To what extent are you experiencing MEGO (My Eyes Glaze Over) moments this fall?
The number is way too many for me for my peace of mind.
MEGO is a symptom of a problem. In my case, it’s a capacity issue with my brain, specifically my prefrontal cortex, also referred to as the executive function.
And I should know the downsides of overtaxing my brain, based on all of my neuroscience studies….
However, knowing and doing are different.
My brain has been excessively noisy, thanks to all of the conferences I’ve been attending and the additional obligations I’ve assumed this season on top of my client work.
As a result, I’m finding it hard at times to pay close attention and then accurately recall what I’ve tried to absorb.
The human brain is not a machine. Unlike a computer, the brain does not come with a specified amount of dependable RAM memory and storage space.
The capacity of our working memory and mental processing is not only limited, but also miniscule, compared to a computer hard drive and even our unconsciousness.
Furthermore, the capacity fluctuates depending on our current state of well-being, and the degree to which we’re also regularly resting and recharging our brain, which helps the prefrontal cortex reenergize.
How do you manage these limitations, whether you’re on the sending or receiving end?
Show compassion for the brain. Don’t force it to run in overdrive; instead, allow it to work at its natural level.
If you’re the one trying to inform or influence, try these three compassionate actions:
1.Chunk content into manageable bits. For example, share up to three key concepts. Package them in 2 to 3 minute videos or short “chapters” that people can consume on the go or in between meetings in 10-minute or so intervals.
For example, did you know that the best-selling author Dan Brown’s new novel Origins features 105 chapters (plus a prologue and epilogue) of about three to seven pages each? Regardless of what you think of him as an author, you have to respect that he understands that we all have ADD in addition to often dealing with overwhelm. Reading short chapters is a breeze compared to sitting in a 45-minute presentation with 86 PowerPoint slides as I did last week. The prefrontal cortex can tire after 20 minutes, especially if it’s experiencing “Death by PowerPoint.”
2. Craft a clear call to action if you expect me or anyone else to do anything. Just because you say it doesn’t mean I hear it and realize that you expect me to act on it. And if you’re writing a request, please proofread. Don’t follow in the footsteps of the individual who sent me and a number of others a lunch invitation for 11 pm. Yeah, we figured it out, but it didn’t exactly help the host’s credibility.
3. Consider the environment. Remember you’re dealing with humans, not machines. Take into consideration the setting, the time of day, the context, their mindset, the individuals around them, and anything else that you think may sway how they’ll react. For instance, many of us who traveled to Albuquerque, NM for a conference last week aren’t used to the elevation (5,312 feet above sea level) with low humidity. To avoid altitude sickness, we needed to drink lots of water until we adjusted, as well as take other precautions.
And if you’re on the receiving end, as I’ve been lately, tune into your brain’s noise level and do your best to protect yourself. Otherwise, you can find yourself tuning out, feeling negative or snapping at someone because you’re tired and cranky.
Try these three specific actions to help you focus:
1.Practice self-care. Stand up. Move around. Drink water. Go outside, especially if you’re in a breath-taking setting like I was last week near the Rio Grande at the foothills of the Sandia Mountains, as pictured above.
2. Double check or even triple check before acting. Remember the advice to measure twice and cut once? That’s helpful counsel when your brain is at or near capacity. Don’t feel insecure – or heaven forbid inept – about asking someone to repeat a request or directions. And take the time to reread instructions. Remember it’s your brain that’s challenged, not you.
3. Match your activities with your brain capacity. Try to do your most brain-intensive work in the morning when you’re fresh. For instance, I’ve learned the hard way that I need to take my Neuroeconomics of Decision Making class quizzes in the morning if I expect to pass them the first time. If I wait until late in the day, the multiple choice questions feel like they’ve morphed into math brainteasers.
When the noise level is especially loud, how are you respecting the brain’s capacity and showing compassion?