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英语新闻:训练大脑,让你生产力更高的七个窍门

2015-05-12    来源:财富中文网    【      美国外教 在线口语培训
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英语新闻:训练大脑,让你生产力更高的七个窍门 

英语新闻:

Evolution is a slow process. In the timeline of our species, we’re not far removed from our days of living in small clan groups, hunting and gathering to survive. We would encounter no more than a thousand people in our lifetimes. Our brains were built for that world, not one where incessant interruptions at work and at home fly at us like swarms of angry mosquitos.

No wonder we feel distracted and stressed — particularly professional women who are often managing lives that don’t stay neatly compartmentalized. In my research on high-earning women with families, I’ve found that about 75 percent do work tasks outside of work hours, and an equal proportion do personal tasks during the normal business day. There is always something competing for time and attention.

But while “our genes haven’t fully caught up with the demands of modern civilization, fortunately, human knowledge has,” writes McGill University neuroscientist Daniel Levitin in his bestselling book,The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload. “We now better understand how to overcome evolutionary limitations.”

Highly successful people “have learned to maximize their creativity, and efficiency, by organizing their lives so that they spend less time on the mundane, and more time on the inspiring, comforting, and rewarding things in life.” For true VIPs, this can involve a staff of dozens. For the rest of us, Levitin offers suggestions on how to create the calm that comes from giving our brains less to think about, so we can focus on what matters.


• Give things a place. “Place memory evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to keep track of things that didn’t move, such as fruit trees, wells, mountains, lakes,” Levitin writes. We didn’t exactly transport much daily, which is why we’re not wired to keep track of things such as car keys, cell phones, and wallets. We misplace them, then spend much mental energy finding them. The answer? Give these things a home, such as a tray or hook by the door. When possible, buy duplicates so things don’t have to move: reading glasses for work and home, scissors for the kitchen and home office.

• Create triggers for what you want to remember. We go through much of life on auto-pilot. It’s one way our brains conserve energy. The problem is that once you start a routine, your brain isn’t going to stop you to remind you of something else you intended to incorporate. But the brain does go on alert when it registers something new. So “use the environment to remind you of what needs to be done,” Levitin writes. “If you’re afraid you’ll forget to buy milk on the way home, put an empty milk carton on the seat next to you in the car or in the backpack you carry to work on the subway.” Your brain will recognize this out-of-context item and interrupt its reverie. This bias toward the new and unexpected is also why emails or text alerts make us so excited. Use this to your advantage, and set up reminders for important things you’d like to take time for: connecting with old friends, scheduling a date with your partner.

• Plan for a big network. “Because our ancestors lived in social groups that changed slowly, because they encountered the same people throughout their lives, they could keep almost every social detail they needed to know in their heads,” writes Levitin. Now, you may work and interact with hundreds of people who expect you to remember their names and details about your last conversation. Your brain alone isn’t up for the job. So write down notes about people you meet and what you talked about. Social networking sites (LinkedIn, Facebook) can help with basic details, and with birthday and work anniversary reminders, but for the human brain, out of sight really is out of mind. Plan to review your contacts regularly.

• Focus. The human brain can switch between tasks, but it’s metabolically costly. “It takes less energy to focus,” writes Levitin. “People who organize their time in a way that allows them to focus are not only going to get more done, but they’ll be less tired and less neurochemically depleted after doing it.” If you have chores to do, put similar chores together. “If you’ve collected a bunch of bills to pay, just pay the bills — don’t use that time to make big decisions about whether to move to a smaller house or buy a new car.” Defer those decisions to a different designated time slot.

• Prep and review. Of course, while it’s best to spend big chunks of time focused on one problem, the workplace is seldom set up for this. Many managers tromp from one meeting to another like high schoolers switching classes. You may think you’ll remember what transpired in each meeting, but you won’t. This is why psychiatrists work a 50-minute hour. “They use that extra ten minutes to write down what happened,” notes Levitin. So rather than scheduling things back to back, give yourself ten minutes to write notes about what needs to be done. Also, “Because attention switching is metabolically costly, it’s good neural hygiene for your brain to give it time to switch into the mind-set of your next meeting gradually and in a relaxed way before the meeting starts.” Ideally, hour-long meetings would really run from ten after to ten before the hour. Give it a shot. It’s the rare meeting that couldn’t be compressed if people tried.

• Don’t dither over things that don’t matter. Do you agonize over wardrobe or food choices? If your brain can only make so many decisions in a day, then it’s better to preserve its power for weighty matters. Edit your closet to limited options that all work. At business lunches, just choose the same thing (e.g. the Caesar salad). You’ll eat again, and making fewer decisions means you can make better ones when it counts.

• Sleep. It’s the secret weapon of cognitive success. “Across a range of inferences involving not just language but mathematics, logic problems, and spatial reasoning, sleep has been shown to enhance the formation and understanding of abstract relations, so much so that people often wake having solved a problem that was unsolvable the night before,” writes Levitin. Good sleep looks different for different people. Some people do best with naps. Some people sleep straight through the night, and others wake for a while in the middle. Whatever works for you, though, prioritize making it happen — and your happy brain will help you get a lot more done.

Laura Vanderkam is a journalist and the author of the forthcoming book Their Own Sweet Time: How Successful Women Build Lives That Work (Portfolio, June 2015).

incessant: adj.不停的,持续不断的; 无尽无休 

distracted: vt.使分心; 使混乱

compartmentalized

mundane: adj.平凡的; 宇宙的; 寻常的; 世俗的

reverie: n.想入非非; 白日梦,冥想

transpire: vi.蒸发; 泄露; (事情)发生

psychiatrist: n.精神病专家,精神病医生

metabolically: 代谢的

dither: vi.犹豫不决; 发抖,颤抖

cognitive: adj.认知的; 认识的


进化是一个缓慢的过程。就人类的发展史而言,那段聚居于小型部落并以打猎为生的日子离我们并不遥远。那时,在人的一生中,打交道的人不会超过一千个。我们的大脑生来就是为了应对这样一个世界,而不是为了无休止地应付那些铺天盖地而来的工作和家庭事务。

难怪我们会觉得自己无法集中精力而且压力重重,特别是经常要驾驭混乱生活的职业女性。我对已婚高收入女性进行研究后发现,在她们中间,经常加班的约占75%,在日常工作期间处理个人事务的也占75%左右。总有一些事情要让人分散时间和精力。

不过,麦吉尔大学神经学家丹尼尔•列维京在其畅销书《有组织的头脑:在信息过载时代做到心平气和》中写道,虽然“我们的基因还不能完全满足现代文明的需要,幸运的是,人类的知识可以做到这一点。现在,我们对怎样突破进化局限有了更进一步的认识。”

成功人士“都学会了通过安排好生活,最大化自己的创造力和效率,这样,自己便可以在普通事务上少花一点儿时间,并把更多时间用于完成让人精神振奋、感到舒适和满足的事情。”对于真正的名人来说,要做到这一点需要很多人共同努力。而对于其他人,列维京的建议是让大脑少思考一些问题,以平复心绪,并把精力放在重要的问题上。

• 给物品找个去处。列维京写道:“人类对地点的记忆力已经进化了几十万年,目的就是记住那些不动的事物,比如果树、水井、山峰和湖泊。”我们每天不会频繁外出,因此我们不会小心翼翼地记下汽车钥匙、手机和钱包等物品的位置。对这些东西我们总是随手放置,然后花很多精力去找它们。怎么解决这个问题呢?给这些东西找个家,比如门旁边的盘子或挂钩。可能的话,每件东西都买双份,比如在办公室和家里都放一副眼镜,在厨房和工作室都放一把剪刀,这样就不用把它们拿来拿去了。

• 为想要记住的事情建立触发机制。在一生中,很多时候我们都处于“自动导航”状态,这是大脑保存能量的一种方法。但问题在于,一旦开启某项例行程序,我们的大脑就不会发出暂停指令并提醒我们在这个过程中还有别的事要做。不过,如果记录到了新的信息,我们的大脑就会发出警告。列维京写道,因此,“可以用环境来提醒自己有哪些事要做。如果担心自己在开车回家的路上忘了买牛奶,就可以在副驾驶位置上放一个空牛奶盒;如果是坐地铁,就可以把它放到公文包里。”我们的大脑会发现这个东西跟环境格格不入,从而脱离“休眠”状态。这种关注新鲜和意外事物的倾向正是电子邮件或短信提醒让我们如此兴奋的原因。利用这一点,为自己愿意花时间的重要事务建立提醒机制,比如联系老朋友,再比如跟合伙人约个时间见面。

  • 为大型社交网络做规划。列维京写道:“我们的祖先生活的社会群体变化缓慢,他们从生到死都和同样的人打交道,因此他们几乎可以把所有需要了解的社会细节都记在脑海里。”现在,跟我们共事和交流的可能有几百人,而且普遍期望我们能记在他们的名字和上次谈话的细节。只靠我们的大脑完成不了这项工作。因此,要把你见到了什么人以及你们谈了什么事写下来。社交网站(领英、Facebook)可以帮你记下基本细节,还可以就生日和工作周年纪念日做出提醒。而对我们的大脑来说,如果不映入眼帘,根本就想不起这些信息来。制定一项计划,以便定期查看自己的通讯录。

• 专注。我们的大脑可以在各项工作之间切换,但从新陈代谢角度讲,这样做成本很高。列维京写道:“专注需要的能量较少。通过安排自己的时间而进入专注状态的人不仅能完成更多的工作,还不会那么累,在神经化学方面的消耗也不会那么大。”如果要做一些杂事,就把类似的杂事放在一起完成。“如果你有一叠账单要付,那就只管付账——别在这个时候去考虑重大问题,比如是否搬到一所更小的房子里,或者是否买辆新车。”把这些留到一个专门的时间段去做。

• 预备和回顾。当然,虽然把大块时间用于解决某一个问题是最佳做法,但工作环境几乎不允许我们这样做。许多经理都在会议之间奔波,就像高中生一样,上了这门课又要上那门课。大家可能觉得自己能记住每次会议的内容,但实际上我们做不到这一点。正因为如此,精神病医生上班时每小时只工作50分钟。列维京指出,“他们用剩下的10分钟把刚才发生的情况写下来。”因此,制定计划时不要环环相扣,给自己10分钟时间,以便把需要做的事记录下来。同样的,“从新陈代谢角度讲,在不同事物之间切换注意力的成本很高。因此,给我们的大脑一些时间,让它在下一个会议开始前逐步而放松地转换思路对神经健康很有利。”理想情况下,原定一小时的会议应该推迟10分钟开始,并且提前10分钟结束。试试看吧。只要进行尝试,就几乎没有不能缩短的会议。

• 不要纠结于不重要的事物。选衣柜或者考虑吃什么是否让你心烦意乱呢?如果我们的大脑每天只能做这么多决定,那最好把它留给那些重大事务。清理一下自己的思路,只留下那些管用的方案。至于工作餐,每次都选同样的好了(比如凯撒沙拉)。我们总得吃饭,而少做些决定就意味着在重大问题上我们可以做出更好的选择。

• 睡眠。这是成功认知的秘密武器。列维京写道:“实际情况表明,睡眠可以改善人们对抽象关系的构建和理解,它所能强化的推理能力不仅限于语言,还包括数学、逻辑和空间。这种改善很明显,一觉醒来,人们往往能解开睡前无法解决的难题。”每个人都有自己最佳的睡眠方式。打盹对某些人效果最好。有些人会一觉睡到天亮,另一些人则会在半夜醒来一阵子。但无论哪种方式管用,首先要做的就是去睡觉——一个快乐的大脑能帮助我们多做许多工作。(财富中文网)

劳拉•温德尔凯姆是一名记者,她的新书《她们自己的甜蜜时光:成功女性如何构建美满生活》很快就会问世。



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