counter-intuitive. Either way, this reality was my truth and I owned it!”

Ignoring the problem is not going to make it magically disappear.

So, what did I do?

  • Stayed clear of the people who were fuelling my negativity
  • Focused on the positivity that already existed in my life like blogging, love and family
  • Chose a new career path that was closer to what I loved
  • Spent more time with other bloggers to learn how they dealt with negativity
  • Took accountability and stopped focusing on outside interference
  • Doubled down on my blogging so I could spread more positivity
  • Spent lots of time watching videos on a Facebook page called Human Kindness

Above all else, one thing that helped was being more kind.

When you’re kind to everyone you encounter, positivity comes at you a hundred miles an hour.

People will make you feel positive when you are kind towards them. You don’t have to hand out millions of dollars in donations or build an orphanage either.

Simple acts of kindness like holding the door open, complimenting someone, or letting a driver into your lane is all it takes.


Tragedy will strike everyone.

That’s not something to be sad about it’s just a fact of life. When you can go through any event and always find a way to be positive, you’re able to recover much quicker. This allows you to support others during these tough times.


Positivity can make you see another way.

By seeing positivity, you’ll discover other options that those around you can’t see.

“Positivity is closely linked to creativity”

Seeing hidden opportunities doesn’t happen when you’re pissed off and want to kill your neighbor because of their dog that always barks when you’re sleeping.

Positivity sparks possibility and that’s where your next opportunity will come from.


Final thought.

Positivity really is the simple advice that will change your life. We can all use more of it and it’s missing in so many souls around the world. Find another way to move forward and don’t be afraid to take a step back once in a while.

Choose positivity in every situation and your life will change. You’ll see a brighter future, and better yet, you’ll create that future for yourself.

You deserve to be fulfilled and do what you love. Let positivity get you there faster.

<<<>>>

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Life

4 Simple Things You Can Do Today to Change Your Life for the Better

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Image Credit: Twenty20.com

Change lies in our ability to create better decisions for ourselves, and we can only do this by establishing a healthy mindset. Learn how to create a better life for yourself by improving your state of mind. I am going to help you get a little closer to the satisfying life you deserve by giving you some simple tips that hav completely changed the way I think of life.

Here are 4 simple things you can do to change your life right now:

1. What is making you unhappy?

Go to a quiet place to sit and think about your life. Take as much time as you need to think about why your life is the way it is. What in your life is going wrong? Why are you feeling this way? If something could fix the way you are feeling, what would it be? Write down all the things that are hindering your quest to life satisfaction and be specific. Then, write down solutions to each problem. This part is critical because it shows that your pain can be solved and therefore is temporary. It also shows that it is up to you to start your journey to a better you.

“Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Rohn

2. Improve Your Self-Awareness

Intellectual dishonesty is the worst thing we can do to our psyche. It is important to move beyond that barrier to improve self-awareness, which will then improve our lives. Your self-awareness is the ability to evaluate your own actions, feeling, desires and the negative and positive impact they have had on you and your environment. Be honest with yourself and create a list of things you should improve on and work towards those goals. Your list can include things such as, less aggressiveness; more patience or being more open to other people.

3. Put Away Your Phone

It is so easy to check out because of our phones. That little device can do pretty much anything, and we are under its spell. When was the last time you were with your loved ones without your phone being present? Even when you put it away, you keep it on the table and the urge to check it continues to grow.

That is called an addiction. Addiction is not limited to drugs, they can extend to objects or people as well. This unhealthy behavior prevents you from experiencing the present. Learn how to step away from your phone and cultivate your life.

Learn a new language, read a book or indulge in some arts and crafts. Brainstorm some awesome ideas that could lead to great cash flow. You have a ton of other things that you could be doing that will help you in the long run. When you go out with friends and family, turn off your phone and put it away. If someone calls, and it is important, they can leave a voicemail. Texts are not urgent…. because it’s a text. That person could easily call and if they care, they’ll leave a voicemail too.

The bottom line is to not let your phone be you crutch. Let your mind wonder and embrace boredom. You’ll be surprised at how creative your mind can get. You can create whole worlds and destroy them all in your mind! That is fascinating on its own without the help of a device.

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. Give

Give something to someone at least once a day. This shifts the mindset from, “what I don’t have” to “what do I have to give?” Offer to buy your co-worker’s lunch; help someone with their computer; hold the door open for someone. Trust me, you will feel better about yourself and help others feel lighter on their feet. You could also volunteer or donate some of your belongings that are in good condition. Trust me, someone out there needs them, and they don’t care if it is out of fashion.

To live a better life, we must create a healthier way of thinking. Once our mind is healed, only then we will be able to live our best life. The goal is to create a healthy mindset, so we can make high-quality decisions that will lead to a more satisfying life.   

How are you improving your life today? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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5 Viktor Frankl Quotes to Reshape Your Perspective Today

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Viktor Frankl quotes
Image Credit: Intellectual Takeout

Highly regarded as one of Viktor Frankl’s greatest works, “A Man’s Search For Meaning” highlights Dr. Frankl’s perseverance and survival through the Auschwitz concentration camp. His insights, both harrowing and enchanting, can be readily applied as a sort of spiritual compass for the modern-day man or woman. (more…)

Dan Whalen is a franchise operator with College Hunks Hauling Junk & Moving, personal development writer, and NLP master practitioner. He has a background in business management and team leadership spanning nearly a decade, and has a deeply-rooted passion for helping people experience fulfilling lives. You can find him on Twitter at @DanielJWhalen.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Camilla Hallstrom

    Feb 22, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    Wonderful post, Heidi! I’ve recently realized how much more I got done by disconnecting my WiFi or by using a program like FocusWriter 🙂

  2. Robert Bowley

    Feb 20, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Hi Heidi
    I loved reading your article. Three really useful tips to remember. I couldn’t agree more, that practice is the key to them all.
    Looking forward to your next blog!

    Rob

  3. Yash Chauhan

    Feb 18, 2016 at 4:35 am

    Very good Article, Heidi !

  4. Christie

    Feb 17, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    Good post! I think we are all forgetting how to focus and concentrate. I blame it on all the beeping media we have surrounded ourselves with. We need to choose when we have media usage and then turn it off.

  5. Corinne Kerston

    Feb 17, 2016 at 4:00 am

    Hi Heidi,
    I have a huge problem with focus and lack of attention. I appreciate these wonderful tips.

    Corinne

  6. April

    Feb 17, 2016 at 3:53 am

    Great article Heidi! I really like your tips and will try to put them into practice. I think they’d be especially helpful when you are not super motivated to get to the tasks at hand.

  7. Charlene Rhinehart

    Feb 17, 2016 at 2:29 am

    Thanks for sharing, Heidi! Your first point about remembering your WHY is crucial. It’s easy to lose focus if you have lost your why. Keeping your why at the center of your ambitions will help you gain the strength needed to continue on your journey.

    • Heidi Hill

      Feb 17, 2016 at 7:03 pm

      Hi Charlene, thanks so much for your comment. I am glad you found the post helpful!

  8. Quinn Eurich

    Feb 16, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    Hi Heidi,

    I’m really big on your #1 tip! Not only does it help you focus, but when you think of the type of mindset you need in order to accomplish the task, it helps even more.

    That comes in very handy for me when doing those tasks I don’t particularly care to do, or when a piece of writing needs a specific tone.

    Good advice!

    Thanks very much for sharing!

    Qyubb

    • Heidi Hill

      Feb 17, 2016 at 7:07 pm

      Hi Quinn, thanks for your comment. I am so glad you liked these tips! – Heidi

  9. Sue Anne Dunlevie

    Feb 16, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    Hi, Heidi,

    Loved this article! Very interesting that an unfocused mind makes you less happy. Good reason to follow your steps.

    Thanks for the great info.
    Sue

  10. Dinesh N Sathe

    Feb 16, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    Great notes .
    Liked the ” Disconnect Wi-fi” point .
    Power of Focus is awesome .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Life

5 Mindset Shifts You Can Steal From the Movies to Have Blockbuster Success

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blockbuster success
Image Credit: Unsplash

If only our clients had the passion of Potterheads. Remember the midnight premiers? Potterheads lined up for hours, dressed in full costume, wands a-blazin’. When the doors finally opened, they couldn’t throw their money at the ticket booth fast enough. How do you create that kind of enthusiasm for your own business?

I’m going to share five mindset shifts straight out of the movie business that you can use to fuel lifelong fanatics. Some of it is going to be tough love, but hey, nobody said getting your own fan club was easy.

1. Stay humble, stay hungry

Working actors audition an average of 67 times before booking a gig. 67 times! And that’s working actors—people who earn their entire livelihood from acting. Most entrepreneurs will hear this stat and say, “I get it. I need to accept failure 66 times.” But this isn’t about that. It’s about showing up 67.

Accepting failure is passive. You can accept failure from your couch. Showing up and trying, however, is active. When you show up, you commit to taking a step forward. And 66 times, you’ll get knocked down. It’s humbling. But on attempt 67, that step forward might finally stick.

Mindset shift: You have an insatiable appetite for success. You know that every failure is one failure down and that, soon, you’ll knock it out of the park.

“Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.” – Robert Kiyosaki

2. Treat your audience as kings

The box office doesn’t care what the director’s intentions were, how cool the writer is, or if the lead actor was featured in some fancy magazine, it cares about people in seats. And when thematic costumes clothe them (ala Potterheads), there are more of them.

In movies and entrepreneurship, your most critical metrics depend on your audience’s choices. So, the sooner you start treating your audience as kings and making everything about them, the sooner your metrics will start climbing.

How does the Harry Potter franchise treat Potterheads as kings? Movie premiers are 100% about the fans. They get to feel cool in costume, show off to friends, be among the first, hang out with other super-fans, and more. No matter what, putting your audience’s desire ahead of your own will always pay off in the long run.

Mindset shifts: Other entrepreneurs pursue immediate recognition. But you know that the more special you make your audience feel, the more success you’ll have down the road.

3. Depict compelling transformations

Humans have a fundamental desire for transformation. We love watching movies about redemption, growing up, settling down, overcoming adversity, underdogs, and more. Harry Potter is full of that stuff. Heck, the series even allowed a generation of readers to transform into adults alongside Harry.

This is why Before and After pictures are so incredibly persuasive. They help us to visualize the change we crave. And every single product or service on the market offers some form of transformation. All you have to do is call it out.  

Mindset shift: Bad entrepreneurs sell products. Good entrepreneurs sell solutions. Entrepreneurs who create rabid fans sell transformation.

4. Trust the fundamentals

When I took my first screenwriting class, the number of hyper-specific rules shocked me. Did you know that about 20 minutes into every movie, something dramatic changes in the protagonist’s life and propels them into a new world?

Don’t believe me? Time it. Unsurprisingly, one kid in my class completely ignored the rules. Even more unsurprisingly, his scripts sucked. When my professor called him out, the kid blubbered, “But Tarantino—” To which my professor replied, “Are you Tarantino?” No. No, he was not Tarantino.

The difference between you, me, that kid, and Tarantino is that Tarantino paid his dues. It’s extremely rare to find someone who became successful by completely ignoring the conventions of their craft. And the same is true for entrepreneurship.

Mindset shift: Nobody is “above” learning the fundamentals. You know that by appreciating the current structures and systems, you will be better poised to disrupt them in the future.

“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” – Steve Jobs

5. Kill your darlings

Once upon a time, an animation studio was four years into creating a film about the ocean. They had sunk thousands of hours, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into the project. Then, the unthinkable happened… Finding Nemo. You know what the studio did with their ocean movie? They scrapped it.

As entrepreneurs, once we invest a lot of time and energy into something, we’re afraid to abandon it—even if the circumstances that made it worth pursuing in the first place don’t exist anymore. It’s the sunk cost fallacy. It’s important to remember that regardless of if you keep chugging along, the investment you made is unrecoverable. On the flip side, the gains you made are still valuable. The only choice you have is how you move forward—and sometimes, that means changing course.

Mindset shift: No effort goes to waste, even if the resulting work becomes irrelevant. Instead of letting your ego rule your decisions, you choose the best course of action and move on.

Building enthusiasm for your business is a slow but crucial process. What techniques have you pulled from other fields to help connect with your audience?

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Life

How Stress Can Actually Improve the Quality of Your Life

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Naturally, those of us who experience less stress in our lives are more likely to succeed. So, it’s important that you learn how to reduce your daily level of stress, right? Maybe not. Recent research has shown the common wisdom about stress might be dangerously inaccurate. Psychologists tracked the health of 30,000 adults in the United States over an 8-year period. Participants were asked two important questions:

1.    “How much stress have you experienced in the last year?”
2.    “Do you believe stress is harmful to your health?”

The researchers found that people who experienced high levels of stress were 43% more likely to die in the study’s 8-year period. Doesn’t that prove stress is in fact bad for your health? Not exactly, stress was only harmful to the people who believed stress was harmful.

Those people who experienced high amounts of stress but didn’t believe it was harmful to their health were less likely to die than all other groups in the study. They were even less likely to die than the people who experienced low levels of stress (but believed stress is harmful.)

Put simply, people who believe that stress is not harmful live longer lives than those who believe it is. This study showed that it might not be stress that damages our health, but our beliefs about stress that damages our health.

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” – Elbert Hubbard

Breakthroughs In Stress Research

At first, this might be hard to believe. Kelly McGonigal elegantly explains this phenomenon in The Upside of Stress, “Stress mindsets are powerful because they affect not just how you think but also how you act. When you view stress as harmful, it is something to be avoided. Feeling stressed becomes a signal to try to escape or reduce the stress. And indeed, people who endorse a stress-is-harmful mindset are more likely to say that they cope with stress by trying to avoid it.”

People who believe stress is negative are more likely to avoid it by smoking, binge-eating, or watching too much TV. Afterwards, their physical health pays the price. Fortunately, research has shown that your beliefs about stress can be changed – and changing them has powerful benefits.

A study by Jeremy Jameson and colleagues had people endure a grueling social stress test. Participants were asked to give a 5-minute impromptu speech about their personal weaknesses to a panel of judges. To make this situation even more stressful, the judges were instructed to give negative feedback to the participant giving the speech. This study wasn’t just about sadistically putting people through social pressure, it was testing whether a mindset intervention could change how people react to stress.

Before giving the impromptu speech, participants were shown one of two videos:

  • The first video opened with the message, “Most people think that stress is negative… but research shows that stress is even more debilitating than you expect.”
  • The second video opened with, “Most people think that stress is negative… but actually research shows that it is enhancing.”

Participants who were shown the video that gave examples of how stress can be enhancing were less stressed out during the interview, felt more confident while speaking, and gave better interviews (as rated both by themselves and the judges). Even more impressively, although normally a stress response causes a person’s blood vessels to constrict, the blood vessels of participants who saw the pro-stress video remained relaxed.

“Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.” – David Allen

The Power Of Your Stress Mindset

So, a 3-minute video was able to change the way people responded to a stressful situation, not just psychologically, but physiologically. When we think stress is something we must avoid, stress becomes a negative feedback loop. We experience stress, we think it’s a bad thing, and then our stress makes us even more stressed (and on and on).

But, when we think stress is just a natural part of life, or even a good thing, we are able to embrace it instead of being controlled by it. This not only allows us to perform better in stressful situations, it also enables us to make healthier decisions (because we won’t attempt to avoid stress with unhealthy coping behaviors).

How do you handle stress? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Life

One Piece Of Simple Advice That Changed My Life.

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Image Credit: Unsplash / Danilo Santos
“Stay positive no matter what happens.”

That’s one simple piece of advice that changed my life.

I learned the importance of this advice the hard way when my life was traveling along just nicely. I had a high paying job, a booming blogging career, a partner who loved me, and enough money to live and enjoy a few simple pleasures.

I got to travel overseas to exotic locations and work even allowed me to have some pretty unique experiences like sleeping on a yacht and going surfing with a crazy bunch of entrepreneurs.

I thought I had it all.

People looked at my life and thought it was spectacular.


Deep inside of me, I knew something was not quite right.

I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Something about this so-called perfect life felt wrong.

Before I knew it, I broke up with my girlfriend, lost all of my work colleagues to competitors and found myself staring into a glass half full of instant coffee.

When I hit challenges, I found myself getting pissed off. I’d say to myself “Why me?” and “Get out of my way idiot, you’re blocking the path in front of me.”

How could an internet proclaimed self-help blogger have these crazy, messed up thoughts?

What was wrong was I’d forgotten how to stay positive. I thought that I was past the point of having to deal with challenges and I’d reached a level that I could never go back from.

“Personal development and inspirational content can make you feel invincible — especially when you’re the one creating it”

Sometimes the very thing you preach can be the one thing that is your own downfall.

As I analyzed the situation, I saw that I’d forgotten how to practice positivity.


How does one practice positivity?

By deciding to. Positivity is a choice.

Positivity is like going on an adventure and forcing yourself to see at least one good thing about the journey.

One little hack I used was writing down three things each day I was grateful for. I forced myself to do it at work and locked it into my diary for 9 am every morning.

During the career challenges I mentioned earlier, the lady that sits a few desks away from me described my situation as like being on the Titanic. She called my business unit the “Sinking Ship.”

Outside forces are going to have an effect on you if you let them. I chose to see positivity in what she was saying. I wrote down notes of how this could be positive.

It took a while, but eventually, I got the answer: The Titanic she described was a forced career change into something I liked even more. I’d become comfortable and that was the issue.

At that moment, I realized that I had the power within me to always see positivity if I wanted to.


It’s not about getting rid of negative thoughts necessarily.

It takes a lot of energy to remove or block negative thoughts. Choosing positivity is a much easier process to go through and it takes less energy.

Committing to yourself that there is at least one good outcome from every situation, forces your mind into positivity. It can be done.

You’re supposed to have negative thoughts. They keep you alive. Having zero negative thoughts is impossible. What helped me was balancing my thoughts to be more of the positive variety.


Gossiping and complaining breeds the opposite outcome.

Trying to stay positive no matter what is extremely difficult when you’re in conversations with people who are egging you on to complain, or gossip about someone or something.

The temptation is huge because whether we like it or not, it feels good.

The trouble with complaining or gossiping is that it only breeds more negativity.

You’re asking your brain to dish up negative possibilities and recall negative situations. The other person’s reaction to your negativity only rewards your brain for its hard work.

You can’t focus on being positive if you deliberately hijack your brain every time with gossip talk and picking faults with your co-workers.

People stuff up; they have different beliefs to you; they have other priorities.

Gossiping and complaining doesn’t make anyone else wrong. It does make you practice negativity though and that’s not going to change your life.


Take a long hard look at yourself.

Are you being positive most of the time? When I asked myself this question, I could see clearly that I was not.

I’d fallen into bad habits and allowed outside forces to manipulate my thoughts and turn them toxic.

My life started to change when I acknowledged what was going on and took ownership for it.

“It’s damn hard to admit as a self-help blogger that you’re being extremely negative and ruining your own success. It’s somewhat counter-intuitive. Either way, this reality was my truth and I owned it!”

Ignoring the problem is not going to make it magically disappear.

So, what did I do?

  • Stayed clear of the people who were fuelling my negativity
  • Focused on the positivity that already existed in my life like blogging, love and family
  • Chose a new career path that was closer to what I loved
  • Spent more time with other bloggers to learn how they dealt with negativity
  • Took accountability and stopped focusing on outside interference
  • Doubled down on my blogging so I could spread more positivity
  • Spent lots of time watching videos on a Facebook page called Human Kindness

Above all else, one thing that helped was being more kind.

When you’re kind to everyone you encounter, positivity comes at you a hundred miles an hour.

People will make you feel positive when you are kind towards them. You don’t have to hand out millions of dollars in donations or build an orphanage either.

Simple acts of kindness like holding the door open, complimenting someone, or letting a driver into your lane is all it takes.


Tragedy will strike everyone.

That’s not something to be sad about it’s just a fact of life. When you can go through any event and always find a way to be positive, you’re able to recover much quicker. This allows you to support others during these tough times.


Positivity can make you see another way.

By seeing positivity, you’ll discover other options that those around you can’t see.

“Positivity is closely linked to creativity”

Seeing hidden opportunities doesn’t happen when you’re pissed off and want to kill your neighbor because of their dog that always barks when you’re sleeping.

Positivity sparks possibility and that’s where your next opportunity will come from.


Final thought.

Positivity really is the simple advice that will change your life. We can all use more of it and it’s missing in so many souls around the world. Find another way to move forward and don’t be afraid to take a step back once in a while.

Choose positivity in every situation and your life will change. You’ll see a brighter future, and better yet, you’ll create that future for yourself.

You deserve to be fulfilled and do what you love. Let positivity get you there faster.

<<<>>>

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Life

4 Simple Things You Can Do Today to Change Your Life for the Better

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Change lies in our ability to create better decisions for ourselves, and we can only do this by establishing a healthy mindset. Learn how to create a better life for yourself by improving your state of mind. I am going to help you get a little closer to the satisfying life you deserve by giving you some simple tips that hav completely changed the way I think of life.

Here are 4 simple things you can do to change your life right now:

1. What is making you unhappy?

Go to a quiet place to sit and think about your life. Take as much time as you need to think about why your life is the way it is. What in your life is going wrong? Why are you feeling this way? If something could fix the way you are feeling, what would it be? Write down all the things that are hindering your quest to life satisfaction and be specific. Then, write down solutions to each problem. This part is critical because it shows that your pain can be solved and therefore is temporary. It also shows that it is up to you to start your journey to a better you.

“Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Rohn

2. Improve Your Self-Awareness

Intellectual dishonesty is the worst thing we can do to our psyche. It is important to move beyond that barrier to improve self-awareness, which will then improve our lives. Your self-awareness is the ability to evaluate your own actions, feeling, desires and the negative and positive impact they have had on you and your environment. Be honest with yourself and create a list of things you should improve on and work towards those goals. Your list can include things such as, less aggressiveness; more patience or being more open to other people.

3. Put Away Your Phone

It is so easy to check out because of our phones. That little device can do pretty much anything, and we are under its spell. When was the last time you were with your loved ones without your phone being present? Even when you put it away, you keep it on the table and the urge to check it continues to grow.

That is called an addiction. Addiction is not limited to drugs, they can extend to objects or people as well. This unhealthy behavior prevents you from experiencing the present. Learn how to step away from your phone and cultivate your life.

Learn a new language, read a book or indulge in some arts and crafts. Brainstorm some awesome ideas that could lead to great cash flow. You have a ton of other things that you could be doing that will help you in the long run. When you go out with friends and family, turn off your phone and put it away. If someone calls, and it is important, they can leave a voicemail. Texts are not urgent…. because it’s a text. That person could easily call and if they care, they’ll leave a voicemail too.

The bottom line is to not let your phone be you crutch. Let your mind wonder and embrace boredom. You’ll be surprised at how creative your mind can get. You can create whole worlds and destroy them all in your mind! That is fascinating on its own without the help of a device.

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. Give

Give something to someone at least once a day. This shifts the mindset from, “what I don’t have” to “what do I have to give?” Offer to buy your co-worker’s lunch; help someone with their computer; hold the door open for someone. Trust me, you will feel better about yourself and help others feel lighter on their feet. You could also volunteer or donate some of your belongings that are in good condition. Trust me, someone out there needs them, and they don’t care if it is out of fashion.

To live a better life, we must create a healthier way of thinking. Once our mind is healed, only then we will be able to live our best life. The goal is to create a healthy mindset, so we can make high-quality decisions that will lead to a more satisfying life.   

How are you improving your life today? Comment below!

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