Stay Alert and Get it Done
Now that you have a better understanding of focus, let’s discuss effort. What is effort?
I took an informal poll. Some people said putting in work and energy. Someone else said trying hard and doing your best even if the results are not commensurate with the energy invested. Another person shared working hard towards a goal. I heard from someone else, the input, not the outcome, and another person shared that effort was the process not the product and that effort was the part of the endeavor that brings on self-growth.
Dr. Brown says that effort as an executive function is regulating alertness, sustaining effort and processing speed.
Dr. Brown is saying that in order to put in effort, you must remain alert and continue to put in the same amount of energy and effort and process at the same speed. Meaning real effort is sustained and consistent. So how does this play out in real life?
We can use the example of Vinny. Vinny is doing a spring cleaning of his yard. The snow fell early last year and his yard is full of dead leaves and branches along with random pieces of trash that blew in throughout the winter. He decides to put in his best effort and see where it will take him. He grabs a large water bottle, a rake, and a trash bag and gets to work.
Vinny grabs a bunch of large branches and drags them to the street. As he gets near the street, he drops the branches and remaining focused on his task, goes back to grab some more branches. When Vinny notices that his alertness and ability to sustain effort and speed is waning, he stops to take a few minute breather and then picks up again with vigor.
The effort we put it in is a small piece of our executive functioning but an integral piece of the puzzle.
Can you think of a time where you were putting in effort, but it was ineffective because you were not regulating your alertness, sustaining effort and processing speed? Maybe you were trying to study for a test, but you were falling asleep? Were you working on a physically grueling project, but lacked the energy to complete the task? Or maybe you were trying to write a story and your mind was elsewhere, so you couldn’t maintain processing speed?
Now that you have a better understanding of effort, what would you do differently if you could redo that scenario?
I invite you to share your thoughts with me.