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

The cheap wine hack that could save you bundles of cash

This will make your cheap red plonk taste like a premium vintage

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Jan 2017

Got a dark sense of humour? You're probably a genius

Gallows humour ain’t all bad

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Jan 2017

Women’s March: the inspiring and badass signs, banners, and placards

“I am woman, hear me roar”

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Jan 2017

Spice Girls’ Geri Halliwell reveals baby boy’s poignant name

And it's a sweet tribute to her late best friend, George Michael

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Jan 2017

Serena Williams had the best response for reporter who criticised her

"Are you serious?"

by Sarah Biddlecombe
20 Jan 2017

Married at First Sight’s Caroline reveals truth about marriage to Adam

Steel yourselves, romantics

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Jan 2017

Listen to A-listers narrate the history of Planned Parenthood

“No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
19 Jan 2017

Wife Swap set to return with one-off Brexit special

What happens when a Remain voter finds herself living in a family of Brexit fans?

by Kayleigh Dray
19 Jan 2017

The 2017 Feminist Calendar: celebrate the sisterhood all year round

The future is female

by The Stylist web team
19 Jan 2017

Unicorn lattes are the new brunch trend taking over your Instagram

These healing concoctions are almost too pretty to drink

by Kayleigh Dray
19 Jan 2017