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7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Memory & Creativity

7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Memory & Creativity

In today’s world, information is everywhere. Seems like wherever you go – in the real world or online – there’s always something new to learn. Maybe you have a burning for new discoveries. A tangible FORCE that grips around your soul. You don’t know what that is, yet… Still, the thirst for knowledge remains.

Kind of like getting lost in Wikipedia and thousands of other “encyclopedia-like” sites out there. Or getting lost in the madness of an annual fair. And you’re hell-bent on meeting as many exciting, new, refreshing characters as possible. Or maybe you’re like me, able and willing to dive nose-first into a good, thick book. Not just any book, though. No, this book is special. It captures your imagination… and like the mischevious force it is, doesn’t let you go. Whatever the reason you’re on the prowl for knowledge, the fact remains: we may be suffering from an “info overload”.

You don’t need to be told that millions of people are having trouble focusing, multi-tasking, and boosting their cognitive functions. You hear about it every day, no matter where you go. Here are a few small and easy practices you can start TODAY, to bring your ‘memory cells’ back to life and energize your creative spirit like you never thought possible.

  1. Work Your Brain Out

Think of bodybuilders. Do they get to that massive mastodon size by sitting around all day? N’sir! They hit the iron, they feed their body right, and they train their muscles to endure absolute hell. Doing the same to your brain probably isn’t smart. The point remains: training your brain by giving it a workout keeps your brain growing and developing.

So, how exactly do you train your brain? Simple!

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You can Google a bunch of brain-training apps… play brain-training games… and (shocker!) work out. More effectively learn & practice the oldest & purest form of meditation – Vipassana. Light cardio in the morning clears the cobwebs from your brain. Exercise being good for physical AND meditation being a luxury for mental health.

  1. Count Sheep

Believe it or not, catching some Z’s and chasing sheep is the easiest way to improve your mental health. Would prestigious magazine Men’s Fitness lie?

A clear and alert brain helps us to focus and remember more information. Getting enough sleep on a regular basis allows us to take in more information. Sleep helps solidify memory.

  1. Take A Chill Pill

What seems like a no-brainer… Might make you a no-brainer. Stress plays a monumental part of depreciating the parts of your brain responsible for memory. Plus, actively seeking out stressful situations (or spending time with miserable people who cause you nothing but) is just bad news. For anybody.

Interestingly, the nootropic world is an exciting one to be a part of – partially paving the way towards reclaiming your memory and sending your thinking skills on overdrive. Nootropics are cognitive enhancing supplements that can increase your attention span, help you focus and can work as a studying aid. Other “smart drugs” have unappealing side effects; nootropics are safe, so long as they are used properly.

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There’s so much natural and synthetic compounds can do to improve not just your memory, not just your focus, but the very essence of your creativity.

  1. Make Time For Naps

Yep, naps. Power naps. A good forty-five minutes or just twenty minutes; however long you want to; the important part is to nap after you’ve worked hard at the office or home.

Don’t forget, your mind is a powerful machine. It needs time to digest any and all new information you throw at it. We already know what good sleep does to our brains. Why not speed up the “sponge” process of memory recall by taking naps throughout the day?

  1. Hit The Road

Yes, walking doesn’t just make you healthier. Physically and mentally. It helps clears writer’s block and spurs creativity!

A doctor and a professor found that about sixty percent of people (out of 176 altogether) “scored higher” on divergent thinking creativity activities as opposed to the folks who sat down while they performed the activities and tests. How does walking help your brain? It helps the same way exercising does! When you walk, your heart pumps faster, sending more blood and oxygen throughout your body. Your brain and all other organs get an extra dose. Walking helps create new connections between brain cells and increases the region of your brain used for memory.

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I personally spend a good twenty minutes, minimum, at the crack of dawn to take a stroll. This is before the mayhem of automotive chaos begins.

  1. Play Those Tunes

It goes without saying by now that music boosts both creativity and mental focus. In anybody, at any age, at any time whatsoever. Hit up YouTube and see many “study or concentration music” playlists designed specifically for this reason.

You’ve also heard about playing classical music to help you during math and science quizzes, right? Einstein believed it was a good idea! Playing classical music (right brain) while taking a math test (left brain) helps connect the two hemispheres of the brain. Listening to classical music also increases cognitive skills. You get a basic brain boost!

  1. Smile and Relax

Learn to let go and let the chips fall where they may. Remember, our brains are COMPLEX organisms. They can’t be firing on all pistons for long. Personally, the creative muse has visited me more than once when I accepted myself, felt good about the world, and learned how to stop thinking so much.

And to boot, remaining calm and consciously choosing to keep a positive spin on things… believe it or not… rewires central neurons in your brain. This rewiring is responsible for “moulding” your brain through use of associations with feelings and stimulation.

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So, if your memory is sharper and more focused when you’re in a blissful state… You’re training yourself to feel that way more often. Win win.

Conclusion

By no means is this list exhaustive. Like I said, these are quick and easy “down-and-dirty” gems and “hidden” tricks you can use (today!) to jumpstart your creative process. While simultaneously beefing up your memory recall. Obviously, there’s much, much more to talk about. To learn about and discover. Maybe that’s a journey we can take together some other time.

Featured photo credit: all-len-all.com via all-len-all.com

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Making Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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