Brain Blocker #1: The Goldfish Effect
Here’s a fun fact: The average attention span of a goldfish is nine seconds.
Here’s another one: According to research by Microsoft, the average attention span of a human now maxes out at eight seconds—that’s down from 12 in 2000.
That’s right—a fish can now concentrate longer than a human.
The reason we suffer from the Goldfish Effect? Our always-connected society leaves us in a constant state of sensory overload, making every digital notification suddenly the most important thing to attend to.
How It Can Hinder You at Work: Between responding to emails, fielding multiple chats and actually answering questions in real life, you get so bogged down in the minutiae of the day that by 5:30 your to-do list has only gotten longer.
And if you pride yourself on being able to juggle multiple tasks, you may be fooling yourself—University of Utah research suggests that only 2% of people are actually effective multitaskers.
How to Outsmart Your Noggin: What you drown out can be just as important to your brain’s efficiency as what you absorb, according to a recent University of Rochester study.
Researchers found that people with high IQs were also the best at filtering out background stimuli—suggesting that smart people are good at suppressing information that is less important to the task at hand.
But if you’re not a natural at ignoring the not-so-crucial stuff, it is something you can get better at with time, says Ben Michaelis, a clinical psychologist and author of “Your Next Big Thing: 10 Small Steps to Get Moving and Get Happy.”
The key is to start small. Define a limited period of time—say, five minutes—when you’ll commit to focusing on just one task, like answering a lengthy email.
“If that doesn’t work, start with one minute, or even 30 seconds,” Michaelis says. “Then gradually add increments of time. Before you know it, you’ll be able to suppress that nagging wish to see what’s happening on Facebook.”
“If so, you may be suffering from imposter syndrome—the idea that your success has been a fluke and you’ll be ‘found out’ for not being as talented as everyone thinks.”
Brain Blocker #2: Imposter Syndrome
You hold the corner office, but do you still have a nagging feeling that you’re undeserving of your accomplishments?
If so, you may be suffering from imposter syndrome—the idea that your success has been a fluke and you’ll be “found out” for not being as talented as everyone thinks.
By some estimates, more than 70% of people have felt this way at some point in their lives. But despite it being extremely common, clinical psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo, author of “Better Than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love,” says imposter syndrome is rarely discussed, which can leave you feeling like you’re the only one in the office harboring such thoughts.
How It Can Hinder You at Work: “This syndrome can cause a wide variety of fear-related behaviors, not to mention increased stress and relationship strain,” Lombardo says.
For example, you may refuse to accept coaching because you’re afraid colleagues will discover you’re a fraud. Or you may tend to get upset at other people’s incompetence in an attempt to hide your own. You may even become a micromanager because you believe mistakes on your team hint that you’re in over your head.
And, most obviously, you may avoid gunning for promotions because you’re afraid you’re not qualified.
How to Outsmart Your Noggin: One big sign you’re suffering from imposter syndrome is that you feel inadequate—despite what the evidence shows. But could you really have faked your way through record sales figures or multiple promotions?
So when doubt starts to set in, it helps to take stock of your past successes.
Maybe it’s reminding yourself of a company award, rereading old client praise or digging up a stellar performance review. The key is to own your accomplishments, rather than chalk them up to luck.
“Then the next time that inner critic creeps up and says, ‘Who are you to be doing this?’ you can stop and answer that critic with past data,” Lombardo says.
This article was originally published on Learn Vest