Nowadays, most of us spend time doing work that prioritizes the mind, spending hours staring at a screen, solving problems and flexing our creativity.
For that reason, knowing how to optimize mental performance isn’t just important, it can mean the difference between success and failure.
The problem is, while most of us know some basic activities for improving cognitive performance, the habits that hold back our mental performance are less commonly known.
If you’re looking to improve your mental performance and maximize your productivity, you need to get creative and look at more than just what you should be doing but also what you shouldn’t be doing that might be keeping you from your peak mental performance.
With the right habits, anyone can dramatically increase results and become a high performer in almost any field of endeavor.
– Brendon Burchard
Here are three habits holding back your mental performance.
1. You spend your morning energy on low-level tasks and activities
What is the first thing you do when you wake up? Chances are, for many of you, it’s one or more of these:
- Check social
- And email
- Aaand your texts
- And do almost anything else on your phone or computer
Notice a pattern? Probably not, that’s why you keep doing it.
These are all low-level tasks. They’re your least productive activities and all things that can almost always wait for later.
The problem is, we’ve been conditioned– hooked, perhaps more accurately– to keep up with the consistent hits our brain receives from checking in on these digital communication outlets.
Clearly, this isn’t an intentional action. And anything that isn’t intentional probably isn’t serving your long-term goals.
However, the more important point is this: These habits expend valuable energy that we should be using for more important tasks.
By the time we’re done, we’ve not only placed our mind in a sad, autopilot state where our mental performance is inhibited, we’ve wasted the valuable cognitive clarity and mental energy we receive after a long night’s rest.
Instead, spend your time using that critically important energy to prepare yourself for the day ahead and put yourself in the right mental state; work on your craft, business, or a passion project.
2. You ignore your physical body
It’s wildly common for those with professions that require intense mental exercise to entirely ignore their physical body.
Years ago, this wasn’t thought to matter. However, nowadays, we know better. Much better.
Not only does physical health affect your mental performance, maintaining your physical health might just be the single most important thing you can do to improve your mental performance altogether.
For example, physical exercise has been shown to pump oxygen to the brain, which helps improve working memory, concentration, and even creativity. Similarly, a healthy diet improves brain health in various ways depending on what you eat, including everything from memory to concentration.
Just make sure you enjoy your workout, as doing something we enjoy releases brain-derived neurotrophic factors (or BDNF) into the brain, which helps form new connections in the brain and sharpens it over time.
3. You multitask
Multitasking is a slow, silent killer — possibly even more so than the other points on this list. It’s a bad habit that most of us have picked up and do unconsciously.
Similarly to making smart early morning decisions and using that precious mental energy most effectively, you need to become keenly aware of how you use your mind throughout the day.
And one of the worst habits many of us pick up is the need to constantly be juggling multiple tasks simultaneously.
This has not only been shown to make us less productive, it’s dangerous because it splits our attention, which leads us to doing everything less effectively. No matter how good you think you are, you’d be better if you learned to focus your attention on the task at hand for a period of time and then switched to whatever else you needed to do later.
So, do yourself a favor and start reducing the multitasking and increasing the dedicated blocks of focused time where you remove distractions — a far more effective method of working for optimal performance.