How often do you feel like a superhero of productivity?
A few weeks back my daughter was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder and Dyspraxia. It has been the culmination of months of visits and tests at Occupational Therapy.
What I have found so interesting is the way this therapy and understanding brain function can be applied in our business to increase productivity.
Sensory Processing and The Brain
Most people think we have 5 senses: Sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. We actually have many more….between 14-21!
The rest tell you everything about your body in relation to it’s environment; from how warm you are to how far away your keyboard is to where your mouth is located, should it need chocolate.
Each of our senses require the brain to process their information.
At start the day (in an ideal world) we have 100% brain energy.
Imagine that each time we move, hear, see, taste, touch or smell something, our sensory system sends the brain a message.
Each message uses say 5% brain energy to process.
So as you sit down, turn your computer on, sip your coffee, check your phone and reach for your keyboard, you’ve already used a fair percentage of brain power….& you’ve not even started working yet!
Once you’re working, the brain is then required to access memory recall, problem solve and a host of other functions, each one taking up more precious brain energy.
If your desk is cluttered and you have post it notes stuck everywhere, or if your walls are filled with calendars and vision boards, then your brain is subconsciously processing each item it sees without you even realising.
If your mobile is next to you, with facebook notifications popping up every 5 mins, then your brain is constantly being asked to divert focus away from your main task.
It doesn’t take long before that 100% has crashed towards 0!
And here’s the whammy…
Sensory processing is linked directly to stress levels.
Any imbalance or overload in sensory information causes our body to go into a flight / fight mode. It increases our adrenalin levels, and with it our feelings of panic, anxiety and anger.
Being multi-functional is great, but we actually work more efficiently and are calmer, more focused individuals when we restrict our processing function.
The most simple, immediate and effective way to increase productivity is to limit unnecessary sensory information.
5 STEPS TO IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY
1. GET ORGANISED.
Have one designated working area and then simplify it. The less you can see, the more your brain will be able to focus.
Get filing cabinets to clear paperwork out of sight. Less really is more!
Organised working area = Organised Brain!
2. NO DISTRACTIONS
Eliminate all unnecessary sensory distractions from your working environment:
-Put your phone on silent, away from your desk.
-Open only one tab at a time on your computer.
-Turn off computer notifications.
-No personal facebook peeking in office hours.
-Set scheduled times in your day for checking your messages and emails.
-No personal visitors during office hours…even for a 5 min cup of tea (it’s never 5 mins!!)
-Dress for success : We actually work better when we are comfortable. This is not an excuse to stay in your PJs for all those working from home! Psychologically, getting dressed for work increases focus but tight or uncomfortable clothing causes stress on our tactile system, taking up precious brain space!
3. TAKE CONSISTENT BREAKS.
The brain is able to recharge really easily…but only if you let it. Taking short but consistent breaks throughout the day, allows your system to balance itself.
4. AVOID PHONE CALLS DURING WORKING HOURS.
Have you ever wondered why a long phone call can feel exhausting?
Our senses are designed to communicate; they work best when working together.
A phone call relies on hearing alone. Without the support of other systems, such as vision, our brain has to work harder to process and understand what is being said. Therefore, it uses up more brain energy.
Turn off your phone for anything other than emergency/client calls during office hours, so your brain can focus on completing the most important tasks.
The sensory system needs balance. When one sense reaches overload, to avoid stress, all we need to do is shut off that system and stimulate another.
-If you sit all day, make time to move! Go for a walk (and get a swivel chair.)
-If you are in a busy, noisy environment, take yourself away to a quiet space, close your eyes and breathe.
-If you stare at a computer screen all day, then take a few minutes to close your eyes (and maybe spray aromatherapy oil around you.)
Have a think about how you can bring more sensory balance to your day.
Wishing you a fabulously productive and awesomely organised week!