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Life! Where’s the Pause Button?

2nd July 2018

MindsetAs we firmly enter into summer and the holiday season most of you will be looking forward to some time off and the opportunity to unwind, relax and press the pause button.

This is a time to de-stress. I hear many people talk about how long it takes them to unwind which got me wondering. Do you know how stressed you are? Are you stressed at all or simply tired?

We live in a world where we are bombarded with information all of the time, through emails, social media, TV, requests from your team and family members, not to mention the random thoughts that go through your head, such as the volume of work, that potential promotion, the new programme that’s about to commence…

Being overloaded with information leads to distractedness, confusion and poor decision making. Your brain is flooded with data.

The thing is our brains are not designed to do more than one thing at once. As soon as it becomes overloaded it slows down and uses more of our energy.

Prioritising is actually one of the brains most energy hungry processes!

Your best quality thinking lasts for a limited amount of time, which is why at certain times it’s harder to concentrate, or even think straight.

So, how can you organise yourself so that you do your best quality thinking at the right time and deliver better results?

Managing your attention

Our brains are always on!

Our brain is an amazing instrument that we take for granted. It runs our body, controls our movement, enables us to speak effortlessly and provides us with the capability to plan, problem solve, create and prioritise.

With all of the research that has been done in the neuroscience arena we have much more information on how the brain works. With some conscious choice over how you engage your brain you can change your habits and strengthen your mind to improve your professional life.

Our brains can only hold a small amount of information at anyone time. Some recent research by Nelson Cowan at the University of Missouri, found that it’s likely to be 4 items and that depends on the complexity of the four items.

Declutter your brain

Here are 4 things you can do to engage your brain more effectively:

  • Capture your thoughts on paper, or an electronic note pad. Remember your brain can only hold 3 to 4 ideas at any one time, so give your self the space to think. If you’re one of those people who pride themselves on being able to remember everything, bear in mind you are using a lot of your brains thinking capacity to do this.  If you’ve things ‘to do’ write them down and get them out of your head so you can use your brain for it’s best work: planning, problem solving and communicating.
  • Simplify and chunk more effectively. Your brain learns complex routines by automatically grouping things into chunks, so break complicated ideas into their core elements so they are easier to manipulate.
  • Automate more of what you do by creating routines. This uses less thinking energy as routines become hardwired into the brain. Think about your computer, my guess is there is little conscious thought goes into how you use it. Thinking about problems when it relates to things we have experienced before or seen is easy. So if there is anything that you can make a routine – do it! This helps it become ingrained in your brain (and your body) requiring less “thinking capacity”.
  • Remove distractionsDistractions simply add to the information and data in your brain that will send you into overload. You need to become really good at setting boundaries and saying no, or no not now. This may seem harsh, or selfish, and people will get used to it and it is about you operating at your best, so it will be a win/win on all sides in the long run.

Taking Stock

It is our brains that create our very own stress response. It’s based on what we perceive as a threat. When we feel under threat the brain releases cortisol and adrenalin that floods the prefrontal cortex and stops us ‘thinking clearly’.

The brain likes things to stay the same so tackling one thing at a time and being focussed to create a new neural pathway is important.

Where would be the best place for you to begin to create a new habit/ I would suggest you start with a situation that creates mild stress. This way you are creating a higher probability of success.

Take one step at a time and focus on what you want not what you don’t want.


If you’re feeling overwhelmed and would like some additional support email me to set up and free discovery call to explore how we could work together.

“I follow four dictates: face it, accept it, deal with it, then let it go.” 

Sheng Yen 



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