How my three-pocket grey yoga pants increase my efficiency at work.

Cindy Jobs Uncategorized

Our brains are amazing devices. Plasticity allows our brains to adapt to changing situations and environments without conscious choice on our part.

(Bare with me here, this little bit of geekiness will be necessary to the story.)

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI):

“Plasticity refers to changes in the brain that enable an organism to adapt its behavior in the face of changing environmental demands. The evolutionary role of Plasticity is to provide the cognitive flexibility to learn from experiences, to monitor the world based on learned predictions, and adjust actions when these predictions are violated.”

What now seems like a lifetime ago, I worked in a corporate office. 

My work “uniform” was a suit, button-down shirt, and high, uncomfortable heels. I looked polished and professional. 

I felt polished and professional. 

I had the productivity of a polished professional. 

When I got up and got dressed Monday – Friday, my brain knew what to expect and how to perform. It had a reliable prediction with which to work.

Flash forward a decade or so. Now I work from home. I meet my clients via Zoom, and they generally only see me from the waist up. Much like a mullet haircut (“business in the front, party in the back”), I could get away with “business on the top, party on the bottom.” And for a long time, I did. 

After a while, my work uniform became my black yoga pants and a long-sleeve t-shirt. Some days I’d go as far as throwing on a statement necklace if I needed to feel particularly polished, but not always.

One day it hit me: I wasn’t as productive as I wanted to be. My brain was having difficulty distinguishing between work and personal activities. My brain wasn’t as engaged as I wanted it to be. Because I wore those same black yoga pants and long-sleeve t-shirts to do household chores and lounging in the evening, my brain was having difficulty distinguishing between “work mode” and “lounge mode.” It did not have a reliable prediction with which to work.

I certainly didn’t want to go back to wearing suits during the day (which would have been hard since I’d give most of them away). I needed to find something different to support my new at-home working environment.

Here’s where the yoga pants come in. 

I decided that I needed a new “uniform” to distinguish work from not-work.” So, I bought myself grey yoga pants with pockets. The grey pants became “work clothes,” the black pants became “lounge clothes.” 

Also, I forced myself to either wear a button-down shirt during the workday or, if I wanted to wear those comfy long-sleeve t-shirts, I had to wear a blazer and a statement necklace for the client appointments. Suddenly, there was a mental shift between “work mode” and “lounge mode” to my brain. My brain, once again, had a reliable prediction with which to work.

Revisiting the geek-speak at the top of this post:

“Plasticity refers to changes in the brain that enable an organism to adapt its behavior in the face of changing environmental demands. The evolutionary role of Plasticity is to provide the cognitive flexibility to learn from experiences, to monitor the world based on learned predictions, and adjust actions when these predictions are violated.”

My productivity has gone up significantly since I’ve implemented this new routine, and my relaxation time has become, well, more relaxing. My brain now has a reliable prediction of what happens based on my wardrobe. When I put on the grey yoga pants, my brain switches to work mode. The black yoga pants mean lounge mode. It has a reliable prediction with which to work.

Oh, and one more thing, wear shoes.  It’s amazing what shifts in your brain when you simply put on a pair of shoes.  Game on!

What might you be doing to sabotage your productivity? How might a minor tweak, like grey yoga pants, catapult you into the highly productive, professional version of yourself?

Cindy Jobs

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