How can I prevent my brain from remaining a useless sack of protoplasm for the majority of the work day? (Significant (but not excessively over-indulgent) snowflakianism follows....)
posted by armoir from antproof case to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Help me get my brain into a higher gear, earlier in the day. I’m in my late 30’s now but this has been a challenge for most of my adult life (probably previously also).
I’m having difficulty living up to my job responsibilities because for the first 5 – 7 hours of the work day, my mental and social abilities are “low”.
I have difficulty thinking through problems. I get distracted easily; find myself easily frustrated or overwhelmed; lose perspective. This is true for tasks both rote and complex. I have difficulty remembering, integrating new information; connecting the dots.
My mood is a bit lower; I’ll spend way too much time ruminating about [organizational or process] obstacles that are fairly standard for my line of work (knowledge worker in a high-tech corporate setting) and which I really ought to be used to by now (having worked in my field and many similar environments for ~15 years; and at my current employer for 2.5+ yrs) and which don’t at other times (later in the day) seem like anything more than petty annoyances or expected hassles. I’ll doubt, second-guess myself; question my abilities, my value to my employer, etc.
I have difficulty communicating my ideas with my coworkers. I have a problem finding the right words, forming sentences that get my point across. As a result I find myself being less assertive than I need to be, and in general not communicating effectively. Sometimes when I'm trying to focus on what someone is saying, my mind will wander. Other times, even if I've been following them & understand what's been communicated, my response will sounds dumb or inappropriate because I haven't yet had a chance to integrate all my thoughts or form then into coherent statements in time.
However, later in the day I am a completely different person. I can think through challenges, solve problems, execute tasks etc. much more quickly. New information about a project or task is instantly integrated into my understanding and able to be acted upon. My mood is much better. I have more perspective, take things in stride more, go with the flow, etc. I’m able to communicate better with my colleagues, in a more natural, assertive manner which is not forced or labored over, as is the case in the morning. Tasks or projects which in the morning seemed insurmountable, or frustrating, or utterly boring, are now in the afternoon just “Whatever, let’s get it done,” or, even can become interesting, engaging challenges.
This is problematic for a variety of reasons. By the time I’ve finally switched my brain out of 1st or 2nd gear, it’s close to the end of the workday, and for various reasons (commute constraints; family obligations), I don't have the option to just stay late at the office for an extra hour or two, or work after I’ve gotten home at night, in order to make up for time lost in the morning when my brain was a oozing mass of useleness.
I don’t find myself feeling “tired” in the morning. In fact I am getting more sleep (both qualitatively and quantitatively; generally between 7 -8.5 hours) now than I have for the past several years. However I don’t believe I’m sleeping too much… I’ve struggled with that before and know what that feels like. I when I was younger, I’d combat this by limiting my sleep once or twice a week to 5.5 or 6 hours, which would lead to both greater alertness and higher mood during the day, but even then it wasn’t sustainable and now that I’m a bit older and becoming wary of the long-term health effects (e.g. heart disease, etc.) of under-sleeping, I’m wary to try doing it again (even if I had faith that it wouldn’t have a net result of worsening the challenges I’ve described. Which I don’t.).
As for coffee: I love coffee and almost always have a cup within 1-2 hours after lunch - before the stage when my brain finally starts shows up to work. But I don’t drink coffee in the morning. If I do, a get a very sudden (but short) high (both mental acuity and mood), then come crashing down by mid morning or lunchtime. It’s almost like a panic, but not an anxiety-filled panic; more like, MY BRAIN IS RUNNING TOO FAST LA LA LA and it burns through all energy sources in my body and then all I can think about is needing to eat. I find that I must have eaten both breakfast and lunch before I should even think about having a cup of coffee. It’s as though my body doesn’t have enough fuel to function until it’s mid-day and a couple meals have gone down. I eat a decent breakfast before leaving for work… not too heavy (I’ve found that eating more in the morning doesn’t seem to help the situation. Plus, I’m almost never hungry when I wake up… though I’ll always get something into me regardless).
FWIW, I figured out many years ago (in my early / mid twenties) that I’m very sensitive to sugar in the morning. If I were to have a muffin or donut or even half a cup of orange juice, I’d quickly spin up and then sputter out (similar to the previous description about morning-coffee results) and perhaps become exhausted the rest of the day (unless I quickly followed up with a high-protein, hi-fat lunch). So, I avoid it like the plague. However, if in the afternoon – after I’ve had a good meal - I do follow through on a sugar-craving, I experience no such negative results.
So, wrapping it all up: most days, it is not until 2, 3, or 4 o’clock that I feel like my brain has finally shown up for work; and it’s a frikkin’ laser until 8 or 9 at night. But by that time, I’ve lost the opportunity to accomplish much. I’m trying to get to the bottom of why this is happening, and what I might be able to do counter this.
Oh, right -- a couple details I forgot: my waking day / work-day hours are pretty standard: I get up between 6:30 and 7, at work by 9. Leave the office between 5:30 and 6:30; in bed between 10 and 11.
Thanks for your input, hive mind.