Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Is Your Brain in a Cycle of Underperformance?

Comment: Though this research was published a while back, I still see it as very relevant today!

Source: Harvard Business Review Article by Edward M. Hallowell 

Overload Circuits - Are You In A State of Underperformance?

Frenzied executives (or anyone else for that matter) who fidget through meetings, lose track of their appointments, and jab at the "door close" button on the elevator aren't crazy--just crazed. They suffer from a newly recognized neurological phenomenon that the author, a psychiatrist, calls attention deficit trait, or ADT. It isn't an illness; it's purely a response to the hyperkinetic environment in which we live. 

But it has become epidemic in today's organizations. When a manager is desperately trying to deal with more input than he possibly can, the brain and body get locked into a reverberating circuit while the brain's frontal lobes lose their sophistication, as if vinegar were added to wine. 

The result is black-and-white thinking; perspective and shades of gray disappear. People with ADT have difficulty staying organized, setting priorities, and managing time, and they feel a constant low level of panic and guilt. 

It is possible to control ADT by engineering one's environment and one's emotional and physical health: 
  • Make time every few hours for a "human moment"--a face-to-face exchange with a person you like. 
  • Get enough sleep
  • Switch to a good diet
  • Get adequate exercise
  • Break down large tasks into smaller ones
  • Keep a section of your work space clear
  • Try keeping a portion of your day free of appointments and e-mail. 
  • The author recommends that companies invest in amenities that contribute to a positive atmosphere.
If you need help some of the areas listed above check out the latest release: Organizational Strategies for the Overwhelmed - how to manage your time, space, & priorities, to work smart, get results & be happy - learn more here:

This blog is based on this book. In it are actionable ideas on being a better manager: The 1% Edge - The Workbook - Power Strategies to Increase Your Management Effectiveness

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