Your Healthy Brain

Would you agree that your brain is your most important tool that you will use today? Now, if you are a manual laborer, you might argue that a strong body, controlled by your brain, is your most important tool. But, for most of us that live in the “knowledge worker age,” our brain is vital as we are paid to think, innovate, create and execute.

So, what are you doing to keep your brain healthy and sharp? Napoleon Hill said, “You are more apt to ‘rust’ out your brain from disuse than you are to wear it out from use.” Your brain grows stronger and healthier with use. What can you do today to stretch your brain, improve its health and ensure that it grows rather than rusts? Here are some ideas:

  • Read. Continue to learn. Sign up for online university classes. Acquire a new skill. Pick up a new hobby.
  • Eat the foods that properly feed your brain. Drink water. Beware of caffeine and stimulants.
  • Get the proper sleep that you need, relax, meditate, and reduce stress.
  • Exercise and move! Your brain thrives on the increase of oxygen.
  • Develop friendships and interpersonal relationships. Rich relationships are key to a sharp brain.

Pick two or three ideas to strengthen your brain and schedule them throughout your week!

Contributed by Todd Musig, Productivity Practice, FranklinCovey

Return on the Moment (ROM)

How do you spend your time? Are you focused on the most important things, do you jump from distraction to distraction or maybe you just fly by the seat of your pants just filling the time?

If there was an investment portfolio for the time and energy of your life how would you rate your return on the moment (ROM)? Is it break even? Are you getting a negative return? Or, maybe you are getting an exponential return?

Look at your allocation of your time, attention and energy as an investment decision. Where will the payoff be? What activities will give you the most bang for the buck in all of your roles (personal and professional)? Conscious and vigilant decision making will make a huge difference every single day. With so many options and opportunities, you really have to pick and choose.

Contributed by Todd Musig, Productivity Practice, FranklinCovey

Keeping the Important Clear

Your phone rings, your computer dings and someone walks into your office.  You already have a long task list of those things that you need to accomplish.  Then there is the task list that your boss, significant other and children might have for you as well.  And, don’t forget that you have goals and dreams.  How do you make sure that you get your most important things done in the day, month and/or year?

Start by creating a clear picture of what it is that is most important to you in your most important roles.  Write it down.  Review it often.  When distractions and the long task lists get in the way, use your clear picture to keep you focused on what matters most.  Then, make time to “paint that picture.”

Contributed by Todd Musig, Productivity Practice, FranklinCovey

Personal Energy Crisis

How is your energy level?  Do you make it through the day without nodding off to sleep or do you find that you need to use toothpicks to keep your eyelids open?  Or, do you find that you need regular stimulants just to get through the day?  What effect does your personal energy crisis have on your personal and professional life?

Here are a few ideas to help you fuel your tank and keep your energy level up:

  • Get up and move.  Research shows that sitting at your desk for an extended period of time is not good for your mental and physical condition.  Every 20 or 30 minutes you should look for an opportunity to at least stand up, stretch and even go for a short walk.
  • Eat energizing food.  Fruits and nuts provide sustainable energy.  And, eating large meals can make you feel drowsy and lethargic.  Eat small portions more often.
  • Take power naps.  Research shows that even 15 minutes to shut your eyes and relax can make a big difference.  Don’t be afraid to find a quiet place for a quick power nap during the day.

Having the energy to accomplish those things that are important to you is vital.  Be sure to take care of YOU and don’t burn out.

Contributed by Todd Musig, Productivity Practice, FranklinCovey

How’s Your “Quality Attention”?

Does it seem like, more and more, you are so busy working to accomplishing a variety of tasks all at once that you are rarely able to dig deep and focus on accomplishing any task or project with excellence?

A number of years ago, Linda Stone coined the term, Continuous Partial Attention (CPA).  Continuous partial attention is the process of paying simultaneous attention to a number of sources of incoming information, but at a superficial level.  In essence, it is a kind of multitasking but adds the element of just skimming the surface and quickly moving on to the next set of data.  The other critical difference between multi-tasking and CPA is that multi-tasking is an effort to be productive and efficient by attempting to accomplish two or more tasks at once.  Whereas CPA is an effort to just get by through the least amount of effort and attention. Consider two examples of CPA:

Example 1: You are researching an idea related to a new product that you are developing, but rather than diving into books and articles on the related topic, you go to Wikipedia or copy and paste some Executive Summaries.  Your research might contain the essential elements of “average” but the differentiating elements that could bring insights to your research are not discovered or included.

Example 2: You come home from a crazy day at work.  You are tired (physically and mentally) and dinner still needs to be prepared.  You turn on the news and begin pulling out ingredients from the fridge when your 6 year old comes running into the kitchen excited to tell you all about her day.  You nod a fair amount and say “that’s great” a few times as you continue to try to pick up the news headlines and prepare the meal without burning it.

If you start to see the quality of your work decrease or the relationships in your life begin to falter, maybe you are getting out of the habit of focusing your attention to the most important “jobs to be done.”  CPA can be the cause of “settling for ordinary” rather than “going for extraordinary”.  When you feel this happening, maybe it is time to slow down and re-train your brain to take the time necessary to focus on a few critical things and accomplishing them with quality.

Contributed by Todd Musig, Productivity Practice, FranklinCovey

Continuous Interruptions

How many times do you get interrupted in an hour’s time during the work day?  Take out a piece of paper and pencil and keep a tick sheet for an hour counting every time that you are interrupted.  Some of those interruptions will come directly from people walking in to your area or office.  But chances are, a lot of those interruptions come from technology (e.g. email, phone calls, texts, notifications).  Technology is not a bad thing.  Technology can make our lives easier to achieve great things.  But it can also make it harder to achieve great things.  Let’s say that you get interrupted 10 times in an hour.  It might take you 1-2 minutes to get back on track even if you ignore or dismiss the interruption.  That is 10-20 minutes that you have lost.

Interruptions can make it very difficult to focus and think deeply.  If you have scheduled time in your busy day to work on a project of some type, be sure to remove distractions and turn off the dings, pings, and rings that will derail your thinking.  You might even consider putting a “do not disturb” sign on your door.  Blocking out distractions will increase your focus and produce better quality results.  You will also find that you will accomplish the task/project quicker than if you start and stop and start again when distractions interfere.  Now, how are you going to spend that extra 10-20 minutes that you have?

Contributed by Todd Musig, Productivity Practice, FranklinCovey