Many of us like to make New Year’s resolutions, such as keeping on top of our ‘to do’ lists, but very often they fall by the wayside when our old habits begin to creep back in. How lovely would it be if we could rewire our brains to a new, productive and efficient way of working, so that we can truly take control over the way we work, rather than letting our work take control of us?
While old habits die hard, the good news is that with a change of mindset and a healthy dose of determination, it is possible to make a break from our overwired lives and make positive long-term changes. Here are our top five ways to rewire, which we hope will ensure you begin 2015 as you mean to go on:
1. Be aware of your negativity bias
Our brains are naturally wired to scan for bad news. Our ancestors lived within harsh conditions, and this negativity bias was a part of their survival mechanism, which we’ve inherited. This mindset was important for surviving in the wild, but we don’t really need it in the workplace, and it can actually be the thing that often holds many of us back.
Try to not dwell on negative experiences. If you receive 10 pieces of positive feedback at work, but one bit of constructive criticism, the brain will naturally want to focus on the negative unless we stop ourselves. Instead, try to acknowledge moments of positivity, so that your brain begins to recognise and learn from that particular activation of synapses. Over time, this will help you to consistently have a positive attitude towards work, which will impact everything you do.
2. Unwire regularly
If you work in an office, it’s entirely possible that you are suffering from a condition known as Divided Attention Disorder. DAD is a symptom of the digital age, and the constant stream of information could actually be affecting the way in which our brains are wired. Ultimately, it could be impacting the quality of your work and productivity if you are finding that you are struggling to complete a task or activity without being distracted by the array of connected devices around you.
Try to break the habit of continually having a connected device in hand. Instead, try to get into the habit of unplugging for five minutes or so every hour. Take a phone-free coffee break, go for a quick walk outside or sit down to read the paper or a book for five minutes. Additionally, try to begin your day unwired by having your shower and breakfast before you pick up your phone to check email, or to catch up on your social networks.
3. Establish your goals for 2015
Write your list of goals for the year ahead. These are distinctly different from New Year’s resolutions, as they can be a lot more focused and can realistically be achieved through sheer hard work and determination.
Goals are important as they draw out the best in us and help keep us on the right path. They increase our self-confidence and help us focus on the longer term.
If you really want to stick to your goals, it’s important to be clear about the outcomes you want and what it will take to achieve them. It can be a good idea to have long-range goals, which can be broken down into weekly goals. A marathon begins with running that first mile. Set actions in your calendar for each week that are focused on the end goal. Setting aside regular increments of time will help you get where you want to be by the end of the year.
4. Devote your attention to things that energise you
Now is the time to be honest about the things that are draining your time, energy and attention. It might be people, technology, gadgets or personal commitments. Things that negatively encumber you are the very things that make you ‘overwired’. Aim to give your life a spring clean and remove the things that are an unnecessary distraction. Some habits might be difficult to break, but choose to make 2015 the year where you fill your life with people and things that inspire and encourage you and make your time fruitful.
5. Become a person of action
“A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Use all of the above tactics to become a person who does what they say they’re going to do. Devise a system of action that will enable you to execute your goals and aspirations. Otherwise it can be easy to get bogged down in day-to-day stuff and lose sight of the bigger picture.
One trick for staying on track is to write yourself some scheduled emails, which are dated to arrive every other month. This will mean that every so often, you’ll get a reminder from your motivated self of the goals that you’ve set yourself, and you’ll be able to evaluate how well you are progressing.
If you have additional tips on how to rewire for 2015, please let us know by adding a comment below.