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7 Biohacks to Make You A Productivity Machine

7 Biohacks to Make You A Productivity Machine

Have you had a freshly brewed cup of coffee this morning? If yes, then you just hacked your biology to supercharge your performance. Coffee, i.e. caffeine, is by far the easiest biohack that most people have been doing for centuries. There’s many other easy biohacks not enough people do, which can massively increase your productivity levels, starting today!

These tweaks are small enough for you to implement right away. Anyone can do them and I split each biohack into a technique for beginners (the more hesitant biohackers) and the advanced (experienced biohackers).

If your lifestyle is too complex to give all of these a try, don’t worry. Even just one of the tweaks on its own can instantly increase your productivity and performance:

1. Upgrade Your Sleep

Getting enough sleep is by far the most important investment you can make. As action-taking high performers we tend to sleep less to create more time in our day, but of what quality? Accumulating sleep debt reduces our cognitive abilities, concentration and productivity.

Fortunately there are a couple of biohacks that can help you get those precious 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep night after night.

Beginners can do:
Take a magnesium supplement right before going to sleep. This essential mineral boosts recovery, helps relax the body and ensures you sleep like a baby.

The obvious: wear a sleeping mask and earbuds. In terms of evolution, our eyes and ears haven’t had enough time to adapt to the ever louder noise and light pollution we live with today. So a light and noise blocker is the easiest hack to avoid waking up frequently or waking up tired.

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Advanced:
Make your bedroom a no-screen zone. Screens from our devices emit blue artificial light which can disrupt melatonin production and make it harder to fall asleep. Whilst your best bet is to stop using devices an hour or two before bed, you can also minimise the negative effects of blue light by wearing blue-light blocking glasses. Many established brands are now producing these, such as Swannies.

2. Start Your Morning On A Fresh Note

Now that we’ve upgraded your sleep, it’s time to build on that momentum by improving your morning routine too.

If this technique sounds crazy to you, consider that it is a natural way to keep the immune system in check, it helps regulate body temperature and blood glucose levels. Finally, it helps you truly wake up and get charged up for being productive.

The technique I’m talking about? It’s cold thermogenesis, by taking cold showers.

Beginners should start at:
Warm-to-cold showers. Alternating from very warm to very cold for the last few minutes of your shower.

Advanced:
Cold showers. Gradually reduce water temperature until it takes your breath away, then stay under it for a few minutes.

You can expect to feel your energy levels spike as you go on to have a productive day.

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3. Reimagine Your To-Do List

Know that feeling of overwhelm when you think of how many things you’ve got to do? This is when your productivity crashes, especially if you’re not prioritising your to-do’s. You should always be prioritising. Based on the Pareto efficiency, just 20% of the actions you take produce 80% of your results. So it’s important that you invest quality time into those 20% and allow to come up on your to do list organically.

You’ll need to be strict with yourself to really adopt this habit of focusing on fewer things to do. However, to your advantage, the brain is an ever changing canvas of processes. So don’t hesitate to start rewiring bad habits.

Beginners should start with:
Instead of the typical bullet point list, do a simple Pareto efficiency division every morning to outline what must be done vs what could be done. You should do this for at least 66 days in order to instil the habit, according to research from the UCL on habit formation.

Advanced:
Identify just ONE thing you need to do today that will get you closer to realising your goals. Not only will being so super-focussed make you more efficient, but you’ll also build up momentum by completing an important task every day, thus actually reaching the goals you’ve set for yourself. As with the beginners above, practice focussing on one thing first for at least 66 days to instil the habit.

4. Boost Your Focus with Nootropics

Nootropics, also better known as ‘smart drugs’, are supplements that enhance neurotransmitter processes in the brain. In essence they can boost your ability to focus which also impacts productivity.

Sounds risky? It needn’t be. You see, even your usual cup of coffee can be considered a nootropic.

Recommended for beginners:
Coffee. If you want an extra boost to your mental performance, add a teaspoon of coconut oil, MCT oil, or grass fed butter to your cup of coffee. These fats are broken down by your liver into ketones, the particles your brain loves, giving you an extra boost of energy.

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Advanced:
Many brands offer pill-based nootropic supplements. Some of the better known are: Alpha Brain, Ciltep, Aniracetam, Piracetam etc. All of these should be taken cautiously according to the instructions on the back of the bottle.

5. Upgrade Your Body Mechanics

We feel tired if we’re slumped in our office chair all day. Not only does bad posture cause us pain but it also makes us unable to breathe deep and thus supply the brain with enough oxygen to be productive. The key to overcoming bad posture is to hack the big chunk of your day that you spend sitting in the office – your office hours. We need to eliminate the constant sitting and move more.

Beginners should:
Set an alarm or reminder every 45 minutes to stand up and walk or stretch for 5-10 minutes.

Advanced:
Invest in a standing desk. Note that standing all day isn’t beneficial either. The key to better mobility and performance is to switch positions regularly: from standing to sitting, to walking and so forth.

6. Use Technology to Help Productivity

As noted before your mind is built on dynamic processes and your cells are refurbishing even while you sleep. You virtually wake up a new person every morning. This means you have all the power in the world to make yourself more productive. To harness that power, you need to constantly condition yourself in a variety of ways which will help you to maintain your ability to focus, achieve more and produce better results.

Fortunately technology can come in handy when you need some help with that conditioning. The following tech-biohacks are famous among productivity thought leaders.

Beginners should start with:
Use the Pomodoro timer technique to condition your mind into a routine of focussed work followed by a short rest. It doesn’t take many of Pomodoro sessions to find yourself delivering outstanding results in the same amount of time you had before but which you couldn’t use as efficiently.

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Advanced:
Listen to binaural beats. Via two different pure-tone sine waves, these beats are designed to trigger certain responses in your brain: from relaxing to working.

7. Unlock the Flow

Once you have all those biohacks listed above ready, you will experience an advanced state of focus and productivity. The last missing piece of the puzzle is achieving flow – the state where you lose a sense of time and experience pure joy in doing what you do best.

To access flow, you will need to condition your mind using similar approaches as above: you’ll need to set the right environment and avoid interruptions.

Beginners should start on:
Setting up your environment to work: no visual distractions in your sight and no phones that will buzz when you need to finish something important. Most importantly, you should concentrate on one task at a time.

Advanced:
The more time you spend in the state of flow the better able you will be to come back into that state whenever you’re working. To allow for an easy transition from distracted to super-focussed, you need to clear your mind. This is where meditation can help, independent or guided through apps such as Calm and Headspace.

Which of these are you implementing today?

Featured photo credit: Bethany Legg via unsplash.com

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How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

His motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • He riles up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

Becoming the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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