Sparring Mind

Creative work and human behavior.

The Science of Productivity

In today’s busy world we’ve become a people obsessed with “work hacks” and supposedly hidden secrets on how to be more productive.

Getting more done in less time helps us get ahead, and even gives us more availability to do the things we love outside of work. The problem we run into is that it is easy to get motivated, but hard to stay disciplined.

Most of us look at productivity in the wrong way: task management tools are shiny at first and then go unused. Being chained to your desk is as unhealthy as it is unproductive. Achievement isn’t about doing everything, it’s about doing the right things. Productivity is about saying no.

Focus and consistency are the bread-and-butter of being truly productive. Let’s take a look at the science behind how the brain works in the synthesis state, and what changes you can make for the better.

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15 Easy Ways To Speed Up WordPress

Last Update September 15th, 2017: WordPress is a great platform. One weakness that it suffers from, however, is it can be quite slow.

Without taking the right precautions, you could end up with a sluggish site.

That’s not only a hassle for repeat visitors but will cause you to lose subscribers and customers.

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50 Must-Read Psychology Books

Reading is the supreme lifehack. Distilled knowledge that often took years to assemble can be consumed in just a few hours.

And the more you know about social psychology and human behavior, the better. Reading good psychology books lets you jump-start your education by absorbing what researchers, professors, and authors spent years putting together.

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15 Habits of Incredibly Happy People

While happiness is defined by the individual, I’ve always felt it foolish to declare that nothing can be learned from observing the happiness of others.

Examining how to be happy is benefited from observing the patterns of others, and then taking only what you find useful. Inspiration is the goal, not rigid rules on being happy.

I’ve gone over dozens of research papers in the pursuit of learning more about the subject — happiness in work and life is a topic to take seriously, so I’m always on the hunt for inspiration and insight.

Below I’ll cover a few of my favorite studies.

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Stop Searching for Life Hacks.
Focus on This Instead.

Compounding interest produces the most meaningful results, not individual swings. Why then, has the world become obsessed with life hacks?

Partly because a small selection of shortcuts are useful and meaningful. But also because businesses know that we are drawn to the illusion of progress.

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Are You Cultivating Knowledge or
Consuming Information?

Quality output demands quality input. Garbage in, garbage out as they say.

Amidst the “sky is falling” debates over how TV and the Internet are making us mindless drones, this is the real issue to keep in mind: we need to be cultivate more than we consume.

It’s an important concept worthy of regular revisiting.

To begin, let’s explore a theatrical look on what is at stake when we don’t take our information diet as seriously as our nutritional diet.

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Supernormal Stimuli

With the rapid pace of technology, have we been able to keep up with the new stimulation that is available?

Some research suggests that certain things we enjoy today would be classified as supernormal stimuli, a term evolutionary biologists use to describe any stimulus that elicits a response stronger than the stimulus for which it evolved — even if it is artificial.

Before we get into the research, let’s summarize the concept of a supernormal stimulus.

The comic below will explain the basics and will take you less than 3 minutes to read.

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50 Successful Blogs in Every Topic Imaginable

One misconception that forever bothers me is the belief that blogging doesn’t work unless it’s meta. People don’t believe blogs can be successful unless they are about blogging, marketing, or social media.

What they don’t understand is that it’s only the marketing blogs that publish things like “income reports” and the like. Regular blogs in traditional topics don’t do this, yet they are still out there killing it.

Today I’m going to bring you 50 successful blogs, often built solely through publishing great content + guest blogging, that span a huge variety of topics, to prove once and for all that blogging can be used to build an audience in nearly every topic imaginable.

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Giving the Gift of Encouragement

Just as important as the work you do is the person you bring to work. Your mood, outlook, and actions echo out to those around you.

One of the best ways to contribute to your surroundings to give the gift of encouragement.

I’ve written before about the dangers of making “Great work!” an expected platitude. Let’s be clear: when everything is great, nothing is. But I believe most of us give (and get) less encouragement than we’d like, in work and life.

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How Music Affects Your Productivity

Music has a way of expressing that which cannot be put into words.

It is for this reason (and many more) that music is regarded as one of the triumphs of human creativitybut does music itself help one to create?

Truthfully, this is an important question to examine for anyone, because music has increasingly become apart of the modern-day work session. With so much of our work now being done at computers, music has become an important way to “optimize the boring.”

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