Do you ever find it difficult to complete some tasks or meet deadlines? Do you sometimes feel like your mind is clouded by stress and pressure? Or, you can’t concentrate on what you have to do? If your answers are “yes”, then know that all these are normal situations.
The decline in our performance is usually due to perceptions and experiences that do not help us function as satisfactorily as we would like. Instead, they put us in a vicious circle of declining performance.
In this article I will talk about the four most counterproductive perceptions and habits and what we need to do.
- We believe that no-break work increases our performance.
Our brain needs both the active phase and the resting phase. When we are tired, the performance of the brain’s more sophisticated networks, such as those involved in creating, making the right decisions, or learning new information, severely decreases.
What we need to do: What we can do is take frequent breaks and make sure we work at the most productive hours, usually in the morning.
- We forget our overarching purpose
The most common counterproductive habit is to forget why we start doing something and where we want to devote our time and energy. We are so absorbed by the routine that we lose our enthusiasm. Everyday life becomes boring and we lose our motivation.
What we need to do: If we want to feel motivated again we need to immerse ourselves with routines that really interest us, connect small, repetitive and daily habits and tasks with bigger goals and overarching purpose that we love, are excited about and that can help others besides us.
- We multitask
The human brain can only focus on one task. Do not fool yourself into believing the myth that we can multitask. It has been scientifically proven that the human brain is not made to perform two or more tasks in parallel. This is an extremely difficult task for the brain. What actually happens during multitasking is that our brain focuses its attention from one task to another very quickly. This, however, has three detrimental consequences for our performance: we waste valuable time, we are prone to make mistakes, and we stress more easily.
What we need to do: We need to train our brain to focus on a single task for short periods of time. Our performance will increase dramatically even if we focus on one task.
- We let stress overwhelm us
When we feel stressed, our heart starts beating fast, our digestion and immune system are blocked, blood runs to the extremities and the energy supply to our brain decreases. This particularly affects the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for rational thinking, rational decision making and problem solving.
What we need to do: We plan small goals that help us get the job done without stress. We find what helps us regain energy. Maybe some breathing exercises and daily meditation can help fight stress, or enough sleep, reduced coffee consumption and physical exercise, such as a walk in nature.
If we want to increase our performance we need to focus on small and achievable goals that we enjoy as we work for a greater purpose that we love.
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Madore, K. P., & Wagner, A. D. (2019). Multicosts of Multitasking. Cerebrum : the Dana forum on brain science, 2019, cer-04-19.