Workshifting holds wonderful advantages, but because our homes are very often our offices, it can also lead to being a bit overwired. By overwired, I mean the inability to step away from our work and our screens to gain real distance and perspective. It’s easy for workshifters to still feel wired because we have actually conditioned our brains to respond as if we are.
You know that anxious feeling of always thinking there is more to do or that you should be doing more than one thing at a time? The feeling that you always need your smartphone right next to you, even during meals and on social occasions? The feeling that while you are eating lunch you should also be working on something, or when you are driving you should also be responding to texts, or that you should be available to colleagues, clients, or associates at all times? The feeling of not really being “present”? That’s overwired.
It is imperative for us workshifters to disengage so that our brains and bodies can rest, relax, and rejuvenate. And there’s real science behind it, too.
Scott Halford, the founder of Complete Intelligence and a specialist in the fields of critical thinking and Emergenetics, is an expert on cognitive development. Halford, whom I interviewed for my book, Rewired: How to Work Smarter, LiveBetter, and Be Purposefully Productive in an Overwired World, said that when we are overwired and overwhelmed, we go into anxiety mode. This causes our brains and our thinking to become disorganized.
“Under too much stress, the pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain that sorts incoming information, simply stops,” he said. “We cannot assess threats, we cannot process new information, and, as a result, parts of the brain simply shut down.”
When the pre-frontal cortex shuts off, we become hostages to our emotions. We don’t perform well and we don’t think clearly. But by learning to unwire and practicing it daily, we can actually halt the cognitive and physical drain and reboot ourselves for better productivity. By unwiring, by stepping back from it all, we can pause, gain perspective and clarity, and refocus our minds so that we become purposefully productive. We can refresh and rejuvenate our brains and bodies.
When we unwire, we shut off our prefrontal cortex, which allows the brain to rest and regenerate. We are calmer, we are centered, and we are relaxing – incredibly powerful medicine.
“Being overwired is like driving your car 300 miles an hour, 24 hours a day, without taking the time to cool down, refuel, or change the oil,” Halford said. “Unwiring is absolutely critical for cognitive functions. When we unwire, we refuel and rest our brain, so that it can return to operating at optimum levels and reclaim cognitive functions.”
So don’t wait until you hit the wall. Try these simple unwiring activities to rest and rejuvenate your brain:
· Get up and move away from your desk every hour for five minutes or so.
· Leave your phone behind.
· Go do something else completely, even if it is just folding clothes, emptying the dishwasher, or staring out the window.
· Listen to a song.
· Go outside for a quick walk, if you can.
· Stretch or do 50 pushups..
· Pay catch with the dog.
· Have a snack and a glass of water.
The key is to unplug from whatever you were doing, get away from your screens, and do something completely different. Even for just a few minutes. Your brain will thank you for it.
Camille Preston, PhD, is the founder and CEO of AIM Leadership, one of the country’s premier organizational and leadership development firms. She is a pioneer in the field of Virtual Effectiveness and the author of Rewired: How to Work Smarter, Live Better, and Be Purposefully Productive in an Overwired World. For more information, please visit www.aimleadership.com.