Updated: Oct 17
The subject I’d like to talk to you about today is something I feel very passionate about.
Modern life is an onslaught to the brain. As human-beings we are under a lot of pressure, we are overloaded, we are always on and we are constantly jumping from one thing to the next. This article is about our personal awareness of this behaviour and what we can do about it to feel better. It is about being present. We always just have so much going on. With obligations to work, partners, friends perhaps children, and other family, there are always a seemingly infinite set of demands on our time. If we are not careful, we can really get overloaded. This is what I’d like you to avoid. Not by waiting until you hit the wall and then making some changes but by preventing overload and overwhelm ahead of time. We have may have developed some bad habits. Do you for example saying yes too often, like tasking switching all the time, like constantly looking at our phones and screens. Also there is what we don’t do such as taking time out for ourselves.
I am here to offer you some awareness and motivation to help you deliberately change some of these habits. This is in the hope that you can feel more mentally healthy, in control, effective and more energetic.
Let’s kick off with a look at where we are now and our current shared reality, and when we’ve done that I’m going to offer some ideas for three immediate practical things you can do. When I did my coaching accreditation I was introduced to a coaching model called our paid reality. This stands for Pressurised, Always on, Interrupted Distracted.
The more aware we are of our PAID reality the more conscious we are of our poor habits the more likely we will be to change those habits and look after ourselves. As we make deliberate choices we can regain autonomy over our time and how we feel. The aim here is to reduce the pressure, take time out stop the interruption and distraction and be more present, and more focused on one thing at a time. I guarantee you’ll feel better from giving this your attention.
Did you know that according to 2019 data from Statistica - the average number of emails a worker receives in one day is 120, that’s 600 a week of around 2 and a half thousand per month. Not only that but Statistica also shares that the average daily use of social media in the UK is just over 2 hours. So my first new habit and personal intervention for you is to erect your own barriers to this incoming information. I would invite you to consider doing this at least twice a day for at least an hour each time. It is neither reasonable nor healthy for anyone to expect you to reply in the moment to the arrival of a new message, be it email, Whatsapp, messenger or anything else. So I’d like to offer you to feel empowered to turn the notifications off. Give yourself permission to shut down the email program and focus on your priorities. If you need to tell key people who may be in touch to expect this that’s fine too. Let them know this is a habit you are implementing and why. It is actually even better if you do tell someone. This is an immediate personal accountability measure.
The next new habit I am going to offer you if you are not currently in the habit of it is about getting outside in the fresh air. Before we even mention the numerous benefits of exercise on health and mindset simply being outside offers multiple benefits too. Research by Nancy Sim proves it makes you happier and helps you sleep better. It supports long term health. Walking outside increases brain function because we get more oxygen. It also improves concentration, it gives us vitamin D which is required for neurotransmitters and nerve growth. Also if we are under pressure it releases endorphins and serotonin which offset stress and stabilises our mood. Can you build a daily outdoor walk into your life?
If you are struggling to get all your tasks completed in a day and feel overwhelmed I am going to share a new approach which may well make a huge difference to effectiveness and work rate…
If you work very long hours and have a long list of tasks before you this could just be a game changer.
Are you flitting rapidly between tasks? If you are this works your brain incredibly hard.
This is not good for you or sustainable.
If you have every thought, you are good at multi-tasking here s a newsflash for you. You are not. None of us are, and here is why.
In our prefrontal cortex when we work on a single task and focus our attention on it both sides of our brain work together. The French national institute for health and medical research found that adding a second task actually forces the two sides of the brain to try and work independently. This causes worrying changes in performance. Firstly, we are 3 times as likely to forget details.
According to the University of London our IQ actually drops by 15 points bringing it to the level of an 8 year old boy. In psychology this process is related to what is technically referred to as set shifting. And guess what set shifting has a “switching cost.” Flitting constantly between tasks for example some spreadsheet work and replying to an arriving email is highly inefficient.
Overall it takes longer as the brain dis-engages and re-engages. Specifically, according to the journal of experimental psychology the brain shifts goals and turns on and off the different cognitive rules we have learned for the different tasks. Right here this is the lost time. As we jump around perhaps believing we are a “Multitasking Master” how adaptable smart and on top of our work we are. No you are not good at multi-tasking, no one is.
Consider creating a superior habits with self-erected barriers and giving one thing at a time your attention. Recognises the limitations of our brains and you will most likely get far more done.
So to recap on this subject we have explored our stressful, modern world of pressure, always on, interrupted and distracted. We have learned that we can better and more deliberately control our time by pausing emails, social media and other notifications, and not allow them to distract us. We can choose to do one focused thing faster and more accurately. We can give ourselves some critical “Me time” during an outside walk and vastly improve our stress, brain function, overall health and mindset.
Right now I’d like to invite you to write down three changes you will make for yourself starting straight away. Put the pen to paper and pin on the fridge. Tell someone your plans for an extra accountability boost.
Let’s get happier and healthier together.