You’re probably familiar with the C-suite, the decision-making power center of your company.
Your brain has a C-suite too. It’s called the prefrontal cortex, or PFC for short. It’s also called the Executive Center, and for good reason: it’s used for higher-level thinking like decision making, planning, focusing and processing important information.
And just like the executive of your company, your PFC is small but energy hungry. While it only takes up two per cent of the brain’s volume, it uses about 20 per cent of the brain’s energy needs. It sits near the top of our brain, just behind the forehead, and really wants things to be perfect.
In fact, neuroscientist Dr. Amy Arnsten calls the PFC the Goldilocks of the brain because, just like Goldilocks, it needs conditions to be ‘just right’ to function at its best: the right amount of sleep, nutrition, oxygen and stimulation, and low amounts of threat.
That’s why when you task your brain with too many things at once, or for too long, it’s hard to focus, make good decisions or perform at our best. Conditions aren’t ‘just right’ for your PFC. It’s also why negative feedback can not only hurt us emotionally but can also hurt our productivity. The brain perceives negative feedback as a threat and spends its valuable energy focusing on that “threat” instead of accomplishing the work at hand.
It may seem counterintuitive, but focusing on one thing at a time – as opposed to multitasking – is key if you want to be productive. It’s also why taking frequent “brain breaks” is an important part of getting things done well.
So the next time you walk into work, you may want to take care of the C-suite’s needs to ensure you make great decisions.
Noesis delivers neuroleadership consulting and training to organizations handling everyday change and major transformation initiatives. We help our clients scientifically improve leadership.