Several weeks back, I blogged about my new love affair with Endomondo. This free app integrates GPS data to track the distance and pace that I am running. Endo alerts me when I have run an additional mile and provides me feedback on my pace. Being somewhat competitive with type A tendencies, this data inspires me to pick up my pace. Each day, I aspire to quicken.
Healthy stimulus moves us toward optimal performance. Running a familiar route along the Charles River, my attention is focused on my pace and whatever I am listening to on my iPhone. Rarely is the stimulus this straightforward in the workplace.
But too much stimulus, too much data, too much incoming information bifurcates our thought processes. Many of us have experienced this information overload. Too much stimulation from too many different sources all at the same time. So why do we do this? Why do we overstimulate ourselves?
Our brains are wired to look for novelty, in part for protection and in part because it simply feels good. Novelty stimulates dopamine—the feel-good chemical— in our brain. This brings us elation. But too much novelty, too much stimulation, can leave us high with excitement and then exhausted and drained. And that is not good.
Can you think of times when you have intentionally overstimulated yourself? How did you feel? Did it last?
In our overwired world, we have to be careful to strike a balance, and always find time to operate with optimal effort.