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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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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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