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How to Reward Your Brain to Boost Productivity and Other Tips This Week

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A roundup of the best tips of the week from

The key to achieving your goals may be in understanding your brain chemistry. When you succeed at something, your brain releases dopamine, a reward chemical which boosts memory and triggers increased concentration and a desire to repeat the experience.

Because of dopamine, we learn better from success than from failure. In fact, failure lowers dopamine levels, making it hard to figure out what went wrong, says author Monica Mehta. She advises setting small, achievable goals to keep yourself feeling good and moving forward. "The cultivation of small wins can propel you to bigger success," she says. More: Why Our Brains Like Short-Term Goals

Test your product with customers first.
A solid business plan and savvy market research are important, but the best thing to do to see whether your business idea has legs is to build what is known as a minimum viable product (MVP). This could be a mock-up of your product or an actual working prototype. Share the MVP with your network and see how people respond; nothing beats actual customer feedback. More: How to Turn a Worthless Business Idea into a Million-Dollar Startup

Don't follow the crowd.
Peer pressure is a real force in the business world. Sometimes it comes in the form of a potential investment, a proposed expansion or a new way of doing business. Don't fall into the "me-too" trap, which can take you right into unsustainable territory. Do your homework on the new venture, because the crowd isn't always right. More: How to Sharpen Your Decision-Making Skills

Do your hardest tasks first.
Do your creative thinking and your most difficult work early in the day, before routine chores -- handling emails, scheduling meetings and so on -- have sapped your energy. "Every decision we make tires the brain," says David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute. Save less complex work for later in the day. More: How to Train Your Brain to Stay Focused

Present your ideas with emotion.
Memorizing a crucial pitch rather than relying on notes or a slideshow presentation can help you speak confidently and fluently about your plans. Better yet, it will allow you to put the nuts and bolts aside and express your passion. "The pitch needs to come from emotion," says Blake Eastman, a serial entrepreneur and Manhattan-based consultant. "That's what's most effective -- when people just speak from the heart." More: How to Project Confidence

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