Your Brain at Work

Here’s another book I’ve recently dipped in to: Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long. Based on what I’ve read so far, it’s an enjoyable discussion of why your brain works the way it does in relation to various issues of productivity (for example, why you can’t multi-task).

Here’s an interesting paragraph:

While you can hold several chunks of information in mind at once, you can’t perform more than one conscious process at a time with these chunks without impacting performance. We now have three limitations: the stage takes a lot of energy to run, it can hold only a handful of actors at a time, and these actors can play only one scene at a time.

And here’s another very interesting point on the consequences of being “always on”:

“Always on” may not be the most productive way to work. One of the reasons for this will become clearer in the chapter on staying cool under pressure; however, in summary, the brain is being forced to be on “alert” far too much. This increases what is known as your allostatic load, which is a reading of stress hormones and other factors relating to a sense of threat. The wear and tear has an impact. As Stone says, “This always on, anywhere, anytime, anyplace era has created an artificial sense of constant crisis. What happens to mammals in a state of constant crisis is the adrenalized fight-or-flight mechanism kicks in. It’s great when tigers are chasing us. How many of those five hundred emails a day is a tiger?”

… [Also], the surprise result of being always on is that not only do you get a negative effect on mental performance, but it also tends to increase the total number of emails you get. People notice you respond to issues quickly, so they send you more issues to respond to.

  • Leo Vadala

    Sounds like something I need to read! I look forward to hearing you speak at Redeemer this Saturday.

  • David,

    Beyond all the physical and mental shortcomings, being always on task leaves no time or energy for your most important client – God. As believers, we should always have a line open and working for communication with our heavenly Father.