Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Four simple ways to overcome mental fatigue and be at the top of your game in the workplace

hero.jpg

Managing your time is not just about about how many hours you have in the day, but how much energy you have to tackle those hours.

Because the brain fatigues and needs rest to regenerate, the best way to blitz that to-do list is not to hunt down and pencil in hours on the calendar.  Instead, the key is to confront different aspects of your workload when you have the right mental stamina for it.  

According to Josh Davis, author of new productivity book Two Awesome Hours, we're often unaware of the factors that might sap our energy and lead to mental fatigue.

"Even some of the common ways in which we pass the time when we are taking a break—presumably for the purpose of refreshing our minds—probably fatigue it even more and should be avoided if they come just before we have to be on top of our game," he says.

"For example, we often turn on the news, or check out a news website, which focus on reporting on the latest tragedy or an upsetting political development.  It can require a good deal of self-control to manage our knee-jerk reactions to these kinds of stories, and it’s easy to get carried away emotionally by them (e.g., getting riled up over a political figure’s latest scandal).  So avoid these activities before you have to be at your best."

Here are four simply ways he recommends to work through the dips and conserve your energy so you're at your brightest and best for the most important tasks throughout the working day:     

Overcome mental fatigue to be at your brightest and best

Overcome mental fatigue to be at your brightest and best

Tackle your most creative tasks first-thing

There’s scientific truth to the advice to complete your most important work first thing in the morning before your brain has been depleted from hundreds of small decisions.  Think about the most creative and interesting task on your plate right now, or the one with the biggest long-term upside, and spend one to two hours first thing in the morning on it.  And when I say first thing, I mean first thing – that is, before checking email or looking at any media such as TV, newspapers, smartphones, computer, etc. 

Allocate 'other' tasks to a slump time

Consider the tasks on your to-do list for the day, and label each of them as Important Decisions, Creative, Other.  Carve out time late in the day (perhaps after your lunch, during your food coma?) to complete the tasks in the “Other” category.  Knowing you’ve scheduled time to turn to these will make it less likely that you will try tackling them earlier in the day, when your mental reserves are highest. 

Don't let that post-work slump get the better of you

Don't let that post-work slump get the better of you

Check your email for one hour in the afternoon

Try checking email for only one hour in the afternoon and reflect on whether staying off email improved your ability to focus more clearly on tasks that require problem solving or creativity.  I know this is a terrifying suggestion for some people.  And it’s true that some days don’t allow for this, but try it once or twice and you might be surprised to find it more possible than you may fear. 

Make small decisions the night before a big day

Make a few decisions the night before you have a big day, so you won’t have to make them on the big day.  They can be small – like what to wear or have for breakfast and lunch.  And they can be larger – like deciding what tasks actually matter to you to accomplish on the big day, and making your to-do list that way.  

Two Awesome Hours by Josh Davis is published by HarperOne a division of HarperCollins and is available now priced £15.99.

Related

rexfeatures_4553667a.jpg

Why "Best" is the worst way to end your emails

9to5_53.jpg

Five ways to stop people interrupting you in the workplace

ThinkstockPhotos-465682085.jpg

Why and how to change career in your early thirties

balloon_main_rt.jpg

The happiness myth; Is our quest for contentment making us feel worse?

Working-Girl-working-girl-6063104-852-480.jpg

Six words and phrases to avoid in the workplace

5988_062080_rt.jpg

Sleeping 9 to 5; why going to bed early could revitalise your career

Comments

More

22 Christmas cocktail recipes to jingle your bells

Boozy mince pie freakshake, anyone?

by Amy Swales
09 Dec 2016

Revealed: the gender pay gap for every industry in the UK

How much less do you earn than your male colleagues?

by Sarah Biddlecombe
09 Dec 2016

Experts have revealed the ultimate hangover cure

There’s just one catch…

by Kayleigh Dray
09 Dec 2016

Gigi Hadid opens up about ‘empowering’ decision to quit social media

“The world feels so entitled to other peoples’ lives”

by Kayleigh Dray
09 Dec 2016

This is how Bake Off will change when it moves to Channel 4

From the horse (aka Paul Hollywood)’s mouth itself…

by Kayleigh Dray
08 Dec 2016

Are you the youngest in your family? We have good news for you…

Experts have revealed the surprising trait that all little brothers and sisters share

by Kayleigh Dray
08 Dec 2016

Meet the all-female anti-poaching team saving rhinos in South Africa

Jessica Chastain is set to produce a film about their story.

by Moya Crockett
08 Dec 2016

New-look Baywatch is all about chests, not breasts

But is it really any better... ?

by Kayleigh Dray
08 Dec 2016

Cheers! You can now grow your own Prosecco at home

This could be dangerous...

by Moya Crockett
08 Dec 2016

Is Kim Cattrall already filming a Samantha SATC spin-off?

“Channelling Ms Samantha Jones once again…”

by Kayleigh Dray
08 Dec 2016