Make your brain work: how to maximize your efficiency, productivity and effectiveness is a book about making your brain work, about your relationship with yourself and then with others. Embarking on the journey improving how you use your brain is only the start.
Deciding what you want to be efficient, effective and productive at are the big life questions and ones that deserve mindful attention for the rest of our lives.
Amy Brann the author of this book and also of the Neuroscience for Coaches and Engaged, a keynote speaker and an expert in the application of neuroscience within organizations shows us that the content of our lives, how we respond to things, how we let events shape us and who we become are down to us.
Amy Brann is also the founder of Synaptic Potential an organization that works with companies to strengthen their strategy, culture and performance.
Everything starts with you. You are central to everything.
What is happening when planning isn’t enough and your sense of control is giving way to a feeling of being overwhelmed
This chapter helps you to understand how your brain gets overwhelmed and how instead to be in control in a way that enables you to come with great creative ideas and solutions, eliminate interruptions and productive better-quality work. The bonus is increased efficiency and effectiveness.
Turn off the e-mail function of your mobile phone in the evening so your brain has down the time in the morning before you start work.
Prioritize the big weekly tasks first then smaller tasks on a daily basis. You now can save time and be more focused.
Turn on e-mails for certain window of the day. You then come up with great ideas during quiet time.
Mono-task for short-and long-term benefits.
Decide that you are in charge of your time and acknowledge that you are choosing how to spend your time. Increase your perception of autonomy.
Become your own best detective, identifying how you get overwhelmed and how you avoid it.
By creating your world as your own Disneyland, whatever that means to you, you are going to upgrade your brain, making it easier and quicker for you to work things out in the future. Amy Brann
What is really going on when everything seems to be going wrong and your stress levels feel as if they are soaring
This chapter is about learning to reduce your stress levels on a fundamental rather than superficial level to see new opportunities and avoid the negative spiral. The bonus is being able to control your world from the inside out.
- Be very aware of how you are interpreting things.
- Recognize that failing at something can be hugely valuable.
- Feeling guilty can activate the same areas of the brain as the physical pain-so use guilt carefully.
- Reframe, revalue and do everything you can to position yourself in control of your life.
Our modern brains want security; they love plans, agendas, to know what is happening. Security in predictability is great for us. Amy Brann
Practice exerting your focus in different ways to strengthen different neural pathways.
Decide how you want your brain to respond when something goes wrong.
Increase your ability to place and hold your attention where it best serves you.
This chapter is about handling your negative states to enjoy life and your relationships more. The bonus is getting better responses from the other people.
By understanding how your brain actually works you are able to come up with the best ways for you to:
- Authentically seek to understand other people’s emotional responses to you. Form more fulfilling relationships.
- Prime yourself to experience positive background feelings.
Feelings are your perceptions of the changes occurring internally. Amy Brann
Remember: ‘cells that fire together, wire together’ so be aware of your regular thoughts. Enjoy life more.
Positively anchor smells that make it easy to get into positive states.
Critically analyze from a different prospective your opinions of others.
Become aware of negative anchors and change them. Feel more in control of what happens.
To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. Amy Brann
This chapter is about regaining that lost time to increase your productivity and sense of control. We look at strategically how to minimize distractions, achieve your goals more easily and feel great about yourself. The bonus is that you increase your integrity.
- Clear your mind first-write things down to empty it.
- Remove external distractions when you need to focus.
- Practice mental “braking” – calling unhelpful thoughts to a halt and ‘parking’ thoughts until later.
- Do enjoyable things. Choose some of your favorite activities.
- Reduce your pressure.
- Take regular breaks so you are working with a fresh brain.
The more relaxed and happy you are the more frequently insights occur. Amy Brann
- When faced with a problem break it up to its biggest components. Look for connections and patterns without trying to solve it.
- Increase your awareness and openness.
- Trust your unconscious to give you feelings and practice turning into what your brain may be trying to communicate to you at those times.
- Look at what decisions you regularly make and regret.
- Work out why you are not making the decisions in the moment you plan to in advance and take steps to make it easier for you to choose that decision.
This chapter looks at how to optimize the way you learn new things and enjoy understanding why this actually means having a balanced pleasurable life. The bonus is in enabling you to make more of a difference during your lifetime.
The brain loves being efficient so any chance it can take to make things easy it will. Amy Brann
- Set an intention before a training course starts.
- Write up key points and refer back to them on a regular basis until you can recall them easily.
- Practice recalling new things you’ve learnt at random times.
- Set learning goals with clear outcomes.
Brain is flexible; it will change, adapt and grow, as you need it to. Amy Brann
- Experiment with sleeping for eight hours.
This chapter is about mastering what really makes a difference to you achieving results more easily with less efforts. It is about the neuroscience behind habits, and subsequently enjoying the extra brain space and energy you have for challenging tasks. The bonus is increased efficiency, effectiveness and productivity.
The repetition of tasks in a series over time becomes a habit. Amy Brann
- Realize that you can change almost anything.
- Give new habits lots of energy through practicing them or imagining doing them. Use the four-step method of Dr Jeffrey Schwartz:
- Work on one or two at a time that require self-control.
Willed mental activity actually changes the structure of the brain. Amy Brann
- Use existing strong neural networks to set up new habits where possible.
- Gain more cognitive processing space and energy to focus on what is important to move you forward.
Understanding how your brain works is great because at a fundamental level, that’s how your colleagues and client’s brain work too!
This chapter looks at designing and creating your life in a balance, whatever that means to you rather than what others may dictate to you. The bonus is experiencing less conflicts with others.
- Decide what work-life balance means to you, the balance between work and personal time.
- Plan how to make your ideal work-life balance a reality.
Choosing goals in work and life to move towards that are meaningful to us, challenge us and that we have a chance of achieving gives us a strong foundation to work towards. Amy Brann
- Communicate with the people involved, clearly and repeatedly.
- Check your life regularly.
- Take control of everything, starting with your internal experiences.
This chapter is about achieving your goals by aligning your brain to work with you on all levels and free up thinking resources to be able to focus on other things, while increasing your credibility with others and trust in yourself. The bonus is you can confidently move onto tackling more complex goals.
Consider both your practical strategic plan and your mental strategic plan. You brain is working with you.
Mentally visualize the components required to achieve your goal regularly to strengthen the synaptic connections.
You can only ‘see’ what you have programmed yourself to see. Amy Brann
Start with the goals you really want to achieve and break them down.
Progress to more complex goals with more variables. You need:
Plan rewards for yourself for the achievement of components of the full goal.
This chapter helps you understand how motivating others really works, increases your potential to help others be more productive and decreases the frustration for you and your colleges. The bonus is less stress at work and home.
- Identify carefully the times to use extrinsic motivation, the one comes from outside you.
- Strategically encourage thorough intrinsic motivation-ideally recruit people with purposes beyond money for doing their job.
- Ensure that you know what your higher purpose is.
Being able to link your daily activities, even the repetitive ones, to your higher purpose helps keep up your intrinsic motivation. Amy Brann
- Give certainty and enhanced confidence whenever you can.
- Practice your own state elicitation so in time you can call on optimal states for any task.
Our thoughts really affect our states. Knowing which thoughts, you can draw upon to elicit different states on yourself can give you the power and flexibility at the times you need them. Amy Brann
This chapter is about transforming inefficient, energy-zapping meetings into productive inspiring ones enabling everyone to get on the same page. The bonus here is increased group bonding.
- Embed fairness in your culture.
- Create opportunities to increase the sense of fairness.
- Be open and transparent in decision-making processes.
- Communicate with people to neutralize unfair situations before they got out of hand.
- Discipline unfairness.
- Recognize you have individuals in each meeting and treat them as such.
- Bring memes out into the open and strive to create ones that will best serve the team.
Our brains respond well to seeing what are about to experience, it is a form of priming us, new distinction memes. Amy Brann
- Look at strategic ways to include people, to get everyone on the same page.
This chapter is about delivering presentations most easily for you and that also actually achieve the desired results in your audience. The bonus is that your credibility with others increases.
- Be strategic with preparation, do the things that will make the biggest difference first.
- Plan how you can use the emotion to take the members of your audience on a journey where they’ll remember what you say more easily.
- Create your optimal presenter’s state by having supportive beliefs, a feel good strategy and labelling things to best serve you.
- Make engaging people your biggest priority.
Engagement can be intellectual, emotional and energetic. There is an invisible connection when people are engaged. Amy Brann
Understanding How You Remember Things and That Others Forget Things
This chapter is about appearing competent to colleagues by using your mental capacity efficiently. The bonus is enabling you to support teams to maximize their results.
- Decide how you need to remember it.
- Know how and when you want to recall it.
Making quick links of dry data to familiar things gives the brain more chance of being able to recall the information. Amy Brann
- Be prepared for others remembering things differently from you.
- Understand that people don’t always realize their unconscious is affecting their memory.
- Getting the most out of your memory involves following the standard advice:
Company of the future will be enjoyable to work in.
The model that brings cutting-edge neuroscience into the world of leadership
This chapter is about leading people in a way that connects with how their brain actually will respond to reward both leader and followers to enable a whole company to be more successful. The bonus is that everyone is better placed for dealing with change.
- Check any problem or challenge against the synaptic circle of confidence, certainty, culture, celebration, control, connection and contribution and look for what is missing.
When working with people you want to get the most from it; it makes sense to reduce their threat response to you. Amy Brann
- Be strategic and systemize each of the elements into your personal leadership of yourself.
- Work with other leaders to implement systems to integrate the synaptic circle into the whole company.
This chapter explains how to authentically sell what you do in a way that is most efficient because it works directly with the brain meaning you can relax, knowing you are behaving with integrity. One of the bonuses is that you build long-term beneficial client relationships.
- Get clear on your intention each time you meet or speak to people.
- Seek to understand other’s pain.
- Honestly consider and investigate whether your unique claims can turn into proven gains for each organization you look to work with.
- If you are sure, do everything you can to make it easy for your buyers to make their decision.
The more closely a person can relate to your proven gain the easier the decision to say yes. Amy Brann
This chapter helps you learn what the brains of the people who you manage wished you knew to enable you to get superior results and that in time means a lower staff turnover and more engaged teams. The bonus is a happier, easier existence at work for everyone.
- Adopt team values and expectations.
- Spend quality time together.
- Be transparent.
- Elicit some clarity from whoever you can.
- Make a list of risks and rewards.
- Talk in time frames and use any solid information you can.
- Embedded a culture of trust proactively.
- Create some sense of predictability in people’s experience of you and the organization.
- Actively consider the seven zones of the brain.
Embed these systematically into the way your company and team work.
Make Your Brain Work brings neuroscience to life and organizations. If you are looking to master your life, you must master the use of your brain. Amy Brann provides clear insight into the latest developments in neuroscience enabling you to understand the way you live and work using accessible stories and examples. She also gives tools, approaches and techniques in practical and easy-to-understand language.
The Elemental Workplace by Neil Usher
The Employee Experience Advantage by Jacob Morgan
Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler
The Future Brain by Dr. Jenny Brockis
Radical Candor by Kim Scott
Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, PhD
The Best Place to Work by Ron Friedman, PhD
How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg
The Employee Experience by Tracey Maylett, EdD and Matthew Wride, JD
The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle
The Toyota Engagement by Tracey Richardson and Ernie Richardson
The Healthy Workplace by Leigh Stringer
Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier
Lead Your Tribe, Love Your Work - Piyush Patel
HR On Purpose - Steve Browne
Work Rules - Laszlo Bock
Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg & Steve Magness
The Future Workplace Experience - Jeanne C. Meister and Kevin J. Mulcahy
Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work - Paul L. Marciano, Ph.D.
Failing Forward - John C. Maxwell
The Joy of Work - Bruce Daisley
Alive at Work - Daniel M. Cable
Measure What Matters - John Doerr
The Leadership Lab: Understanding Leadership in the 21st Century - Chris Lewis and Dr. Pippa Malmgren
On Fire At Work - Eric Chester
1. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki:
2. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss:
3. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie:
4. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene:
5. The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida:
6. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl:
7. Mastery by George Leonard:
8. Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn:
9. The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday:
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