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For most of my career, the bulk of my workday was spent seeing patients. While I continue to see some therapy patients and coaching clients, the biggest chunk of my day is now devoted to content creation and related tasks in my role as Chief Immersion Officer for BetterAge. I’ve discovered something that works for me and helps me manage my schedule, and I wonder if what I’ve learned is relevant for you.

The skills necessary for seeing patients or clients all day is the mindset equivalent of being a marathoner. You have to pace yourself and not get too intense most of the time, although bursts of increased speed may be needed at some point to deal with an individual’s acute problem – but you can’t function like a sprinter – at least not until you get close to the finish line.

When you are creating content, however, you don’t typically have hourly deadlines – but intense periods do occur, and you have to be ready for them. The mentality that it is appropriate is the mindset equivalent of doing high intensity interval training (HIIT). I have found that I can function better by keeping a certain amount of cognitive reserve available when it’s time to produce. During the past week I’ve had to come up with some new content sheets and make a significant contribution to a grant proposal and help with the revision of our health and well-being assessment.

I know that I have to be available for periods of intensity and hopefully even periods of flow – which is pretty easy for me to get into because I like what I do. Knowing that I’m going to have to be available for HIIT workouts for my brain means that I can’t be intense all the time. Building learning time, reading and review time, and self-care time enables me to be available for doing cognitive HIIT (as well as physical HIIT during my exercise.

I have a feeling that many people will read this post with a sense of puzzlement and not be able to relate to it at all. But if you are finding yourself too often feeling less efficient than you think you can be, you may want to incorporate HIIT workouts for your brain. And if it’s something that either makes no sense in your situation or don’t want to try, that’s understandable. I suspect that most people who work out physically don’t do HIIT either.

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