Why busy people are lying to youBy Dr Adam Fraser | Jun 07, 12 11:18 AM
We all think we're busy. But are we actually running around like headless chooks - or are we kidding ourselves.
People who complain about being busy and having no time to relax are, in fact, lying. What are we busy doing? Being unproductive, that’s what! Marc K Peter, Director of Technology and Business Development at LexisNexis Pacific, was quoted in December 2010 as saying that the “average Australian employee only works 2.5 days per week.” What are they doing with the other 2.5 days? Activities that have no direct business outcome.
Let’s examine this for a moment. Most people complain about how ‘busy’ they are at work, yet the average person wastes 50 per cent of time on things that are not important. Mmmmm. Clearly productivity is an issue.
So how do we become more productive? First, you need to be honest with yourself and decide whether productivity is something you really want or whether you just want to fly under the radar, do the bare minimum and not push yourself. If that’s the case, stop reading this article and go back to tracking your bids on eBay or updating your Facebook profile. Great! Now that we have that sorted, let’s look at getting more done.
To understand productivity we have to go into the murky and mysterious world of the brain. The small piece of real estate between your ears is your key to better performance. But let’s get specific – the particular part of the brain we have to look after sits just behind your forehead in your frontal lobes. It’s called the “working memory”. Working memory is your own personal Etch-ASketch. It controls your ability to hold information in your consciousness, use that information, and achieve an outcome. The size and functionality of your working memory is highly correlated with your IQ and ability.
If you want to be more productive, forget about whether your iPhone syncs to your iCal which talks to your to do list. Start focusing on setting up your working memory to be at its best. Here are the top seven ways to shift your working memory into hyperdrive.
Work in sprints - to get the most out of your working memory use it in a focused manner then rest it, let it recover than work it again.
Overwhelmed? Write it down - write down your thoughts and emotions on paper. Writing your worries down can remove them from your working memory.
Manage your glucose levels - if you want to stay sharp at 3pm the key is to eat regular meals. Breakfast, lunch and a snack about 2.30pm.
Exercise your mind - as little as 30 minutes of daily exercise primes the brain to be much more efficient and has been shown to increase working memory capacity.
Keep it positive - for working memory to be at its best you need to have positive emotions like excitement, happiness and curiosity backing it up.
Develop an "I must get it done or I will die" list - by all means keep your to-do list, but beside that have a "Must do list". This will help to calm and focus your working memory.
Everyday reflect on what you've achieved - regular practice of this technique gives you a sense of achievement which motivates you to achieve more and be more productive.
Read the full post in the latest issue of Latte.
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Dr Adam Fraser is one of Australia’s leading educators, researchers and thought leaders in the area of human performance and a regular guest speaker of ours. Learn more at www.dradamfraser.com.au Follow Adam on Twitter @dradamfraser.