Silence Your Monkey Brain

In our fast-paced world, the apparent ability to multitask is a point of pride. Looking exhausted and frazzled are badges of honor. I say “apparent ability” because we are not really completing more tasks. The only things we are accomplishing are high blood pressure, poor eating habits, and tension headaches.

Let’s add social media, kids in multiple actives, and constant information bombardment to the multitasking-mix.

Are you feeling antsy thinking about all the things you should be working on instead of reading this post? Then STOP. BREATHE. And count to ten.

Feel a little better? What just happened is your monkey brain took over. The monkey brain is the portion of our brain that reacts rather than thinking through things. When it takes over, we make mindless decisions that could cause problems. The monkey brain gets easily distracted and makes you hop from task to task, sometimes not even completing one task before starting the next.

[Hey, look! Squirrel!]

Creative people often have trouble with their monkey brain taking over. They start on a project, in the middle of that project they get a new idea, and then they start working on that new project. Creative people often have UFOs (UnFinished Objects) because of all the ideas floating around in their head.

Unfortunately, allowing our monkey brain to rule is often confused with learning and attention disorders, because they appear similar. I won’t jump onto that soapbox in this article, but if you are interested in a quick synopsis, The Creative Mind website posted an excellent article, ADHD and the Creative Mind.

[Ooohhh, shiny]

See how the monkey mind works? Did you even notice I jumped topics? Heidi Hanna, PhD explains the monkey brain in more detail in her article Please Meet Your Monkey Mind. To combat the monkey brain, she recommends the following suggestions:

  • Eliminate the noise. Find a quiet place away from the TV, phone, and computer.
  • There is a great app called Breathe+ Relaxation and Breath Training by Dynamic App Design, LLC. It helps you visualize your breathing so you can relax and think clearly.
  • Try to do a physical activity every 90 minutes. I like running and going to the batting cages, but if I can’t get out of the office, I try to juggle a few stress balls.

The next time you feel your mind wandering or you feel overwhelmed with tasks piling up around you, throw a banana into a cage and lock the door when your monkey brain follows.