Wednesday, August 4, 2021

A disciplined mind leads to happiness, and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering (Dalai Lama)

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

The top tips about staying mentally sharp at work are featured in this snappily titled article: The best tools to stay mentally sharp at work.

If you are at work right now and have just been distracted by this post, allow me to summarise for you.

Personal self-discipline (a.k.a. strong will power) is the common denominator to most of these suggestions: 

  • Take 'smart' breaks 
  • Wean yourself off your phone
  • Specific, challenging goals result in higher performance
  • Cultivate an interruption free environment
  • Minimise mental overload (brain dumps and offloading what you’re doing onto paper works for me)
  • Jam your quitting impulse
  • Be gentle with yourself (let the distractions come and go, without getting ruffled)

While other suggestions build on the free up your thinking principle:

  • Shift your thinking to the more abstract (get out of the rut and free up your thought processes)
  • Apply the Yerkes-Dodson Law (One implication is that you need to find the right degree of stimulation to keep you focused. If your attention keeps wandering off, you may work better in a noisier coffee shop than in the library. Conversely, if you’ve already had a third cup of coffee, the library may be better. Another implication is that more complex, creative work benefits more from a relaxed kind of focus. Even if you’re able to work through simple tasks while under a lot of pressure, lowering your anxiety and stress about a task, say through visualization or meditation, helps with high-performance work)

One final one is a life choice:

  • Get quality sleep (meditation and deliberate breathing techniques help)

There you go. Stay sharp!

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