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Last Updated on January 13, 2020

How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter

How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter

Have you ever relied on a mental grocery list, only to forget one or two items after you’ve left the supermarket? Or what about an idea or thought that came to mind while you were making your way to work, and you tell yourself you’ll write it down once you reach the office, only to forget about it soon after?

Our memory, no matter our age, will fail us every now and then. Whether it’s trying to recall something quickly, or remember something long term, we will encounter memory blanks or slips.

Sometimes, when we have too much information to absorb, we go through what is called memory overload, and that also causes our minds to go into a blank, or we’re simply not able to grasp more information. That’s why your teachers will advise against cramming for exams at the last minute!

So how to increase brain power, improve your memory and become smarter? I’ll reveal the secret to this in a minute.

The Harsh Truth About the Human Brain

If you’re looking for ways on how to train your brain to boost memory, this is something you should know:

The reality is, our human mind was never made to memorize, store or recall a ton of information.

Back in the Stone Age, our brain was designed to process the environment around us and to anticipate danger around us. It was all about survival then: hunting for food, finding for shelter and safety away from harm and danger.

Over time, with developments and discoveries, our brains had to develop and get accustomed to what is around us. The amount of information we now have access to has grown exponentially over the Ages.

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Now, in the Age of Information, the cost of getting new info is so low that it happens right at your fingertips–resulting in information explosion!

Since we have the capability of info at our fingertips, the amount of information we have to process is ever-increasing. As technology has advanced, we now have to perform more complicated tasks, which require us to quickly retrieve information from our memory (writing, operating a relatively complicated tool, delayed information such as trading goods, signing contracts, etc.).

These days, our brains are less like survival organs and more like pattern recognition machines. They are now required to process enormous amounts of information, to make decisions, and to make connections amongst a myriad of information.

The Brain’s New Challenge

With this change comes new limitations to our brains. Because we have limited brain capacity, the amount of information grows so much that everything just passes through our mind without solid retention (Information overload), and we can’t tell what is useful or not.

We’re facing an unprecedented number of tasks to handle on a daily basis–resulting in mental energy that has to be distributed among many different things at once.

When it comes to memorizing, decision making or learning a new skill, which is more valuable to you? Which skills would you rather improve and build on?

How to Upgrade Your Brain

Here is where I’m going to help you to upgrade your brain. Yes, that’s right.

Like a personal assistant or secretary, I’m going to show you how you can boost brain power and give your brain an aid that will help you to effortlessly sort through all the information that comes to you on a daily basis.

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This brilliant aid is called the Digital Brain.

In contrast to a human brain, computers are great at storing information. It’s reliable (thanks to cloud computing), accurate, and extremely detailed.

From a computing perspective, memory involves three key elements:

  1. Recording — storing the information
  2. Organization — archiving it in a logical manner
  3. Recall — retrieving it again when you need it

Like a computer, having a Digital Brain will work in the same way as this memory framework to manage how information flows into and out of your brain.

Here’s an example:

When setting up a new account on a website, due to strict security settings, many sites require you to come up with complicated passwords with special characters that you don’t usually use.

As a result, you now have to memorize this new password (Record), associate it with the other passwords that’s stored in your brain (Organize), and enter that password the next time you log in (Recall).

Even in this simple example, there are several parts in the process which will make it all too easy to forget. Because this new password is unique, we have a hard time recognizing it with our regular patterns. And if we don’t use the password everyday, it’s easy to forget it after a few days. One day you’ll try to recall the password but enter the incorrect one over and over again.

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Sound familiar? It’s one of the most common things that happen.

Is it because the information is complicated? Nope. A password is just a bunch of characters, numbers, and symbols.

It happens because our brains are not made to memorize. With a Digital Brain, you can delegate it to do the heavy lifting.  

Making Room for Learning and Creativity

Many people get confused with storing versus learning in this Digital Age.

Learning requires spaced repetition, applying different learning models and then applying those skills. Whereas storing means having information in a ‘library’.

When you go to a library, you borrow a book to find a specific piece of information. When you’re done with it, you put it back. With a Digital Brain, this becomes your personal library of knowledge.

With your brain now freed up from having to store information, it can focus on more crucial aspects like learning, decision making, problem solving and making meaning out of all the incoming information.

Wouldn’t this be much easier for you to get things done on a daily basis? Whether it be something as trivial as getting your groceries, or something more complex like planning out what’s needed for a project you’re working on. Your Digital Brain will help you effortlessly organize it.

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Here at Lifehack, we’ll teach you how to set up a system to record, organize and recall information effortlessly. You’ll also learn how to build a habit to rely on your Digital Brain like second nature, all in a step by step manner.

A Digital Brain for Everyone (No Matter How Old You Are)

I’m sure some of you might be wondering if this is really for you. You may be well into your 50’s or 60’s, and going digital isn’t something you’re keen to keep up with.

Well, the good news is that having a Digital Brain isn’t reserved for Millennials or the younger generation. There are many layers to the Digital Brain, and the interesting thing is that it’s constantly upgrading according to new advances in technology.

So, you get to pick how much of a Digital Brain you want to adopt into your existing lifestyle. Age need not be a barrier when it comes to adopting a Digital Brain! 

At Lifehack, we’ll go over how to make the most of your Digital Brain to think smarter and learn faster. Learn more in our FREE webinar: Spark Your Learning Genius (Fast Track Class)

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on July 29, 2020

How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership

How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership

Have you been thinking of how you can be a more strategic leader during these uncertain times? Has the pandemic thrown a wrench at all your carefully laid out plans and initiatives?

You’re not alone. The truth is, we all want some stability in our careers and teams during this disruptive pandemic.

However, this now requires a bit more effort than before and making the leap from merely surviving to thriving means buckling down to some serious strategic thinking and maintaining a determined mindset.

Is There a Way to Thrive Despite These Disruptions?

Essentially – yes, although you need to be willing to put in the work. Every leader wants to develop strategic thinking skills so that they can enhance overall team performance and boost their company’s success, but what exactly does it mean to be strategic in the context of the times we live in?

If you happen to be in a leadership position in your organization right now, you are most probably navigating precarious waters given the disruptions caused by the pandemic. There’s a lot more pressure than before because your actions and decisions will have a much greater impact these days not just on you, but also to the people who are part of your team.

Companies often bring me in to coach executives on strategic thinking and planning. And while pre-pandemic I would usually start by highlighting the advantages of strategic thinking, nowadays, I always begin these Zoom coaching sessions by driving home the point that this pandemic has now made strategic thinking not just an option but an absolute must.

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Assessing and making plans through the lens of a good strategy might require significant work at first. Nevertheless, you can take comfort in the fact that the rewards will far outweigh the effort, as you’ll soon see after following the 8 strategic steps I have outlined below.

8 Steps to Strategic Thinking

As events unfold during these strange times, you’re bound to feel wrong-footed every now and then. Being a leader during this pandemic means preparing for more change not just for you, but for your whole team as well.

As states and cities go through a cycle of lockdowns and reopening, employees will experience the full gamut of human emotions in dizzying speed, and you will often be called on to provide insight and stability to your team and workplace.

Strategic thinking is all about anticipation and preparation. Rather than expending your energy merely helping your company put out fires and survive, you can put the time to better use by charting out a solid plan that can protect and help you and your company thrive.

Take the following steps to build solid initiatives and roll out successful projects:

Step 1: Step Back, Then Set the Scope

One of the things that leaders get wrong during their first attempt at strategic thinking is expecting that it is just another item on a checklist. The truth is, you need to take a good, long look at the bigger picture before anything else. This means decisively prioritizing and stepping away from tasks that can be delegated to others. Free up your schedule so you can focus on this crucial task at hand.

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Then, proceed with setting the scope and the strategic goals of the project or initiative you plan to build or execute. Ask yourself the bigger question of why you need to embark on a particular project and when would be the right time to do so.

You need to set a timeline as well, anywhere from 6 months to 5 years. Keep in mind that your projections will deteriorate the further out you go as you make longer-term plans.

For this reason, add extra resources, flexibility, and resilience if you have a longer timeline. You should also be making the goals less specific if you’re charting it out for the longer term.

Step 2: Make a List of Experts

Make and keep a list of credible people who can contribute solid insight and feedback to your initiative. This could range from key stakeholders to industry experts, mentors, and even colleagues who previously planned and rolled out similar projects.

Reach out to the people on this list regularly while you work through the steps to bring diverse insight into your planning process. This way, you will be able to approach any problem from every angle.

Bringing key stakeholders into this initial process will also display your willingness to listen and empathize with their issues. In return, this will build trust and potentially pave the way for smoother buy-in down the line.

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Step 3: Anticipate the Future

After identifying your goals and gathering feedback, it’s time to consider what the future would look like if everything goes as you intuitively anticipate. Then, lay out the kind and amount of resources (money, time, social capital) that might be needed to keep this anticipated future running.

Step 4: Brainstorm on Potential Internal and External Problems

Next, think of how the future would look if you encountered unexpected problems internal and external to the business activity that seriously jeopardize your expected vision of the future. Write out what kind of potential problems you might encounter, including low-probability ones.

Assess the likelihood that you will run into each problem. To gauge, multiply the likelihood by the number of resources needed to address the problem. Try to convert the resources into money if possible so that you can have a single unit of measurement.

Then, think of what steps you can take to address these internal and external problems before they even happen. Write out how much you expect these steps might cost. Lastly, add up all the extra resources that may be needed because of the different possible problems and all the steps you committed to taking to address them in advance.

Step 5: Identify Potential Opportunities, Internal and External

Imagine how your expected plan would look if unexpected opportunities came up. Most of these will be external but consider internal ones as well. Then, gauge the likelihood of each scenario and the number of resources you would need to take advantage of each opportunity. Convert the resources into money if possible.

Then, think of what steps you can take in advance to take advantage of unexpected opportunities and write out how much you expect these steps might cost. Finally, add up all the extra resources that may be needed because of the different unexpected opportunities and all the steps you committed to taking to address them in advance.

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Step 6: Check for Cognitive Biases

Check for potential cognitive biases that are relevant to you personally or to the organization as a whole, and adjust the resources and plans to address such errors.[1] Make sure to at least check for loss aversion, status quo bias, confirmation bias, attentional bias, overconfidence, optimism bias, pessimism bias, and halo and horns effects.

Step 7: Account for Unknown Unknowns (Black Swans)

To have a more effective strategy, account for black swans as well. These are unknown unknowns -unpredictable events that have potentially severe consequences.

To account for these black swans, add 40 percent to the resources you anticipate. Also, consider ways to make your plans more flexible and secure than you intuitively feel is needed.

Step 8: Communicate and Take the Next Steps

Communicate the plan to your stakeholders, and give them a heads up about the additional resources needed. Then, take the next steps to address the unanticipated problems and take advantage of the opportunities you identified by improving your plans, as well as allocating and reserving resources.

Finally, take note that there will be cases when you’ll need to go back and forth these steps to make improvements, (a fix here, an improvement there) so be comfortable with revisiting your strategy and reaching out to your list of experts.

Conclusion

A great way to deal with feelings of uncertainty during this pandemic is to anticipate obstacles with a good plan – and a sure road to that is practicing strategic thinking.

In the coming months and years, you’ll need to continue navigating uncharted territory so that you can lead your team to safe waters. Regularly doing these 8 steps to strategic thinking will ensure that you can prepare for and adapt  to the coming changes with increasing clarity, perspective, and efficiency.[2]

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Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

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