It’s not just the environment and time that strain our brain, it’s our work habits. To boost our brain health, we need to retool some of our approaches. According to the Center for Brain Health, here are six habits that are working against us, instead of for us:
Multitasking: “Multitasking is like asbestos to the brain. Our brain is not wired to do more than one thing at a time.” * What actually happens: our brain is forced to switch from one activity to another quickly, which causes fatigue and also reduces accuracy and productivity. Over time it also leads to a build-up of the stress hormone cortisol, which impairs performance.
Tethering ourselves to technology: “The need to respond instantly to every email, phone call, text, or social media post as quickly as possible is rewiring our brain to be addicted to distraction…. In this ADHD-like state, we struggle to focus for long periods of time and think deeply about one thought, idea, or task.”
Overloading ourselves with information: “Research shows that higher-performing minds are not more efficient at knowing what to pay attention to, but rather, what to block out.” A “constant state of information overload degrades the brain’s natural ability to block out irrelevant information, decreasing efficiency and performance.”
Over focusing on memorization: “A brain too occupied with remembering every detail, name, date or statistic is less likely to work efficiently. Focusing on a perfect memory depletes limited brain resources better used for…problem solving, decision making, and critical reasoning. In some ways, ‘forgetting’ is good and if you’re worried, write down critical information that you want to and should remember.”
Over-relying on routine: “Life moves fast and we often compensate by falling into routines, sticking to the path of least resistance, and letting our thoughts, conversations, and activities become stagnant. [This] fails to challenge our brain to do what it does best: innovate. Allowing your brain to function at this low level weakens the cerebral connections. Your brain is changing, but in an unwanted negative direction.”
Doing constant mental work: “Just like unrelenting and constant physical exercise causes overexertion and bodily injury, constant mental work is harmful to the brain. Not giving the brain the downtime it needs depletes its overall health, productivity, and ability to innovate.
OK, let’s work on dumping these habits to boost our brain power as we all write on!
* All quoted material is from the Center for Brain Health: http://www.brainhealth.utdallas.edu/