Psychological Bandwidth

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One of the most important pieces of advice I was ever given was, ‘You don’t need more hours in the day, you need more psychological bandwidth’.

There are not enough hours in the day” is hands down the most common complaint business owners have. I don’t have time to reply to my 1000 emails, I just can’t squeeze my 15th meeting in today, picking up the kids will have to wait for tomorrow and I’m just so gosh darn “Busyyyyyy”.

In the end, out of sheer frustration and willingness to ‘get things done’, you take home your to-do list, you work weekends and you miss out on much needed down-time. You never really feel in control. There is simply too much to do, and too little time.

We’ve all been there, maybe we’re still there. This really ain’t livin’, it sucks!

Have you ever been reminded that each of us have the same 24 hours in a day that were given to Leonardo DiCaprio Da Vinci, Einstein and the Dalai Lama? Why is it then that these legends have accomplished so much, leaving legacies and revolutionising the world, while I’ve just spent a whole day pushing papers around my desk, colour coding my folders, answering calls and feeling completely frazzled?

Well, my friend, it all comes down to psychological bandwidth – How much space do you have in between your thoughts? Psychological bandwidth refers to a person’s capacity to successfully handle or think clearly about more than one thing at the same time. Science has proven that the brain has limited capacity for consciously processing information at any given time.

These feelings of overwhelm and “busy-ness” as we’ve described, shows an obvious imbalance between your available capacity and the demand on that capacity. In short, we feel frazzled and our brain is overwhelmed with stress, therefore our ability to “think straight” is impaired.

The key to regaining control and being more productive is to increase this bandwidth by removing the bottlenecks and improving the flow.

So how do we do this?
Here’s a couple of things that work for me…

    You need to make time to re-adjust your life, spend at least 1 hour analysing where time is being syphoned out of your life and where you can regain some control. Mind map it, write it all down.
    Distinguish the “Urgent” from the “Important”. Each morning, define the 3 most important things you need to do that day and do those things first – no excuses. A great book to read on this topic is Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
    We all fall victim to filling our time with the definitely-100%-unimportant-tasks masked as definitely-100%-important-tasks. Cull unnecessary things in your life that take up your time and energy without serving a bigger picture purpose.
    Just as you would an important meeting, schedule time in your diary for hanging around the house in your undies or taking yourself out for Tuesday night Taco’s. Whatever it is that makes you feel complete, schedule it in.
    If you don’t already practice, learn. This is one of the most vital methods to living a balanced, in control and fulfilling life. My meditation teacher, Mercy is a great place to start. If Meditating sounds like a scary concept to you, just learn to sit quietly for a few minutes a day, feel calm and centered without the frustrations of trying to achieve zen.

Combine these steps with better work planning and a focus on expanding your psychological bandwidth to experience a more productive state of calmness, concentration and clarity, and improve your ability to think straight.

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