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Focus is more important than ever and in this information age, we face more distractions than ever before.
Have you ever thought about what happens in your brain when you open your laptop to work? This is exactly what David Rock, with his insightful book “Your Brain at Work” tries to explain.
Rock, in his book, uses his knowledge of neuroscience to explain what happens to your brain at work.
In this book summary, we will outline three key insights from this book that will help you stay more focused, be under less pressure and understand how the brain works.
Big Insight 1: Optimize the usage of your mental energy
- Our ability to think and willpower is limited and the best way to regain them is to get a good night’s sleep. The next course of action would be to determine what takes up a lot of mental energy and how to optimize it. Not all mental processes take the same amount of energy.
- Conscious thinking takes up most of your energy. That’s why it’s essential to schedule your most important mental processes ahead of time. For instance, planning for the day ahead is best to done in the morning when your mind is fresh.
- Make sure to use notes and lists to extract information from your brain. The brain is much better at interacting with information than storing it. After all, your short-term memory can only hold five pieces of information simultaneously.
- Transform your most important tasks into habits. When you turn tasks into routines, your brain will start to perform them without expending too much attention to them.
Big Insight 2: Avoid multitasking
- Rock shares a study indicating that constant distractions from phone calls and emails are equivalent to losing 10 IQ points. A similar thing happens when you miss a night of sleep.
- When you perform two cognitive tasks at once your cognitive capacity can drop to the level of an 8-year-old child. This is called dual-task interference. For instance, it occurs when you’re working on a creative project and checking emails at the same time.
These facts suggest that you should avoid multitasking at all costs. What are the solutions?
Schedule blocks of time for different tasks. For instance, 15 minutes for emails, 15 minutes for meeting preparation, and 30 minutes for a meeting.
Also, optimize the order you deal with information by prioritizing it.
Big Insight 3: Be aware of internal and external distractions
Distractions are a big part of our day-to-day lives. Essentially, they make us divert attention from the task at hand.
Returning to the task at hand takes time and effort, plus it also drains limited mental energy.
In fact, there is a study outlining that office distractions take up to 2.1 hours on average every day.
Modern technology brings all different forms of external distractions that decrease your concentration.
With the rise of popularity of smartphones and social media, there is constant anticipation of a notification which is a distraction in itself.
How to avoid external distractions? Turn off your smartphone or disconnect it from the Internet.
You can also turn off the notifications on your computer and even download an app that blocks the use of distracting websites.
Along with technology, overthinking is also a major cause of distraction.
This internal distraction is the most common when you worry about some event or thing.
Hence, it’s wise to clear your mind before starting with a specific task. The long-term solution is to become aware of distractions.
As distractions drain our willpower, it’s important to discover the triggers and patterns. One interesting way to do so is to label the distractions.
When you personalize the distraction, you recognize the pattern and prevent it from taking over. Then, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a fruitful habit.
Your brain is strong, but not perfect
The main idea that David Rock wants to outline is that your brain is imperfect.
However, knowing some key insights on how your brain works can help you optimize your performance in both professional and personal aspects of life.