I chose this photo from my collection because however you
are travelling along a canal
you have to go at your optimum pace for your purpose. M'reen
These 7 tips can
help you back off and be even more productive.
If your brain is always working overtime to make it
through your never-ending to-do list,
it may be time to give it a rest.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed just thinking about all you
have to do?
Do you find yourself snapping at others who seem to be
too laid back?
Have you given up too many things that you used to enjoy
because you're too focused on work?
You may be a victim of mental fatigue.
Mental fatigue is the result of brain over-activity. It
can happen when you expend too much mental effort on a project or task. You may
pride yourself on your laser-focusing ability, spending long hours on a task,
day in and day out. But every strength, taken to the extreme, becomes a
Your overdrive eventually catches up with you, and you
deplete your mental gas tank.
The result is mental fatigue.
Research shows that mental fatigue results in an
inability to concentrate
and an increase in simple mistakes.
Unchecked, mental fatigue leads to feeling stressed,
irritated that you can't keep up
and even depressed. What's more, being in a state of
mental fatigue not only affects your well-being, it also spills over into your
interactions with family and others you associate with.
It's draining for them to be around someone who is
continuously mentally exhausted.
If you think you may be mentally fatigued, here are seven
tips to help you prevent and combat it.
1. Stop Low-Yield
Be ruthless about how you spend your time. Instead of
mindlessly moving from one task to the next, focus on activities that grow your
business. Stop burning away hours reading Facebook updates
or answering useless emails. Instead, keep those
activities for a scheduled, timed break,
then move away to something more worthwhile. Don't meet
with acquaintances who want to get together for coffee—these are often people
who have time to waste and want to waste it with you.
Use the time you've saved to learn new things, and pursue
activities that increase your well-being and the quality of your life. Focus on
strengthening your bonds with family, friends and associates. Do what fuels
your mind and fills your heart. If you rescue wasted time consistently
over the course of a year, you'll be richer for it and
will feel more energized.
2. Use the Timebox
Timebox is a term that originated in the software
It's defined as a period of time during which a task must
Entrepreneurs like Steve Pavlina use
timeboxing as a way to manage work projects.
Because timeboxing forces you to limit the time you allot
to certain tasks that run the risk
of taking far more time
than they're worth, it counteracts any perfectionist
to the wrong tasks and ensures that you do the best job
you can within a set time frame.
3. Try Focus@Will
a music service that's based on the latest research in neuroscience.
As the company behind this intersection of art and
most people can only concentrate for about 100 continuous
"The focus@will system makes it easier for you to
get into the concentration flow, and then keeps you there. It works in the
background by subtly soothing the part of your brain, the limbic system,
always on the lookout for danger, food, sex or shiny things."
focused, you can get more done in a shorter amount of time, so you can free
up more time and reduce your chances of mental fatigue. Entrepreneur Sean
Ogle described the program
as "magic." You can try it out for free for 30
days and see what happens.
4. Be Kind to Your
Staring at a computer for long
hours while you work causes eye fatigue, which can tire you out and
negatively affect your ability to focus. Fortunately, there are many things you
can do to avoid this. For example, every once in a while, look away from your
computer screen and focus on distant objects or take a minute to stare out the
window. Also, lower the brightness of your monitor—research shows that when you
lower the brightness, the reduction in your ability to focus
by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
5. Don Your Sneakers
Research reported in Science Daily reveals
that a bout of exercise makes the brain
to fatigue. According to the study, "These findings
could lead to the enhancement
of athletic performance through reduced mental
and physical fatigue."
What works for athletes can also work for you.
6. Learn to Do
Nothing Once in a While
We're a nation of doers—continuously on the go, rushing
from meeting to meeting,
project to project. Even when we're on vacation, a large
number among us spends more time
surfing the Internet rather than surfing the
John Lennon once said, "Everybody seems to think I'm
lazy. I don't mind, I think they're crazy. Running everywhere at such a speed,
till they find there's no need.”
Planning for a little idleness in your week is a smart
move if you're trying to refresh your spirit
—it's a powerful antidote to mental
7. Reduce Your
Sleep debt is the difference between the amount of sleep
you should be getting
and the amount you actually get. It's not uncommon for professionals to
several hours of sleep for a few days in a row. This is a sure-fire way to invite mental
Research shows, on average, Americans lose one hour of
sleep each night—more than two full weeks of slumber every year. This has a
negative impact on our health. As the research shows, you can't train yourself
to be a "short sleeper." What's more, a study found that the more tired
you get, the less tired you feel, which makes you think you're not shorting
It's time to earn back your lost sleep: Make it a
practice to go to bed when you're tired
and give your body the rest it needs so you can stop
mental fatigue in its tracks.
"The energy of the mind is the essence of
life," Aristotle said. Energy is everything. Mental fatigue saps us of our
most precious life energy. These seven strategies will help you guard against
As a writer and entrepreneur, I’ve often witnessed the
power of optimism in business.
An optimistic attitude instils confidence in business
from clients to employees to investors.
To determine the
real return on optimism, simply flip the switch:
Consider the damage that an oppressive workplace can do.
What would that do to your business partners? Your
Optimism: As Simple As
Answering the Phone with a Smile
An optimistic attitude creates a cheerful working environment,
making it a joy rather than a drudge to go to work.
If you’re in the business of customer service, and
really, who isn’t? — then a joyful interaction
is not only a rare thing of beauty, but it might also
make the difference
between your client happily signing on the dotted line
again — or not.
In my last business, I asked everyone to answer the phone
with a smile.
Some thought I was a little nuts, but try it for yourself
— you can actually hear a smile
over the phone. Soon, callers began saying things like,
“It’s always such a joy to speak to you folks. You’re like an oasis in my day.
I look forward to calling your company.”
Music to my ears.
Optimism Sets the Stage for
That meant that when callers were transferred to me,
I had a client or vendor in a good mood on the line.
What a difference! Even if there was a problem to
the optimistic attitude set the stage for a successful
Optimism began to
creep through the company in small ways.
The receptionist took ownership and created her own
“It’s a beautiful day at Scentsa, how can we help you?”
Surprise and delight became the order of the day.
Optimism Drives Creativity
Ever try to be creative with a dark cloud over your head?
Pretty tough, huh? Negativity kills creativity.
Our most creative days were when optimism ruled.
Often, when management or investors dictate change and a
negative person is forced into the mix, creativity suffers. Then sales suffer.
Clients get cranky. It’s a slippery slope.
Now, my best days of writing begin with a sunny attitude.
My expectation is that it’s going to be a great day. So what
happens on my worst days? You guessed it. They started the way they ended. The
page bleeds red ink. Might as well have stayed in bed.
Optimism is Money in the Bank
Even if optimism isn’t exactly money in
the bank, at the very least it primes the financial spigot.
One thing is certain, if you’re trying to create a
product, build a company, or turn one around,
you won’t do it nearly as well with a negative attitude.
In business school, I remember the case study of Fred
Smith, the founder of FedEx.
With his optimistic attitude, Smith inspired such
dedication to the cause
that when the going got tough, his employees made
to keep the company afloat — sacrifices which were later
well-rewarded with success.
Optimism is a Can-Do Attitude
It might sound a little old-fashioned, but you’ll never
accomplish your goal without the belief
that you can do it. Plant seeds of
happiness and cultivate your attitude like a garden.
Create a plan, work that plan, adjust and seize
opportunities that arise, but above all
be sure to add a dose of cheerful optimism. Plus, you’ll
enjoy the ride a whole lot more.
That’s why I’m such a big fan of Richard Branson, Mr.
You gotta have a dream.
Optimism Escaping You?
Can’t summon the sunshine? Let’s be realistic: If
you just can’t seem to summon an optimistic mindset, you might be suffering
from depression. Maybe you need to seek help. That’s okay.
My heart goes out to the family of actor Robin Williams;
he is missed by so, so many,
but his death put a spotlight on this often crippling
It you’re suffering, reach out for help.
What’s Your Return
on Optimism Investment? Measure It!
So how might you calculate this seemingly elusive return
Glad you asked! Here’s a quick, fun survey to calculate your return on
Follow the link, take a quick 10-question survey, and
discover your score.
Plus, you’ll gain some valuable insights. (Don’t
worry, it’s totally free, no gimmicks.)
Then, come back and share your score and insights.
Post it in the comments — and think about what you could
change in your life,
or in your business, to improve it?
Your actions might be drastic — maybe you’ll decide to
fire a client.
Or you might try something small, like smiling when you
answer the phone.
Or get up a little earlier and grab 20 to 30 minutes of
exercise, or meditation or prayer,
before the day revs up.
Think about it…
And how would that change your life?
Disclosure: This article was commissioned by Xerox.