In today’s work environment our brain is on constant alert – both the reactive core brain, and the frontal lobes, which are constantly called upon to make decisions, choices, as well as plan our day minute by minute. At the same time, we play nursemaid to technology and its own set of demands. This is not only stressful, but drains our energy and throws our natural body rhythms out of sync. Trouble sleeping, anxiety, fatigue and even depression could ensue.
Bombarded by digital messages, cell phone calls, artificial light from computer screens and handheld devices, the working environment is generally not user-friendly, and not conducive to improved productivity. If we allow our environment to control us, incessantly distracting us from our priority tasks, interrupting our train of thought and kidnapping our minds for minutes at a time as we respond to emails or instant messages, we will never regain the productivity of the past.
Sure technology itself is synonymous with increased productivity; but it’s the computers that are productive, while we are used as “go-fers” at their beck and call. Computers are efficient to the nth degree; but without the creativity and thinking power of the human brain, they will never be able to manage companies, let alone a family or a personal life.
Yet the human brain is frequently being relegated to making service calls to keep technology humming. There is little time left for creative thinking, problem-solving or planning. And what little time is left is being utilized by tired and sometimes exhausted brains that are no longer working on all cylinders.
No wonder the emphasis these days is on the development of artificial intelligence. Ours is being rapidly dissipated. Already we are seldom required to add or subtract, spell or even write – activities that enhance our brain power in one way or another.
What I am proposing is to take control of our working environment – including the technology – so that we can establish a pattern of working that not only increases our personal productivity, but maintains a healthy, energized brain and body.
I have written enough articles in the past about the negative impact of technology on our brains and bodies – enough at least to attract criticism as being anti-technology. (Which is not true since I use technology daily to maintain a high level of personal productivity.) I do not criticize technology itself, but our use of it. Technology should not dictate when or where we check email or receive phone calls or the extent to which we participate in social media and so on. Those are our decisions to make.
But we have taken the path of least resistance and forfeited these responsibilities, allowing technology to hijack the more primitive parts of our brain and developing self-defeating habits that keep us from realizing our full potential. That’s not surprising considering the amount of personal energy required to make decisions, muster willpower and take charge. It’s imperative that we manage our energy as well.
In the next few articles I will give some suggestions as to how you might manage your environment to increase personal productivity and well-being. It will include more than just the control of technology; it will cover everything from the location of your desk and working area to the addition of plants and natural lighting. The most critical change of course will be the way you interact with technology. Technology is a driving force; but don’t let it drive you. Get a good seven hours or more sleep each night this week. Be sure to eat properly and keep up with your daily exercise. You will need all the energy you can get in order to take back the control that is rightfully yours.
Next blog article: Are you going to work or working on the go?