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Sat Apr 17, 2010 4:38 pm

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Have you ever found yourself walking into the room and can't find your keys? Or forgetting why you entered the room in the first place? Then you begin wondering what has happened to your short-term memory? Do you end up feeling overwhelmed by information, people, to-do lists and demands on your time that our brains simply close down?

It's a phenomenon of our time. Our brains, created to respond to our environment and each other, are exponentially being taxed by the growth in information and technology.

Everyone and everything is competing for your attention. We want to respond but when it's overflowing like that, the brain just "goes blind". Engineers discovered this phenomenon when they installed hundreds of communication devices in cockpits, thinking it would improve the pilot's performance. Instead, the pilot's performance obviously decreased.

Information and technology will not go away. But there are ways to deal with this, here are some:

1. Determine your priorities and focus on them.

Don't let yourself be pulled into anything from meetings, to readings, to conversations that obstruct your priorities. Literally block out space on your daily to-do list for things that are important to you: from projects, to exercise, to family time. Ensure to stick to these times, without fail.

2. Say "no" to answering every message.

The average individual receives around 70 phone, paper, and e-mail messages a day. Take care of those that are priority and let the rest drop off. Ignore the messages that are uninvited and unnecessary.

3. Let technology work for you in prioritizing.

Screen your calls. For those who depend upon business coming in via phone and need to take every call, develop a way to shorten incoming calls. Have templates that you can use to send repetitive emails and messages, so that you do not have to re-type them each time.

4. Create a centering place.

Whether it is in the silence of your car, or in your office, or closing your door, take 15 minutes per day to practice paying attention to ONE thing: your breathing, a flower, a fish tank. Just like the muscle in our bodies, the brain gets strong in the places where we train it. Train it to maintain focus!



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