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Last Updated on October 12, 2017

“You Must Stay Offline To Read This” Offers You A Peaceful Place to Stay Focus and Read

“You Must Stay Offline To Read This” Offers You A Peaceful Place to Stay Focus and Read

Keeping up with a constant onslaught of notifications and texts is exhausting. We live in an age in which our phones have the same functionality as our computers. People can reach out to us 24/7.

The constant disruptions are overwhelming. Even when I am able to put aside email and turn off my notifications, I still get distracted. Looking up a piece of information can result in a 45-minute trip down the internet rabbit hole. Sitting still and staying focused for even ten minutes can seem like a Herculean feat. It can be hard to concentrate and consume meaningful content when we have so much content at our fingertips.

Not only does this constant wave of distraction feel terrible–it’s bad for us. When our attention becomes divided by the busy online world, we have trouble forming memories and thinking deeply.[1] We’re actually reprogramming our brains to perform on a shallow level by jumping from notification to notification.

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It’s time to unplug

Even though we live in a world in which you’re more likely to see people staring at their cellphones than interacting with one another, it’s possible to read offline. There’s no law that says that you must frantically scroll through social media when you’re waiting for your friends, standing in line at the grocery store, or hanging out at the bus stop.

Before smartphones became popular, we used to live offline most of the time. It’s still possible to do this–even with technology in our pockets. Many apps that you love already include offline functions so that you don’t have to use data or be connected to Wifi.

If you need further proof that reading from sites offline is the way to go, check out Chris Bolin’s Offline Only page. A friend sent the link to me, and I was immediately intrigued. When you go to the site, you’ll see the screen below.

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    It’s worth taking a look at what Mr. Bolin has to say about reading offline. The post will take you about two minutes to read, but it can transform your relationship with the internet. You can use this site to make unplugging a habit instead of just a novelty.

    Going offline promotes inner peace

    I didn’t realize how frazzled I felt all the time until Offline Only forced me to disconnect. For two solid minutes, I was focused on the words in front of me. I didn’t nervously click to other tabs or jump to notifications. I simply took in the words and felt my mind relax.

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    Being forced to unplug helped me connect to the present moment. This brief window of mindfulness helped me recognize that I needed to change the way I interacted with the internet.

    It was so satisfying to be able to step away from all the static of modern life and allow myself commit my attention fully to one thing. We are all capable of doing this. Even those of us who stay online for work can benefit from stepping away from the internet once in a while.

    Use the concept of going offline in other aspects of your life

    Unplugging from technology can radically change the way that you experience life. When you make the conscious choice to silence your phone and stop answering emails after hours, you give yourself the gift of the present.

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    I’ll admit that I get frustrated when I see a group of friends or a family at lunch together spending more time looking at their phones than talking to each other. Whenever you allow a notification to disrupt an in-person conversation, you send the other person the message that the notification is more important than they are. You miss out on the possibilities that come with being in the moment.

    Our personal relationships and our work benefit from taking time away from the internet. The more often you use sites like Offline Only to practice focus, the more you strengthen neural pathways in your brain related to concentration. You can undo the damage of years of mindless internet-surfing by adjusting to a lifestyle which revolves more around the quality of your attention than the quantity of items you view online in a day.

    Every distraction costs you time that you can’t get back

    A recent study found that the average worker gets interrupted once every three minutes and five seconds. A person can lose an astonishing 6.2 hours of productivity to the process of being interrupted, working to refocus, correcting errors from disruptions, and battling exhaustion from being so distracted.[2] Many of these disruptions are likely the result of unnecessary notifications that you can easily switch off.

    Don’t squander the here and now through mindless scrolling. Practice focusing every day. Build the habit of being mindful and unplugging with Offline Only, and you’ll be amazed at how much your work and relationships will improve.

    Reference

    More by this author

    Brian Lee

    Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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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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