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If You Want to Be Productive, You Should Have More Quiet Time When You’re Busy

If You Want to Be Productive, You Should Have More Quiet Time When You’re Busy

The pace of life in today’s world has become non-stop. And the world has also got louder.

Radios and TVs constantly blare out. Congested roads fill our environments with engine noise. And even at work, there is a steady stream of noisy interruptions.

With our auditory senses under relentless attack, it’s no wonder that…

You’ve Become Too Busy to Have Quiet Time

All that noise. Have you ever considered what it’s doing to your ability to think and be productive?

You may suppose that a noisy and busy environment helps you to work – but to be truly creative and productive you must find quiet times.

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A recent study by Duke University Medical Center found that silence is associated with the development of the hippocampus (a brain region associated with learning and memory).[1]

Research undertaken by physician Luciano Bernardi found that two-minute intervals of silence between music resulted in more stable respiratory and cardiovascular systems, compared to even listening to “relaxation” music.[2]

It’s clear that quiet times are essential to our physical, emotional and mental health.

But…

You’re Probably Struggling to Find Solitude and Silence

I sympathise. Your kids never stop screaming, your dog never stops barking, and your life is just endless noise and distraction.

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If you work in an open-plan office, then there are constant interruptions. If you live in a busy, family home, then there are constant disruptions!

Even if you escape your office or home, the shops and cafés that you may choose to visit are also filled with people, noise and disturbances.

It’s a genuine challenge to find quiet times. But there are ways you can achieve this.

Let’s take a look now at…

The 7 Best Ways to Find Quiet Time – Even When You’re Busy

Quiet time is essential if you want to reach your peak creativity and productivity.

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Here are my recommendations:

1. Wake up early.

Time management is everything. And this starts with waking up early! If you make this a habit, you’ll not only find yourself ahead of the pack, but you’ll also be blessed with a peaceful period of time that is perfect for clear and creative thinking.

2. Take a walk in the park.

If your work never ends, then you’ll never find time to relax. Don’t let this happen to you. Instead, make a point of taking regular breaks. If you live or work near a park, then this gives you a wonderful opportunity to walk in nature. You’ll definitely benefit from the exercise, fresh air and change of scenery.

3. Leave your headphones at home.

Do you wear headphones when you’re commuting to college or work? If you do, then you’re starting your day off in a noisy fashion. Try leaving your headphones at home, and instead, give you mind chance to work on solutions to problems. You may find that your commute becomes your most productive time.

4. Switch off your mobile device.

Everywhere you look – people are staring at their mobile devices. Many of them seem to be hypnotized. Let’s be honest, most of us have become addicted to breaking news, social media updates, and even the latest version of Pokémon Go! These things can be fun, but they shouldn’t be taking over our lives. Try this test: Switch off your mobile phone for a full 24 hours, and see how much more relaxed and productive you feel.

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5. Book a meeting room for yourself.

Office work can swing rapidly from typing at a desk to talking in meetings. With this constant to-and-fro, it’s hard to ever feel calm and collected. However, I have a suggestion for you. Why not book a meeting room just for yourself? That way, you can choose to either work on your laptop in peace and quiet – or simply enjoy the silence for 10 minutes or so.

6. Find time for meditation.

You don’t need to be a guru to practice meditation. In fact, it can be as easy as just finding time for quiet contemplation. Many highly successful people use this technique, including Hugh Jackman and J.K. Rowling. The benefits of silent periods are many. You’ll likely have more energy, more focus and deeper thoughts. And once you become familiar with the inner bliss that comes from this practice, you may decide to enroll on a meditation retreat.

7. Go to bed early.

I advised you to wake up early. And the best way to do this – is to go to bed early! By doing this, you’ll build powerful self-discipline, and also find yourself with regular spells of quiet time. If you go to bed early, you can use the minutes before you sleep as a way to clear your thoughts from the day, and allow new ideas to come to mind. One added benefit: Going to bed early means you’re likely to sleep deeper.[3]

There’ll always be busy times in your life, but make sure to balance these with regular periods of tranquillity.

You’ll be amazed at how much calmer you feel – and how much more productive you’ve become.

Featured photo credit: ABC News via abcnews.go.com

Reference

More by this author

Craig J Todd

Freelance Writer helping businesses and people to thrive.

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Last Updated on October 17, 2018

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?

If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.

Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)

So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.

1. Meditate

We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds.

Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.[1]

Fortunately, meditation can help you out.

Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.

And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

2. Get plenty of sleep

If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then I’m guessing you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.

How much sleep should you be getting?

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Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.

Now, I’ll be honest with you, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!). But if you care about improving your short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?

Yes, there are.

Try these three things:

  • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
  • Don’t eat too late
  • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory…

3. Challenge your brain

When was the last time you challenged your brain?

I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or undersleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games.

To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself, has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.

There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

  • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it, try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

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4. Take more breaks

When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively remember working all the hours under the sun – and many under the moon too!

At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat and tears.

However, I was wrong.

Taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

Let me explain.

Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it – in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.

It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.

What’s the answer?

Make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.

5. Learn a new skill

I love this quote, as it’s 100% true – but frequently overlooked:

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

Let me give you an example of this:

Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you – rather than letting you work in your own way.

Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction in to learning a new skill (computer coding). It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.

Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.

6. Start working out

If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory.

Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

“But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.

Not a problem.

A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines.[2] So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.

Interested in getting started?

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Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

  • Join a gym
  • Join a sports team
  • Buy a bike
  • Take up hiking
  • Dance to your favorite music

7. Eat healthier foods

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

This applies to your brain too.

The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health too.

Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.

Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain – leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

Want to be mentally healthy? Then eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

  • Turmeric – helps new brain cells grown
  • Broccoli – protects the brain against damage
  • Nuts – improves memory
  • Green tea – enhances brain performance, memory and focus[3]
  • Fish oilfish oil supplements can increase your brain power

Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

Final thoughts

I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.

You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.

But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.

Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

Reference

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