You know those days, right?
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You spend a few minutes tapping away in a Google Doc, followed by an embarrassing amount of time falling down the YouTube black hole. You answer a single email before grabbing your phone for a not-so-brief scroll through Instagram. What gives? And, more importantly, how can you give your attention span a much-needed kick in the pants? Are you yawning at your desk?
Are you debating a third ok, fourth cup of coffee? One study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine shows a direct correlation between sleep deprivation and impaired cognitive function—including your working memory and cognitive speed.
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Another facet that really takes a nosedive? Vigilant and executive attention.
Since these neurons were continuously firing without enough rest, they became damaged and were eventually destroyed. Scientists hypothesize that the same thing could happen in human brains.
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So, basically, a lack of sleep could quite literally kill your brain cells. In lieu of putting your head down and napping at your desk, there are a couple of things you can do to wake yourself up without slapping yourself across the face. One of the best things you can do is head outside for a quick walk. Not only does that get your blood pumping, but it also exposes you to natural light. Research published in the International Journal of Advances in Chemical Engineering and Biological Sciences states that some exposure to daylight enhances your attention, as well as your work performance.
And, instead of reaching for the coffee pot, grab a big glass of water instead. So, chugging some water might be just what you need to perk up again. Image source: National Sleep Foundation. To put it simply, negative news has a severe impact on our mood. Graham Davey, in a HuffPost article about the negative news cycle.
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It sends you into a funk that tanks your mood and makes it that much tougher to dedicate your attention to your task list. What about good or exciting news, then? Adrenaline can be great, but levels that are way too high can actually lead to anxiety, which results in decreased work performance.
And, a thrilling event puts you way too far past that optimal level—which makes it hard to concentrate. Keeping your own thoughts and emotions in check can be a challenge. Taking those few minutes will hopefully slightly alter your mood or lower your adrenaline, so you can get back to your work with a renewed level of concentration.
That matters. Your adrenal glands respond by releasing—you guessed it—adrenaline into your bloodstream. We just learned in the previous section that too much adrenaline leads to too strong of arousal, which makes it that much more difficult for you to focus and perform.
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Put your phone in the other room. One of the more fruitful ideas to emerge in Western history is the concept of natural law. The American Founders took the natural law for granted. Even the most strongly deistic, such as Thomas Jefferson, appealed to it.
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Unfortunately, the idea fell on hard times in the twentieth century. Some Christians thought mistakenly that the concept was unbiblical. And many secular intellectuals came to doubt that moral claims had truth value at all. Fortunately, there are now a number of first-rate scholars defending and developing natural law theory. Unfortunately, the discussion is pretty abstract and is, at times, contentious.
If you were to read only one book explaining and defending natural law, however, I would recommend J. Spence Publishing originally released the book in , and I recently re-read it.