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Mental and Emotional Fitness

Posted On - 01/04/2016 08:04:48

Managing time is not just about the job or how good you are at it, it's about what's going on inside your headTime Management, what's the problem? Decide on the highest priorities and tackle them first, before anything else gets in the way.

Wise words. Except are they?

They certainly make sense and seem reasonable. But they lack insight. You know will power and emotions affect you. How a dreaded priority 1 job gets treated differently to one you're looking forward to.

Managing time is not just about the job or how good you are at it, it's about what's going on inside your head.

Exhausted but not tired

Work – all of it – draws on emotions and will power. Mental fatigue is real and using executive functions is what wears you out. These are things like weighing up alternatives to make decisions, juggling thoughts short-term, and applying self-control.

It's this last one - self-control - that causes the biggest impact. So, forcing yourself to concentrate, ignoring email alerts and phone calls, being polite to customers, saying no to a biscuit, small talking when you'd rather be working. All stuff you do all the time every day. All of it wearing out your brain.

Will Power

No, this isn't about some superhero, this is about what suffers when your mental energy drains. You don't feel tired like when you stay up late or walk miles. Your will power goes. Applying it takes effort and research shows exercising self-control drains will power. Ever wondered why sometimes your mind just wanders, you kick-back from making a decision, you find yourself answering emails and calls automatically, why you said "SHOVE IT!" to that customers or "What the hell" to that biscuit, and why you turned your back on a colleague to finish a job? You've run out of will power. You've no self-control. You're mentally exhausted.

Competing priorities

You might think this only matters for high priority stuff. About how will power suffers most when trading off one priority 1 job against another. Sure, this is demanding but so too is dealing with everything else.

Low priority, high priority, it's all the same. All tasks need weighing up. And the considerations can differ too. Are those low priority ones really so? Could you actually leave and forget them altogether? Or could you do some - you'd feel better if you did? But if you didn't do any, would it let anyone down, would anyone notice?

It's all decision making. And some of it quite hard – because it's not drawing on simple logic, it's calling on feelings and emotions. It's weighing up how you want to be seen with what you need to do.

How are you feeling?

We are emotional creatures - much more than you may think. In the 1700's David Hulme - the philosopher - argued that emotions are the basis of moral judgement. Believe it or not, he was well ahead of his time.

More recently neuroscientists have discovered brain damage to the part responsible for emotions results in an inability to make decisions. So what? Emotions are part of choice. Everything we do causes emotions: excitement, anger, pride, boredom, uncertainty and anxiety, sometimes mild, other times strong. And because of the link with decision making, emotions are part-and-parcel of performance and time management. Emotions really do make some jobs hard to complete and others a joy.

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