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HOW MUCH DO WE REALLY USE OUR HEAD?

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 23, 2013

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Not as much as you may think.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Ever wonder what goes through people’s heads? Or maybe you have heard yourself say, “What the hell are you thinking of?” It shouldn’t come as a surprise to find a lot of people don’t use their head during the day. A couple of years ago I wrote a paper entitled, “Increasing Brain Power.” Although the intent of the paper was to suggest ideas for sharpening worker acuity, I made the observation we typically don’t use our head as much as we assume we do.

First, we typically rest or sleep for eight hours each day whereby the brain is not truly engaged. We then spend eight hours for work and eight hours for personal time. In the typical work day, office workers are normally 70% effective, meaning they spend about five and a half hours on productive work. During personal time, we perform pet projects and hobbies, pay the bills, run errands, attend a meeting or function, relax, and wake up or go to sleep. During this time we typically spend two hours on concentrated work. All of this means in a typical work day, we only spend about eight hours to really exercise the brain, but from a management perspective, we can expect to get only three hours at peak performance. Actually, this number fluctuates based on how well the worker is able to engage the brain. Some people are able to engage their brains for several hours, some for only an hour, and some not at all.

I guess what I am getting at is that people tend to operate at a primal level most of the day representing nothing more than their basic instincts and reflex actions (I call this the “autopilot” mode). We see this on our commutes to and from work, we see it as we shop in stores, and we see it as we “zone out” watching television. Basically, people prefer to tune out than to tune in to what is going on. As a systems man, I tend to make the analogy that we take in more input than we produce output. Because of this, we are highly susceptible to subliminal messages from the media and are easily influenced.

We commonly make extensive use of technology to assist us at work, but because technology often supersedes our thought processes, it actually causes us to be less sharp intellectually. To illustrate, not long ago a study was performed by Kings College in London for Hewlett Packard, the purpose of which was to study the effect of technology on worker performance. According to Dr. Glenn Wilson, the author of the study: “Results showed clearly that technological distraction diminished IQ test performance.” Basically, the study said excessive use of technology can have an adverse effect on a person’s brain power. This is somewhat disturbing as technology permeates our society.

So, the next time you have a confrontation with the human animal, just remember they are probably not operating at the same level as you are; they could be a lot smarter or a lot dumber than they may appear.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  PRICE VERSUS VALUE – Are we really comparing apples to apples, or apples to oranges?

LAST TIME:  TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT COMMON CORE – Next time you hear “Common Core” in a conversation; pay attention!

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4 Responses to “HOW MUCH DO WE REALLY USE OUR HEAD?”

  1. Tim Bryce said

    An R.C. of Arkansas wrote…

    “Ha ha ha, no truer words spoken. In lecturing I started out thinking, this guy is just not going to get it but, holy crap, what a whiz. Next guy; man this guy will be a whiz; grin, nope, haven’t a clue where his mind was. I was not able to get a great education in life, but educated of the world. One thing I found out, your mind is like your body, use it or lose it. I’m never idle. Two years ago I had two strokes, but i exercise my mind just like i do my body. No, I will never do stone work like i use to but by strong mind set and strict health habits and hard work, I’m a happy person and able to live a good life. I did all this without a doctor for I have no insurance. I just used good common sense. Your mind is a wonderful thing, it just needs to be used”

    Like

  2. Tim Bryce said

    A K.M. of California wrote…

    “Our mind works in ways that some of us still don’t know about.”

    Like

  3. […] HOW MUCH DO WE REALLY USE OUR HEAD? […]

    Like

  4. Tim Bryce said

    An A.D. of the United Kingdom wrote…

    “The HP technology-study is hardly surprising. I’d say that public education has an even more egregious effect on the intellect. Of course, now with the push to get even more technology into the classroom, the effect will be amplified tremendously. Thus, by the time the average bloke grows up, he is the perfect obedient worker, incapable of independent thought … none of which is an accident. And yet the real failing is one of will, and not of intellect. Nothing forces us to be satisified with diminishing brain power, despite universal promotion to that effect…

    Here’s a trend I notice: When I ask somebody, “What are thinking?” if the answer is not “Nothing”, then it usually begins with “I was thinking about … such and such”. I notice this because I NEVER ask what folks are thinking ABOUT, which is as much as most are prepared to answer for. Almost nobody can answer for the content of their thinking – often they don’t even take a moment to consider before blurting out a nonanswer … evidence of the “autopilot” you mention. Sometimes, albeit less and less, I’ll ask “Yeah, but what is your thought about … such and such. WHAT are you actually thinking?” The antidote to “autopilot” is presence, which is not even thinking, per se. And yet folks have learned to despise the feeling and sensation of “self-consciousness” which alone can rouse them from the slumber in which they pass their so-called “waking” lives.”

    Like

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