How to Reboot Your Burnt-Out Brain

MC: Well, it sounds like you're doing better than I am. But that's OK because on this week's show, we're going to pass along some advice for sticking to those resolutions. And maybe I can pick up some tips.

LG: We could always use the extra help.

[Gadget Lab intro theme music]MC: Hi everyone. Welcome to Gadget Lab. I am Michael Calore, a senior editor at WIRED and I am joined remotely by my cohost, WIRED senior writer, Lauren Goode. Hello Lauren.

LG: Hello, hello.

MC: And we're also joined by WIRED service editor, Alan Henry. Alan, welcome back to the show.Alan Henry: Thanks for having me.

MC: Well, it's 2021, but chances are that you are in the same boat as you were in 2020, still stuck at your house, still waiting for the current pandemic to slow down as it's devastating communities around the country. At least now there's a glimmer of hope as vaccine rollouts move forward. We've given advice in the show before about how to work, sweat, play, and just exist at home during a lockdown without going insane. But this episode will be more holistic. We're going to be sharing advice and tips about how to maintain your sanity, stay productive and stay healthy while we all stick this out.

Maybe you even have some new year's resolutions along these lines that we can help you actualize. Later in the show, we're going to have some recommendations for specific gear that can help you find some peace of mind. But first, let's talk about some practical lifestyle tweaks that can get you there. So, Alan, you have this interesting title of service editor and here at WIRED, that means that you edit all of our coverage that we tag as reader service, which is usually like stories that you help people navigate their lives in the digital era. So you are our expert in this topic. So please tell us, what are some of the ways that you found, that you can pass along, to help people focus?

AH: So you're in trouble if I am your expert. But that said, one of the best tips, one of the first tips that I give to anybody when they're trying to get things done is to find the best time of day for you to be productive, find your best working hours. So there are a lot of people who get up early by nature of their job and they're really not a morning person. They're more productive in the afternoon. So they're just kind of muddling along and struggling in the morning. Don't force yourself to do that. Give it a good try, right, to try and get up early and get stuff done. But I work best in the middle of the night when the sun is down, that's when I just power through work. So in the morning I will just work on emails and I'll drink a lot of coffee and I'll just struggle through until the sun starts to wane closer to the horizon.

And then suddenly I get a burst of energy and I start getting things done. So if you're one of those kinds of people, definitely try to find a way to make the time of day that's best for you the time that you do the most work. I would also tell people to set little rituals for yourself, little things that get your brain in the Headspace that OK now is the time that I'm going to transition from doing nothing or something else to getting stuff done. I have a book that I am supposed to be writing and it's going, it's not necessarily going well, but it's going, and I like to brew a hot cup of tea before my writing sessions, because there's just something about the steam rising from the cup and it's all pretty and it's floating through the air and everything. It just chills me out and puts me in the head space of, OK, now it's time to write. Now it's time to be creative. Now it's time to float like steam off of the water. It's time to get busy. So those little rituals help out a lot.