There has been more than one occasion I've found myself in a slump where I just didn't want to do any work.
What I would usually do instead was browse a little bit on Facebook, check on my Twitter and suddenly hours passed. My to-do list remained as full as I left it a few hours ago.
For me, the best way to get out of this funk is to put in my headphones, turn on some gangster rap, drink a cup of Hustle & Grind (Hustle Blend coffee) and start owning my to-do list.
Ok, sure. Sometimes it's not exactly gangster rap; it's Drake, Kanye, Jay Z, The Weeknd or the latest track that one of my many hip-hop friends send my way.
But sometimes, when I really need a boost, I throw on a bit of Dre, Tupac, Biggie, Wu Tang, Geto Boys or a few of the classics from NWA.
Mind you, this isn't just a personal preference.
It's a productivity hack backed by science.
In Dr. Dennis Hsu's paper on psychological empowerment, it was found that the right background music can actually help you take in information better and improve your willingness to initiate tasks.
In one of their experiments, the researchers tested whether empowering music made people behave as if they are, in fact, more powerful.
After listening to music, participants were asked if they would rather go first or second in a debate.
Those who listened to the high-power playlist (songs like "In Da Club" from 50 Cent) opted to go first almost twice as often (34 percent) as those who'd listened to the low-power playlist (20 percent).
Through a variety of experiments, the researchers found that in certain situations, the right music can empower you to do more.
Specifically they found that the level of bass, volume, tempo, genre and lyrics, all had the potential to affect our experience of empowerment.
This is definitely evident in sports where loud, deafening music (either from the stereos or from the crowd) can be used to fire up athletes.
Why do you think so many of them walk into the stadium with headphones on?
It's to arm themselves with the feeling of power.
Why Hip-Hop Is A Productivity Driver
While we out here, say the Hustler's Prayer If the game shakes me or breaks me I hope it makes me a better man Take a better stand Put money in my mom's hand Get my daughter this college grant so she don't need no man Stay far from timid Only make moves when your heart's in it And live the phrase sky's the limit - Notorious BIG, "Sky's The Limit"
I know just the right background music to put me in the mood and it's rap and hip-hop.
Since this music is often about the struggle, it details creative ways on how to make it and come up from the bottom.
It talks about getting through the hard times to reach the good on the other side.
I believe you can't find any other genre out there that talks the most about doing work (both legally and illegally).
If you need any reminder that you need to keep your head down and focus on your work, then by all means, listen to some hip-hop.
Coffee and Productivity
Coffee has definitely been a productivity staple for decades, with as many as 43 percent of workers stating that they're less productive without having a cup of coffee.
Similarly, more than 40 percent of workers in the 18 to 25 age bracket struggle working without coffee.
Caffeine really does help keep your hustle going because it stops the receptors in your brain that are responsible for sleep and lethargy.
In relatively low doses, which is anywhere from 100 to 250 milligrams, coffee can markedly improve your mental alertness and performance especially if you've been feeling tired.
More than having a positive effect on productivity, it has also been shown that coffee consumption possibly reduces the risk of workplace accidents.
How, you may ask?
Because of the same cognitive enhancing qualities stated above.
People who drink coffee are more focused, therefore, they are aware of their surroundings more and are less likely prone to distractions.
However, caffeine affects each person individually depending on your genetics and caffeine.
Some people are immune to its effects while others can exacerbate anxiety after having downed just one cup of coffee.
As with anything, having too much of something (even if it's a good thing) could backfire on you.
A study has revealed that people who down more than six cups of coffee daily can develop negative cognitive attributes, such as being too jittery.
Experts warn that caffeine intake is not meant to take the place of actual sleep.
Ingesting more than the average amount of coffee daily can actually decrease its effects.
To make sure you don't build up your tolerance with caffeine, make sure to withdraw from drinking caffeinated beverages a few times a year.
No doubt coffee has great effects on productivity, but if you take the said studies into account, it could be that less is more when it comes to your caffeine intake.
Now I could let these dream killers kill my self-esteem, or use my arrogance as the steam to power my dreams. -- Kanye West
Of course, both gangster rap and coffee are just tools to being productive.
The brunt of the work will still have to be done by you, and you alone. You need to be able to look in the mirror and accept the fact that the best way to be productive is to be focused and determined.
To make sure you don't get bogged down by mindless tasks (like social media browsing), schedule a specific time for these less important tasks.
This might seem counter-intuitive, but working endlessly with no respite in sight is a surefire way to break your willpower and discipline to work.
Set goals daily.
Drink coffee daily.
Listen to rap daily.
This combination is what I use to stay productive and working at an optimal level.
What hacks or tricks do you use to keep yourself on task and executing at a high level?
This post was originally published on Hustle & Grind.