Staying Mentally Engaged – Part I

Staying mentally engaged is a common core principle of productivity, time optimization, career growth, and job fulfillment. In our busy, and often chaotic, world, however, staying mentally engaged professionally can be a challenge. These tips will help you along the way.

Recognizing the difference between time – we all have 168 hours every week – and energy – a renewable and expandable unit. One of the keys to staying mentally engaged is having sufficient energy. The only way to have sufficient energy is to take care of your body.
Get enough sleep – at least 7.5 hours/night – and getting it at consistent times. If you need to be up at 5:30 in the morning, then be asleep at 10:00 each evening. Allow that last 30 minutes before sleep time to take a brief look at the next day’s schedule, make necessary preparations, and wind down. Stay away from all technology/screen time etc. during this period.
Get regular exercise – at least 20 minutes three or more times a week. Most people find that if they exchange 30 minutes of work for 30 minutes of exercise, they accomplish more in less time.
Trade in your sugar and caffeine highs for fruits and veggies. Eat healthy meals and carry fruits, veggies, nuts, and cheese to snack on in between times. This will help eliminate brain fog and the letdown, or downright crash, that follows those sugar and caffeine highs.
Detach psychologically from your work. Refuse the 24/7 connection. Yes, it’s addictive and helps us feel needed and productive, but it also creates a perpetual state of crisis, pushing our brain and body into a stress response, which depletes energy and ultimately causes long-term damage. If you don’t “log-off” and rest from the day’s work, you can’t fully recuperate and prepare for the next day.
Incorporate the 15-minute break. Intermittent restoration encourages higher, longer-lasting performance. The quality of your break time is more important that the length. The key is establishing a ritual that allows you to briefly disengage from work and focus on rejuvenation. For some, this can be as simple as deep breathing, closing your eyes and mediating for a few minutes, or taking a short, but brisk walk.
Take vacations. Taking extended time off is crucial to your overall health and an important key to mental engagement. We aren’t talking “working vacations – set up an auto email reply, refrain from work-related calls or limit them to a one-hour period each day, and focus on R & R.

Set goals – map out your day/week/month. Taking time to make a plan eliminates frantically choosing between tasks on the run and results in greater efficiency.
Categorize your responsibilities and lump similar tasks together – this will increase your efficiency
Prioritize and make a timetable. Recognize the difference between what has to happen and what you would like to accomplish. By having the most important first, you can forget the rest of the list, focus on the task-at-hand, cross it off, and move on to the next.
Recognize the myth of multitasking. Trying to work on several items at once forces your brain to shift attention, which ends up increasing the amount of time each tasks requires. It’s far more efficient to fully focus on a single task, take a break, and then focus on the next task.
Say no to interruptions. Don’t let emails, texts, etc. constantly interrupt your concentration. Set specific times where you spend 30-45 minutes dealing with texts and emails, and then ignore them the rest of the time. If you have a few people who may justifiably need immediate contact, then work out a “signal” with them.

Taking care of yourself and making a plan of action is only the beginning. To truly engage professionally requires taking care of you soul, which will be discussed in next week’s blog. Meanwhile, contact Springborn Staffing. We have multiple open positions. We will help you connect professionally in ways that encourage mental engagement.

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