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Brain Power

10 Hacks to Increase Your Brain IQ, Focus, and Creativity

Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker
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Many people aim to become smarter. While joining brain training programs is an option to increase your brain 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 IQ and help you achieve your goals.

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. Marilyn vos Savant, author of Brain Building: Exercising Yourself Smarter, remarked:

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

The idea is that we can improve our brain power and intelligence through certain brain training exercises. Brain training is simply cognitive training using exercises to improve your brain functions and problem solving skills. By improving your brain power, you will find that your brain IQ, focus, creativity, and working memory will increase as well.

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

Brain Training Hacks to Increase Your IQ

Here are 10 brain training hacks you can use now to boost your mental functions and IQ scores:

1. Learn by Teaching

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

“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. If you don’t have access to a course, simply try explaining the idea to a friend, spouse, or child.

Before you teach a concept, it’s a good idea to dig a bit deeper into how to quickly grasp a new concept, skill, or idea. You can do just that in this Lifehack Fast-Track Class: Spark Your Learning Genius

2. Learn by Writing

One of my favorite methods for learning and increasing brain IQ 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, 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.

3. Get 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.
  2. Change your diet by eliminating refined sugars, and start taking vitamins to improve the functioning of your brain and body.

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, doing 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. After you have listened to an audiobook for a while, try bumping up the speed of the book.

5. Read Smarter

Start reading books faster and smarter to increase your brain IQ. There are certain ways you should read a book, and some books should be read faster than others.

How to make this work:

  1. Skim the book first by starting with the title page, the inside of the cover, the table of contents, and 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, ask yourself three questions:
    – What happened in the book?
    – What was the key takeaway?
    – What can you do with this new information?

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. 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

7. Quick and Easy Math Tricks

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

Easily Multiply Any Two-Digit Number by 11:

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

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

Multiplication Guesstimation

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.

8. Think, Try, Learn

10 Hacks to Increase Your Brain IQ, Focus, and Creativity

    In Mindhacker, Ron and Marty Hale-Evans discuss a powerful tactic called Think – Try – Learn[1].

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

    If you’ve ever done a science experiment, you’ve likely engaged in this type of thinking. You predict what will happen while planning the experiment. Then, you carry out the experiment, observing what happens and recording the results. Once the experiment is over, you analyze the outcomes and grow your knowledge.

    This idea can be applied to just about any activity in life and helps you utilize each bit of an experience to grow your brain IQ.


    9. Brain Training Apps


    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 brain games and puzzles designed to improve our critical thinking and cognitive skills.

    A comparison of the two apps can be found here:[2]

    • 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
    • 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 sync with desktop

    10. Learn a New Language

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

    When you learn a new language, your brain IQ will increase as your thinking becomes more flexible. This type of learning will force you into an analysis of the way you use your native language, and what needs to be altered in the new language in order to make yourself understood.


    The Bottom Line

    Brain training is a powerful (yet simple) way to improve your brain 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.”

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

    More on Increasing Your Brian IQ

    Featured photo credit: Jeremy McKnight via unsplash.com


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