Article: Working memory: Your workplace performance engine

Learning & Development

Working memory: Your workplace performance engine

Working memory helps you produce an outcome in the form of a mental or physical action. Working memory is necessary for staying focused on a task, blocking out distractions, and keeping you updated and aware about what’s going on around you.
Working memory: Your workplace performance engine
 

working memory holds it all together for you so that you come away a winner, at least most of the time, and are able to apply the required amounts of attention to complete tasks and stay productive

 

Have you ever come out of an intense, agenda-driven meeting with colleagues, only to wonder what was it that you had to do next? Do you walk halfway to a colleague’s cabin and forget what you wanted to discuss? Or are you prone to starting a workplace task only to leave it midway and hop onto the next new email in your inbox? Are you finding it difficult to meet deadlines because of information overload and distractibility?

You may be struggling with poor working memory. Now, the word ‘working’ doesn’t imply we’re talking about memory in relation to work! Memory is an ‘executive’ function that impacts all aspects of our lives – personal, professional and social. Working memory, by definition, is a type of memory that allows the brain to store information for a short time and manipulate this information to take some action, such as complete tasks, solve problems, and answer questions. In short, working memory helps you produce an outcome in the form of a mental or physical action. Working memory is necessary for staying focused on a task, blocking out distractions, and keeping you updated and aware about what’s going on around you. Poor working memory causes attention problems that typically lead to the kind of scenarios mentioned at the beginning of this article.

OK, here’s a game. Memorize the following numbers:

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Now try remembering the numbers without sneaking a peek at the numbers.

The reason you were able to recall some of (if not all) the numbers is because of your working memory Remember: working memory helped you store the numbers in your brain for a short period of time and then helped you manipulate this information i.e., recall these numbers. Working memory is different from long term memory, a more commonly known type of memory, in the sense the latter holds information for a very long period of time.

If you haven’t started relating to working memory yet and its relevance for the work you do at your workplace, think of all the emails you need to read and respond to on a daily basis, deadlines to meet, meetings to participate in and conduct and other operational tasks that compete for your attention. Add senior role responsibilities for strategic thinking and personal stress, and you have the perfect recipe for compromised productivity and professional disasters!

Today’s workplaces are custom-made for distractions: Personal emails jostling for your mental space with social media updates on those smart phones (if your organization allows social media access on your work machine, even better!), habitual distractors such as WhatsApp (God forbid, if it’s a group that you’re a part of), office gossip (we don’t need the water cooler any more for this; mobile and email chat services, often ‘off-the-record’ offer adequate relief), furtive, guilt-laden online shopping, and interpersonal friction – all of these personal distractions at the workplace can regularly compete with your professional role, responsibilities and aspirations. There is only so much your brain can take, by way of information, distraction, stress and workload.

Fortunately, working memory holds it all together for you so that you come away a winner, at least most of the time, and are able to apply the required amounts of attention to complete tasks and stay productive. The bad news is research suggests we can lose around 10% of our working memory capacity for each decade we age after we turn 30.

The good news? Difficulties with working memory can be addressed and overcome! Enter Cogmed.

Cogmed is an online working memory training program that helps improve working memory which in turn improves your attention, leading to workplace gains in terms of increased productivity and workplace satisfaction. Created from cutting-edge science at the prestigious Karolinska Institute, Sweden, home of the Noble price for medicine, Cogmed is based on the concept of neuroplasticity, the idea that an individual’s brain can reorganize itself and change. Cogmed brings about this change by expanding one’s working memory capacity with scientific training.

Cogmed combines cognitive neuroscience with innovative computer game design and close professional support in the form of a coach, to deliver substantial and lasting benefits to the user. The substantial and lasting results obtained from Cogmed training have real-life applications. For users, this translates into improved productivity, more self-awareness and condence, besides better interpersonal relationships at work and home.

Cogmed is not only for working adults but for children as well. Different versions of Cogmed are available that are age-appropriate and engage users differently during the training.

Learn more about Cogmed at www.cogmed.com and decide if you’re content chugging along or wish to go full throttle at your workplace in terms of productivity and performance. Contact Sipika Khandka @ sipika.khandka@pearson.com for enquiries on using Cogmed in India and the subcontinent. 

 

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Topics: Learning & Development, Performance Management

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