Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin says our brains have two main attention modes: the executive mode (or task-positive network) when you’re actively engaged in a task; and the daydreaming mode (or task-negative network) when your mind wanders.
The attentional switch between the two modes is controlled by the insula part of the brain.
If you ask your insula to switch too often between tasks because of constant interruptions (or because you check email, texts, Facebook, etc.) you cut back the attention you have at your disposal.
(Regular readers know I’ve written about the myth of effective multi-tasking…)
Science says it’s better to divide your day into immersion in a single task for 30-50 minutes, and then take a break. Listening to music, walking in nature or taking a nap provides a needed reset and perspective on what you’re doing.
Down time is not wasted time. It’s biologically restorative and necessary. Downtime can increase creativity, cognitive functions, physical vigor and the ability to problem-solve. (Some studies show people who work overtime reach a place of diminishing returns.)
Your brain—and you—need a real vacation, without any work.
Please ensure you take care of your brain—and yourself—in the process. The world needs your best, and your best comes from a happy and well-rested place!
May we commit to enjoying regular “brain breaks” as we pursue our path,