Does this sound like you?
You sit down to work—in energy management or any other field—and soon your mind is way off track. You’re thinking about the movie from the night before or how you got cut off in traffic. You don’t know how to interpret your boss’ tone in his last email, and your annual review is coming up.
But none of this is helping with your current task. You’ve got a deadline to meet.
So you coach your mind to return to your task, but your mind keeps running away from you—what a disobedient organ! This is tiring. You haven’t even begun to work! You have to do this all day?
How do you focus your mind so you can work smarter?
For its monthly book club selection, the marketing department at EnergyCAP, Inc. is going through, Your Brain At Work, by David Rock. Here are five ways to work smarter that we learned from this book.
1. Declutter your mind before you begin.
Your mind has limits to what it can hold at one time. If you go into a task thinking about other things, it’ll be difficult to focus. Take a few moments to clear out your mind. Write down the things you’re trying to remember. If a loose but important thought comes, write it down and move on.
2. Create a consistent routine.
Your brain is wired to focus on what’s new and different. So if you want to focus on a task, create consistency. If you can, use the same physical space for work. If you listen to music, use music that is familiar. Routine things require less energy than novel things.
3. Move around to activate different parts of your brain.
Moving around during work activates your brain’s motor cortex. This prevents you from over-taxing certain parts of your brain. When you exhaust your brain, you’re likely to feel tired and give up. This is why an afternoon walk can renew your mind.
4. Create a clear beginning and a clear end to your task.
It might seem like you’re working better by multi-tasking. However, quality can suffer because you can put your full attention on only one thing at a time. Plus, fatigue sets in sooner when you multi-task. Try doing one thing at a time by starting a task and finishing it with intention. Then move to the next beginning.
5. Power down or shut off distractions.
Your mind likes to diverge. A ping on your phone can be an avalanche of distraction. An email notification can set your mind into a spin. So remove the distractions. If you don’t need two computer monitors on, turn one off. If you don’t need to use your cell phone, power it down. If you need to think, put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door.Become the master of your mind and the master of your task. By putting some simple strategies into place, you can work smarter—and find more fulfillment as you do.