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8 Weird, Science-Backed Ways To Improve Your Focus And Productivity

8 Weird, Science-Backed Ways To Improve Your Focus And Productivity

So you’ve found yourself slacking off at work or school and are wondering what you can do to improve your focus or productivity. You’ve heard all of the old methods: drinking coffee, exercising, getting a good night’s rest, etc. While those simple tips may work for most, they simply do not work for some. Here are 8 science backed ways to increase your productivity that you’ve probably never even thought about trying.

1. Listen to Video Game Music

Video game music is designed to keep you focused on completing a task while being a minimum distraction. If you think about it, how many times can you recall losing focus while trying to complete a level in Mario? There are many types of gaming soundtracks available for free, you just have to choose the right one. You can read this article on video game music and its impact on focus to learn more.

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2. Hit the Gym After Studying

While working out might be the last thing on your brain while studying for a studies have shown that those that do can recall information better the next day. According to the study even light exercise may help with retention.

3. Dress to Impress

Sure it may seem only natural to want to study in a sweater and sweat pants. However, studies have shown that those who dress up have less problems paying attention. According to the study students that wore white lab coats while doing tests made about half the errors as those who were wearing regular clothes. Will the white coat method work for you? It could be worth a try.

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 4. Work in Natural Light

While we all can’t have an office with windows, you should always make it a point to get some fresh air and sunlight during the day. According to a recent study :

“Compared to the afternoon, people who had DL (Daylight) were significantly more alert at the beginning of the evening, and subjects who were exposed to AL (Artificial light) were significantly sleepier at the end of the evening.”

So if you’re having trouble staying awake or focused, just take a quick trip outside. Chances are it will help you wake up significantly.

5. Crank Up the Heat

We all hate being too hot, however, chances are that if the office is frigid you’re not being as productive as you can. What is the science behind this? To put it simply, your body uses more energy to keep warm when it’s cold in the office. That means there is less energy left for focus and concentration. According to this study workers made nearly 44% more errors and were half as productive when the temperature were set at 68F as opposed to those working in 77F conditions.

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6. Go Green

If you’re having trouble focusing in your office or cubicle try bringing a little greenery into your life. Studies have shown that offices with greenery are 15% more productive than undecorated offices. Not only does it improve productivity but the study also concluded it improved morale and the overall perception of air quality in the office.

7. Look at Cute Animals

A study in Japan has concluded that looking at simple pictures of cute animals can improve productivity. The study tested individuals and their performance after looking at pictures of cute baby or adult animals. They concluded there was an increase in performance in those test subjects after viewing the pictures. According to the study:

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“the cuteness-triggered positive emotion that is associated with approach motivation and the tendency toward systematic processing.”

8. Make. Everything. Yellow.

Well, not everything of course. But studies have shown that the color yellow increases concentration and alertness. Why? Because it is the color most associated with happiness. Just a simple poster or photo of some yellow flowers may be enough to boost your concentration and focus throughout the day.

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Colby Almond

Professional

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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