Why get purposefully bored
We invite distractions into our lives. There’s a part of us that wants to get distracted.
Why do we do that, when we’re aware that getting distracted can interfere with some of our most important goals in life?
Because we seek stimulation.
It feels good to check your phone. What if someone messaged you?
It feels good to play games. Look at all the high-definition interactive imagery!
It feels good watch a video after video on YouTube. Have you seen the guy playing on plastic tubes with flip flops?
The issue is that all of the above bring you sustained levels of mental stimulation not available in the so-called real world.
So over time, if we indulge often, we get accustomed to certain levels of stimulation.
Any time we get below our new normal, we get itchy. We start to look for anything interesting at all. We start to check things.
This constant lookout for more stimulation can have disastrous effects on our levels of focus, as our work tends to live below the desired levels of stimulation most of the time.
Work often is not immediately as stimulating as distractions. It can’t compete with all the social fun of the Internet or the high-fidelity high-speed interactivity of video games. Don’t make it compete. Don’t try to go immediately from high stimulation of fun to low stimulation of work. Take a break before you switch.
Overstimulation is not a good default mode to be in.
Systematically reduce your normal stimulation levels.
Or in other words, get bored more often.
So how can we lower our stimulation standard to become more engaged when dealing with things that will bring us long-term rewards?
Get bored more often
Let’s take a look at a couple frequent scenarios when we’re tempted to reach for distractions to stay overstimulated.
- In a queue at the supermarket?
Before: check phone (+ stimulation)
After: do nothing, wait (- stimulation)
- Waiting for a friend to return from the bathroom?
Before: check phone (+ stimulation)
After: wait, think about what your friend said (- stimulation, + engagement)
- Have nothing to do?
Before: scroll Reddit for 2 hours (+ stimulation)
After: relax, look out a window, think about what’s something interesting you could do (- stimulation, + creativity)
You can probably find more and more situations where this applies. Look for opportunities to lower your stimulation levels.
Use boredom to work effectively
Say you have task before you that you feel some stress and dread about. It could be sending an important email, writing a proposal, or designing a new application feature.
Whatever the task is, you don’t feel like getting into it. You’d rather check your email. You’d rather check Twitter. You’d rather do anything else and escape to more stimulating places that push work and the stress associated with it out of your mind. For a moment at least.
He goes to a café with a paper notebook and a fountain pen, orders tea, and either sits there doing nothing, or writes.
Sometimes he may not feel like writing another best-seller. No problem, he sits, and does nothing.
And after 15 minutes of nothing, writing suddenly seems more enticing. He starts to wonder about the stories he could tell. And then perhaps an interesting idea appears and he puts the pen to the paper.
Write or do nothing. That’s the rule that works for him. It’s based on purposeful understimulation. How could you use it for yourself?
Getting small things done when you don’t feel like getting anything done.
Lindsay Oden recently graduated with an MA in History from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. You can listen to his podcast and read his website.
Go from “chaotic good” to “lawful good” without losing powers or changing class.
Procrastination is practically inescapable. We feel drained at the end of a long day, too tired from teaching or coursework to start a seminar paper or polish a chapter in our dissertation; sometimes we need time set aside to do stuff that isn’t grad school related. But hiding in procrastination is another fiend that can sap our productivity and make us feel guilty about not working: boredom. Boredom is typically defined as a state of ennui or a weariness caused by dullness or tedium. But Professor of Educational Sciences Dr. Thomas Götz says he has discovered a new type of boredom: apathetic boredom, which he says is an “especially unpleasant form that resembles learned helplessness or depression…. It was reported by 36% of the students sampled.” Boredom is typically treated like a first-world problem, dismissed as a byproduct of the luxury of free time. And we’re grad students, we don’t have free time! But I think it’s highly probable that many of us succumb to apathetic boredom, that feeling of helplessness or desperation produced by overwhelming circumstances when we procrastinate. Erin Bedford has already laid out some excellent tips about how to overcome procrastination. But how can we overcome both procrastination and boredom?
In this post, I’m going to lay out my strategies that will help you conquer both boredom and procrastination without feeling overwhelmed by work. What you can do is defeat boredom by procrastinating: organize your workspace, declutter your intellectual workspace, and take care of small tasks that will make your big projects easier to complete. You can still procrastinate with your big projects, but you’ll be ameliorating those feelings of boredom and helplessness.
Boredom sets in when you aren’t currently doing something, and your naturally creative mind wants to work. But because you’re already procrastinating on a major project, you can channel your energies into a task that is related to the project but won’t cause you anxiety. Getting organized is easy but time-consuming, so if you’re going to waste time procrastinating anyway, at least you can get something easy done. In essence, channel your boredom; make it one of your great spurs of innovation and creativity. Simultaneously, you’ll be reducing stress.
For one thing, having a disorganized or messy workspace can actually cause stress by tricking your brain into thinking it has too many tasks to complete. When I was preparing for my comprehensive exams, I felt this stress response just looking at my giant pile of notes. So while I was procrastinating from studying, I organized 1000 pages of notes into a binder by field and sub-field. It wasn’t really studying, but it helped later. And the hours I spent working kept me from being bored or feeling overwhelmed.
Eliminating stressors will help you study and be creative when your procrastination wears off. More importantly, the act of cleaning helps relieve stress. And this isn’t just a question of your physical workspace either; this also applies to the intellectual workspace. Organizing your physical space helps you focus on one project at a time, meaning you are more productive and less stressed. Stress is relieved by taking away clutter and replacing it with order.
You can also reduce stress by handling a task that will make your larger projects easier. For example, we all know you can’t just start a paper. You think of an idea, you gather resources, you research, you do a literature review, etc. But there are many technical aspects that need to be accomplished too: footnote formatting, a catchy title, a robust outline, images or graphs or tables, acknowledgements, and a good solid font. I like to get these easy tasks out of the way to simplify the process of writing the actual paper. For example, I made sure that every citation in my outline was correct and properly formatted. It’s not writing the actual paper, but it eliminates a huge task that has to be done no matter what. This is a way to manage our digital workspace by handling tedious, low-energy work and making the act of writing much easier.
What we’re trying to achieve is efficiency, productivity, and stress relief, all while fighting apathetic boredom and procrastination. Organizing your physical, mental, and digital workspaces will go a long way toward these ends, not only by distracting and engaging you, but also by reducing the stress you feel once you do begin a serious project.
Do you have any tips on how to fight boredom? How do you organize your workspace? Let us know in the comments.
[Image from Flickr user Design Milk, used under Creative Commons license]
Procrastination in simple is to delay or postpone action. Lets look at the proper definition of this term.
Definition of procrastination: It is the act of delaying or putting off tasks until last second, or past their deadline. Some researchers define it as a form of self regulation failure characterized by the irrational delay of tasks despite potentially negative consequences.
Many people procrastinate because they are anxious about the outcome of a project. Procrastination is a habit and one that many people don’t even realize they’re engaging in. It is the subconscious fear or failure. There’s only one ultimate reason for why we procrastinate is negative emotions. As we are humans who approach for what feels good and avoid what feels bad.
Lets consider few instances
To understand better we see students who procrastinate their preparations for the exams until last night. We procrastinate in many ways for example you have a project to complete.
You have known about it for weeks and continued to put it off day after day. You experience anxiety thinking about the project to complete, but not enough to do anything about it since you have no interest in it or you have no idea about it completely. Then suddenly the day before the deadline, the future consequences turn into present consequences and your complete project hours before it is due.
Science behind procrastination
Science explains procrastination as the fight between two parts of the brain when it is faced with an unpleasant action or activity. It’s a battle of the limbic system (the unconscious zone that includes the pleasure center) and the prefrontal cortex ( a much more recently evolved part of the brain that’s basically our internal planner).
When the limbic system wins, which is often, the result is putting off for tomorrow what could’ve be done today. It offers temporary relief from that unpleasant feeling for whatever reason not wanting to do something.
List of reasons why people procrastinate?
- Lack of discipline
- Fear of failure
- Wait till the last minute
- Lack of urgency
- Lack of motivation
- Fear of unknown
- Lack of self confidence
There can be even more reasons than mentioned above. These are most common reasons for procrastination.
Ways to overcome procrastination
Acknowledge that you are procrastinating
- The time you feel to put off something that you are doing then think why you are procrastinating it. The first step to stop procrastination is to acquire motivation.
Break difficult tasks into smaller chunks.
- Once the task is assigned to you or task that is assigned by yourself, analyze the task and make it as smaller tasks by dividing them according to your comfort and time.
- By doing so we don’t lose motivation of completing each simple task rather than trying to accomplish a huge task at single take.
- Even while doing simple task breaks can be taken to avoid boredom.
Create your own deadline before actual deadline.
- If there is some job or duty assigned to you with deadline then make sure of creating your own deadline prior to the actual deadline.
- This helps in accomplishing the job even before the deadline without any exhaustion and anxiety.
Be organized and goal oriented t o overcome procrastination
- Set all your needs required for the job before starting it. Organize all the necessary things that will let you complete the job without any distractions.
- Without being organized distractions can be faced during the task. Task can be in various forms starting from the student project assignments, employees work, house chores, studying it can be anything that is productive.
- Set your goalsto complete the task. set daily goals, weekly goals and monthly goals to coup the tasks if the task is of long term then
- Rewards are powerful tools. Each time you use your dedicated time to work on your project, give yourself a reward. Reward can be anything that makes you feel happy
- For example, reward yourself with food you like that is healthy if you complete walking for a distance of 2km.
Stop being a perfectionist
- Once you start with doing a job, try your best to complete it rather than stopping the job searching for perfection in it.
- Perfection is just a thought of human nature. All that matters is to complete a job.
Think about the consequences you need to face after procrastinating a job
- If you feel to put off job that you are doing without achieving it, then think of the consequences you need to face for doing so.
- Procrastination leads to put you in situations that you might feel exhaust and anxious about it.
- It’s better to accomplish our duty before anything happens that leads to disappointment.
Prioritize your works to overcome procrastination
- Priorities your works. For prioritizing have this thought in your head all the time when you start doing a job. “Nothing matters… Everything else can wait”
- Don’t get distracted of thinking about stopping. Complete once you start a job.
- Do not quit, remember why you started.
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How To Overcome Isolation, Boredom And Loneliness
Use The Social Media As Your Companion
The social media is a way one can use to stop loneliness. In this state, visit the social media platforms ( facebook, twitter, instagram, etc). There are articles that are filled with mind-changing information that helps greatly.
Though, the social media have some bad sides, but with helping individuals, the social media is helpful.
Entertain Yourself With YouTube
You can also use YouTube.com as a source of inspiration and entertainment by watching shows, movies, comedy skits, DIY videos and so on. This entertainment platform can give you access to everything that is happening around the world. Use it to your own advantage.
Recognise you are not alone
The issue of loneliness is a big thing because due to this, many have committed the act of killing themselves.
The next step to take is to learn that you’re not alone in this world. I wonder why one will feel lonely but do you know that there are great people and excitements in this world. You need to know that there are people who are ready to help on issues one faces.
Talk about it
The thing to do first is to involve people that you trust on the issue you face. It might seem a little hard to do so since you’ve grown deep into the world of loneliness but it surely pays off when you discuss the problem one faces to someone who is ready to listen. When this is done, it’ll help in the other phases to stop loneliness.
Join a forum
When the issue of loneliness surfaces, it is also advisable to join a forum. A forum is a gathering where people with different life issues come together to share them and to majorly seek advice and solutions.
In the gathering, pour out your mind so that the help you seek for can be rendered. In these gatherings, there are people with a high sense of humour that you can relate with to help put a stop to loneliness.
Seek Professional help
It is necessary to seek the help of professionals when you’re in the state of loneliness. Loneliness is for a short time and definitely will go away if necessary steps are taken to ensure so. With one seeking the help of professionals, they would help to give solutions on the issue.
Try And Step Out Once In A While
Loneliness and boredom especially isolation gets worse when we stay indoor all day. Sometimes a breath of fresh air is all you need to tackle loneliness.
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3 Simple Habits That Will Stop You From Procrastinating
We all feel guilty and stressed when we procrastinate. Here are scientific tips on how to never procrastinate again.
Admit it – you’ve procrastinated once or twice in your life. You might even be a habitual procrastinator.
You know what I’m talking about: Putting off a task when you know you should be doing something else. Delaying a task only makes you feel large amounts of guilt and stress.
So why do we do it?
There is the one camp that says we procrastinate because of our personality traits:
- We like the adrenaline rush of finishing at the last minute.
- We’re perfectionists and are afraid of failing.
- We have a hard time making decisions.
And then there is the other camp that says we procrastinate because of how we view the task:
- We think the task will be hard.
- We feel the task is being forced on us.
- We think the task will be boring.
The truth is somewhere in the middle, and most likely a mixture of both. In fact, there is a growing body of science that agrees (see Task Aversiveness and Procrastination).
Here then are the three steps they say you can use today, to say goodbye to procrastination forever.
1. If You’re Procrastinating, You’re Bored: Take a Break
When you find yourself procrastinating, science says it’s because you are bored; or you feel you will be bored working on the task. The mind works best with variety.
Give yourself permission to take regular breaks. Cornell University backs this advice up and says that taking regular breaks boosts productivity.
2. If You’re Procrastinating, You’re Frustrated: Break Things Up
When you find yourself procrastinating, researchers say it’s most likely you are frustrated with a lack of progress. The easiest way to address that?
Realign your expectations by setting small, realistic, and attainable goals. It’s better to make incremental progress, than no progress at all.
3. If You’re Procrastinating, You’re Feeling Forced: Connect to a Greater Good
The biggest culprit of procrastination? Feeling like you’re being forced to complete a task you would normally not choose to do. We all have a little rebel in us.
If that is the case, find a way to connect whatever it is you are avoiding to a greater good that has meaning to you. Find a way to make it personal.
Am I Bored? Am I Frustrated? Do I Feel Forced?
Next time you’re stuck and can’t seem to move forward, ask yourself: Am I bored? Am I Frustrated? Do I feel forced?
You’ll then know what to do to move forward.
There’s a task that you need to get to, but it’s something dull and tedious. Every time you think of getting started on the task, you’re filled with dread. It’s very likely that the following thoughts go through your mind every time you think of the task:
- I hate doing that.
- I’m going to be bored out of my mind.
- Dull, dull, dull . . .
- Zzzzzzz . . .
Is it any surprise that you keep procrastinating when it comes to getting the task done? Of course not. There are many reasons why we procrastinate, and one of them is boredom. Fortunately, there are many strategies you can use in order to get yourself to work on a boring task, and one of the most effective of these is to make the task fun.
Below you’ll discover three examples of how to turn a boring task into a fun one.
The Piano Stairs
Under normal circumstances, when people are given the choice between walking up the stairs or riding up the escalators, the choice is clear. The great majority people will choose to stand passively on the escalators. After all, walking up the stairs requires effort.
However, we know that movement is good for you, and that most people are not getting enough exercise. The question then becomes, “How can people be motivated to use the stairs instead of using the escalators. What if you make climbing up the stairs fun?
“The Fun Theory” is a site put up by Volkswagen which is “dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better.” In order to test the theory that people would choose the stairs instead of the escalators if a “fun” element was added to climbing up the stairs, the people from “The Fun theory” tried an experiment:
- They turned stairs at the Odenplan subway station in Stockholm into piano keys. That is, they engineered it so that as people climbed up the stairs, each step would play a different musical note.
The result was that more people started using the stairs. In other words, people were willing to make the effort to walk up the stairs when it was turned into something fun. Here’s a YouTube video of “the piano stairs”:
Two More Examples
The Fun Theory site has several more examples of getting people to take a desired action by introducing fun into the mix. Here are two more examples:
In order to get people to recycle glass bottles, the container in which people place the glass bottles was turned into an arcade game. You can watch the video below:
In order to get more people to throw their garbage away in the garbage bins, instead of simply throwing it on the ground, a device was installed in a garbage bin which creates a sound as if the rubbish is falling down a deep well. Here’s the video:
These experiments confirmed it: making things fun really can change behavior. Fun motivates people to do things they previously avoided because they were simply boring and monotonous tasks which did not seem worth the effort.
Here’s an excerpt from “The Procrastination Equation”, by Piers Steel on the subject of how to stop procrastinating by making things fun:
“Boredom isn’t inherently part of any job – anything can be made more exciting simply by how we treat it. Tom Sawyer, for example, managed to get the village boys to pay him for the privilege of whitewashing his Aunt Polly’s picket fence. How? By insisting that they couldn’t help and making them envy an unenviable chore. Fortunately, there are a few effective techniques for turning leaden tasks into golden ones.”
The next time you find yourself procrastinating because the task that you need to get done bores you to tears, ask yourself how you can make the task fun. Or, you can also ask yourself: “What would Tom Sawyer do?” Stop procrastinating by turning boring tasks into fun tasks.
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How do you overcome procrastination? We all have it. We all want to fix it. We all hate it. Yet we still find ourselves putting off what we know we should be doing to do something more fun (but less productive).
I’ve poured over advice from the world’s most successful people on this topic, like Brian Tracy. And want to provide you with some tips.
Listen to the podcast episode below:
Subscribe to the podcast:
You Don’t Have To Be Perfect
We all procrastinate, even multi-millionaires and billionaires have admitted to procrastinating. Matt Lloyd of MOBE, a mult-millionaire, admitted he still catches himself on Facebook from time to time. Warren Buffett admitted in the 2016 Annual Shareholders Meeting that he put off firing someone with Alzheimers for too long because he liked him.
But what they do differently is they set up systems so it happens less, especially for important things. Working smarter often beats working harder.
While we all know the importance of working hard by now, working yourself to death alone isn’t the most efficient or effective process.
How to stay consistent for a long time on something?
I’m going to take a different spin and opinion on this.
You have to love what you do.
I’ve spent many, many, years trying to beat my head against the wall with willpower to stay concentrated.
But these were things I wasn’t truly passionate about. Even though I tried to convince myself I was.
Honestly, the passion was partially there. It wasn’t completely fake.
I was one of the most energetic in class. I participated most in discussions and questions.
I was often fascinated by the topic.
But there hit a point where I wasn’t anymore as the curriculum got more complex.
I tried to keep at it for a long time. It had worked in the past. For a good deal of high school, I had succeeded by implementing study strategies that allowed me to keep learning and preparing to do well in school.
But college changed things around.
Procrastination Isn’t The Problem. Your Choice of What To Do Is.
I was pre-med. I wanted to go to medical school. Being asian, this doesn’t seem like a surprise. This is a very common thread for most Asian American families.
Having said that though, in college, I felt like this was right for me. Although I was encouraged by my parents, I thought it would be a good pathway forward. Honestly, it definitely just felt like a more serious, challenging, and interesting major than mathematics, computer science, or English, all of which I had dabbled in quite extensively in high school.
But the truth was that it was just not right.
As the years went on, I got assigned more and more stuff. Eventually, I had dozens of pages of reading on dense topics such as mammalian physiology, lymph systems, human blood circulation, advanced genetics, and biochemistry.
Although I tried extremely hard, studied super hard, got mad at myself numerous times when I lost focus every 3 pages, things would not click.
Looking back, there were countless moments throughout the years where I would try everything I could do to keep focused. I blamed myself because my willpower was not strong enough.
And I kept at it for so long. So many semesters of numerous courses where the material was way over my head. Where the teachers weren’t that good.
Then, I started studying for the MCAT and it was even worse. The MCAT is the grand-daddy of standardized tests. It’s the test for medical school. The material is incredibly complex and there is a ton to memorize and understand. I remember taking thick MCAT books everywhere and get mad at myself when I would get bored after 2 or 3 pages. Sometimes, I would feel frantic or anxious or mad at myself because I thought this was my future and yet there was something wrong with me.
I thought it was my fault for this. I thought I was a procrastinator or maybe lacked discipline or a time waster.
But this wasn’t the case.
A few years later, things have changed.
I no longer want to go to medical school.
More importantly, I have found that I can read books in other topics for much longer periods of time without getting bored (although I usually do it through acknowledging and owning another understanding of how I learn: I prefer listening to reading and so I listen to audiobooks. Thank god for technology! Imagine if I was born 20 years earlier! I would have been screwed.)
Being interested in a topic can give you several hundred percentage points of motivation and interest to stay focused.
Don’t Take It Too Far
Maybe it’s important to add: don’t take this too far.
You can be too spoiled with this attitude of “I don’t love it enough. Maybe it’s not the right thing”
Nothing will be perfect.
Maybe for even those who found their greatest passion, there are moments of boredom. Maybe not. I do know, however, that is wasn’t all peaches and cream and easy times for successful people.
Successful people do what unsuccessful people don’t:
So even if they are interested in it, there will be moments they don’t particularly enjoy: pain, the sweat of hard work, occasional boredom, and many other obstacles.
Are you willing to work hard at your craft and get little to no critical acclaim, or maybe not even any results, for 10+ years?
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Recommended reading: Essentialism – This book was recommended by numerous successful people. I went into it a bit skeptical, but was really blown away by the amount of high impact information on time management. There is very little fluff in this book.
Brian Tracy’s Tips on Procrastination:
Dr. BJ Fogg’s talk on Tiny Habit formation:
Thursday, February 4, 2021 4:30pm to 5:30pm
- Thursday, February 11, 2021 4:30pm to 5:30pm
- Thursday, February 18, 2021 4:30pm to 5:30pm
- Thursday, February 25, 2021 4:30pm to 5:30pm
- Thursday, March 4, 2021 4:30pm to 5:30pm
- Thursday, March 11, 2021 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Thursday, February 4, 2021 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Thursday, February 11, 2021 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Thursday, February 18, 2021 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Thursday, February 25, 2021 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Thursday, March 4, 2021 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Thursday, March 11, 2021 4:30pm to 5:30pm
About this Event
Learn how to overcome procrastination using science-based techniques.
Can you relate to any of the following?
- Do you put off working on papers or projects till the last minute? Do you avoid studying?
- Do you feel fear, dread, anxiety, boredom, or hopelessness when you think of doing work?
- Is your phone getting more attention than your books?
- Are you organizing your materials but not getting around to doing the work?
- Are you turning in lower quality work because you run out of time?
- Are you getting stressed out because everything is last minute?
- Are you putting off other important things, like dealing with finances, or things at home, or getting exercise?
- Do you find it’s hard to say no to fun things, even when you have things to do?
Is this all stressing you out?
You may experience feelings of impending doom about things you haven’t gotten around to doing yet. You aren’t alone AND you can learn new skills.
This workshop is designed to help you overcome habitual procrastination that is causing problems, and get more out of school and your life. The workshop is 6 sessions. To get the most out of this series you are asked to attend all of them sessions.
Putting things off can be a way of avoiding failure – but embracing a task can be easy with these simple steps
It’s easy to get distracted, but then all of a sudden, your To-Do List seems even more daunting than before. Don’t worry, with these simple steps, embracing productivity has never been easier:
Follow the 2-minute rule
Scale down your plans so they are more doable. For instance, 10 minutes of meditation becomes two minutes of closing your eyes. ‘Everyone can manage two minutes of something,’ says James Clear, who writes about habits and human potential. ‘It’s better to do less than you’d hoped than do nothing at all.’
Use visual cues
Visual reminders prompt us to take action, which is why we write ‘to do’ and shopping lists. They’re also a good way of plotting our progress (think
of a child with a sticker chart), which has a positive effect on our motivation. ‘Visual cues and measures of progress reinforce what we’re doing and give us a sense of immediate satisfaction,’ says James.
Create a Temptation Bundle
Combining things you should be doing with things you want to do (a ‘Temptation Bundle’) can work. ‘Only binge-watch that boxset when tackling the ironing pile, or only allow yourself a pedicure if you deal with emails at the same time,’ says James. You’re more likely to do something if it has enjoyment attached to it.
Enter into a commitment contract
‘If you know that you procrastinate by mindlessly playing games on your phone, delete the apps – or move them to somewhere less easy to access,’ says James. ‘Arranging to go to that exercise class with a friend also makes it harder to bail.’ Making yourself accountable can help overcome procrastination.
Getting started can take time, but once you do…
…you Open up possibilities
One small step can lead to you discovering a love for something (or someone) that changes your life path or career.
Taking action helps us to grow as people. Adopting a new way of thinking, or learning something new, can bring beneficial changes.
…you banish boredom
We get bored if we’re not challenged. But often, it’s the things we’re least eager to do that bring new opportunities.
For more inspiration on productivity, make sure to read our monthly lifestyle features online or pick up a mag at your local Asda store.