The Neuroscience of Success proves our philosophy right.
What is well understood is that marching through effortful tasks one after another, for hours at a time, is a bad idea. To conserve your willpower and maximize your productivity, you might:
- Organize your work day such that tasks requiring more effortful self-control are interspersed with ones that require less. It’s not about how interesting or dull the task is; even things you enjoy – writing about fun new Neuroscientific findings, for example –may require self-restraint. Eating a chocolate chip cookie, maybe not so much.
- Take short breaks after willpower-intensive activities. Take a walk, have a bite to eat, make a non-strenuous phone call.
- If you have something important to do – a public lecture, a job interview – be especially careful to avoid draining your willpower right beforehand. An “energizing” jog at 7 am before a 9 am presentation might not be as energizing as you think. If your commute is stressful, you might time it a bit earlier to give yourself half an hour to unwind before “it’s showtime.”