This week I will focus on some additional practical and easy to implement tips to help maximize our brain's daily output.
Our Brain Needs Breaks
Do you purposely give your brain regular refueling breaks? Caroline Webb gives an analogy of the brain and a race car. Race car drivers are driving an incredible machine and they intentionally and strategically plan out pitstops during the race to refuel, change tires, etc. Our brains are a lot like a race car, it's an impressive machine. The conscious brain gets tired and fatigued very quickly and easily. The more tired that your brain is, the less likely it is to make good choices. Strategic downtime, or pitstops, are necessary for optimal functioning.
How many times do we keep pushing ourselves past the point of fatigue in an attempt to be more productive? Skipping a break to take a quick walk, to eat lunch, to meditate, to sleep, just to keep plugging away at the task. Stepping away from the task is equally, if not more important, than actually doing the task. Even when you step away from the task your brain is subconsciously still working at solving the problem. By strategically giving our brain the rest that it needs we are giving it a chance to be as efficient and insightful as possible.
One way to intentionally give our brain a rest is to use the Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management tool developed by Francesco Cirillo. The idea is to work for 25 minutes straight and then take a 5 minute break. The key is to pay attention to how you feel. Pay attention to the quality of your attention and know when you are getting tired and need a break. Maybe for you it's 40 minutes or 55 minutes and then a 5 minute break.
Keep in mind that decision fatigue, creativity fatigue, productivity fatigue is real. Be purposeful in giving your brain the breaks that it needs in order to optimize its output. Consider optimizing your body, mind and spirit during your break by connecting with nature, meditating, making a social connection, or by taking in some nourishment.
Optimizing Our Brain's Peak Energy
Do you know when your brain is at its peak energy? John Assaraf, CEO of NeuroGym and brain researcher, recommends that you take the hardest thing that needs to get done and do that in your peak energy time. Research indicates that from 9-11 AM is the most optimal time for the brain to be the most creative and from 11 AM-2 PM is the most optimal time for the brain to handle tough tasks.
It's typical for me to want to cross things off the list, so I pick off the least challenging, quicker tasks to do first, leaving the harder or more time-consuming tasks for later. It can feel somewhat rewarding to be able to put a line through a task on the list, but ultimately procrastinating on the difficult tasks only makes them more challenging for the brain. It is more optimal to break the larger task down into smaller more manageable tasks. That way it not only feels more doable, but your brain gets the reward of being able to cross it off as you progress through it.
Knowing your brain's peak energy time and completing your most challenging task during that time will allow you to optimize your brain's output.
Hope this information helps you to optimize your brain's energy! In future posts, I will share more information on the brain, productivity and stress, so stay tuned. I would love to hear your feedback on this post. Please drop me a comment or send me an email.