Don’t just be busy, be PRODUCTIVE

Productivity is a hot topic these days. Everyone wants to be productive, but only some people know what it means and how to achieve it. The truth is that productivity is a complex concept involving various factors, from understanding how our brains work to time management and goal setting.

At its core, productivity is about using your time and energy efficiently to achieve your goals. You must prioritize your tasks, set realistic goals, and take action. Most of us know this is easier said than done, and it is necessary to know the impact of our neurological functioning on staying focused.

In our brains, we find a system called the Reticular Activating System (RAS), a network of neurons in the brainstem that plays a vital role in regulating consciousness and arousal. The RAS receives input from various sensory and cognitive systems, including the eyes, ears, and touch receptors, and uses this information to control the level of wakefulness and alertness in the brain. It is essential to notice the functions of the RAS, as it plays a critical role in regulating attention and focus. When trying to focus on a particular task, the RAS helps filter out irrelevant sensory information and increase our level of arousal and alertness, making it easier for us to concentrate on what we’re doing. One of the key ways that the RAS accomplishes this is by selectively activating specific neural pathways in the brain while inhibiting others. For example, when we are focusing on a task, the RAS increases the activity of neurons in the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in higher-order cognitive processes such as planning, decision-making, and working memory. At the same time, the RAS may inhibit activity in other areas of the brain that are not relevant to the task at hand, such as the visual or auditory cortex. The ability to focus on a specific task is essential for being productive. In addition to modulating neural activity, the RAS releases neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine and dopamine, which are known to play a key role in attention and focus. These neurotransmitters also enhance cognitive function by improving memory, motivation, and decision-making. With the RAS, it would be easier to stay focused and organized, as the brain could process information efficiently. By understanding how the RAS works, we can develop strategies to enhance our ability to focus and concentrate, which can be helpful in many settings, from the classroom to the workplace. There are many videos about the functioning of the RAS on YouTube; if this interests you, please watch them.

Mindfulness exercises, such as meditation, can help us to regulate our attention and focus by training the brain to become more aware of our thoughts and emotions and to develop greater control over our attention.

By setting clear goals and intentions and focusing on the most critical tasks, we can direct the RAS to filter out distractions and irrelevant information and keep us on track.

Now that we know that our neurology supports us to stay focused, we must do all we can to direct our attention to the important stuff.

The first step to becoming more productive is identifying and prioritizing your goals. What do you want to achieve? What tasks are most important to you? Once you’ve identified your goals, you can create a plan of action to help you reach them. This plan should include specific tasks and a timeline for each one. These points are essential and form the basis of productivity. Spend some time identifying the tasks, the importance of each task, and the timeline to complete each task. If you do this correctly, you only need to stick to your timeline.

Time management is an integral part of productivity. You must ensure you are spending your time wisely. Break down tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks and set realistic deadlines for each one. You can also use time blocking to plan your day and ensure you make the most of your time.

In addition to time management, have a plan for organizing your workspace, materials, and tasks. This will help you stay focused and on track. You can also use productivity tools, such as to-do lists, calendars, and task management apps, to stay organized and on top of your tasks.

Finally, it’s essential to ensure you’re taking care of yourself. Productivity is more than just getting things done; it’s about sustainably achieving your goals. Make sure you’re getting enough rest, eating healthy, and taking breaks throughout the day.