We all have good days and bad days at work, days where the brain is organised and focused and other days where the brain is disorganised and distracted. When we compare these alternate days to the amount of stress we are put under, it shows that too much or too little stress reduces our ability to perform a task well.
It is apparent from this research that we need some pressure to get ourselves going, but it is about finding the right balance. The point is that we can’t be great all day long so we need to plan our days accordingly in order to be realistic about the tasks ahead of us to help our brains have more good days at work.
- Prioritise – Writing down a list of priorities is the most important thing you can do to start your day. Doing this provides some certainty for the day ahead and reduces overload on the brain by getting the information out of the working memory and onto a page.
- Don’t answer all your emails first thing – Identify the most important emails to respond to first, to avoid wasting too much mental energy at once. Decisions as small as wondering how to respond to an email and deciding who to copy in can be mentally taxing.
- Carve out thinking time – Being surrounded by distractions in the workplace will cause your concentration to deplete. Allow yourself some time during the day to focus, ask colleagues to leave you in peace for a couple of hours, turn email and your mobile phone off and find somewhere quiet to work.
- Understand your brain better – Learning how your brain works, for example what helps or hinders it, leaves you in a better position to get the most out of it and better equipped to know how to respond to any difficulties throughout the day.
- Go for a walk – exercise can help you think better and reduce anxiety, go for a walk around the office or try take a walk or do some exercise on your lunch break.