How to Manage Brain Overload

The onset of fall us upon us (unless you’re in South Florida like me, then fall comes in January).

But…the fall season is in full swing with schools starting, pumpkin and cinnamon everything in stores and people already making holiday travel plans. It feels like life goes from 0 to 60 overnight once this time of year comes around.

I have the privilege of coaching educators. In case there’s any question about it, I’m here to confirm that teachers are in fact superheroes. They work from sun up to sun down to ensure that our children’s brain, hearts and bodies are nurtured with the greatest of care. With school starting these last few weeks, I have worked with a variety of these superheroes and have come across a consistent dose of brain overload.

This brain overload though, isn’t restricted to just teachers. It affects all of us; just in different seasons.

What’s the best way to handle life and work when we feel like there’s just too much to do and not enough time?

1. Block off some time.

Time? Who has that? I’ve said it so many times and I’ll continue to scream it from the rooftops: in order to make time, we must take time. The only way we will get things done is if we take a small amount of time each week, or each day to organize our priorities. This will look different for everyone, so try a few different strategies until you find one that works for you. You might benefit from a Monday morning weekly planning. Or, each night before bed, write a list of what you’d like to accomplish the follow day. There are many different ways to accomplish brain organization, and it doesn’t require a lot of time.

2. Schedule Wisely

With a lot to do, and lots of information coming our way, we have to realize that our brain power is a limited resource. Though it is complex and magnificent, it only has enough mojo to handle a certain amount of concepts at a time. As Neuroscientist David Rock says, we should “schedule blocks of time for different modes of thinking.” Different parts of the brain are activated based on our activity, and each part requires different types of energy. That being the case, you should schedule your hardest tasks first, and do your best to avoid distractions. In order to process all the information coming your way, allow yourself blocks of time to indulge in distractions: catching up with a colleague, social media, a trip to the vending machine.


3. Take Breaks

A trip to the vending machine does a lot more for you than you think. It helps reset your ability to focus and create. Allowing parts of your mind to turn off gives them time to recharge. You’ll then be primed and ready to kick butt when you revisit your task. As you work your way down the to-do list, in the middle of an intense discussion, or when you start to become fuzzy due to a lack of nutrition, don’t hesitate to stop what you’re doing and allow yourself a few minutes to breath (or eat M&Ms). When we give ourselves this opportunity, we will have both the physical and mental stamina to get more done and do it well.

If you don't feel overwhelm now, great! Chances are you, you will at some point. Get ahead of that by implementing these ideas now...while things are easier. Then, if life and work become crazy, you'll have already mastered the tools needed to accomplish tasks without losing your mind.

Don’t let the overwhelm of life and work control you. You have the ability to take charge and structure your day and tasks in a way that will keep you calm, focused and productive.

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