Skip to main content

Mental Capacity Planning

In today’s endless chase for productivity, the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin hits hard.

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”

But in our pursuit of persistence, we often overlook the crucial component of energy, particularly mental energy. This oversight leads us into a trap of constant exertion with diminishing returns.

The secret to breaking free? Mental Capacity Planning.

Let’s dive:

The problem we’re ignoring

For too long, entrepreneurs have been in a battle against time.

They try every hack and hustle to squeeze more productivity juice out of every minute. But they hit a wall. It’s not just time constraints but energy mismanagement. Traditional techniques focus on doing more, often at the cost of our mental performance.

Mental capacity planning

Research shows that our brains are not built for marathon sessions of intense work.

Instead, they thrive on sprints — focused bursts of effort followed by rest. This is the cornerstone of Mental Capacity Planning, a strategy that’s about optimising your day for performance and a greater return on effort.

Don’t overlook the science of energy management

Imagine your brain as a smartphone battery, where tasks are apps draining your energy.

Some tasks, like lightweight apps, use minimal energy. While others significantly drain your mental battery. The key to maximising your day lies in understanding two limits:

  • Session Limits, the length of time we can focus intensely
  • Daily Limits, the cap on the amount of deep, quality work we can do before performance dips

The cost of ignorance

Persisting beyond our mental capacity can lead to Excitotoxicity.

Excitotoxicity is a buildup of the Glutamate neurotransmitter. Prolonged intense focus damages neurons, affects cognitive functions, memory and learning abilities.

But you know what is worse?

You may not even know it’s happening to you.

Excitotoxicity is exciting and toxic. You believe you’re killing it. You’re getting shit done.

This false positive can deceive us into overworking, leading to long-term brain changes and diminished returns from our efforts.

You think you’re killing it, but you’re killing your brain and your performance.

High-Impact work in fewer hours

With Mental Capacity Planning, your work becomes high-quality, and you end your day knowing you’ve made the most impact without sacrificing your evenings and weekends.

This approach allows for growth without the grind, achieving more in less time.

Apply Mental Capacity Planning

  1. Execute in Session Sprints:
    • Work in 45-60 minute sessions
    • Then a 5-15 minute break to prevent Glutamate buildup and refresh your brain
  2. Have a Deep Work Diet:
    • Limit deep work to a maximum of 4 hours per day, focusing on quality over quantity.
  3. Understand the Impact of Your Efforts:
    • Track your daily deep work time to adjust your workload before reaching overload

Lou Holtz once said,

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

Understanding and applying Mental Capacity Planning allows us to carry our capacity more effectively, leading to powerful impact.​

All Articles