We are always looking for faster and faster internet bandwidth speeds to enable us to do more with the internet. Over the last few months in my entrepreneurship journey, I have had to gain a deeper appreciation for another type of bandwidth – "mental bandwidth".
Mental Bandwidth Explained
Mental bandwidth for me in this context, is your capacity to focus on a set of projects at the same time. Simply put – How many projects can you run simultaneously without one of them "timing out"?
Managing Your Mental Bandwidth
Now for an "ideas" guy like me, managing my mental bandwidth has been a major challenge. I am always toying with a new idea or concept. It is great to keep your mind engaged and active, however, when it comes to implementation and execution of these ideas it is important to consider your mental bandwidth.
It might seem like on paper you could fit everything into the day. Once you are able to fit it into your calendar it is as good as done… right? In practice it does not work like this. If you are working on too many projects simultaneously and maxing out your mental bandwidth, then just like with the internet bandwidth, all kinds of problems start to emerge and things begin to "timeout" or just move at snail pace. There is a lot of stuff happening but you are not getting anywhere fast.
An Example Of Mental Bandwidth At Work
To give a more specific example, a few months ago I was talking to a tech executive and she was mentioning that she had just hired an intern to work on a project that she had been working on for about 6 months. She handed the project off to her summer intern and in 2 days he was able to generate 24 pages detailing various ways the project could be done. This absolutely shocked her and reminded her how important it is to manage your bandwidth. she was just juggling too many projects at the same time.
Mental Bandwidth Tips
Based on my experience here are some tips for managing your mental bandwidth
Be slow to say "yes" when people first come to you. If they follow up continuously with you then it means that they are serious and committed to the project and it is worth taking a look at.
Write down your latest greatest ideas, but but don't take any action. Let it marinate for a while. If you keep thinking about it or it keeps coming up in conversation, then you know there might be some magic to it. Check it out!
Exercise and have fun with life, your mental bandwidth increases when you are healthy and happy.
Practice unplugging or in Bajan dialect "Mek sure ya PLUG OUT sometimes" not only literally with your phone and other gadgets but also mentally and emotionally with all the stress and anxiety involved in your daily life. Take some time away and relax.
Create the right mix of projects – Reduce the number of projects that you are working on, however, it is still important to keep a healthy mix. Keep a mix of projects that will fuel your passions and keep you fulfilled and feeling good! It is also good to have more than one project going on so that all your emotional investment is not tied to one outcome. This way if you are having a bad day in one area, you might be having a good day in another and that could pick you up.
Make a list of all your conversational goals. There are things that we always say in conversation… "I would really like to…". However, when we have "free time" they are never in a list for us to refer to and get cracking on. Whatever you want to pursue… write it down. It helps to keep your mind clear and your life interesting.
How are you managing your mental bandwidth?