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7 Tips for Achieving Your Goals From a Productivity Expert

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The beginning of a new year is quickly approaching, which makes now the perfect time to take stock of your priorities and set goals for your future. Setting goals helps you focus your attention, get more done, and change your life. Robert Pozen, MIT professor and author of Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours, shares his top tips for honing in on your goals—be they to live a healthier lifestyle, advance in your career, or prioritize your relationships—and seeing them through to fruition.

1. USE THE RIGHT TOOLS.

Just brainstorming your goals isn’t enough—you need to write them down. To give you one place to organize and categorize your goals, Pozen partnered with the Wall Street Journal to create the Productivity Planner for their Journal Collection. “If you don’t write down your goals and prioritize them, you are not likely to achieve them,” Pozen writes in the foreword to his Productivity Planner.

“Begin by jotting down all your goals for the next year, both personal and professional,” Pozen writes. “Use your notebook to then divide both sets of goals into ‘high priority’ and ‘secondary priority.’” The planner then helps you translate your goals into monthly objectives, and uses a two-sided schedule to help you manage your time. For every appointment you pencil in to your planner (meetings, phone calls, lunches, etc.), you also provide its purpose, or what you want to get out of it. “This will help you actively manage your day,” Pozen writes.

2. START WITH SHORTER-TERM GOALS.

Pozen’s Productivity Planner starts by asking you to list your yearly goals, but coming up with these can seem like a monumental task, especially when you’re young. “Start with your goals for a relatively short period—like the summer or a semester,” Pozen tells mental_floss in an email. “Those periods are easier to see as relevant.”

Once you have your list of goals, “divide your goals into personal and professional,” Pozen says. “When you think about personal goals, start with the easy ones such as what type of social life would you like to have? When you think about your professional goals, similarly, start with something like what new skill would you like to develop?”

3. GIVE EQUAL ATTENTION TO YOUR PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL GOALS.

“It is often easier to think about your professional goals because most people have an idea of a career path,” Pozen says. “Do you want to advance to a higher level in your current organization, or get a job someplace else? Do you need to go to a short training course or get a new degree or simply do a lot more networking? In this process, you can consult a colleague at work or a professional mentor.”

Personal goals often get the short shrift since it’s more difficult to nail down what it is you want and how to get there, but they shouldn’t be neglected. “When you try to generate personal goals, you should try to think through your daily life and needs. If you are single, do you want to meet a girlfriend or boyfriend? If you are married, do you want to have children?” Pozen says. “Then you might focus on your free time. Do you want to become better at playing a physical sport or start a new hobby or go on a special vacation? In this process, you can consult your partner or a friend.”

4. DO THINGS RIGHT THE FIRST TIME.

Pozen recommends you live by the principle OHIO: Only Handle It Once. “OHIO means that it is most efficient to deal with important matters right then and there, instead of waiting a week,” Pozen says. “If you wait a week, you may forget the important matter or it may take you a hour to get back up to speed. So if you receive an important email from your boss, only handle it once—answer it right then and there.”

5. MAKE TIME FOR MORE SLEEP.

You need a solid seven hours of rest for more than just your beauty. “Without enough sleep, your performance will decline on complex tasks without you even realizing,” Pozen writes in the Productivity Planner.

Without a doubt, this is something you’ve heard before. But it can feel impossible to put in the hours you need at work, get your chores and errands done, exercise, eat dinner, and hit the hay at a decent hour. While Pozen notes that there are tricks you can try to fit more in—“routinizing low priority tasks like eating breakfast, trying not to procrastinate by getting started with an easy part of a large project, and limiting meetings to 90 minutes at the most”—the most important thing you can do is de-emphasize the number of hours you’re putting in at the office. “The key points are to set your priorities and focus on getting them done, rather than just staying long hours at work—that is a false sense of productivity,” Pozen tells mental_floss.

6. EXERCISE.

“Devote at least 15 minutes each day to exercise,” Pozen writes in his planner. This will help you feel more alert and eager to tackle the day. But again, how do you fit this time into your busy schedule? “You should try to exercise in the middle of the afternoon when your energy is low – that will help you be more energetic and productive for the rest of the day,” Pozen tells mental_floss. Moreover, an afternoon workout won’t cut into your dinner prep or sleeping time.

7. MAKE SOME SIMPLE CHANGES TO YOUR ROUTINE.

To increase your productivity and work more efficiently, Pozen recommends making five easy changes to your daily routine—right now.

1. Get prepared the night before so in the morning you can quickly dress, eat a standard breakfast, and leave for work.
2. Use a two-sided schedule where you list your appointments on the left and what you want to get out of them on the right.
3. Don’t call a meeting unless you need to discuss something and keep all meetings to 90 minutes at the maximum.
4. Skip over two thirds of your email—you can tell they are not worth reading by the subject matter and sender.
5. Think about your purpose before reading anything, then read the intro and conclusions to decide if you need to read more.

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9 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Hollywood Body Doubles
Hugh Jackman and his Real Steel body double, Taris Tyler
Hugh Jackman and his Real Steel body double, Taris Tyler
Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

When you see the back of an actor’s head in a movie, it may not be the actor you think it is. In addition to stunt performers, most movies employ body doubles (or photo doubles) with a passing resemblance to the principal actors. While some body doubles are brought on set for specific skills—like helping an actor pass as a professional athlete—the job can often involve just being a body, whether that means being nude on camera, having photogenic hands, or appearing in place of actors who can’t be on set for some reason. Here are nine secrets of the job:

1. THEY MIGHT ONLY BE MODELING ONE BODY PART.

Body double Danielle Sepulveres has played the hands of other actors in plenty of roles in her career, on TV and in beauty commercials featuring close-up shots of her holding moisturizer or makeup. She’s drizzled dressing on salad in place of Brooke Shields. She regularly slides files across tables, makes lists, and pours wine in the place of actresses on The Good Wife. (She has also played Jill Flint's butt on the show.) “I knew only glimpses of my hands might make it into a shot, or part of my shoulder along with a wisp of hair,” she wrote of one of her jobs in Good Housekeeping in 2016. But she overheard the director complaining that her wrists looked “vastly different” than those of the principal actress in the movie, 2015’s Mania Days. “Luckily, I didn't get fired in spite of my wrists, but I wouldn't have been surprised had it happened.”

2. THEY’RE NOT JUST THERE TO SHOW THEIR BUTTS.

Yes, body doubles are often brought in if an actor doesn’t want to bare it all on camera. But they are hired for other reasons, too. For one thing, union rules mandate the actors get 12 hours off between when they leave set for the day and their next call time, so if the shoots are running long, the crew might employ someone else to stand in. Other times, it's a matter of particular talents. Most actors may be able to sing, dance, and cry on camera, but few also have the athletic skills to allow them to pass as a sports legend. In Battle of the Sexes (2017), Emma Stone plays Billie Jean King, one of the best tennis players of all time. To realistically represent King’s skills on the court, the movie makers brought in tennis doubles to play in place of Stone and her co-star, Steve Carell. Stone’s double was chosen for her playing style, which resembled King’s, and worked with King on-set to perfect her imitation. The effort was, according to The Wall Street Journal, a huge success. “Not only is the tennis believable, it’s a meticulous representation of the type of tennis played in that era: serve and volley, chipping and charging to the net, touch volleys and soft hands.”

3. ACTORS CAN GET TOUCHY ABOUT WHO PLAYS THEM.

When you are tasked with choosing a celebrity doppelgänger, you’ve got to keep egos in mind. “The choice reflects on the principal actor,” DeeDee Ricketts, the casting director for Titanic, told Vanity Fair in 2016. “We have to take into consideration that they can’t be too thin, or more beautiful, or too heavy, or too old, or else the principal actor will think, That’s how they see me?” Actors often get to give input on who will be their double, and sometimes have final approval rights written into their contracts. When she was being considered for the job of Janet Leigh's body double in Psycho's iconic shower scene, model and Playboy covergirl Marli Renfro had to strip down for both Alfred Hitchcock and Leigh herself so that they could make sure her body looked enough like Leigh's, as Renfro recently revealed at a Brooklyn screening of the documentary 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene. In the case of nude scenes, actors might even have final approval on what physical moves their doubles are allowed to make.

4. THEY MIGHT NEVER MEET THEIR DOUBLE ...

If you’re working as an actor’s double, by definition, you’re not going to have scenes with them, and so some body doubles never meet the stars they’re pretending to be. Danish actor Elvira Friis, who worked as a body double for Charlotte Gainsbourg (and her character’s younger self, played by Stacy Martin) during the racier scenes of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac (2013), never met the actor. “The closest I got to Charlotte Gainsbourg was that I was wearing her dress,” Friis told The Wall Street Journal.

5. OR THEY MIGHT SPEND A LOT OF TIME WITH THE PEOPLE THEY'RE PORTRAYING.

But how much time an actor spends with their doppelgänger really depends on the role. Some actors spend plenty of time with their doubles on set helping them get into the role. In What Happened to Monday (2017), Noomi Rapace plays the roles of seven identical sisters, making body doubles a necessity on set. Rapace helped direct her doubles during filming, “as they needed to know how the star would play the scene for each character so that it would sync up when she performed the part herself,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Game of Thrones star Lena Headey (who plays Cersei) worked closely with her double Rebecca Van Cleave for a nude scene in the show’s fifth season finale. Headey walked Van Cleave through her character’s thinking and movements for each shot. Then, Headey did the same performance herself, wearing a beige dress that could later be edited out. In the final product, Headey’s facial expressions were merged with Van Cleave’s nude body.

6. THEY DON’T ALWAYS LOOK EXACTLY LIKE THEIR COUNTERPARTS.

Because body doubles are often only seen from the back or side, they may not look quite as much like their acting counterpart as you’d think. Brett Baker, who worked as Leonardo DiCaprio’s body double for Titanic, is several inches shorter than DiCaprio and seven years older. From the front, you wouldn’t peg him as a Jack Dawson lookalike. But with the same clothes and haircut, shot from above and behind, he passed easily as DiCaprio. Once Leo’s closeups were done, according to Vanity Fair, Baker was often brought in to stand opposite Kate Winslet as she played through her half of the scene. In some cases, he didn’t make it into the final shot at all, but still had to be on set for those 14-hour days.

7. THESE DAYS, THEY GET A BOOST FROM CGI.

With the help of technology, filmmakers can put their leading actor’s face on a body double’s torso, so they don’t have to limit their body doubles to just back-of-the-head or partial shots. This allows them to seamlessly meld both the main actor and the body double’s performances in post-production. That can allow directors to get exactly the scene they want in shows like Orphan Black, which features Tatiana Maslany playing multiple roles, or in cases where actors don't want to get totally naked on-camera. In rare cases, it can also be used to bring actors back from the dead. When Paul Walker died in a car crash midway through filming Furious 7 (2015), the filmmakers used his brothers and another actor as body doubles, superimposing computer-generated images of Walker’s face on their performances. Around 260 shots featuring Walker’s doubles appeared in the final cut.

8. IF AN ACTOR CAN’T ALTER THEIR WEIGHT FOR A ROLE, A BODY DOUBLE CAN FILL IN.

When Matt Damon was filming The Martian (2015), he wanted to lose 30 to 40 pounds to portray astronaut Mark Watney after he had been surviving on meager rations for years. But the filming schedule made that impossible, so a body double had to be brought in for some shots. “I was going to lose a bunch of weight in the third act of the movie, then put the weight back on,” Damon told Maclean’s. However, as the schedule shook out, they filmed the NASA interiors in Hungary, then immediately went to Jordan, which doubled as the Red Planet for the film’s purposes, and shot all the exterior shots from the beginning, middle, and end of the movie, with no time for Damon to lose a significant amount of weight. The skinny body double isn’t on screen for long. “It was, like, two shots,” Damon describes. (Still, fans noticed.)

9. SOMETIMES THEY NEVER MAKE IT IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA AT ALL.

When it comes to nude scenes, sometimes body doubles are hired but never used. Veteran body double Laura Grady was cast as Robin Wright’s lookalike for State of Play (2009), but didn’t shoot a single scene. “I just sat in my trailer, ready to go, and then at the end, [Wright] decided to do her own scenes,” Grady told Vulture in 2014. “That happens sometimes. Sometimes they just get a body double because they think they might need one, and then all of a sudden the actress is comfortable and she’s like, ‘No, I’ll just do it.’ Or they change a scene and they don’t make it as risqué.” Don’t worry, though—the double still gets paid.

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Looking for a Job? Here's the Largest Employer in Each State
Visual Capitalist
Visual Capitalist

Whether you love or hate Walmart stores, they're a vital component of America’s economy. The big box store is the top employer in nearly half of America’s 50 states, according to a new map spotted by Thrillist.

Created by Visual Capitalist, a Canadian media and news firm, the graphic below breaks down the nation’s largest private employers, state by state. Based on data collected by the website 247WallSt.com, it excludes state governments and military bases but includes public universities, hospitals, and airports, in addition to other businesses.

Walmart reigned supreme across the South and Midwest, with presences in states ranging from Alabama to Wyoming. Together, the map’s data suggests, Walmart hires over 1.5 million Americans, including nearly 172,000 employees in Florida alone.

Health care was also big business, with hospital services making up the brunt of the local economy in states including Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, and Minnesota. In Washington state, the airplane manufacturer Boeing dominated the local market, while MGM Resorts International employed 55,200 people in Nevada. And in both Maine and New Jersey, regional grocery chains like Hannaford Supermarkets and Wakefern Food Corporation helped locals pay the bills.

Check out the full map below.

A map of the top employers in each state, created by Visual Capitalist
Visual Capitalist

[h/t Thrillist]

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