Information Overload in Property Management, Part III
Getting more quality sleep will help you remember and process things better.
Continuing our chat on information overload from the past two posts, it’s time to talk about how you can improve your own brain’s ability to handle information. Most of this is obvious once you read it, but it’s probably not anything you’ve thought of on your own.
A Healthy Body Makes a Healthy Brain
• Get enough sleep. Your brain uses sleeping time to purge toxins that ‘clog up’ the pathways that oxygenated glucose travels along, so that feeling of mental slowness that comes with poor sleep is literally because your brain is slow.
• Eat well. The relationship between your brain and your gut is extremely complicated, but it’s enough to know that the serotonin that your brain needs to feel positive, resilient, and capable is almost entirely produced in your gut — so if you mess up your innards with crap food and alcohol and whatnot, you’re going to mess up your ability to feel like you can handle a day’s work, too. Michael Pollan said it best when he said, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
• Get aerobic exercise of some kind every day. Aerobic exercise actually builds your brain’s supply of oxygenated glucose, but even more importantly in the long run, it stimulates the creation of the hormones that enable your brain to grow new neurons. You don’t need a lot — just 10 minutes of whatever kind of movement it takes to get your heart rate up. Even if it’s in two five-minute stretches with a rest in between.
The Seven Kinds of Thinking Time Your Brain Needs
‘Thinking’ isn’t a single kind of activity; there are lots of different ways to think. But science is learning that brains that are forced into a single ‘mode’ of thinking for an extended period of time (weeks) start to lose the ability to learn and adapt. So try to make sure that your brain gets at least a few minutes of each of these seven kinds of thinking-time every day:
• Deep focus: This is the kind of thinking you do when you’re trying to solve a difficult problem. It’s useful to help build the kind of neural circuitry we can use to solve similar problems later.
• Metacognition: ‘Thinking about thinking,’ which often takes the place of writing in a diary, explaining your thoughts to another person, or just deliberately reviewing your recent decisions and why you made them, is particularly important. It builds up the neurons that allow you to analyze your own thoughts in the moment and help catch you in the process of making a poorly-thought-out decision later.
• Kinetic thinking: If you’re getting aerobic exercise, you’re probably already doing this. But research has shown that even if you’re bedridden, you can achieve ~80% of the effects of aerobic exercise by carefully imagining what it feels like to do aerobic exercise. That’s hard to do, especially for 10 minutes at a go! But it’s better than nothing if you can’t actually do the exercise part.
• Deep UNfocus: Your brain needs time devoted to deliberately NOT thinking about anything in particular. This can take the form of a 15-minute nap, empty-mind meditation, or just sitting there zoning out while your thoughts flow undirected. This mental downtime actually provides many of the same benefits as a night’s sleep, just in a smaller amount — but taking 15 minutes to veg out in the middle of the day can literally make the difference between finishing your shift feeling functional and ending strong, or petering out and crashing once you clock out. Once a day should be normal, twice if you’ve been hit really hard that day.
• Connection: Whether it’s to your coworkers, your family, God, the oneness of all things, or whatever else you rely on to support and uplift you, we all need to feel like (an important) part of something larger than ourselves. This is usually best reserved for before or after work — but do try to make sure that you actually get connected for at least a few minutes every day. And no, typing on the Internet doesn’t count!
• Play: Play time doesn’t mean a hardcore competitive game that takes focus and effort; that’s Deep Focus. Play time means time spent laughing and having fun. It can be with someone, but you can also get it by watching a show that makes you laugh. Play time stimulates novel connections between parts of the brain that don’t usually connect, and in so doing improves your intuition and your ability to solve problems with sudden insight.
• Sleep: Yeah, it’s important enough to mention again. Sleep is also the time when your brain moves memories from short-term to long-term storage, so if you’re getting crappy sleep, you won’t be able to access previously-learned lessons to apply them to tomorrow’s problems. Don’t do that to yourself.