innovation | February 05, 2013

Fighting Workplace Fatigue: Innovation Speaker Douglas Merrill In Forbes

"Ever wondered why, no matter how much you slept the night before, you can’t focus on anything by 4 p.m.?" Douglas Merrill asks in a new Forbes post. Luckily, the innovation speaker not only asks the question, but he has the answer. Your lack of concentration may very well stem from all the times you had to shift your attention from one thing to another during the day. While you may think you are successfully multitasking when you answer an email in between attending a meeting and sitting in on a conference call, chances are your decision-making power and concentration are actually seriously depleted.

"Adjusting your brain to new contexts is difficult to do on its own," Merrill says. "Multiply the effort by the dozens of context shifts (if not more) that you make during a long workday, and it’s no wonder you can’t decide what to eat for dinner." Since your brain can only store between five and nine things in your short-term memory at once, shifting between different contexts puts a strain on your concentration. And that strain also creates stress, making it even more difficult to maintain focus. What can you do to improve your productivity? Most importantly, Merrill suggests taking 10-15 minutes to clear your head at some point in the day. There are other little things you can do throughout the day, as well, like scheduling similar tasks concurrently in the day to avoid shifting back and forth too often and not looking at every email you receive the second it enters your inbox. In a culture where the bottom-line tends to dominate business models, it is often the case that employees take on more than their brains can handle. Being the most productive you can be means taking a break every once in a while and letting your mind focus on doing one thing at once.

Merrill is a leading voice on the importance of implementing new, out of the box practices in the workplace. During his time as the Chief Information Officer at Google, and in his own innovative company,, Merrill consistently stays one step ahead. In his keynotes, he teaches companies how to beat their competitors and improve productivity.

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business strategy | February 04, 2013