David Rock, an executive coach and one of my favorite writers, recently discussed how to think deeply at work in the Harvard Business Review Blog Network. (Rock is also the founder of the Neuroleadership Summit.)
“Understanding the Stage” is one of the strategies Rock discusses in the blog. I first discovered this idea in his book Your Brain At Work where Rock compares our prefrontal cortex to a small stage, the size you might find in a child’s bedroom rather than at Carnegie Hall. The essence of this analogy is that the stage, our prefrontal cortex, has severe limitations and when we overload it with actors, some will fall off.
When we feel overwhelmed, our small stage has too many actors trying to play their parts. They just don’t fit and so they fall off the stage (out of our consciousness). To prevent the actors from falling off the stage, we need to limit the number who appear at anyone time. This comparison is similar to making a distinction between your to do list for today and the master list of all the things you want to do. Your daily to do list needs to remain small, just as we need to limit the number of actors on the stage (maybe no more than 3 to 5 tasks).
This strategy focuses our attention. The actor plays a role and then moves off the stage making room for another actor.
Refer to the link below for a review of the other two ways to think deeply at work: