Canadian Lawyer InHouse

October/November 2020

Legal news and trends for Canadian in-house counsel and c-suite executives

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30 www.canadianlawyermag.com/inhouse FEATURE When your mental bandwidth is depleted, it leaves little room for big ideas to flourish. Carson Tate offers three ideas for replenishing your mental reserves How to avoid mental exhaustion IN A highly competitive global economy, innovation, creativity and your business's ability to differentiate itself through its ideas and products are essential for continued growth and profitability. As a worker today, information overload, 24/7 connec- tivity, constant interruptions from wherever you're working and email and text communi- cation can lead to overwhelming anxiety. All of this anxiety hijacks your time and mental resources, resulting in scarcity. And when you experience scarcity of any kind — time or mental — you become absorbed by it. Your mind orients automatically toward an unfilled need. The problem with mental scarcity is that it creates its own trap. It further perpetuates scar- city and reduces all components of our mental bandwidth — we are less insightful and less forward-thinking; we have less mind to give to dreaming about that next breakthrough idea, all of which are essential components of innovation. If you want to support and nurture innovation in your work, it's time to start thinking about how to reduce mental scarcity and increase your mental bandwidth. Here are three simple yet powerful ways to start. Develop routines for regular tasks Develop a routine for common tasks so that your brain can automatically repeat them with minimal input by you. Once the routine is established, it's interpreted by your brain as a pattern. These patterns, through frequent use, become hardwired into your brain. And the more you use a pattern, the less atten- tion you'll need to pay to doing this task, thus freeing up mental bandwidth for ideation. Consider developing routines for phone calls, opening documents, filing and saving docu- ments, sorting and processing mail and making travel arrangements. Automate email processing A lot of the work you do is virtual — over email, text or perhaps a project management app. Email processing consumes significant amounts of time and mental capacity. Reduce the time and mental drain by automating frequent email responses, by automating email follow-up, by automating the prioritization of incoming messages and by automatically filing reference materials. Automate frequent email responses. Use a free text expander software app such as FastFox for PC or Text Expander for Mac,or a more robust program such as Wittyparrot. These will work in any program, including your email platform, and allow you to insert commonly used text with just a keyboard shortcut or by dragging and dropping text. No longer will you waste your mental energy thinking about what to say nor precious time typing out a response; you can reply automatically within seconds. Automate your email follow-up. Automate your follow-up by setting up and using the "waiting for" rule. Here's how it works: When you send an email where you need a response from the recipient, cc yourself on the email. That email will then be automatically saved in a folder you have designated for all of your follow-ups. As new messages are automatically added to this folder, the numeral indicating how many messages are in the folder will become bold. No longer will you spend time searching through sent messages or trying to remember if you've followed up on your open requests.

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