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10 Hacks to Increase Your Brain IQ, Focus and Creativity

10 Hacks to Increase Your Brain IQ, Focus and Creativity

Becoming smarter is what a lot of people look for. While joining brain training programmes is an option to increase your IQ, focus and creativity, it can be quite expensive. Luckily there are plenty of free brain training hacks you can learn to make your brain smarter.

In this article, I’m going to introduce to you 10 free brain training hacks that will boost your brain performance and make you smarter.

The importance of brain training

The fundamental building block in the brain is the neuron. By learning ways to enhance the building block, we open a new frontier for understanding the power of our brain. Author of Brain Building: Exercising Yourself Smarter by Marilyn vos Savant remarked,

“Building your brain power will open a new frontier beyond which lies an understanding that seems nearly incalculable.”

So, what’s the point?

We can improve our brain power and intelligence through certain brain training exercises.

You might be wondering:

In our busy life, how can I find time to do this?

The answer is simple and it’s not that difficult.

Brain training is simply cognitive training using exercises to improve your brain power. By improving your brain power, you will find that your IQ, focus, and creative skills will increase as well.

Let’s take a look at how you can improve your brain power through brain training.

Brain training hacks that will make you smarter

Here are 10 brain training hacks you can use now to make you smarter tomorrow:

Hack #1. Learn by teaching

In Mindhacker, Ron and Marty Hale-Evans argue that we should learn by teaching.

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“Before you can teach an idea, you must understand it. Therefore, teaching situations can be proving grounds for your own knowledge. Accelerate your learning of a subject by agreeing to teach it.” – Ron and Marty Hale-Evans

How to make this work:

  1. Dive deep into a concept by breaking it apart (analysis) and putting it back together (synthesis).
  2. Find a way to teach the content. If you have the appropriate education, try teaching an online course. If not, try teaching a new idea through places such as Udemy.
  3. Use innovative systems thinking tools to conduct analysis and synthesis and to teach your course. Read my other article to find out how you can explain ideas clearer to others: How to Explain Things Better and Make Others Understand Your Ideas Easily

Hack #2. Learn by writing

One of my favorite methods for learning and increasing intelligence is writing. By writing or blogging on a new topic, I force myself to break apart concepts. I then piece them back together by writing about them.

How to make this work:

  1. Start writing for a blog (i.e. Lifehack.org) or start your own. A great place to start writing is on Medium.com.
  2. Dive deep into a concept by breaking it apart (analysis) and putting it back together (synthesis).
  3. Write about the content you are learning and pay close attention to the feedback you receive once published.

Hack #3. Physical exercise

Physical exercise will not only improve your body, but it will also improve your brain power. Neurogenesis is the birth of new neurons in our brain. Exercise increases the levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which supports neurogenesis.

How to make this work:

  1. Start an exercise routine. Read my article This 24 Hour Workout Will Leave You Thinking, Looking And Feeling So Good for more ideas on how to start one.
  2. Change your diet. Eliminate refined sugars and start taking vitamins to improve the functioning of your brain.

Hack #4. Listen to audiobooks

My favorite hack to use along with physical exercise is audiobooks. I am always plugged into an audiobook. While exercising, driving, cutting my grass, chores, and just about any other activity.

How to make this work:

  1. Purchase wireless running headphones.
  2. Sign up for a free app connected to your local library e.g. OverDrive. Checkout audiobooks through this free app.
  3. Purchase audiobooks at a discount through Audible.com. If you are unable to find your audiobook free through OverDrive, purchase the books here.
  4. Download the app (or a similar app) Natural Reader, which is a free text to speech online app allowing you to convert text to audio. Essentially, you can convert an online article, a pdf, a word document, and similar files to an audio.
  5. Step #5. After you have listened to an audiobook for a while, try bumping up the speed of the book.

Hack #5. Read smarter

Start reading books faster and smarter. There are certain ways you should read a book. Some books should be read faster than others.

How to make this work:

  1. Skim the book first. Start with the title page, the inside of the cover, the table of contents, then the back of the book.
  2. Identify the author’s main theme (and main points within the book). Ask yourself the question “why” throughout the book. For example, “Why is the author arguing this point?”.
  3. Throughout the book and at the conclusion of the book, ask yourself three questions:
    – What? What happened in the book?
    – So What? What was the key takeaway?
    – Now What? What can you do with this new information?

Hack #6. Reason backward

Maurice Ashley, Chess Grandmaster, discussed the importance of retrograde analysis or reasoning backward in the following Ted Talk:

Let’s look at an example of reasoning backward.

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Read the following sentence:

After reading this sentence, you will realize that the the brain doesn’t recognize a second ‘the’.

Now read the sentence again. Did you notice that you missed the second ‘the’?

Our mind is logical and proceeds forward, so we don’t see the second ‘the’; however, if we read the sentence backwards we will always catch it.

“What is out of the common is usually a guide rather than a hindrance. In solving a problem of this sort, the grand thing is to be able to reason backward.” – Sherlock Homes, A Study in Scarlet

Hack #7. Quick and easy math tricks

Let’s examine some quick and easy math hacks that should be (but are not) taught in school.

Easily multiply any two-digit number by eleven:

32 x 11

Simply add the first two digits: 3 + 2 = 5

Place the 5 between the 3 and the 2 and you have your answer: 352

32 x 11 = 352

ii. Easily add two digit numbers:

84 + 57

Add 84 + 50 = 134

Then add 134 + 7 = 141

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84 + 57 = 141

iii. Easily subtract three digit numbers:

645 – 372

Take 645 – 400 = 245

Then add 28 (or 20 then add 8) as 400 – 372 = 28

245 + 20 = 265 + 8 = 273

645 – 372 = 273

iv. Multiplication guestimation

Another powerful trick is multiplication guesstimation.

88 x 54 is approximately 90 x 50 = 4500

This is much easier to multiple as 9 x 5 = 45

The correct answer is: 88 x 54 = 4752

For more math tricks like this, I recommend the book Secrets of Mental Math by Arthur Benjamin and Michael Shermer.

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Hack #8. Think – Try – Learn

    In Mindhacker, Ron and Marty Hale-Evans discuss a powerful tactic called Think – Try – Learn.

    • Think: Theorize, Predict, Plan
    • Try: Test, Observe, Record, Play
    • Learn: Analyze, Define Meaning, Change, Grow

    The following is an example of this method from Alphapunk.com:

      Hack #9. Brain training apps

      Elevate

      and Lumosity are brain training programs designed to improve our focus, speaking ability, processing speed, memory, math skills, and much more.

      Both programs come packed with more than 40 games and puzzles designed to improve our critical thinking and cognitive skills.

      A comparison of the two apps can be found here:[1]

      Elevate

      • Pros: Personal tracking, has the feel of a mobile game, available on iOS and Android, and app of the year for 2014
      • Cons: Poor graphics and only comes in English

      Lumosity

      • Pros: Fun and good memory improvement games, strong brand recognition, progress tracking, available on ios, android and pc, and used in over 180 countries
      • Cons: Expensive, repetitive, and have issues with iOS/Android app synch with desktop

      Hack #10. Learn a new language

        Learning a new language is one of the most powerful ways to improve your intelligence and cognitive capacity.

        I recently came across a fantastic new app called Chineasy Cards. This program makes learning Chinese both fun and aesthetically pleasing. The design principles are stronger than any other language app I have previously came across. I highly recommend this app if you are interested in learning Chinese.

        Brain training is powerful

        Brain training is a powerful (yet simple) way to improve your brain power, IQ, creative thinking, and critical thinking skills.

        As Marilyn vos Savan said,

        “The mind can stretch. It can be strengthened, toned, and conditioned to perform miracles for you.” – Marilyn vos Savant

        By using these 10 easy brain training hacks, you will find that you have the basic building blocks to increase your brain power.

        Reference

        More by this author

        Dr. Jamie Schwandt

        Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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        Last Updated on January 24, 2020

        10 Good Habits To Have in Life To Be More Successful

        10 Good Habits To Have in Life To Be More Successful

        Habits are behaviors and patterns that you showcase by default. They enable you to carry out crucial activities like taking a shower, brushing your teeth, getting prepared for work.

        Interestingly, you follow this routine every day without considering them. Your unconscious habits create room for your brain to perform more advanced activities like problem-solving and choosing what book to read.

        Everyone has habits, and several of those habits are activated every day. I would classify them into three groups:

        • The first category includes the habits that you hardly notice as they have become a major part of your life- such as brushing teeth or wearing clothes.
        • The second category comprises good habits to have to be more successful-like eating healthily, exercising your body and reading books.
        • The last group consists of those habits that are harmful-like procrastinating, smoking or overeating.

        Habits are fundamental to becoming successful in life — or probably ending up a failure. Yet, as significant as habits are, some lack the knowledge of their capabilities.

        Habits are default activities that you engage in without giving an afterthought. They are automatic behavioral or mental activities. They help you carry out some actions without exerting too much energy. They simplify your life.

        Several people aspire to break bad habits. For instance, some people diet to stop overeating. They exercise to reduce obesity. Habits can hinder or impact your performance and productivity.

        That’s why I would share 10 good habits to have to be more successful in life.

        1. Begin Your Day with Meditation

        I recommend mindful meditation early in the morning. This practice helps you to be in the present moment. Consequently, it enables you to be mindful of challenging situations during the day.

        Different stressors may trigger as you go through the day; meditation helps you to remain calm before taking on the challenges.

        Personally, it helps me to devise strategies and think about ideas. Meditation is a good habit to have if you want to be connected to what’s significant in your life.

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        2. Be Grateful for What You Have

        Sometimes, you waste time thinking of what’s not enough. You become immersed in those daunting challenges. However, challenges justify the presence of hope. When you have life, you have expectations. You will be free from challenges when you are six feet under. The only strategy you have to stop focusing on your problems is to focus on what you have.

        Gratitude is a time-tested pathway to success, health, and happiness. It redirects your focus to what you have from what you lack. Here’s what James Clear does every day,[1]

        “I say one thing I’m grateful for each day when I sit down to eat dinner.”

        3. Smile

        Can you pause and smile before you continue reading this?

        Now here is what just happened based on research conducted by the Association for Psychological Science; you set a pace for living a happier life when you smile. A genuine smile or what’s called a Duchenne smile is a good habit to have if you want to find spiritual, emotional and mental peace of mind.[2]

        Smiling induces the release of molecules that function towards fighting stress. The physiological state of your body determines the state of your mind. When you slouch or frown, your mind takes cues relating to unhappiness and depression. But, once you adjust yourself by putting up a smile, you begin to feel a new level of excitement and vibrancy.

        Can you smile again?

        4. Start Your Day with a Healthy Breakfast

        Starting your day with a healthy breakfast is a good habit to have and forms a crucial part of your life. Nevertheless, about 31 million Americans skip their breakfast each day.[3]

        If you are fed up hearing that breakfast is a crucial component of your day, you are only fighting the truth. If you want to become more successful, you need to ‘break your fast’ with healthy foods every morning.

        This habit is not difficult to form if you usually rush out the door every single morning. You can wake up earlier to fix yourself a meal so you don’t break down during the day.

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        Get inspired by these 20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time.

        5. Exercise Daily

        One of the good habits to have is to exercise your body and muscles every day. You don’t have to run a marathon or lift a weight. You only need to engage in less strenuous activities that oxygenate your blood and inject endorphins in your body.

        Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, classified exercise as a good habit to maximize his already jam-packed schedule.[4] He said,

        ‘I wake up by 5, meditate for 30 minutes, seven-minute workout times three, make coffee, and check-in.’

        He said on Product Hunt that he follows this routine every day as it gives him a steady-state that empowers him to be more productive.

        6. Manage Your Time as You Manage Your Finance

        Another good habit is the act of managing your time effectively. This goes a long way to impact your achievement.

        Time management is what separates the successful from the rest of the world as we all possess the same amount of time. How you leverage time determines your potential to succeed in life.

        So how do you manage your time effectively?

        Here’s Jack Dorsey’s recommendation in one of the Techonomy events;

        “I accomplish effective time management by theming my days and practicing self-discipline. These themes help me handle distractions and interactions. If a request or task does not align with the theme for that day, I don’t do it. This sets a cadence for everyone in the company to deliver and evaluate their progress”.

        And this is Dorsey’s weekly theme:[5]

        • Monday – Management
        • Tuesdays – Product
        • Wednesday – Marketing and growth
        • Thursdays – Developers and partnerships
        • Fridays – Culture and recruiting
        • Saturdays – Taking off
        • Sundays – Reflection, feedback, strategy, and preparing for Monday

        No wonder he was able to run two companies when others were struggling with one job.

        7. Set Daily Goals with Intentions

        Everyone has goals. It may relate to business or personal life. The truth is, we’re all tending towards a particular direction or another. Nevertheless, while long-term goals can offer you direction, it’s your daily goals that you establish that help you develop short-term goals that are essential for your success.

        Long-term goals may not give you the motivation you need to keep on. But when you implement your short-term milestones daily, you become fired up, and you can overcome the challenges that come with taking on bigger tasks.

        Here’s the main truth:Successful people don’t set goals without establishing their intentions. According to Jennifer Cohen of Forbes,[6]

        “What helps you to achieve your desired expectation is ensuring intentions accompany your daily goals.”

        Be intentional about your daily goals!

        8. Seek Inspiration

        It is usually difficult to be inspired for a considerable length of time. Sometimes, you become discouraged and feel like giving up on your goals when things are not working out as intended.

        A practical approach to stay on top of the situation is to inspire yourself each day. When you wake up in the morning after meditation, watch some motivational videos, and let the story of great leaders inspire you.

        Establish what Anthony Robbins called the ‘hour of power.’ Determine how many minutes you spend but make it count. Inspiration is the fuel for achievement because when you can conceive it in your mind, you can accomplish it.

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        Michal Solowow, an investor and the founder of Mitex, a construction company puts it this way,[7]

        “The problems I encounter in everyday life motivates me to find solutions. This is a self-propelling mechanism. becoming a billionaire was never a motivating factor.”

        9. Save Steadily, Invest with All Prudence

        I can exhaust the good habits to have without talking about saving and investing. Most times, you overlook the significance of saving for the future when you are living in your present moment. According to CNBC, a $1000 emergency will propel several Americans into debt.[8]

        However, it is not enough to save, and you must invest your fund and be wise with it. If you pay attention to this now, you will set yourself for a life of success in the future. Ensure you save at least six months in your emergency account so you can be prepared for any future emergency.

        10. Budget and Track Your Spendings

        Benjamin Franklin warned of taking the precaution of little expenses. He said,

        “A small leak sinks a great ship.”

        It is easy to discard little expenses, but the truth is they always add up. This happens when you fail to budget.

        Budgeting is a good habit to have, which can impact your financial life significantly. The money you spend on extravagant lifestyles can be saved and invested in your future.

        The Bottom Line

        Endeavor to cultivate these good habits to have to become more successful as you journey through life. The quicker you cultivate them, the faster you achieve your goals.

        More About Habits

        Featured photo credit: Andrijana Bozic via unsplash.com

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        Reference

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