Do you struggle to think, problem solve or make decisions during the day? If you end up feeling overwhelmed it may be because there are just too many things swirling around in your brain. The term, “brain bandwidth” which simply means, the amount of brain resources you have in the moment, can fluctuate depending on what is going on in your life.
Think about all that your brain is responsible for behind the scenes and then it is asked to think, problem solve, and make decisions all day long too? No wonder it is always trying to “save energy” as Ed Mylett, mentions in his book, The Power of One More. We can’t create more bandwidth, but just like a computer that is slowing down, you can clear out some files to make more space.
How To Save Brain Bandwidth
- Create habits, routines and rituals to help
- Reduce distractions
- Make fewer decisions
- Stop multi-tasking (which is really sequencing and not as effective as one thing at a time)
- Reduce your to do list
- Let go of your phone
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Declutter and organize
- Plan ahead
Let’s talk about habits. A habit (an action that has become automatic) signals your brain to go into “autopilot” mode which uses much less energy. That “automatic pilot” takes away the thought and the argument that happens when the “angel” and “devil” on your shoulders start fighting. When habits result in a positive outcome then your brain is happy. The dopamine that gets released tells your brain – this feels good, let’s do it again.
Habits when strung together become a routine. You already have routines in your life for getting up in the morning, making meals, laundry, going to bed, etc. Where’s the joy in those? No joy? Then maybe you should create a “ritual” rather than a routine.
Greg McKeown, author of, effortless (not a typo) defines a ritual as the “how” of what we do. It “infuses joy into our everyday moments.” Adding moments of joy throughout your day which lightens your day and feels good = more dopamine. He uses Marie Kondo as an example of how little rituals (like thanking that worn out pair of jeans before recycling) can add pleasure to the act of decluttering.
One ritual you may want to think about is a “Close Out the Day” ritual. A routine with added joy, pleasure, or self-care added becomes a ritual. This one ritual is a good habit that will support “future you” and save brain bandwidth also. Creating an end of the day ritual can help you start tomorrow with more focus, motivation and an early “win.”
If you are working in an office, what can you do to set yourself up for success tomorrow before leaving for home and still make it enjoyable? Same question for those of us working from home. Then getting started on your work would be as easy as “plug and play” as my friend, Alison says.
How about a ritual for the home that will create a smoother morning? Aren’t you tired of seeing dirty dishes in the morning? Creating a ritual here is a good habit to build.
We’ve mentioned before about deciding what you will eat, wear and do for tomorrow, to save decision power, but how can you add some pleasure to the process? The pleasure = more dopamine = more brain bandwidth.
Ways to Add Pleasure
- Sitting with your favorite beverage and planning tomorrow’s big 3?
- Take a walk
- Spend time with your family
- Go screen free (don’t panic, even an hour helps)
- Read or learn something new
- For some, putting the house to bed is a ritual
- Add to a “success” list each day
- Get up earlier so your morning isn’t rushed and enjoy a leisurely breakfast
Sometimes we think that having routines and being “pre-programmed” will be boring and take the joy out of our day. In reality, having routines for the fundamentals of your life, actually frees up brain space, which allows you to be more creative, productive, and less stressed.
A close out the day ritual the night before is a good habit to ensure you start your morning off with more decision-making power and brain bandwidth for the important things. Having routines and rituals actually gives you more freedom and energy for the significant people and priorities in your life. And isn’t that what it is all about?
Related Articles from the Archives:
Is It a Routine or a Struggle? https://thinkinganddoingskillscenter.com/is-it-a-routine-or-a-struggle/
Coffee and Routines? https://thinkinganddoingskillscenter.com/coffee-and-routines/