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Want To Have Better Focus And Do Everything More Efficiently? Learn These 3 Tricks

Want To Have Better Focus And Do Everything More Efficiently? Learn These 3 Tricks

Your morning seemed to stretch on forever. It’s finally lunch, but between fielding phone calls and answering emails, you realize you didn’t get that much accomplished. Maybe after lunch, work will go smoother. It doesn’t. Sound like an all too familiar scenario? You feel like you’re pedaling a bicycle like a competition cyclist in the Tour de France, yet you appear to be getting nowhere. We all desire to be more focused at work and perform our tasks more efficiently. We want to be better at our jobs, more caring in our relationships and aim for living a more meaningful existence, yet our goals keep getting disrupted, our lives interrupted. With three simple tricks, you can tweak your way into achieving better focus and do everything with more efficiency.

1.Turn off all of the notifications on your devices

Time commitment: Less than 1 minute

This is by far the easiest hack, requiring less than a minute of your time. Removing distractions will help you to focus better. The constant beep of an incoming email, the buzz of a new like on Instagram and those slew of friend requests are stealing your concentration. Go to ‘settings’ on your phone and turn them off. All of them. They are simply distractions that are taking you away from something more important.

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If the thought of living without your notifications becomes too much to bear, don’t panic, the likes and notices will still be there for you to view later. Set aside a time when you can check your notifications; do so and then switch off that phone and return your focus to living the life you want, not one that is ruled by bleeps and buzzes.

2. Avoid reading your emails first thing in the morning

Time commitment: One week

You get to work, grab your coffee and switch on your computer. What do you do next? If you are tempted to check your emails – stop! Studies[1] show that people are more creative and focused first thing in the morning. Don’t waste that precious energy getting sidetracked and stressed by reading emails. Instead, choose a task to focus on and hold off for thirty minutes or more before opening that inbox on your computer. You will become more productive, accomplish more and be able to focus better if you leave reading those emails until later.

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In an experiment[2] involving workers and emails, it took five days of email deprivation before the test subjects lost their desire to read their emails! So yes, email reading can be an addiction and you may have to wean yourself from it. The more emails you have, the higher levels of stress you suffer, but checking emails less frequently reduces stress.

Removing emails from your daily life for one week can make an improved difference to not only your health but also your efficiency. Take that time to focus completely on your work, on your family and friends. Though completely removing emails from your life may be counter-productive, pick a time during the day that you can dedicate to reading your emails.

3. Set aside time to meditate daily

Time Commitment: 2 to 10 minutes a day for 8 weeks

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If someone told you that you could change your life, your health, your focus and it didn’t require a shot in the arm, a bitter pill to swallow each day or brain surgery, would you try it? Why wouldn’t you? 8 weeks is all it takes to change your brain. Meditation not only makes you healthier and less stressed, it also changes the entire makeup of your brain.

8 weeks of daily meditation is all it takes to shrink the flight-or-fight primal instincts of your brain and grow the prefrontal cortex- that place associated with decision making and concentration. By meditating, you are literally altering your brain for the better! You no longer just react to situations. Your brain creates a response time gap or pause between the situation and your actions become thoughtful instead of instinctive knee-jerk.

Studies[3] show that people who have been regularly meditating for 8 weeks have the same brain patterns when they are not meditating as those people who are in a state of meditation. Meaning, as a regular practitioner of meditation, you constantly exist in a calm, meditative state whether you are actually meditating or not. Makes you want to go ‘om,’ right? But you don’t have to start Buddhist chanting to receive these benefits; simply focusing on your breath for a minute or two will help. There are apps available now that can guide you along the way with carving out time to meditate, like the popular Headspace 2.0.

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How much time are you ready to dedicate to improving your life? From less than a minute of finger-swiping the notification bars on your phone to daily meditation for eight weeks and beyond. Want to focus better and become more efficient in everything you do? Make the commitment to change your life.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash at Pixaby via pixabay.com

Reference

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Sally White

writer, artist & blogger

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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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