Unchaining Your Brain

Choosing just one “favourite” or most impactful speaker out of a magnificent line-up of over 30 world-class speakers is near impossible.  If I had to choose though, from the speaker list at the Getting Things Done Summit 2019, it would undoubtedly be Theo Compernolle.  What an awesome and highly knowledgeable speaker! (Oh, and very entertaining too!)

This is my summary of his talk at the Summit.

Undermining the power of our brain

Your brain is your most important tool for achieving success, happiness and health. However, most professionals are not aware of even the most basic scientific facts about the user manual of their brain. As a result, they unknowingly undermine their intellectual productivity, creativity and wellbeing. 

In our world, the root problem is always being connected. If you don’t crack that, you will never be able to use your brain to its full potential. The human brain cannot multitask. When trying to multitask it makes you horrendously inefficient.

“Technostress” is the new kind of stress we face. Being connected all the time (even subconsciously) puts your body and brain in a state of stress. When you are always connected you are always on a low level of stress and that can result in chronic illness. Add to this our inefficiency you need to work longer and this, in turn, burns us out.

The technology is fantastic and can be used to achieve many things. Technology is not the problem.  It is not the ability of being connected but the state of being connected. You think you must connect with everyone at all times and that is the problem.

The solution? Batch-tasking. 

We need to create separate “batches” within our day.  These should include:

  • Reflection batch (where we disconnect, reflect and think)
  • Message batch (to deal with messages, emails etc.)
  • Conversation batch (have deep conversations with meaning)
  • S**t-task batch (to get things done)
  • Family batch (to disconnect from your work and tools to spend time with family)

By creating “batches” for each aspect, we can get more things done.  We are all different, so you may need several of one type of batch per day.  The point is we need to stop multi-tasking and focus on the different batches.

Why can’t we get things done without Batch-tasking?

Humans have a “three-brain network.”  Three brains influence our thinking and doing. These three brains are:

The Reflex brain: Reacting brain which is STIMULUS driven. It only focuses on here and now.

Thinking brain: Uniquely human UNDERSTANDING brain, capable of abstract thinking, basis of language, and making sense of things. This brain focuses on one thing at a time and is goal oriented.

Archiving Brain: Focuses on storing and retrieving information. This is our DEFAULT BRAIN and it needs a break. This brain works when the thinking brain is having a rest.

If you think you can multitask, you are wrong! Your thinking brain can only think about one thing at a time.  The only way to become more productive is to stop multi-tasking and unchain our brain by batch-tasking.