Fun Friday Links: The Inbox Miracle, Calming Down with Neuroscience, and Working Less to Work Better

Filed Under Mindjet

Arwen Heredia

August 15, 2014

Welcome to Conspire’s Fun Friday Links, a weekly collection of interesting discoveries from around the Web. Most of the time, the goal is to get you thinking differently about innovation, collaboration, business culture, and life in general. Other times, we may toss an infographic or fun video your way. Submissions are welcome, and you can send them to for consideration.

Coming Home to the Inbox Miracle

The phenomenon of ‘Inbox Zero’ is an unattainable goal for millions of emailing employees around the world, and that’s just on a daily basis. Coming back from a vacation — even if it’s just a few days — where you’ve determinedly avoided checking messages can be a veritable nightmare. But it doesn’t have to be that way. From WorldWide101:

“Auto-responders are both good and bad. They’re good because they’re a way to let business contacts know that 1) you’ve gone radio silent; 2) you’ll be gone for a set period of time; 3) they can expect a response by a certain date; and 4) there’s an alternate contact if they have an urgent need or request.

On the downside, the thought of an unanswered inbox, piling up day after day with work-related emails, will be a source of stress throughout your vacation. Your mind won’t let you relax when it’s worrying about what if. And when you’re on vacation, the last thing you should be doing is letting work stress you out. The whole purpose of being away is to refresh and rejuvenate.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. An auto-responder doesn’t resolve the problem of thousands of emails accumulating in your inbox. An auto-responder doesn’t answer your emails for you. And when you get home, and wade through those emails (and everything they entail) you’ll probably need another vacation!”

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Using Neuroscience to Remain Calm Under Pressure

Ever wanted to know what the secret to calming down an anxious, stressed out brain truly is? As it turns out, it’s…your brain. At least, the study of it and how understanding the mechanics of brain function can help you control it a bit better. From Inc.:

“To calm yourself and remain calm, you need to interrupt that feedback loop…the fight or flight reaction begins in the amygdalae, which is where your brain processes memory, interprets emotions, and makes what are often (inappropriately) called ‘gut decisions.’

It’s now understood that you can reduce the “fight or flight” signals from your amygdalae if you assign names or labels to the emotions that you’re experiencing at the time. As Jon Pratlett, a pioneer in using neuroscience in leadership training, says, ‘Reflecting on your feelings and labeling them may assist in calming the amygdalae, allowing you to move out of the fight/flight mode and free up energy allowing [you] to think more clearly about the issue at hand, rather than worrying.'”

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7 Ways Working Less Will Help You Work Better

As we head into the weekend, most of us are primed to work a whole lot less, if at all. And wouldn’t it be nice if an extended break — preferably once a week — was the secret to increased productivity and higher quality of work? Well, it just might be. From Contently:

“We tend to get caught up in our way of doing things without questioning how efficient our methods really are. Yet asking tough questions is very important to managing time: What kind of work are you doing? Is it challenging enough? Are you connecting with sources that can help you improve? In essence, it is similar to spending time feeling productive with pseudo-work.

“If I had followed the program director’s advice and pumped experts for feedback, I would have learned about what you absolutely need for a fundable proposal,” Newport wrote. “I avoided this step, I think, because some part of me didn’t want these answers. By writing my grant in isolation, I could ensure an optimal experience, where I had to put in focused hours, but never really challenge myself too much. This was fulfilling. But it was also a recipe for failure.”

Don’t go through the motions. Instead of rushing to solve problems you’ve seen before, take a step back to reflect. Develop a plan to tackle what will challenge you the most. This research could save you a lot of time in the future.”

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