024. Neuromanagement Insights: Rethinking Busyness as the Holidays Approach

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As the holiday season whirls into full swing, we find ourselves caught in a dizzying array of deadlines and demands. 

Picture this: You're racing against the clock to wrap up year-end projects, hunting for those perfect gifts, and planning a well-deserved vacation – all while trying to cram what feels like four weeks of work into three. It's a familiar scenario for many of us, isn't it? This hectic time magnifies our often complicated relationship with 'busyness.'

But here's a thought-provoking twist: What if our ceaseless hustle, this badge of honor we wear so proudly, is not the hallmark of success and fulfillment we've long believed it to be? 

Neuroscience, with its illuminating insights, invites us to pause and reconsider this paradigm. Let's embark on a journey together to decode this phenomenon and rediscover the true essence of productivity and well-being during this festive season and beyond.

The Neurochemistry of Busyness

Dopamine – The Double-Edged Sword: Often dubbed the 'reward molecule,' dopamine fuels our drive for achievement. When we complete tasks, we get a dopamine hit, reinforcing the cycle of busyness. However, this can lead to a relentless chase for the next 'high,' trapping us in a cycle of perpetual doing.

Cortisol – The Stress Hormone: In our quest to juggle multiple tasks, cortisol levels spike, keeping us in a state of heightened alertness. While useful in short bursts, prolonged exposure to cortisol can lead to burnout, impacting our decision-making and wellbeing.

Serotonin – The Mood Moderator: This neurotransmitter plays a key role in our feelings of happiness and relaxation. Constant busyness can disrupt serotonin balance, leading to feelings of discontent and restlessness.

Redefining Productivity for the Holiday Season and Beyond

As we embrace the holiday spirit, it's the perfect opportunity to rethink our approach to busyness:

  • Embrace Joyful Moments: Disconnecting from work allows serotonin to restore our mood and wellbeing. This holiday, prioritize activities that genuinely bring joy and relaxation.

  • Cultivate Calmness: Mindfulness practices reduce cortisol levels, bringing a sense of calm and clarity. Whether it's a quiet evening by the fireplace or a mindful walk in the snow, find ways to decompress.

  • Savor Achievements, Big and Small: Acknowledge your accomplishments this year. This recognition can provide a healthy dopamine boost, affirming your efforts without pushing you into the next cycle of busyness.

  • Plan for Purposeful Engagement: As you look to the new year, consider how you can align your activities with your passions and purpose. This approach ensures that your busyness is meaningful, not just a race against the clock.

  • Holiday Togetherness: Collaborate and share tasks during holiday preparations. It's not just about efficiency; it's about building connections and sharing the load, making the season brighter for everyone.


As leaders, managers, and HR professionals, let's lead by example this holiday season. By understanding the neurochemical underpinnings of busyness, we can shift from a culture of constant doing to one of mindful achievement and genuine wellbeing. Here's to a holiday season filled with balance, joy, and a renewed perspective on what it means to be truly productive!


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2024 Economic Forecast: From GDP Gyrations to Global Unrest

For the last time this year, we rolled out the red carpet for the all-star team at Odeon Capital Conversations: The indomitable team of Dick Bove, Mat Van Alstyne, and John Aidan Byrne! From the geopolitical tug-of-war in Ukraine and Gaza, to the commercial real estate buffet nobody’s eating at, to the labor strikes and layoffs, let’s say we covered a lot of territory in just 60 minutes. This is one of our best conversations, which is saying a lot with the top-notch guests that have been visiting the Geeks Geezers and Googlization Show stage!

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Can I Ask A Favor?

Thanks for joining me again as I continue my myth-busting journey through the fascinating labyrinth of the human brain. I hope you’re enjoying my Brain Guide to Bossing series on debunking neuro-management myths enough to share this with just two connections.

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