Feel better, accomplish more

Tips for unleashing the full potential of the mind

Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series. Read Part 1, "Work smarter by honing your mental focus."

Would you like to know which time of day is your most efficient and when you are least likely to function well? Would you be willing to spend 26 minutes a day to obtain a 34 percent improvement in your performance? If so, the latest brain research has some surprising findings that can help you make the most of every single minute of your working day.

Recover up to one-third of your workday

Part 1 of this series looked at how Broadman’s Area 10 (an area of the brain known as "Mother" in the neuroscience community) is incapable of multi-tasking. Instead, Mother requires 0.7 seconds to shift from one task to another. This finding, substantiated by numerous studies, means that it is impossible to multi-task. In fact, the research substantiates that most people spend up to one-third of their day recovering from interruptions.

Consequently, one of the most effective ways to improve your performance is to minimize interruptions. A great way to do this is to turn off your notifications, especially from the social media. Do you really need to interrupt your prospecting activities to learn that one of your friends just hit the top level in Farmville? By time blocking and eliminating interruptions, you can accomplish the same amount you do now in 33 percent less time.

Mother doesn’t do "don’t"

Another interesting point about "Mother" is that she has to change attention twice to process the word "don’t." For example, you have probably had someone tell you "Don’t even think about that!" Whatever they are telling you to "not think about" is exactly what Mother conjures up for you. In order for Mother not to think about it, she must first think about what it is and then "cancel" the thought. (Remember, Mother can’t multi-task.)

This is an extremely important piece of information for your business. For example, if a client is upset and yelling at you, telling the person to "Don’t yell at me!" will probably only make the person yell even more. Instead, ask for what you want without using the word "don’t." "Would you please speak softly to me so I hear what you are saying?"

Lark, hummingbird, or owl?

A second strategy is to determine whether you are a "lark," "hummingbird," or an "owl." "Larks" are those individuals who are morning people. They wake up early and feel the best early in the day. "Hummingbirds" generally function the best during normal work hours. They don’t get up super early, but they’re not burning the midnight oil either. The "owls" are those people who would prefer to get up somewhere between 9:00 and noon and function best at night.

To determine when your peak performance times are and to take best advantage of them in your business, note how you feel when you get up at 6 a.m. If you’re a lark, this may seem late to you. For a hummingbird, it may be a little early. Owls will feel dreadful all day long.

Because Realtors can control their own hours, you have the option of beginning and ending the day on your terms. If you are a lark, you may have six hours of your workday in by noon. In contrast, owls may be just beginning their day. Pay attention to your personal patterns and create your workday accordingly.

Knowing this information is also important in terms of identifying when your low point of the day will be. The latest research shows that you will hit this low about 12 hours after the midpoint of your sleep the night before. In other words, if you go to bed at 11 p.m. and get up at 7 a.m., the low point energetically and performance wise will be at about 3 p.m. the next afternoon.

26 minutes a day

The folks at Google and a number of other high tech companies have long recognized that many of their most talented employees are night owls. As a result, Google encourages their people to work during their peak performance hours. Google also recognizes that people hit peaks and valleys in their concentration. As noted in the example above, a person who gets up at 7 a.m. will experience a low point in their performance capability somewhere around 3 p.m. in the afternoon.

Google’s response to this is the Google "Nap Pod." You stretch out in the pod and nap (or rest) uninterrupted for 26 minutes. If you sleep longer than that, there’s a high probability that you will fall into dream (REM) sleep. When an individual is awakened from REM, they feel sluggish and out of sorts for the rest of the day.

If you’re like many people, you may have trouble napping during the middle of the day. You will gain the same benefit if you can rest in a horizontal position. Apparently, the effect results from the shift in your blood flow when you lie down.

While you may not be able to implement every one of these recommendations in your business, do your best to follow them as often as possible. You’ll be amazed at how much better you will feel and how much more you accomplish.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors’ No. 1 best-seller, "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success." Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named "new and notable" by iTunes, at www.RealEstateCoachRadio.com. You can contact her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com or @BRoss on Twitter.

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