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When most people are looking at learning to become successful, one of the first things they will probably learn is that the most successful people are those that work the hardest. We’ve all seen the motivational images filling up our news feeds. “Success = passion + hard work” is the message. And it’s certainly not far from the truth. Certainly, it’s one of the lessons that Justin Cobb followed as an entrepreneur in his early days.
However, not all work is created equal. When examining the habits of successful people, a common mistake is to think that just working hard is enough. However, research conducted at Harvard begs to differ. In fact, the research shows that keeping busy just for the sake of it may be the most detrimental thing we can do for our decision-making abilities and intelligence.
The research shows that when we become very busy, our minds enter a state known as ‘tunneling’. The name is representative of the fact that we act as if we are in a tunnel. We focus only on what is in front of us, and lose sight of the bigger picture. We mentally ‘panic’ and lose our ability to make strategic decisions about our future.
On top of this, the more we tunnel, the busier we get, and the tighter we let that tunnel become. It’s a trap. One that can actually go so far as to lower our IQ by 10 or more points. It can make us ineffective leaders and decision makers. So what do we do to counteract this problem?
One of the main ways that successful people like Justin Cobb counteract this is by scheduling time to not work. It may sound silly, but it could be one of the most important points in your diary. Create regular time in your day to take a walk, without your phone and other devices. Or sit in a quiet room and meditate. Even taking time out to eat and enjoy a proper lunch, instead of eating that sandwich at your desk.
Freeing up space in your mind will allow you to see the big picture again. You can start planning for the future instead of tunneling in the present.