Your brain is incredibly fast.
It has been estimated to process 200 million billion bits of data per second!
No matter how fast a reader you are, while your eyes are following each word, your brain makes sense of it, as well as countless other cues in your environment. You’re probably not even aware of it. Smells, sounds, movement around you…
Unfortunately, in this day and age, we’re not encouraged to make the most of this powerful machine. We follow the crowd, existing instead of living, surviving instead of thriving. We end up working hard, but not smart. We’re exhausted but have little to show for it.
Here are 5 tools to change this.
First of all, you may well know of the Pareto principle or the 80/20 rule.
It stipulates that 80% of your results come from 20% of your work. If you are working a 9-5, are you productive all the way through? The likelihood is that you are at your peak 20% of the time.
So stop thinking that longer hours slaving away will reap more rewards. Especially if your work is creative in nature, or requires a lot of brain power, identify the times you are the most alert and productive during the day and capitalise on that.
I wrote on how to be more creative here.
It has been proven that physical exercise does wonders to our brain. A recent study showed that brain plasticity increased immediately after a 30-minute exercise session. The effect lasted 15 minutes after.
On the flip side, studies have shown that the lack of exercise, leading to being overweight actually impairs brain functions.
So exercise regularly. It releases endorphins so it makes you feel better, increases brain plasticity so it makes you smarter. It’s all round winner!
See my other post about exercise and the brain
Thirdly, if you thought that mental exhaustion happens exactly the same as physical exhaustion, think again.
Research shows that when we are mentally fatigued, it’s not because we have no more energy. It’s more linked to our psychology.
You may have experienced this. It’s nothing new. When engaging in something we love and /or are good at, it’s less taxing on our brain and we can go at it for hours.
I used this to my advantage at Uni. I approached learning as a fascinating exploration of ideas rather than a meaningless accumulation of facts. It helped me tremendously in my studies.
So do more of what you love or find something you love about what you do. You will tire less.
Fourthly, it’s been all over the Interweb so I’m sure you know. But let’s reiterate:
It’s been proven that multitasking isn’t effective. Just like distractions, (more on distractions here), multitasking makes us scattered and less productive in the long run. We end up taking longer to perform each task and in all likelihood, perform it poorly. Our brain doesn’t really focus on many things simultaneously. In actuality, it switches focus from one thing to another.
So unless your multitasking is just fitting in something in a slot when you’d be doing nothing (reading while in a queue, or taking out the trash while waiting for the oven to preheat, etc…), Stop multitasking to save time. It doesn’t.
Fifth and lastly,
Sharpen your tools or, as the late entrepreneur and author Jim Rohn said, “work more on yourself than our your job”.
By this, he meant that you could have the best tools to do the job but if they’re in bad repair, no matter how hard you work, the results will be poor.
Your best tool for any job is your mind. Sad to say, society will erode it with all the negativity, the scandals, fears, catastrophes it feeds it on a daily basis. We are being programmed to feel helpless, frightful and apathetic. Is it any wonder that our results in life are less than we would want?
So instead, we need to control our programming, seek out the truly educational and inspiring information to feed our mind and allow it to operate on a more positive plane.
I wrote a bit more on that here
To recap: work more when you feel at your best, exercise regularly, inject some love in what you do, focus on tasks one at a time and do some personal development.
Then you’ll be working smart, not hard.
But what does working smart look like to you? What’s your take?
Feel free to share in the comments.
In the mean time,