7 Psychology-Backed Hacks for Boosting Your Motivation


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Motivation is crucial in any professional environment. Trouble is, staying motivated is often easier said than done.

No matter what industry you’re working in, you’re bound to encounter days with more bad than good. This is no reason to give up.

After all, success comes when you push through the frustrating times and focus your efforts and energy on accomplishing one goal at a time. 

To help you keep pushing forward in whatever you’re doing, we’ve compiled seven science-backed tips for sustaining motivation in the workplace. From finding your “why” to accepting rejection, we’re willing to bet that these tips will make a noticeable difference in your day.

7 Psychology-Backed Hacks for Boosting Your Motivation

1) Remind yourself of what you love about your job.

There are two fundamental types of motivation — extrinsic and intrinsic. When you’re extrinsically motivated, you’re driven to act because of external incentives, like money, recognition, or praise.

Intrinsic motivation, behavior driven by the simple enjoyment of a task, is a more powerful force. Richard Griggs, a psychology professor, writes, “A person’s intrinsic enjoyment of an activity provides sufficient justification for their behavior.”

Try writing down a physical list of everything you enjoy about your job, or keeping a running tab of on-the-job moments that made you happy. The important thing is to be able to quickly refer back to a list of positive moments that will provide you a jolt of intrinsic motivation.

2) Find your “why.”

The intrinsic-extrinsic dichotomy is further explored in the push-pull theory of motivation. According to this theory, humans are either pulled to do something because of internal motivation, or pushed because of external factors.

“Pull-based motivation is about tapping the desire to achieve something,” entrepreneur Jonathan Fields writes in Psychology Today. “It’s about taking action not to remove a current pain, but to bring yourself closer to a deeply desired end.”

So when you’re feeling discouraged, remind yourself of why you got into your industry, and what you’re striving for long-term. With a clearly defined purpose, finding your intrinsic motivation to keep going is far easier.

3) Expect a certain amount of rejection.

Instead of treating rejection as something to be afraid of or an unpleasant surprise, build the expectation that a certain number of potential customers are going to say “no” into your day.

Expectancy theory, pioneered by Victor Vroom, states that people choose to act a certain way based on their expectations of what will happen.

A caveat: This only applies to a normal level of rejection. If no one is converting or expressing interest in the content you’re putting out, it might be time to take a closer look at your approach with your manager or peers.

4) Frame potential pitfalls as opportunities.

Research shows that high achievers tend to be achievement-oriented, rather than failure-avoiding. Achievement-motivated people gain satisfaction from succeeding at difficult tasks. Failure-avoiding individuals are primarily concerned with — you guessed it — avoiding a screwup.

Failure-avoiding people “are less likely to attempt achievement-oriented tasks, and may give up quickly if success is not readily forthcoming,” according to psychologist Carl Beuke. Not too inspiring, right?

To put yourself in the mindset of a high achiever, frame risks as opportunities. Sure, not everyone is going to be in waiting at their computer to tweet out your latest blog post, but it’s more productive to view your post as a step in the right direction towards educating your prospects. Coming from a positive place rather than a place of fear will go a long way to keeping you motivated.

5) Set specific short- and long-term goals.

It’s important to keep in mind your blue-sky goals — that is, where you want to be in five or 10 years. But five or 10 years is a long time. What are you supposed to reach for in the meantime?

Sports psychologist Frank Smoll suggests setting goals for the short- and long-term. 

Short-term goals allow people to “see immediate improvements in performance and thereby enhance motivation,” Smoll writes in Psychology Today.

On the other hand, relying purely on lofty goals is actually damaging, as it ignores “the sub-goals needed to attain them.” And this results in a failure to achieve much of anything at all.

6) Remember that it’s not personal.

It’s natural to take rejection personally because humans are inherently social beings. But in marketing and sales, it’s unproductive.

“Taking things personally keeps you tied to someone else,” psychiatrist Abigail Brenner writes in Psychology Today. And if you’re tying yourself to every failed opportunity, you’re going to become overwhelmed with disappointment in short order.

To get some distance from an unpleasant situation, Brenner suggests evaluating what the relationship you have with the person who upset you really meant to you.

7) Go take a walk.

The arousal theory of motivation proposes that humans act to correct imbalances in neurological activity. That is, that when we’re either over- or under-stimulated, we subconsciously behave in ways that bring us back to a healthy level of arousal.

You can stay one step ahead of your subconscious, however. If you feel yourself getting agitated or frustrated, remove yourself from the situation. Leave the office for a quick stroll, stop by a coworker’s desk for a quick chat, or just take a bathroom break. By doing something relaxing, you’ll be able to center yourself and re-focus on the task at hand.

How do you stay motivated? Let us know in the comments below.


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Photographer Captures Striking, Poignant Portraits Of Homeless People

Self-taught photographer Lee Jeffries has been photographing the homeless since 2008. He wanders the streets in search for subjects, accompanied by his camera and a small handheld reflector. Using natural lighting to illuminate his subjects, Jeffries creates spontaneous portraits of these individuals.

The artist takes an inside-out approach by living alongside them, sometimes up to three weeks with some individuals.

Jeffries explained on BuzzFeed, “I go to an area, Overtown in Miami for example, and immerse myself in the community. I walk the streets, eat and sleep there for weeks at a time. I become part of that community. It’s because of that I’m able to develop deep connections.”

“I never ask for a photograph without spending time with them. I’m not there to take photographs. I’m getting something far more personal from the interaction if I’m honest. My own loneliness is somehow [desensitized] by theirs. It’s hard to explain and probably even harder to comprehend…but it keeps me going out there. Once those connections are made, the moments I capture with the camera become spontaneous.”

Jeffries has seen his fair share of tears, laughter, joy, loneliness and death. He recalls, “The last time I was in Miami I was with a group of prostitutes in the Overtown area. They all looked out for each other but they were hopelessly addicted to heroin. One of the times I was there, one of the group…had just been released from prison. I watched as she injected herself. A few hours later she was dead. I’ve seen a lot but I doubt I will ever get over that experience.”

Preview some of his images below and stay updated with his work on Instagram or Facebook.

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));Posted by Lee Jeffries on Wednesday, October 28, 2015

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));Posted by Lee Jeffries on Saturday, October 24, 2015

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));Posted by Lee Jeffries on Sunday, October 18, 2015

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My heartfelt thoughts, prayers and love to Nick Cave and his family on a very tragic day. Truly heartbreaking.

Posted by Lee Jeffries on Wednesday, July 15, 2015

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));Posted by Lee Jeffries on Saturday, June 13, 2015

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));Posted by Lee Jeffries on Wednesday, September 23, 2015

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));Posted by Lee Jeffries on Monday, September 21, 2015

[via BuzzFeed, images via Lee Jeffries]

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3 Scary Fears You Need to Overcome To Experience Amazing Inbound Results


When my marketing agency The Whole Brain Group talks to prospective clients, we spend a lot of time educating them about the cultural shift that will need to take place inside their leadership team and organization as a whole to make an investment in inbound marketing successful.

We know from our own experience, and from talking to a lot of other agency teams, that companies that embrace this cultural evolution consistently experience results more quickly and more powerfully than those who can’t seem to get past these fears.

Here are three fears we frequently run into when working with growing companies who are trying to figure out how to be successful with inbound marketing.

1) Fear of Producing Educational Content

Many companies resist producing a lot of educational content for fear of giving away their “secret sauce” to their competitors – or that they will educate their customers so well that they will just “do it themselves”.  

89% of buyers research online before spending money on anything, so companies need to shift their thinking to adjust to this new buyer behavior. Would you rather have your potential customers educate themselves on your website – or your competitors’?

Attitude Shift #1: Get Comfortable with Educating

It’s important to understand that educating your customers does not necessarily mean publishing the engineering blueprints for your product or letting people download the operations manual your team uses to deliver service. Educating your customers means positioning yourself as a thought leader and guide that can help them make a smart purchasing decision.

  1. Understand and define your buyer personas so you can clarify your messaging and content to meet their needs.
  2. Define your buyer’s journey and produce content that will help remove any misconceptions or objections your customers may have about deciding to buy from you.
  3. Brainstorm topics for content offers by talking to your sales team to find out what questions they are tired of answering, what common misconceptions people have about your product or service, and what they wish people knew when comparing your company to a competitor.

2) Fear of Changing Your Sales Process

Buyer behaviors have changed dramatically in the last few years, but most sales teams are still selling the same old way – and are frustrated that their results aren’t as good as they used to be. Because buyers are doing more research online, they’re typically far more savvy and educated than ever before – and they’ll spot a sales person using “sales tactics” or “faking it” right away.

If you’re doing a good job with inbound marketing, your prospects should have had most of their basic questions answered before they even talk to a sales person – which means your sales team needs to up their game.

Attitude Shift #2: Get Comfortable with Lead Intelligence and Consultative Selling

The beauty of using marketing automation software like HubSpot is that you’re collecting TONS of lead intelligence that could really help salespeople close more deals – if they look at it!

  1. Map your current sales process and look for places to integrate technology to automate, optimize your team’s efficiency, and collect valuable data to help you improve. Tools like Sidekick can help your team be more proactive and responsive, and spend less time on admin tasks so they can focus on building relationships and closing deals.
  2. Get your marketing and sales teams together regularly to examine your lead intelligence data and understand how your buyer behavior is changing. Then go back to the sales process you mapped and make adjustments to optimize for better results.
  3. Encourage your sales team to think of themselves as guides – their primary purpose is to listen, educate, answer questions, and steer your customers toward the right solution for their needs.

3) Fear of Sharing Data and Results

It’s impossible to achieve results or know how to adjust inbound marketing strategies and tactics when you’re not sure if what you’re doing is actually impacting sales or revenue. Many company executives are reluctant to share this kind of information with their marketing team, but still want the teams to mysteriously demonstrate ROI.

At the same time, many marketing teams are scared to share their results with executives because they’re unclear on how success is being measured, or what the expected time frame is for demonstrating results.

Tracking metrics like traffic, leads, and conversion rates is important – but tying those numbers to an impact on sales is even more powerful.

Attitude Shift #3: Be  Comfortable with Transparency

Understanding the link between marketing activities and sales results will help your marketing team make smart decisions and focus on things that will help impact the bottom line.

Consider adopting a Smarketing Scorecard that you update and review each week so your team can start making connections between activities and results. Include numbers like traffic, leads, consults, 90-day pipeline, average deal size, closed opportunities, etc. After reviewing the data for a few weeks, you’ll be able to identify trends and issues before they become problems, and take action that will help you proactively make progress toward your goals.

Invest in a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) that integrates with your marketing software to give everyone access to the same information. When your salespeople can see how a prospect has interacted with your marketing, they’ll be able to have more intelligent and effective conversations. And when your marketing team can see which campaigns are generating qualified leads, they can focus on duplicating that success in future campaigns.

If you’re partnered with a marketing agency, you’ll need to maintain a similar level of transparency and meet regularly to share information so they can function more effectively as an extension of your company. Many owners are worried that an agency will use revenue or sales data against them to increase prices or upsell unnecessary services, but a true agency partner will never abuse their privilege that way. 

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What No One Tells You About Your Career When You’re 22


I don’t know about you, but I rarely feel like I’m 22. I do, however, work with a lot of 22-year-olds who are smart, interesting, dynamic, and absurdly high-energy.

While it depresses me they don’t understand my Saved by the Bell references, their ideas and achievements are truly remarkable.

And approximately once a week, I get a request from one of them to talk about “careers” — a topic that they know they should care or think about, but don’t know what to actually do with.

Below is a compilation of the career guidance I’ll usually give them. (And even if you’re not 22, the advice can still apply.)

The Career Advice No One Tells You When You’re 22

1) Solve for growth. 

Early in your working life, you’re defined by the company you keep, so choose wisely. It’s very easy to pick the company with the biggest name or the biggest paycheck, but I recommend following our Co-Founder Dharmesh Shah’s advice: Solve for growth.

How does the company you’re working for (or considering joining) prioritize growth, both personally and professionally? How does the team you’ll be working for plan to grow in the coming year, and what do the prospects look like for growth for the broader company?

Far too many people pick companies based on their current reputation rather than their possible growth, but you get far more career credit for being the fifth employee at LinkedIn after its explosive growth than you do for being the 5000th employee at Radio Shack before it stops growing entirely.

2) Don’t fire back on feedback.

When you put your heart and soul into your work (as many young people do), you tend to take feedback personally — whether it’s good or bad.

When you get positive feedback, for example, you tend to think that you’re the best marketer or salesperson in the world. And when you get your work criticized in any way, shape, or form — you also tend to take it to heart.

To combat this gut reaction, I always suggest letting feedback “soak” for 24 hours. It allows you to think about what’s true and what isn’t — and how you can use it to grow, regardless of where it falls on that spectrum.

This time for reflection also allows you to have productive conversations with your manager. If you’re personally hurt, offended, or angry, you’re no longer listening. You’ve shut down. If you actually take the time to absorb feedback, you’re going to have a conversation with your manager that will actually help you get to the next level. 

3) Find the Tina(s) to your Amy.

A lot of people talk about how developing friendships at work can improve your personal life, but these relationships can also have a huge impact on your career path. Just look at Tina Fey and Amy Pohler — they’re best friends who also push each other to achieve amazing things in their respective careers. 

I’ve been lucky enough to find several of my “Amys” at HubSpot (yes, I’m Tina in this scenario, as she’s my spirit animal). Last year, I worked with VP of Operations Alison Elworthy and VP of Product Brad Coffey to prep HubSpot for our IPO — a huge milestone for the company. 

The kicker? None of us had prepped a company for an IPO before, and the stakes were high. So we leaned on each other. Because of our strong friendship outside work, we were able to improve our ideas, get feedback, and iterate on messaging and strategy.

So instead of thinking of your work friends as company for happy hour (although that’s important too), seek out peers at work who challenge you, who can help you learn, and who think differently than you do. Just because someone’s a peer at your company doesn’t mean you can’t learn a ton from them — finding a “Tina” or “Amy” who can give you honest, constructive feedback and champion your efforts is incredibly valuable to your career growth.

4) Always be learning. 

In my opinion, people overthink the role of formal mentorship in building their career. Instead of identifying one person to learn from and ask questions of, make that your daily practice. Write down what you see, know, and observe about what works and what doesn’t: You don’t think you’ll forget it as you evolve in your career, but you will. Having it written down somewhere will help you maintain perspective. Identify people you admire and learn from them, but don’t wait for a formal mentorship relationship to do so.

Carve out time in your week to prioritize your own learning. Even if you just watch a TED talk or read a few pages of a new book, ensuring that you have time in your schedule to stretch your horizons makes it much more likely you’ll do the same for the rest of your career. 

5) Lean in to your weaknesses.

At any part of your career, you need to learn new things — and for that to be relatively painless later in your career, you need to build that habit now.

So instead of running away from things you’re not good at, lean into them.

Great writer but not very technical? Learning even a little bit of code or the ins-and-outs of Photoshop will help you significantly.

Fantastic at detail but have trouble seeing the big picture? Ask one of your peers who is great at project management how she juggles priorities.

It’s very easy to fall back on your natural talents or training, but you’ll be well served if you invest the time and effort to push yourself on your greatest areas of weakness early and often in your career.

6) The best way to network is delivering remarkable work.

Far too many people treat networking as an extracurricular activity like running or playing guitar. In reality, the best form of networking is absolutely crushing results in your job — and doing so pays dividends for the rest of your career.

That’s not to say networking isn’t important; it absolutely is. Just don’t be so fascinated with climbing the corporate ladder that you’re not delivering what it takes to get up there.

7) Learn to sell.

Do I mean you need to become a sales rep to be successful? Nope. (But that’s awesome if you are.)

What I mean is you need to learn to sell your ideas, expertise, or vision. Make presenting yourself and your ideas something that helps you stand out from the pack.

Selling yourself doesn’t have to be public speaking. It can also be using data creatively to sell your idea, designing beautiful materials to sell your product, or collaborating with your peers to get buy-in on an initiative you want your organization to prioritize.

The key is to learn how to sell your ideas and your input as early in your career as possible — doing so helps your personal and professional brand and builds your comfort level with expanding your influence and ideas.

8) Rack up results, not recognition.

The biggest complaint I hear from folks new to the workforce is that another person got credit for their work and “that’s not fair.” It is incredibly frustrating when other people get credit for your blood, sweat, and tears, but guess what: Life isn’t always fair, and neither is work.

However, I can tell you that over time, fortune rewards those who rack up results instead of focusing on getting credit. Instead of obsessing over recognition and credit, obsess over results. Your career will thank you for it later.

9) It’s not your manager’s job to manage your career.

Your boss is your manager at work — not a mind reader, fortuneteller, or psychologist. He or she can and should support you in your professional goals, but the only person in the driver’s seat of your career is you.

Manage it proactively by asking for what you want, making it clear what interests you, and eating up feedback for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — doing so will make you a better employee and a better leader, regardless of whether you stay at a company for 10 months or 10 years.

Which leads me to my next point …

10) Write down specific goals.

I did this early on in my career, but took a hiatus for several years. Then, this year I decided to try it again. I literally created a vision board for what I wanted to achieve professionally in 2015.

Turns out, writing down specific goals works as well in your 30s as it does in your 20s. 

The research is abundantly clear: If you write down your goals, you’re much more likely to achieve them. Stating what you want to be when you “grow up” — even if you’re not sharing your aspirations with another soul — makes you much more likely to be diligent about achieving your goals.

A lot of young folks are not exactly sure what they want to be, and that’s okay. Instead, write down more of what you want to do, what you think you might aspire to, or someone you want to be more like. All of those things are going to help you inch closer and closer to your aspirations. 

11) Tackle the big stuff.

Develop a nose early for what’s important in your business — what’s a top priority, why, and what projects can actively support that priority. Raise your hands for those projects. They are high risk, but high reward, and the work you do on them can impact your career for decades to come. Be thoughtful, diligent, and tenacious: Managers notice employees who aren’t afraid of the big stuff, and your teammates will always want to be in a bunker with someone who can tackle a big challenge.

12) Use social to your advantage.

Most 22-year-olds think of social media as a way to connect with friends, but it’s a powerful lever in getting future employers to notice you.

First and foremost, delete or make private any photos or comments about how great your years of partying in college were. Second, set a calendar reminder every quarter to update your LinkedIn profile with recent results so your online resume is always current and fresh. Finally, share content from companies and people you admire: If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, social sharing is a close second — it can go a long way to getting you noticed.

13) Learn to rebound. 

Jack Welch, who I was lucky enough to have as a professor at MIT Sloan, is famous for having failed early in his career at GE. His quote, which I come back to often is, “Your career isn’t always linear. But what matters is how well you get back on the horse.” If a project didn’t go your way or an internship didn’t turn out as planned, don’t get down on yourself — get on with it. Your success is heavily predicated on your ability to bounce back from challenges, so the earlier you learn to reset your attitude after a setback, the better.

14) Embrace your vulnerability. 

When you’re young, you’re often so focused on doing well at your job that you want to seem invincible. To admit failure or ask for help seems like a massive weakness, so you avoid it at all costs.

But the ability to recognize and admit the not-so-perfect parts of yourself helps you become significantly more reflective and self-aware — key skills that will help you move up the ladder. 

Brené Brown, a vulnerability researcher and author of one of the most popular TED talks of all time, has a quote on this subject that always stuck with me: “Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.” By realizing that even successful people have imperfections, you become free to admit your own shortcomings — and work to overcome them.

Humility and vulnerability feel like threats to your career when you’re 22, but they are actually powerful weapons for growing yourself as a professional (and human being). 

15) Get the gratitude bug early. 

I realize I sound ancient saying this (I’m cool with that), but people remember gratitude in a way that outperforms other emotions or motivators. Take the time to thank people who interviewed you, people who made time to share what they know with you, and people whose influence helped you succeed. Be gracious in your praise of others and your kindness toward people who help you: People notice and remember this for years to come.

It used to be that signing on with a new company meant years (if not decades) of your life, but now that people switch jobs every few years, managing your career has become both more important and more challenging. Options seem infinite, grad school seems necessary, and far too early you start comparing your career trajectory to that of others, worried that you’re being left behind or left out. Instead of overthinking your next job, your next decision, or your next networking event, focus on being remarkable at your job, tackling your weaknesses head-on, and being someone who isn’t afraid to take on tasks that other people find terrifying. The rest of it will work itself out, I promise.

What other advice would you give to someone starting out in their career? Let us know in the comments. 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2014 and has been updated to reflect even more great advice as of October 2015.

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Loving Dad Creates Touching Time-Lapse Of His Daughter From Birth To Age 16

[Click here to view the video in this article]

Dutch artist Frans Hofmeester has created a new time-lapse video charting the growth of his young daughter Lotte from birth to age 16.

Watch the touching video below.

[via Laughing Squid and Reddit, videos via Hofmeester]

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In Japan, A Toilet With ‘Translucent’ Walls That Seem To Offer No Privacy

[Click here to view the video in this article]

At first glance, public toilet ‘Gallery TOTO’ located in Narita Airport appears to be devoid of any privacy—translucent walls reveal the silhouettes of its users within the cubicles.

Fret not however, because what you see is in fact LED screens that are playing pre-recorded visuals of individuals dancing, jumping and skating.

Tokyo-based Klein Dytham Architecture designed the facility, which doubles as a showroom for Japanese bathroom brand TOTO.

Named ‘Toilet of the Year’ by Japan’s ministry of land, infrastructure and transportation, it stands enveloped in clear glass with ten individual cubicles that don a white and starkly immaculate façade.

Architect and studio co-founder Mark Dytham explained on Dezeen, “We were interested in the notion of the most private place being in a most public place.”

“We wanted to get away from the perception of toilets as closed and dark environments, where one can rarely see beyond the entrance area, and where one is only confronted with a series of terraced stalls.”

Watch the videos below to get a closer look at its colorful exterior and pristine interior.

For more creative ideas from TOTO, check out its portable toilet, ‘Super Great Toilet Keeper’ and toilet-motorcycle powered by human waste.

[via Dezeen, videos via Mark Dytham and totoadjp1010]

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Here Is How To Take A Perfect Selfie, Based On A Study Of 2 Million Photos

These are the top selfies in Karpathy’s study, taken from all over the internet.

Using two million self portraits from the web, Stanford computer science graduate Andrej Karpathy trained an artificial neural network to sort out which selfies are good and which are bad.

Karpathy used a network capable of processing 140 million different parameters and input millions of photos to get results. His experiment began by running a script to collect images on the web tagged “#selfie”. After narrowing the initial five million images to two million photos, he ranked the number of positive responses (likes) based on their audience size (followers). He then worked with a sample of 100 images—50 positive and 50 negative.

His findings reveal some interesting similarities, including the following: all the top 100 selfies were of women, most of the images followed the classic rule of thirds with the face occupying the top one third of the image and most of the subjects had long hair. On the flip side, bad selfies usually had dim lighting, were of a group shot and the subject’s head occupied most of the frame.

Karpathy concluded that “a good portion of the variability between what makes a good or bad selfie can be explained by the style of the image” and not just by the attractiveness of the person.

Now you know what makes a good selfie. Read more about his findings on his blog.

Here are the “worst” in the study. They are often taken in the dark and involve group shots.

A glimpse at the selfies included in the study.

Karpathy also programmed the network to automatically crop an image to yield the strongest selfie.

[via Fast Company, Andrej Karpathy]

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13 Ways to Be More Productive When You Sleep & Wake Up


Ah, the perennial desire to be more productive.

For better or for worse, we’re always looking for new ways to do more, and do it faster. What can we knock off the day’s to-do list during our commute? What music should we listen to at work to make us work smarter? What foods should we eat to stimulate brain activity?

While it might seem far-fetched to say you can be more productive in your sleep, hear me out …

Getting the best rest possible and then taking advantage of the first few hours of your day will boost your productivity for the rest of the day, making you an overall happier and more energetic person. Here are 13 hacks for optimizing that valuable, underutilized time.

How to Make Sleep More Productive

Nothing kills productivity like a bad night’s sleep. According to a study from the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, sleep-related reductions in productivity cost $3,156 per employee with insomnia, and averaged about $2,500 for those with less severe sleep problems. Here are a few ways to increase the quality of your sleep.

1) Exercise that morning or afternoon.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, exercising in the morning or afternoon can help you fall asleep faster that evening — and then sleep more deeply once you do fall asleep. Regular aerobic exercise has been proven to improve sleep quality and leads to fewer depressive symptoms, more vitality, and less sleepiness during the daytime.

There’s a reason they don’t include nighttime, though: They warn that vigorous exercise before bedtime can actually reverse those good effects of exercise.

2) Avoid eating heavy meals late in the day.

Some studies have shown that food is processed differently at different times of day. Avoid eating a big meal within two to three hours of bedtime, otherwise your body will be busy trying to process those calories rather than resting.

A grumbling stomach won’t help you fall asleep either, though — so don’t deprive yourself if you’re hungry. Just keep in mind that some foods are more conducive to a better night’s sleep than others, like chamomile tea, warm milk, and turkey. Other, lesser-known foods that help you fall asleep are broccoli, bananas, kiwi, tart cherries, and halibut, according to Sleep Expert Dr. Michael Breus.

“The data suggests a high-carb, low-protein snack (under 250 calories) is a good choice,” Dr. Breus told Yahoo! Food. “I suggest cheese and crackers, or even a bowl of oatmeal.”

3) Set an alarm for a time that’s a multiple of 90 minutes in the future.

We all have circadian biological rhythms (a.k.a. “body clocks”) that regulate the timing of periods of sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day — and also periods of deep and light sleep throughout the night. Every 90 minutes that you’re asleep, you go through two periods of REM sleep, separated by one period of non-REM sleep.

So, to get the most out of your sleep time and be the most comfortably alert when you wake up, you’ll want to sleep for multiples of 90 minutes.

“Studies show that the length of sleep is not what causes us to be refreshed upon waking, writes the folks at the Center for Applied Cognitive Studies. “The key factor is the number of complete sleep cycles we enjoy.”

In other words, someone who only sleeps for four 90-minute cycles (six hours total) will actually feel more rested than someone who’s slept for eight hours. (Learn more about sleep cycles in this blog post.)

4) Develop a regular sleeping pattern.

If you go to bed at about the same time each night and keep your alarm set for about the same time each morning, you’ll find it easier both to fall asleep and wake up.

“Go to bed at the same time and do the same activities every night before bed,” says Dr. Heidi Connolly, the chief of pediatric sleep medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center.  “Your body is getting a cue that it’s time to fall asleep.”

5) Don’t check your phone before going to sleep.

Here’s one most of us are guilty of: Checking our phones (or tablets, or computers) right before hitting the hay. But studies have shown that people who stare at a backlit screen right before bed report lower-quality sleep — even when they get just as much sleep as someone who didn’t look at their electronics before bed.

Why? Because the presence and absence of light tell our brains whether or not they should release the sleep hormone melatonin that makes you tired, according to the National Sleep Foundation. The LED lighting emitted by the screens on our electronic devices is similar to daylight, which can trick our brains — making us stay away for longer and disrupt our sleeping patterns.

By unplugging during the 30-60 minutes before bed, we’re priming our brains for sleep much better — which leads to better quality sleep and a happier time waking up.

6) Start visualizing.

Falling asleep is easier said than done for most of us. Even if you’ve exercised, eaten the right foods, and put your electronics away before bedtime, you might still find yourself struggling to drift off — and knowing the minutes are ticking by and you’ll probably be exhausted in the morning is never a good feeling.

One way to help fall asleep faster is through visualization techniques. Use your imagination to make up a story or picture a certain scenario. For example, I sometimes pick a type of candy — like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups — and then visualize some elaborate, fictional story about how they’re made. Here’s another visualization exercise from LifeHacker, which explores using “Blue Energy.”

“The brain doesn’t always know the difference between pretend and real,” Dr. Kathy Doner told Health.com. “If you watch a scary movie, your adrenaline might go up, just as if you imagine eating something vividly enough, you might start to salivate.”

7) Get enough sleep for you.

The number of hours you need to sleep each night varies from person to person. Why? It has to do with your “chronotype,” — your natural tendency to be sleepier and more awake at certain times of day. It also affects when and for how long you need to sleep.

If we’re looking at the average number of hours of sleep we need, though, it depends on factors like age:

Image Credit: HubSpot & Market Domination Media

By sleeping better and in ways that make sense for our bodies, we’ll be more productive throughout the rest of the day.

How to Make Waking Up More Productive

For a lot of us, mornings are a manic rush of hitting snooze as long as we can afford to, followed by running around and getting out the door as quickly as humanly possible. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Mornings are totally underutilized times to get in the right mindset for the day and cross a few things off your list, undistracted, which will set you up for success during the remainder of the day. Here are some ideas for making your morning routine more productive.

8) Avoid the earth-shattering buzzer alarm.

If anything sets the tone for the rest of your day, it’s the sound of your alarm. Are you using one of those earth-shattering buzzer sounds? Talk about a horrifying way to start your day.

My favorite idea for an alarm sound comes from Lifehacker:

Put one alarm clock on your nightstand, the other across the room and make sure they’re in sync. Set the alarm clock on your nightstand to go off at, let’s say, 6:30 a.m., if that is when you need to get up. I set that one to use the radio, and make sure it is loud enough to wake me up, but not too loud (I don’t want to wake my wife on purpose). The second alarm clock on the dresser is set to go off exactly one minute later, but using that dreadful buzzer. So, when my alarm goes off in the morning, it doesn’t startle me like the buzzer. Then, I know I have about 60 seconds to get up and turn the other one off before I hear a buzzing sound. At that point, I am out of bed, and no buzzer.”

9) Wake up a little earlier than usual if you’re working on a creative project.

I love this quote from Buffer: “The creative mind is an early riser … and the editing mind sleeps in.”

A study of the brain showed that we are most prone to creative thinking right when we wake up. Why? Because our prefrontal cortex is most active just after waking up, while the more analytical parts of the brain (our “editing mind”) become more and more active as the day goes on.

So, if you’re working on a creative project, you might want to wake up an hour or so earlier to give yourself time to unlock those creative parts of the brain. If you’re concerned about getting enough sleep, try going to bed an hour earlier so you won’t be too tired.

Image Credit: BuzzFeed

10) Let there be light.

Turning off your electronics before you go to bed so you aren’t staring at light in the darkness helps tell your brain the get ready for bed. Likewise, waking up in the light helps wake up your brain. Again, we all have our own circadian rhythms — and these rhythms are deeply influenced by the presence and absence of light.

Let in light in the morning by leaving your curtains or blinds open when you go to sleep. If that isn’t an option, try an artificial sun lamp, like this one from Philips. Some of them are connected to alarm clocks that get gradually lighter and lighter as you approach your wake-up time, making you less groggy when your alarm finally goes off.

Image Credit: Philips

11) Develop a morning routine.

My morning routine starts with washing my face, brushing my teeth, and making a cup of coffee. Some of you might start with meditation, or picking out the day’s outfit, or doing a bunch of push ups.

Whatever you choose to do, repeating the ritual will make it a habit, and the brain loves habits. The more often you “do” a habit, the more your brain will get used to doing it — and the less effort and energy it’ll take for you to do it in the future.

According to Tony Schwartz, President and CEO of The Energy Project, the best way to get things done “is to make them more automatic so they require less energy.” He advises his clients to develop rituals; highly specific behaviors done at precise times that, over time, become so automatic that they require no conscious will or discipline. (Read this blog post to learn more about developing productivity rituals.)

12) Wait to check your email.

We understand that some jobs require you to check email in the morning, but you should avoid making it one of the very first things you do when you wake up — especially if you’ll be online the rest of the day.

Instead, spend the first part of your waking hours doing something that doesn’t involve email, like taking a shower, putting on coffee, or working on a creative project. As Richard Whately said, “Lose an hour in the morning, and you will be all day hunting for it.”

13) Eat a nutritious breakfast.

Why do so many people skip breakfast in the mornings? Oftentimes, it’s because they don’t have enough time to eat it, or at least to make it nutritious. But depriving yourself of food altogether or rushing to work with a bagel-to-go isn’t going to give you the energy you need to stay focused at work.

Take time in the morning to eat a healthy breakfast. Foods that boost productivity include eggs, bananas, yogurt, and blueberries. Check out the graphic below for some of the science behind why these foods are good for productivity, and click here to see the full infographic on the perfect diet for productivity.

Image Credit: HubSpot & Market Domination Media

What other productivity hacks for sleeping and waking up can you add to the list? Share with us in the comments.

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Brilliant Kit Kat Billboards Offer Free Relaxing Massages To Stressed City Folk

[Click here to view the video in this article]

To celebrate its launch in Colombia, Kit Kat carried out a fun promotional stunt in the busy capital city of Bogota.

Conceived by agencies JWT Colombia and Mindshare, it involved special billboards that offered free relaxing massages to stressed folks. All they had to do was lean against the billboards and tiny motors hidden in the signs would generate “pleasant vibrations” to their backs.

The chocolate brand’s previous stunts include giving out free chocolate and tablets, and creating ‘No Wi-Fi Zones’ to encourage people to take a break.

Check out the stunt in the video below.

[via Adweek, video via Redactores Publicitarios]

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Things Successful People Do Before Breakfast To Maximize Their Day

Image: Jason Ludwig Freeway Photo – Tampa

Lauren Vanderkam, time management expert and author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, has shared tips on how successful people start their day.

Wake up early

Time is precious, and successful people maximize their mornings by waking up early to read, exercise and do other activities before they get in to the office. Famous early risers include Disney CEO Bob Iger, who wakes up at 4am to read, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey who gets up at 5.30am for a jog.

Drink water

Downing a glass of water in the morning has been proven to improve productivity by making you more alert, rehydrating your body and kickstarting your metabolism. The next time you wake up, reach for water instead of your usual coffee.

Work on passion projects

Making time in the morning to work on personal projects when your mind is fresh beats working on them at the end of the day when you’re tired. Make it a habit to write your novel or create art before you start work.

Read the rest of the tips at Business Insider, and find out what successful people do before bed, before noon and during the weekend to be more productive.

[via Business Insider, image via IMGembed]

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