Do you have trouble focusing at work? Do you find that you are often unable to think deeply and effectively about issues at work? A recent article in the Harvard Business Review reveals that you are not alone. Author David Rock is cofounder of the Neuroleadership Institute, an organization which extensively researches ways to boost thinking and performance. As a result of this research, Rock recommends three simple tips to improve thinking and job performance.
Brain Tips to Boost Job Performance
1. Distract Yourself
One of Rock’s most amazing findings is the power of the unconscious mind. Basically, research repeatedly showed that the best problem solvers were the ones that had time – even just a few minutes – to let their subconscious mind mull over solutions. This group of people even outperformed the group given plenty of time to consciously problem-solve. What does this mean? “To put it plainly, people who were distracted did better on a complex problem-solving task than people who put in conscious effort. That’s because stepping away from a problem and then coming back to it gives you a fresh perspective.”
So if you have a difficult problem at work or at home, then giving your brain time to process it while you do something else can be effective. Sometimes the classic advice of sleeping on it is indeed sound. You may also benefit from exercise, a coffee break, tackling a smaller, less demanding task, or something similar in order to get some good subconscious thinking time in.
2. Give it 4 Hours
Sometimes it isn’t enough to demonstrate outward professionalism in the workplace. Sometimes you need to plan ahead to get your brain in on the act as well. Industrial and educational theorists have discussed the optimal block of time for a work cycle for years. According to a recent Finnish study, the best way to maximize your job performance is to identify your priority tasks at the beginning of the day and then to give yourself a block of four uninterrupted hours to accomplish those tasks each day. That block of time improves concentration and improves your thought processes.
3. Start Fresh
If you’ve got a challenging task ahead, give yourself some subconscious chewing time as well as giving yourself an uninterrupted block of time to work on it. But for something especially difficult, make sure that the block of time that you carve out for that day is first thing in the morning or whenever your mind is most fresh and energized to take on a complex task. Just a little planning can maximize your brainpower and make a big difference in your job performance by transforming your professionalism in the workplace from an outward attempt to an inward reality.