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Boosting intellectual performance at work is easy… as long as you’re sensible !

Boosting intellectual performance at work is easy… as long as you’re sensible !

Article written by Gaël Allain, Scientific Director of My Mental Training Pro®.

Where professional performance is concerned, it’s important to run a tight… brain! This is the basic principle of mental ecology: do not ask your brain to treat more information than it is capable of.

That being said, the question remains: what amount of information is a brain really capable of handling? And, in order to link this notion to intellectual performance at work: Is it possible to increase processing power in a setting involving professional activities?

At this point, I must advise you that the answer to this question probably lies far outside my own brain’s capacity. So, please excuse me!

Luckily, all is not lost! I suggest that we proceed by approximation. Indeed, a non-negligible part of the answer is approximate, since the processing abilities of a brain depend on various elements that can be as diverse as:

  • The nature of the information processed (familiar or not, organized or not…)
  • Our well-being/energy level
  • Our composure
  • Our motivation
  • Our experience and prior knowledge
  • The environment in which we work and the time we have…

 

It is worth noting that this non-exhaustive list includes elements, which, in a work setting, can be partially controlled. From this point of view, intellectual performance becomes closely linked to the issue of how a given company organizes work needing to be done.

Calm, well-trained and motivated collaborators will be able to mentally navigate more data than people under pressure, who lack the necessary training or sufficient knowledge to quickly deal with the flow of information.

Aside from combating interruptions and multitasking (refraining from doing multiple tasks at the same time), a great way to boost one’s intellectual performance is to practice in order to make all routine tasks automatic, so that they can be done at a lower cognitive cost. This requires time and energy and is often tedious, as is the case with athletes who tirelessly practice their technique in order perform without thinking during competition. It is, however, not an exercise in futility, and the resources conserved by your brain in carrying out automated tasks can be allocated to the processing of new information, increasing your comfort and performance. Similarly, each repetitive task that you can establish will increase efficiency. For example, when I need to write a document, I always randomly toss my ideas on paper (or a screen!), with no real concern for coherency or plausibility. I only focus on the structure of my text after the fact. You can also systematically start your day with the task of planning your activities, or write, or even, recopy standard formulas for your most common email responses… The idea is to no longer have to think about the method every time!

Another way to significantly improve performance at work is to engage in an ‘intellectual energy loss’ hunt ! The purpose, here, is to keep in mind that all our actions, our thoughts… are caused by the activation of networks of neurons. Consequently, all useless actions, all intrusive thoughts, and inappropriate fears and frustrations, mobilize cognitive resources, rendering them unavailable to forge ahead and handle our professional issues.

Be aware that, in accordance with the need to be ‘sensible’ mentioned at the very beginning of this post, my intention, here, is not to encourage you to make this parasitic information disappear by simply sweeping it under the rug, but to urge you to handle it! This information must be dealt with properly, since it brings specific difficulties or mental blocks to our attention, but at work, it is sometimes necessary to know how to moderate its impact in order to maintain comfort and efficiency.

To help you in the deferral process, in the My Mental Training Pro app, you will find many exercises for emotional management, relaxation and/or mental preparation for high-stakes hurdles… which will allow you to regulate invasive emotions and to free up resources … to stay happy and calm !

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