As I write this, my computer is pinging to let me know I have another Facebook message. I’ll admit I’m curious. My business brain is probably arguing with itself whether these messages are important enough to deserve immediate attention.
This seems to be the crux of the problem we all face, especially in business. We’re focused on getting something done but, at the same time, information from other sources is competing for our attention.
How can you be productive in business when competing information is vying for your attention? The answer seems to be it’s up to your brain.
How does your business brain respond to info?
There are times when you’re mentally working “in the zone.” From a study at Brigham Young University, we know the brain is able to suppress other information when instructed to focus on one thing only.
Let’s say, you’re writing a new blog post. While researching different websites, there are pop-up free offers. Rather than stop to read each one, you click-off. Your brain can suppress one form of information while focusing on the information you want.
In this focused state, you’re able to easily suppress any intrusive or irrelevant information.
The brain’s ability to pay attention is hard-wired to differentiate types of information. We all have sight and sounds within our environment that we tune-out. The more we become accustomed to them, the less we acknowledge them for any length of time.
If you’ve listened to your fair share of webinars, you know there’s a formula. While the host is going through the intro, filling in with background details and laying the groundwork for the featured problem, you’re checking your emails. Your brain only starts paying attention to the information most important to you – solutions and price.
So, brain attention tunes out the mundane and the predictable, but immediately alerts to what’s new and different.
Think of procrastination as the brain’s way to avoid acting on information. As information comes in that requires some kind of action, the brain’s internal valuation system kicks in.
For example, you get a request from an online marketer inviting you to participate in a list-building giveaway. The offer material deadline is 2 months away.
How does your brain rate its level of importance? Does it give it a high priority and start working on it? Or, does it procrastinate and make it a low priority because there’s still time and other things right now are more important?
When the brain is procrastinating, it’s simply saying this information has been evaluated. It may be important but not important enough to divert attention and give it more priority than something else.
Today, we’re all in information overload. Not only is information abundant, but ‘s coming in various forms and from numerous sources. Actually, it’s coming in faster than your brain can keep up with.
You need to look no further than your email inbox. You’ll have to admit there’s no way you’re going to read every email that’s waiting to be opened.
When the brain is in information overload, it goes into fatigue. It means energy for neuron processing slows down, eyes glaze over and motivation crawls almost to a stop. It’s sleep or a happy diversion your brain craves before it’s willing to go back to information processing.
Another way the brain responds to information is with overconfidence. Your brain may have a little ego going. It’s saying, I know this already, this information doesn’t apply to me, I don’t need this, or I know a better way to get results.
It’s also likely your brain is convinced it can do everything by itself and it doesn’t need someone else telling it what to do.
All this brain overconfidence can seriously impact the growth of your business. By not paying attention to coaches and leading experts, it takes more time, increases stress and frustration, and lead to costly mistakes despite how much you think you know.
Few would think of our brains as the same as Pavlov’s dogs trained to salivate at the sound of a bell. But, it’s really not that different when your computer or phone pings, rings or buzzes.
Your brain has been trained to respond to interruptions when triggered. When this happens, your train of thought is interrupted. And, your brain has to switch gears and refocus in order to respond to new information.
Think of your social media. These are brain interrupters with messages being either personal or business. Your brain has to not only sort between these two but also process and respond to each message separately in a timely manner.
In addition, your brain also has to integrate the meaning behind these messages. How many likes, retweets, comments, and other analytics? And, what does this mean for your business?
No wonder your business brain is tired at the end of the day.
We all would like to convince our brain it can multitask different pieces of information effectively.
It might seem productive to check your emails, social media, and phone messages when information is also coming in from a conference presentation, a video or listening to a client’s call.
Whatever the other event, the reality is your brain is divided. It’s actually shifting back-and-forth between each piece of information. No simultaneous advantage here.
The disadvantage for your business is the processing and productivity of each task are less than if it had been a singular task.
So, while you may be encouraging your brain to multitask different sources of information, the results for you and your business are less than productive.
Wanting to be effective and productive in your business requires brain focus. At the same time, there’s a lot of competing information wanting your attention as well.
Now you know. It’s your choice how and when you want your business brain to respond to all this info.
What challenges your business brain the most when it comes to new information?
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