How to Be Efficient

Being efficient can be a struggle. Fatigue, anxiety, procrastination, and the barrage of daily distractions stifle productivity. Although the obstacles to greater efficiency are imposing, you can take some simple steps to improve your efficiency. Getting enough rest every night, dividing large projects into smaller and more manageable tasks, and setting time limits and deadlines for yourself are simple steps you can take to make yourself more efficient.

EditChanging Habits
Get 7 – 9 hours of sleep every night to stay alert and relaxed. Inadequate sleep can lead to fatigue, which can sabotage your productivity. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.[1]
Teens should aim to get 8 – 10 hours of sleep a night.[2]
To help yourself establish a healthy sleep routine, set an alarm to remind yourself to go to sleep at the same time every night.

If you find that you are still fatigued after getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night, you may want to consider consulting a doctor, as daytime fatigue may be a symptom of sleep apnea or another underlying health condition.

Eat healthy snacks throughout the day to provide your brain with fuel. If your body is hungry when you work, your productivity will suffer. Healthy snacks like almonds and chia seeds have fatty acids that will keep your mind alert and focused. Fruits and vegetables are also healthy options.[3]
Avoid snacking on carbohydrates or junk food. These foods can drain you of energy.

Save important and difficult tasks for times when you feel energized. If you feel most focused and energized in the morning, work on your most important or difficult task then. And, if you’re a night owl, use your mornings to work on simple and unimportant tasks. Trying to complete important or difficult tasks when you feel fatigued will reduce your overall productivity.[4]
Everybody works best at different times of the day, so experiment with your schedule to find out when you work most efficiently.

Adopt a confident and relaxed posture to increase your confidence. The physical posture you assume can have a psychosomatic and neurological effect on you. Imitating a confident smile and posture, for example, can spur your brain to feel confident, which can lead to gains in productivity.[5]
Forcing yourself to smile, for example, can lead to the release of endorphins, which will help you feel less stressed about a project.

Try to say no at least once a week. If you’re the type of person who is always saying yes to your coworkers, friends, and family members, you may find yourself in the position of having trouble finishing important tasks because you’re always doing things for other people.[6]
Saying no can be difficult, but committing yourself to turning down at least 1 request from a friend, coworker, or family member a week will free up additional time for you to finish an important project or progress toward one of your long-term goals.

When deciding whether to say no to a request, ask yourself the following questions: Can the requester finish the task on their own? Is there anyone else available to help? What are the consequences if the task isn’t completed?

EditOrganizing Your Day
Write down your short-term and long-term goals so you can prioritize. Rank your goals and tasks for the next decade, year, month, week, and day. Having this list nearby will allow you to stay focused on the most important tasks before you.[7]
When setting goals, start by imagining where you want to be in 5, 10, or 20 years, and then create an outline of the shorter-term goals you’ll need to accomplish to reach this goal.

Be as precise as possible when you’re setting your goals. If your goals are more concrete, it will be easier for you to think of the concrete steps you’ll have to take to reach them.

Keep these lists of goals somewhere visible while you work to keep yourself motivated.

Create a daily to-do-list to organize your day. The best time to write up a to-do-list is right before you go to sleep. Write down all the tasks you need to complete the following day in order from most important to least important.[8]
Break your day into hour-long time-slots and assign a task to a specific time slot.

Set time limits for all your tasks. Setting a firm time limit for a task will force you to finish it in a certain amount of time. If you set aside a relatively short amount of time, you will force yourself to complete your work without procrastinating.[9]
Setting a time limit that is too short can cause you to rush and produce lower quality work, so try to find the sweet spot between a deadline that is too short and one that is too long.

Set a deadline by which you know you can finish the task, but only if your work is free of distractions.

Take advantage of short 5-minute periods to complete small tasks. Set aside 2- to 5-minute periods throughout the day. During these short windows of time, commit yourself to completing one small task. This can be composing a short email, checking a voicemail, etc. Completing a task within a 5-minute window will give you a sense of accomplishment and motivate you to complete more tasks.[10]
Try to set aside 1 of these short periods once every hour or so.

Try to limit the amount of time you spend thinking about the task before doing it. Overthinking can lead to anxiety and procrastination.

Break large tasks into smaller, more manageable parts. Large projects can be overwhelming. Worrying about completing them can cause intense anxiety, which can lead to procrastination. Treating large projects as a series of small tasks can ease some of this anxiety.[11]
If you are writing a 10-page paper, for instance, approach it one paragraph at a time.

Take a strategic break every hour to stay energized. Working nonstop without a break can leave you fatigued and steadily reduce your efficiency. Try to work hard and stay focused without distractions for 50 minutes and then take a 20-minute break.[12]
Working without taking enough breaks over a long period of time can lead to burnout, which may lead to a deterioration of your efficiency over the long term.

EditGetting Things Done Faster
Avoid multitasking so you can focus your attention on a single task. In the modern world with cellphones, email, and the internet, it can be difficult to avoid multitasking. Focusing on more than one task at a time, however, can prevent you from getting into a flow.[13]
If you’re doing work on your computer, try installing an app or program that limits your access to websites that are not required for your work.

When working on a project, silence your cellphone and keep it in another room, out of reach. Designate specific times to check for any messages and voicemails.

Find shortcuts to complete tasks you do on a regular basis. If you regularly use certain computer programs to do work, for example, learn keyboard shortcuts for common actions. Or, if you frequently write emails to schedule meetings, make a template for that type of email so that you don’t have to write them from scratch every time.[14]
Ask colleagues and friends about any shortcuts they may use to speed up their work.

Delegate tasks to classmates, friends, or employees. If you are working on a school or work project, make sure the workload is divided evenly among everyone who has a stake in the project’s completion. Trying to do all the work yourself will stress you out and prolong the time it takes to finish the project.[15]
When delegating, try to present your request as an appeal for help rather than an order to minimize friction.

If you’re not the one in charge of the group or team and believe the workload hasn’t been distributed evenly, explain to the group leader or another member of the group that you could use some help completing the task(s) assigned to you.

If you feel that the other members of the group or team aren’t doing their part, avoid pointing blame and instead try to get them involved in the project by asking for help on specific tasks.

Reduce the number of daily decisions you have to make. Making decisions takes energy. The more decisions you make, the more energy you expend. You can reduce the number of daily decisions you make and conserve your energy by eliminating or outsourcing decisions about simple daily tasks, such as what to wear or what to eat.[16]
To simplify your daily decision about what to wear, simplify your wardrobe. Reduce your choice to two or three different outfits.

Make a weekly breakfast, lunch, and dinner plan, so that you don’t have to agonize about what to make on a daily basis.

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Today in History for 13th April 2019

Historical Events

989 – Battle at Abydos: Byzantine emperor Basilius II beats Bardas Phocas
1741 – Royal Military Academy forms at Woolwich, England
1969 – 33rd US Masters Tournament, Augusta National GC: George Archer wins his only major title, 1 stroke ahead of runners-up Billy Casper, George Knudson, and Tom Weiskopf
1978 – NY Yanks defeat White Sox 4-2 in home opener on Reggie Candy Bar Day
1990 – 4th largest NBA crowd (45,458) see Orlando play at Minneapolis
2014 – Kenyan Wilson Kipsang wins the London Marathon

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Famous Birthdays

1841 – Louis-Ernest Barrias, French sculptor, born in Paris (d. 1905)
1849 – Enrique José Varona, Cuban author, born in Puerto Principe, Cuba (d. 1933)
1892 – Robert Watson-Watt, Scottish physicist and developer of the radar and radio direction finding in WWII, born in Brechin, Scotland (d. 1973)
1907 – Harold Stassen, American politician (25th Governor of Minnesota) and perennial presidential candidate, born in Saint Paul, Minnesota (d. 2001)
1920 – Claude Cheysson, French politician (Minister of Foreign Affairs), born in Paris (d. 2012)
1920 – Liam Cosgrave, Irish politician (Fine Gael Party), born in Castleknock, Dublin (d. 2017)

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Famous Deaths

1952 – [Rosalie] Julia Cuypers, Flemish actress (Adelaarsjong), dies at 79
1959 – Eduard van Beinum, Dutch musician and conductor, dies at 57
1966 – Georges Duhamel, French writer (b. 1884)
1981 – Prince Asaka Yasuhiko of Japan (b. 1887)
1984 – Ralph Kirkpatrick, American musician, musicologist and harpsichordist (Domenico Scarlatti), dies at 72
2009 – Mark Fidrych, American baseball player (b. 1954)

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How to Hang a Bird House

For bird lovers across the world, birdhouses are a great way to give birds a safe place to lay their eggs and rear their young. A well-located birdhouse also lets you keep an eye on the parent birds as they feed the young, and you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the fledglings! When you hang a birdhouse, aim to keep the birds safe from predators and to situate the birdhouse at an angle you can easily observe. Purchase a birdhouse from a local hardware store, or pick up a few supplies and make your own.

EditChoosing a Mounting Structure
Mount the birdhouse on a metal pole for complete protection. No predator on the planet will be able to climb up a metal pole and eat the eggs out of the birdhouse. So, situating the birdhouse at the top of a metal pole (which you can purchase at a hardware or home-improvement store) will keep the birds safe.[1]
Mounting the birdhouse on a metal pole gives an additional benefit. Since you can drive the pole wherever you like in your front- or backyard, you have complete control over the birdhouse’s location.

Place the birdhouse on a brick surface if one is near your home. If you have brick siding on your home or, for example, an old brick wall nearby, try hanging the birdhouse on this surface. Brick is difficult for predators to climb up since it’s quite hard and resistant to their claws. Unless the brick wall is lower than , birds will be safe in a house mounted on brick.[2]
In most cases, you can drive nails directly into brick without causing structural harm.

Hang the birdhouse on smooth wooden siding for a convenient option. If you don’t have any brick surfaces near your home and prefer to keep things simple, hang the birdhouse on a section of smooth siding on your home or a shed. Predators like skunks or weasels won’t be able to scamper up the siding, and the birds and their eggs will be safe.[3]
A downside to this approach is that it may be difficult to see the birds if the birdhouse is hung on a wall with no windows nearby.

Locate a birdhouse with a small entrance hole on a fence post. Unless they are very smooth, fence posts are relatively easy for lightweight predators to climb up. However, you can work around this problem by only hanging birdhouses with an entrance hole smaller than in diameter on fence posts. Even the smallest of predators will find it challenging to slip through this small of a hole.[4]
Be aware that this size of hole will also prevent larger birds from building a nest in the birdhouse. Smaller birds like nuthatches and chickadees will have no problem fitting in the hole, though.

This may be a good option if you live in a rural area with many fences, or if you don’t have any wooden siding or brick walls near your home.

Situate the birdhouse on a tree if you have no other options. Driving long nails or screws into a living tree can cause serious damage, so avoid hanging a birdhouse on a tree if other options are available. If you have no other choices, use as few screws as possible to hang the birdhouse. Find a tree with a diameter larger than , and remember to dispose of the screws if you decide to take down the birdhouse.[5]
While hanging a birdhouse on a tree will damage the tree, it will still provide a safer nesting location for birds than if they had to make do with a natural nesting location.

EditPositioning the Birdhouse
Hang the birdhouse between above the ground. If the birdhouse is mounted too low, it may be vulnerable to predators; too high, and many species of bird won’t want to live in it. Mounting the house high will attract a number of bird species, and also allow you to watch the birds without having to strain your neck.[6]
Smaller birds often favor lower nests. For example, if you’re hoping to have wrens, chickadees, or nuthatches nest in your birdhouse, hang the house at exactly .

Situate your birdhouse so it faces east to keep it warm. In nearly all climates, having your birdhouse face east is best for the birds. If you don’t know which direction is east where you live, use a compass to find out. If facing the birdhouse east isn’t a possibility due to the location of your house or yard, facing the birdhouse to the south is the second-best option since south-facing birdhouses will receive more sunlight than houses that face north.[7]
An east-facing birdhouse will catch the first rays of morning sun, warming the birds after a chilly night. Hot afternoon rays of sun coming from the west will hit the closed back of the birdhouse and not overheat the birds.

Point the birdhouse’s entrance so it faces a food source for fledglings. When the birds’ eggs hatch and the young emerge from the nest, they’ll need to find food. So, point the front of the birdhouse towards an open area that borders on bushes, shrubs, and trees where the young birds can find food.[8]
Ideally, potential food sources should be less than away from the birdhouse.

Locate the birdhouse away from bird feeders and baths. Bird feeders and bird baths both tend to draw in predators, which quickly learn that the congregated birds make a great food source. To protect the bird eggs and fledglings from predators (e.g., gray squirrels), do not hang a birdhouse near feeders or bird baths.[9] Hang birdhouses at least away from feeders or baths.
It’s possible to have both a bird feeder or bath and a birdhouse, as long as you’re smart about where you locate them. For example, try setting the feeder on your front porch and hanging the birdhouse on a tree in your backyard.

Space multiple birdhouses out by at least . While some bird species don’t mind having multiple nests close together, other species will refuse to use a birdhouse if it’s too near another nest. To avoid this problem, hang multiple birdhouses about away from one another.[10]
To achieve this, try to hang the houses on multiple types of surfaces. For example, hang 1 on a pole in your front yard, 2 more on opposite sides of your home, and a final 1 on a brick wall in your backyard.

EditMounting Against Flat Surfaces
Mark 2 spots at the center of the birdhouse’s extended back wall. Most birdhouses—whether purchased or made—have a back wall that measures above and below the birdhouse. To mount the house, you’ll drive screws through this and into the surface you’re hanging the house on. Use a ruler to measure the width of the back wall and mark the halfway point.[11]
So, if the back wall of the birdhouse measures across, mark a small “X” at the mark on the top of the extended back. Repeat the process and mark another “X” on the bottom of the extended back.

Position the birdhouse against the surface where you’d like to hang it. Walk out into your yard and hold the birdhouse against the wooden siding, brick wall, or other surface where you’d like to hang it. Look behind the “X” markings to make sure there aren’t any metal bits or stones that could damage your screws.
It’s fine to hang the birdhouse on a dead tree using large screws, as long as the tree is relatively sturdy and not rotten.

Screw the tips of screws into the 2 “X” marks. Position the tip of 1 screw at each of the pencil markings. Tap the head of each screw 2–3 times with a hammer to set the point in place. Then, give each screw 6–10 turns with a Philips head screwdriver to bury the tip in the wood.[12]
Since it’s difficult to hold the birdhouse with 1 hand and set the screws in place with the other, ask a friend or family member to help you with this step.

Drive the screws in using a power drill with a Philips head attachment. Set the head of the attachment in the slot of the screws to tighten them. Make sure to hold the drill level and drive the screws straight into the backing. Tighten the screws until the screw heads are flush with the wood of the birdhouse backing to keep the birdhouse firmly in place.[13]
Although you’ll have to remove the 2 screws if you want to take down or clean the birdhouse, the screws will hold the structure firmly in place.

EditMounting on a Pole
Purchase a screw-on birdhouse and a diameter pole. It’s best to purchase this type of birdhouse rather than making it. The house should have a diameter threaded hole in its bottom so it can screw on top of the pole. Purchase a pole that’s at least tall and that has an auger at the bottom to make it easier to drive deep into the soil of your yard.[14]
You can find these items at a large hardware store, a home-improvement store, or a bird-supply shop.

An auger is a large metal screw (it looks like a huge corkscrew) that comes out of the bottom of the metal pole. Augers are typically long.

If you can’t find a pole with an auger already attached, purchase the auger separately and insert the base of the pole into the top of the auger.

Twist the pole clockwise to drive the pole and auger into the ground. Select a location in your front or back yard that’s easily visible from 1 or more windows. Set the point of the auger in the ground. Then, twist the pole clockwise to drive it into the ground as deep as the auger is long. If the pole has 3 or 4 “legs” that will stabilize it once it’s in the ground, you can hold on to these to give yourself more leverage as you twist.[15]
If you have a metal pole without an auger attached, you can just drive it into the ground. However, it will be a more wobbly setup than if you’d used an auger.

Turn the birdhouse clockwise to screw the birdhouse onto the pole. Once the pole is firmly in place, it’s time to set the birdhouse on top. Line the hole on the bottom of the house up with the top of the pole. Make sure the house is balanced, and slowly turn the birdhouse clockwise until it’s tightly in place on top of the pole.[16]
If you’d like to adjust the direction that the birdhouse is facing after it’s screwed onto the top of the pole, you should be able to turn the pole clockwise or counterclockwise in the ground.

Whenever you want to clean the birdhouse, you simply need to turn it counterclockwise to loosen the threads and unscrew the house.

EditThings You’ll Need
EditMounting Against Flat Surfaces



2 screws


Philips head screwdriver

Electric drill

Philips head attachment

Compass (optional)

EditMounting on a Pole
Screw-on birdhouse

diameter pole

Metal auger

If you’re hanging a birdhouse on a metal pole, locate it at least away from any low-hanging branches, large rocks, or other objects that a crafty predator could leap from to gain access to the birdhouse.[17]
If you’re worried that some of your birdhouses may go unused because of their proximity to other birdhouses, try mounting them in locations where one birdhouse isn’t visible from another.

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