An EASY trick that has increased my productivity by 1000%

31 replies
Yeah, so I'll admit it. I'm one of those people that gets unfocused very, very, very easily. My whole first two years was nothing but bouncing around from one great idea to another, always learning something new, but never finishing any of them and never making more than chump change on the results.

After a lot of time spent and wasted... and a lot of situations where I got really angry at myself... I forced myself to find something, anything that got me to just focus on one thing and finish it before going to something else.

That's when I read a small book called "Getting It Done". (I forget the name of the author, but it's google-able, it's a pretty famous book). The book is not the point of this post... but rather a single concept that I got from it that changed my mindset about my work forever.

That concept is the following: Every open loop inside your mind creates a brain-suck that drains your energy and your creativity.

What does it mean? It means every idea that you have that hasn't been properly dealt with, will stay inside your mind, and your own mind will try to remind you of it at every possible second so as not to let it go to waste. These constant little "reminders" are a never-ending investment of mental energy that might not seem to add up, but they do, and FAST.

This is why, even when you promise yourself that "THIS time it's going to be different", this time you won't get distracted... you suddenly get another idea, and you try to put it away for later, but you don't, and it keeps popping up again and again until it becomes so loud that you just have to act on it and forget about the previous one! This used to happen to me every single day.

How do you deal with this? The answer is really simple. You need to record and file away this idea in a way that you trust yourself to get back to later. Once you subconscious mind trusts the fact that the idea has been recorded properly, the it will shut down the "open loop" and free up that mindspace and mental energy for you to continue and finish whatever it is that you want.

So here's what you do: You make yourself an "subconscious inbox".

You take an old shoebox, a pack of 3x5 index cards and a pen and place them right next to your keyboard. You begin your work of the day, whatever it is. And, here's the crucial part: Whenever you have a thought, idea, possibility, reminder or anything that isn't directly related to your work at hand, you take five seconds to scribble it down on an index card, toss the index card in the shoebox, and immediately continue working. This has the effect of showing your subconcious mind that you respect it and that you are acting on its input, and that the idea will get due consideration. But later. Not now.

Now, the other trick is to actually get to the ideas in the shoebox at the end of the day. When you finish work, for every card in the shoebox, you do the following: read it, consider it, and either toss it out, or decide on an actionable step that you can take. Then you put that actionable step on a list: either As Soon As Possible, Later, or Some Day. Then you throw the index card away, and do this until the shoebox is empty every day.

If you do this simple thing every day, what will happen is that your subconscious mind will begin to trust you. It will stop being flighty and intruding upon your work time and your focus and your productivity will increase exponentially as time passes. You will have what is called "a mind like still water"... a mind that is clear of distractions and serene, ready to deal with and affect the world around it.

Don't believe me? Try it... I've been seeing the results of this for years. I actually have my "inbox" right next to me right now and have actually put two cards into it as I write this post! So... hope this helps some of you out there, that have flighty and restless minds like mine, to get them under control a little bit!
#easy #increased #mind #productivity #trick
  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    Originally Posted by hmbehrens View Post


    That concept is the following: Every open loop inside your mind creates a brain-suck that drains your energy and your creativity.

    What does it mean? It means every idea that you have that hasn't been properly dealt with, will stay inside your mind, and your own mind will try to remind you of it at every possible second so as not to let it go to waste. These constant little "reminders" are a never-ending investment of mental energy that might not seem to add up, but they do, and FAST.
    Yes, it's called the "Zeigarnik effect" and can be put to good use in a
    sales letter so the person must read to the end of the letter to
    "complete the task".

    -Ray Edwards
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    The most powerful and concentrated copywriting training online today bar none! Autoresponder Writing Email SECRETS
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    • Profile picture of the author tinstar
      Originally Posted by Raydal View Post

      Yes, it's called the "Zeigarnik effect" and can be put to good use in a
      sales letter so the person must read to the end of the letter to
      "complete the task".

      -Ray Edwards
      How would that play out in a sales letter? What would you say to create the open loop?
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      • Profile picture of the author Teli
        Originally Posted by tinstar View Post

        How would that play out in a sales letter? What would you say to create the open loop?
        Yes, that is interesting and I'd also love to hear any ideas.

        (The wheels are already spinning inside my head...guess that's another idea I must jot down in the Moleskine. LOL)
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      • Profile picture of the author Raydal
        Originally Posted by tinstar View Post

        How would that play out in a sales letter? What would you say to create the open loop?
        Here is how you use the trick in a sales letter ... but first let me tell
        you how I came to discovering this.

        I was reading an ebook by .... blah blah blah ....

        I promised to tell you how to use the trick in a sales letter and
        here's how.

        Did you see how I just used it? You simply start telling the
        reader something important and break at the most interesting
        point and continue the story later. Some copywriters refer to
        this as a 'nested loop' and you may use several of them in a
        long letter to keep the reader interested.

        So not only does it work in increasing your productivity, but
        it can increase your bottom line as well.

        -Ray Edwards
        Signature
        The most powerful and concentrated copywriting training online today bar none! Autoresponder Writing Email SECRETS
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        • Profile picture of the author tinstar
          Originally Posted by Raydal View Post

          Here is how you use the trick in a sales letter ... but first let me tell
          you how I came to discovering this.

          I was reading an ebook by .... blah blah blah ....

          I promised to tell you how to use the trick in a sales letter and
          here's how.

          Did you see how I just used it? You simply start telling the
          reader something important and break at the most interesting
          point and continue the story later. Some copywriters refer to
          this as a 'nested loop' and you may use several of them in a
          long letter to keep the reader interested.

          So not only does it work in increasing your productivity, but
          it can increase your bottom line as well.

          -Ray Edwards
          Nice! Might have to try this.
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          • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
            Thanks, Harry. I've Tweeted this one.

            Excellent tip.


            Paul
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            Stop by Paul's Pub - my little hangout on Facebook.

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        • Profile picture of the author CBSnooper
          Originally Posted by Raydal View Post

          Some copywriters refer to
          this as a 'nested loop' and you may use several of them in a
          long letter to keep the reader interested.
          Joe Vitale talks about this in Buying Trances. It's important to close each loop to keep the reader interested so he doesn't 'wander off' and not get to the end and buy.
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      • Profile picture of the author Don Schenk
        Originally Posted by tinstar View Post

        How would that play out in a sales letter? What would you say to create the open loop?

        You tell a story without telling the ending until the end of your sales letter.

        Joe Sugarman (of Blu-Blocker fame) used it in a book in which he tells the story of his college fraterity. The members were having trouble getting new pledges because the fraternity was unpopular.

        Joe came up with the idea to hire girls from a local strip club to hostess the fraternity's pledge parties. Wow! Beautiful, scantily clad women hostessing the party - Joe said the line of guys waiting to get in was around the block!

        Then, in the book he mentions that one of the girls turned out to be a hooker... but you have to read farther in book to get to that story.

        Everybody wanted to read to the end of his book.

        :-Don
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  • Profile picture of the author tinstar
    That's really cool. I'm going to try this. I'm tired of never feeling "done" and going to bed with 15 ideas on my mind and not being able to get to sleep. Sounds like it will help. Thanks.
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  • Profile picture of the author Teli
    Love the concept. I do something similar, except I have a Moleskine notebook where I jot down these ideas like a stream of consciousness thing.

    And also, I believe the book in question is called Getting Things Done (often abbreviated as GTD) by David Allen -- LOVE IT. Plenty of great tips and ideas in there.

    There are also a number of GTD websites that offer tips and hacks for even more effectiveness. (Just Google "GTD Hacks" and a ton will come up...including variations on using the index card method...)
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    • Profile picture of the author mindrich
      It's a bull eye on my head, because that's what exactly I'm experiencing right now. I don't know what, where, and when to start from various information I garnered from the internet.

      I'm willing to apply what you've suggested to us. I believe this be gonna working on me and to others also.

      Thank you so much!
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  • Profile picture of the author AndyBlackSEO
    Although I have an everlasting stream of ideas, getting an idea out of the way before starting another isn't my main problem. It's more my daily tasks seem to move too slow. There just isn't enough hours in the day. Good concept though. I think if you note down all your ideas in an indexed and precise way, you mind will shut them out a little because you will have peace of mind that they are being taken care of... at some point.
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  • Profile picture of the author Elvin Tiong
    Every open loop inside your mind creates a brain-suck that drains your energy and your creativity


    That's a truth. You cannot concentrate in your jobs because of those 'open loop', and you can't get any result eventually
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  • Profile picture of the author 2ndAccount
    though the theory is sound it sounds a bit like a gloryfied inbox to me!

    i simply use notepad to record all my ideas then transfer them to my to do lists in excel at the end of the day. same principle, slightly better for the forests!
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  • Profile picture of the author Igor Kheifets
    Hey hmbehrens,

    you have totally nailed it, my friend.
    This is one of the top secrets of time
    management and productivity.

    Igor
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  • Profile picture of the author koolmeg
    I am in this exact spot right now.... I have gotten so bad when I come up with a good idea I don't even speak it out loud. I keep it there as THE idea until I feel I can dedicate the time....
    I think that this is probably a good technique to follow.... I'm GOING to try this...hopefully the act of the box does not get lost in my idea vacuum too LOL
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  • Profile picture of the author Bright Wings
    There are several ways to use the Zeigarnik effect in a sales letter, but in order to lead them to the action you want them to take, you also have to build up trust, so that they don't get impatient and abandon the process. I think it's truly a great copywriter who can do this consistently, across many types of products.

    One example is to delay the answer (as in, "I'll get to that in just a sec, but first. . . ")

    Actually Paul Myers uses it very cleverly in his signature. He almost forces you to click, so that you can find out what "those things" are! In fact, if you want a succinct lesson on how to use Zeigarnik, just study his signature (right above this post.) I don't think it's possible to improve on that one!

    Go ahead and try, Warriors! I sure can't beat it myself.
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    Make it a great day!

    Nancy Boyd

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  • Profile picture of the author tinstar
    Great thread!

    Thanks OP and all who added info on the Zeigarnik effect.

    I've learned something today... on my productivity and something that might make my sales letter perform better!
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  • Profile picture of the author Lightlysalted
    Great concept. However I find that simply by setting myself objectives for the day I can acheive the same task.
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  • Profile picture of the author jojobusiness
    Good point. I've another great suggestion. Never sit infront of your computer WITHOUT a specific to do list. Otherwise you'll be in a reactive mindset. Meaning
    you'll just react to things you see online. Like youtube, email, facebook, twitter, warrior forum, etc.

    An alternative to your index cards is using your voice mail to store ideas and reminders. Say, you are drinking at a cafe when a great idea pops into your head, but you don't have a note book to write it down. Why not call your own voicemail and record your ideas instead? This has worked for me.
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  • Profile picture of the author RockstarBen
    Great trick! I have been doing this for a few years. I call it my "nag box." You are right - the key is to trust yourself to dedicate one segment of time every week to your "nag box." Every Friday between 10AM and 11:30AM is when I go through my box...
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  • Profile picture of the author Shawn Alton
    I have pretty good concentration, but every once in a while my mind goes off on a tangent. I'll try this. Thanks
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  • Profile picture of the author kckaz
    I keep an excel spreadsheet open all day to toss ideas into. One column is the tag and the next is the idea. For example, I may see a good headline in the warrior forum. One column is HEADLINES - WARRIOR FORUM and the next column is the actual headline. Or ARTICLES - IDEAS as the tag and then the idea for the article is typed in the next cell. After a few days, I can sort by tags. I have thousands of ideas, resources and contacts instantly organized. It's great for organizing blocks of ideas that get scattered.
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  • Profile picture of the author Glenn Leader
    I simply put my ideas down on a sheet of paper, and read through it twice a week
    or so. Anything that has legs will go onto my todo list for further investigation. I
    tend to leave ideas on the paper for a few more days while my subconscious works
    on the ideas without interfering with tasks in hand. I often wake up with some
    exceptional ideas that have proved to be very profitable., Theses ideas started
    by a simple jot on my A4 pad.

    HTH

    Glenn
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  • Profile picture of the author colmbie
    Banned
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    • Profile picture of the author TimStephens
      Great, simple idea...I use my planner to do the same...write it down and then you can forget it...at the end of the day, file it, delete it, or post it.

      Quick and simple. Really like the box and notes thing!

      Tim
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  • Profile picture of the author DomiS
    Thanks a lot. This is what I needed. I am going to try it immediately. Now I know why I kept these 3x5 index cards in my drawer
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  • Profile picture of the author Harry Behrens
    Thanks guys, I'm very glad if people get some benefit out of these ideas.

    Teli, yeah I later found the book again and realized I mis-remembered the title... embarrassing It is indeed "Getting Things Done" by David Allen.

    Raydal, nice insight into that sales letter connection, I was not aware of it.

    Don, you're totally right that that was a trick of Sugarman's, in his book "Advertising Secrets of the Written Word", if I'm remembering correctly, he does it specifically to show you this principle... he starts telling a story of how a client of his once offered him sex instead of payment (or something like that, it's been a while) and finishes it at the end of the book. I didn't actually make the connection with that until now though!

    Everybody who chipped in about the Zeigarnik effect, thank you, that is awesome and I will be putting it to use for sure once I can figure out how to pull it off correctly.

    jojobusiness, kckaz, Glenn, Ben, Tim, nice variations on the idea, great to hear people do similar things as well.
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    - Harry Behrens

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  • Profile picture of the author capone2009
    This technique helps very much. I also write down the things I want to do and after that I know that I won't forget this ideas and can go on working.
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    • Profile picture of the author FlightGuy
      Thank you for this awesome tip. I think everyone who tries working for themselves has either gone through this, or is going through it now.

      Act upon his tips, folks.

      Gonna tweet this one as well.

      Best,
      John Dennis
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      "If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much." - Jim Rohn
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  • Profile picture of the author Buhry
    This is great! I'm gonna try to implement this.
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