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I recently watched this TED talk about confidence which has a key point:

  • You can fake your body into being confident simply by doing certain actions (you literally change your physiological status quantitatively and measurably simply by spending a few minutes doing "power gesture" types of behavior instead of "weak gestures")

There is a lot of research into this as applies to personal confidence. This research is quite compelling and emphatically indicates you can noticeably affect your perceived confidence on a physiological level simply by acting in certain ways.


This leads me to wonder:

  • Are there certain physical behaviors we can do for short periods of time (1-2 minutes) which cause psychological and physiological changes which increase our productivity or ability to accomplish work?
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4 Answers 4

I can feel confident. I'm not sure I can feel productive without accomplishment.

I'm listing my tasks in my notebook and strike out tasks that I have done knowing that while writing a task down, I commit to do it and striking it out motivates myself that I'm productive (these are part of pomodoro technique) .

I heard that when we spin down (feel not productive), there is a pattern of spinning that we can feel inside. Using hand gestures to spin counter the pattern can help us spin up again. I tried but it never work for me. It might work for the others.

In sum, I'm not aware of physical gestures that we can do for a short period of time and be more productive. Techniques that work for me require me actually getting things done. The closest technique I heard about it is hand gestures for spinning up; however, that work for the others but not for me.

That's my 2 cents. Hope it helps.

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From my own perspective I know that a good workout in the gym makes my entire perspective on the day perk up. It works for me like a coffee works for others.

I feel like my body has achieved something, and this relates directly to my mind/personality achieving something that day. I feel confident, fit and generally happy.

My diagnosis is endorphins are making me feel like that at first, but the feeling continues so it seems to be self sustaining.

As to whether a couple of minutes would work as effectively as an hour, I guess the challenge for me would be emulating the endorphin feeling without the work. Possibly doable (effectively comes under a toe of local hypnosis) but I have yet to try.

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It has been shown that quick and variable thinking can induce positive affect. This is similar to a manic state. Meditation, in my experience, makes me feel slow and unproductive. Mindfulness meditation involves high variability in thoughts/low though speed. So arousal is low. Although many studies have shown that it changes the brain (e.g. amygdala changes etc..) and improves focus, it is still a low energy/arousal state. If you want high arousal and positive affect try thinking quickly and variably. For example list as many words as possible that begin with the letter "c" in two minutes.

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I have a feeling that this is very personal and varies depending on circumstances. I've recently begun to experience dramatic benefits from mindfulness meditation because I have a tendency to let my mind race a mile a minute, and when that happens I have trouble focusing in on a single task. You're right that meditation is low arousal, but for some, like myself, the key to engaging in a task at a high arousal level is to first do a "reboot" of sorts, clearing out the arousal from other thoughts and activities. –  asfallows Mar 28 '13 at 19:43
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As you'll see in my comment to proton, I think that this can be very different depending on your personality and the things that trigger a productive response in you.

For me, one of the keys is a clear head, and a fairly popular technique for head-clearing is mindfulness meditation. This is a pretty simple tactic, and there's a good tool for it: calm.com.

A few perks of this particular tool:

  • guided meditation (a recorded voice instructs you as you follow through)
  • calming background noise (it has a few "scenes" with sound like rain, waves, birds, etc)
  • 2, 10, or 20 minute session

This has been helpful to me because when I have 50 things I think I need to do, I get analysis paralysis and it makes me procrastinate more than anything. So I stop, clear my head, and then start tackling the questions I need to tackle.

I don't expect this will work for everyone, but it is very helpful for me.

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