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Published on December 29, 2020

Become a Pro at Thinking Strategically in 4 Simple Steps

Become a Pro at Thinking Strategically in 4 Simple Steps

Thinking strategically is boring—if you don’t know how to do it. Getting stuck feels bad and moving forward feels good.

In this article, you will learn how to never again have to feel that strategic thinking is boring by becoming a pro at it. First, you will learn how to improve the way your brain functions so that it helps instead of hinders you. After that, you will learn how to think strategically to achieve your goals.

Take a second to think about how improving your strategic thinking skills might help you in your life. What problems do you need to solve? What goals do you have? By understanding how to improve how your brain works, you can solve problems and achieve your goals more efficiently.

Thinking strategically is defined as a mental process applied by a person to set themselves up to efficiently achieve a goal in a specific context.[1]

For example, you might engage in the mental process of pondering how to read this article to the end without losing focus. Your pondering of this question is a distraction, so stop daydreaming, keep focused, and read on now!

Nah, just kidding. Seriously though, pondering how to read this article without losing focus is an example of thinking strategically. You are considering what things you can do to achieve your goal of efficiently finishing this article.

I’ll break the process of strategic thinking down more in-depth in steps 3 and 4 of this article. But first, here’s an overview of the 4 simple steps to become a pro at thinking strategically:

  1. Meditate to get a clear perspective.
  2. Use cognitive enhancers to sharpen your mind.
  3. Understand the problem/goal you want to solve/achieve.
  4. Find the most efficient methods for solving your problem.

The first two steps are about improving your brain function to get you into a state of mind conducive to strategic thinking, and the final two steps outline how to actually apply this mental superpower.

1. Meditate to Get a Clear Perspective

To think strategically, you will need a clear perspective on the problem you are going to try to solve and the methods available to you for solving it.

Meditation is an excellent way to clear any gunk out of your mind. Having a meditation habit can probably improve your strategic thinking skills in the long term, but it is actually in the short term that meditation has the most prominent benefits for thinking strategically.[2][3]

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I suggest that you meditate just before thinking strategically for anywhere between 10 seconds and 2 hours depending on the importance of the goal/problem that you want to think about.

Specifically, mindfulness meditation without any specific object of attention—just resting your mind and observing everything that comes into your consciousness as closely as possible—is the sort of meditation that tends to help me think more strategically as opposed to instinctively.

By deliberately observing your thoughts, you will become more and more aware of your assumptions and preconceptions in regards to the nature of the problem and the solutions to it that you’ve considered so far.

2. Use Cognitive Enhancers to Sharpen Your Mind

Cognitive enhancers—supplements that if used appropriately enhances cognitive performance for the user—can help you think better. These substances are often also called “nootropics” or “smart drugs”.

Many people have misconceptions about these, either believing that they are super-effective and should be banned to prevent people from cheating with them or that they don’t do anything at all.[4] Both of these beliefs are mostly wrong.

Some nootropics certainly can have cognitive-enhancing effects, but these are only extremely good if you are performing poorly, to begin with. Think of Caffeine for example. It doesn’t raise your IQ by 40 points, but it helps you think, especially if you haven’t used it in a while.

To use nootropics to think strategically, it is important to think strategically about using nootropics. What do you want to improve in your mental toolkit? Memory, focus, mood, energy, or stress levels?

I work at Nootralize, which is a company that helps people understand the science of nootropics. In our review of more than 500 placebo-controlled studies that examined the effects of more than 200 nootropics in healthy humans, we found that most nootropics that people use and claim enhance their mental performance are severely underresearched. This doesn’t necessarily mean that these substances are ineffective, just that the scientific data needed to know is not available.

Overall, the 5 most science-backed nootropics are Omega 3’s, Walnuts, Bacopa Monnieri, Caffeine, and Sage. But it’s important that you know why you want to use nootropics. Caffeine wouldn’t help you at all with decreasing stress levels for example, but Bacopa Monnieri might.[5]

There are even some nootropics, such as Cocoa and Lemon Balm, that might help you in your meditation practice.[6] Meditation and nootropics are just two of many science-backed methods for improving your brain function so that it can help you think more strategically.

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3. Understand the Problem You Want to Solve

A strategy is not an end in itself but a means to some other end. The trigger for you to start thinking “Aha! It’s time to think strategically!” is when you have just identified a problem.

When you have identified a problem that you want to solve, it’s time to understand the why, when, and where of the problem.

Ask yourself:

  • Why do you want to solve this problem?
  • When do you want this problem solved?
  • Where (in what context) do you want this problem solved?

For example, you could answer these questions by saying, “I’m trying to lose 10kg in 2021 because I think that will increase my day-to-day energy levels.” It is clear from this statement that you want to increase your energy levels and also want to solve the problem of how to lose 10kg. It is also clear that you want this done before the end of 2021, and that it is you and not your sister or Donald Trump that you want to change the weight of.

Getting clear on the context of the problem will enable you to compare the efficiency of the methods available for solving your problem.

4. Find the Most Efficient Methods for Solving Your Problem

To find the best solution to your problem, you will have to understand the underlying causes of the problem. What factors play a role in the problem at hand? What variables can, if manipulated, help you solve your problem?

What resources are needed for you to manipulate those variables? This can be people, money, time, energy, food, information, etc. Based on the resources you have available, you will have to find a way to economically solve your problem. To understand which method is the most efficient and economical, you need to compare your options.

Imagine you’re trying to learn chemistry. Specifically, you’ve identified that right now you want to learn the chemical formula for water in a short amount of time. You now understand what you want to do, when, and in what context. Now, it’s time to find an efficient method for learning the chemical formula for water.

The resources you have available are a glass of water, your phone which has internet access, and your mother, a biologist, who is sitting next to you ready to help.

How would you go about learning the chemical formula for water? Most people would probably not even try doing anything with the water to understand its chemical formula. But why?

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Water on its own doesn’t have any of the information that is necessary for you in your quest to solve your problem. You would need advanced chemistry tools and knowledge as well as quite a bit of time to find out the chemical formula for water with the help of the glass of water.

Would you ask Google or your mom?

For comparison between two options when there’s no clear winner in terms of efficiency in helping you solve your problem, a simple pro/con list can be very useful.

Your mother can answer your question, likely accurately, in a very short amount of time when you’ve asked her what the chemical formula for water is. Google can also answer your question, more likely accurately, but it would probably take longer to open your phone, open the web browser, type Google, hit enter, type “What is the chemical formula for water?” hit enter, select a good source, and read the answer.

This simple pro/con list could be illustrated in a table:

    When comparing options for solving your problem in practice, it quickly becomes clear that knowing the context of your problem is crucial. If you know that you’re looking to understand the chemical formula for water because you’re going to have a test on this in school next week, then you might accept the fast and high accuracy response from your mother.

    But if you’re going to hold a speech in front of the nation as the president of the United States, you likely will want to invest more time to get an answer that is definitely accurate.

    This is an example of why you need to fully understand the context of the problem you’re trying to solve before looking at methods for solving it. Thinking strategically allows you to understand the context of the problem.

    Pros/cons, revenues/costs, rewards/risks, benefits/side effects—all of these are terms that describe the positive and negative aspects of solutions or tools that can be used to solve problems.

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    In some circumstances, the problem is so small that it would take more time to create a pro/con list on paper or to create a clear definition of why you want to solve this problem, which is when a clear and sharp mind comes in extra handy.

    When Not to Think Strategically

    In the many situations that happen daily where small problems need to be solved, you can cut the time needed to select a solution to the problem down to the time it takes for you to think about the pros and cons of a problem.

    You likely do this more or less consciously already, but becoming aware that you are solving problems can help you take a step back—perhaps meditate for 10 seconds—and with a nootropic-fueled mind, see the entire list of pros and cons of the possible solutions to a problem in front of you.

    Thinking strategically takes time. People who are really good at strategic thinking know when thinking strategically is overkill.

    You don’t need to write a pro/con list for which pair of socks you will use tomorrow morning or even think of the pros and cons of the alternatives you have. Sometimes, it will give you the best results to just act and to do so quickly.

    I encourage you to think strategically now about which situations you want to think strategically about in the future. Personally, I find that the more important it is for me that a problem is solved and that the resources needed to solve the problem are used efficiently, the more strategically I want to think.

    If I had a test next week for which I needed to know the chemical formula for water, I would not get a pen and paper and create a pro/con list. It would take too much time relative to the importance of the problem. I would just act.

    On the other hand, if I wanted to use a nootropic, I would read quite a lot online and in the scientific literature about its risks and potential benefits because nootropics alter your biology and your biology creates your experience. Since my experience is very important to me, I would invest more time and effort in thinking more strategically.

    Conclusion

    To become a pro at thinking strategically, you need to when to think strategically and when to just act on instinct. To determine this, understand what sort of problem you have in front of you. When you’ve understood your problem in-depth, it is time to understand the solutions available and find the best one for your situation.

    To do these things flawlessly and efficiently, meditation and cognitive enhancers can be useful. They can sharpen your mind to the point at which thinking strategically is easy and fun.

    More Articles About Thinking Strategically

    Featured photo credit: airfocus via unsplash.com

    Reference

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    David Rönnlid

    David is the lead content creator at Nootralize, a company with a mission to help people feel and perform better.

    Become a Pro at Thinking Strategically in 4 Simple Steps

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    Last Updated on February 23, 2021

    5 Best Fish Oil Supplements to Buy For A Healthier Brain

    5 Best Fish Oil Supplements to Buy For A Healthier Brain

    There are many ways that we can make our brains healthier. We use our brains constantly, but we train them through studying, learning, and recalling, among other things. But the issue with these methods is that they only help support particular parts of the brain. They are specialized activities that require certain parts of the rain to work, but they do not support the brain as a whole. So, if you’re looking for ways to help every part of your brain, the best thing you can consider is getting the best fish oil supplements.

    Like with all kinds of supplements, fish oil supplements provide a high dosage of vitamins that help support and improve particular parts of your body.

    The Benefits of Fish Oil

    Fish oil is one of the most common dietary supplements used by people. Broadly speaking, these supplements are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are great for your health in many ways. Below are just some of their most important, proven benefits:

    • Studies show that those who eat fish are at a lower risk of experiencing heart problems.[1] Supplements like these are common and provide the same health benefits as eating fish
    • Omega-3 also boosts brain function, reducing various mental conditions like bipolar and schizophrenia.[2]
    • Fish oil supplements can also reduce weight and prevent type-2 diabetes and even some cancers.[3]
    • They can also help improve eyesight as our eyes greatly rely on omega-3 fats.[4]

    Why Fish Oil Supplements Help Boost Your Energy

    As you can tell from the benefits already, having high omega-3 levels greatly and positively impacts our brains. Not only can it prevent mental disorders, but it also has ways of alleviating mood swings, depression, and fatigue. Research shows that consuming lower amounts of omega-3s can result in more mood swings, fatigue, and depression.[5]

    Therefore, having a daily dose of fish oil supplements is a way of keeping yourself energized, especially since fatigue primarily stems from our brain. If your brain is filled with energy and isn’t feeling sluggish, your body will also feel the same way.

    How To Pick the Best Fish Oil Supplements

    When selecting some of the best fish oil supplements available on the market, we based our decision on the following criteria:

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    • High in Omega-3 – Every fish oil supplement will have Omega-3 and it’s a vital ingredient, but many brands vary on how much their products contain this fatty acid. We selected the ones that have a high amount.
    • Has multiple vitamins – Even though supplements are designed to have many vitamins, the benefits can be self-contained in certain areas and don’t synergize. The ones we selected provide benefits that help your body in multiple ways.
    • Purity – Supplements can often be grounds to include all kinds of unnecessary ingredients. The ones we picked are packed with only the essential vitamins you need.

    5 Best Fish Oil Supplements

    Here are the 5 best fish oil supplements we picked that you should definitely try:

    1. Infuel Omega 3 Fish Oil

      Our first pick of the best fish oil supplement available is the Infuel brand of Omega 3 fish oil. We have this available in our own stores because of the numerous benefits that it provides. Not only does it contain the Omega 3 healthy fats but also high EPA and DHA content that helps with the growth and development of the eyes, nervous system, and heart.[6]

      As such, you’ll find regular doses of these promoting brain and heart health. It also helps with maintaining healthy bones and joints and can help improve your skin and sleep cycle.

      Buy the Infuel Omega 3 Fish Oil Here.

      2. California Gold Nutrition Omega 3 Premium Fish Oil

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        Our second pick for the best fish oil supplements is the supplement provided by California Gold Nutrition. Their premium fish oil supplement has gone through a process where the supplement provides a respectable amount of EPA and DHA (360mg and 240mg respectively) as well as fish oil. It’s to the point where it’s recommended that you take two of these capsules per day.

        Their process also ensures that the softgels the supplement comes in are porcine, bovine-free, and don’t contain gluten, GMOs, and soy. Overall, if you’re looking for an option to having plenty of fish oil, this is a great option.

        Pick up California Gold Nutrition’s Fish Oil Supplement here.

        3. Sports Research Omega 3 Fish Oil Triple Strength

          For those looking for a higher dosage of fish oil, EPA, and DHA, one option is the fish oil supplement from Sports Research. Unlike the other options on this list, this fish oil supplement is marketed as a dietary supplement. The reason for that is because a single Omega 3 softgel already contains over 80% of your daily dose of fish oil as well as 950mg of EPA and DHA.[7] The dosage amount easily exceeds the Global Organization’s minimum contents of EPA and DHA.

          Beyond that, it’s also made from non-GMO ingredients, and it’s gluten-free. This fish oil supplement is also made from sustainable seafood.

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          Purchase Sports Research Fish Oil Supplement here.

          4. Natrol Omega 3 Fish Oil Natural Lemon Flavor

            One factor that people might have that we didn’t mention on the list is flavor. While what we offer is quality, sometimes, people can’t handle the flavor of some quality products. So, for those who have a particular taste for vitamins, one option to consider is Natrol’s fish oil supplement. This supplement offers a natural lemon flavor thanks to its natural lemon oil ingredient.

            Beyond that, you can expect a middle-of-the-road amount of EPA, DHA, and fish oil with the company suggesting to take one softgel two times a day with a meal. The only real downside to this particular supplement is that you’re giving up a few details and benefits for better flavor. Unlike the other supplements mentioned, this does contain gelatine from bovine, though it’s kept at a minimum.

            Buy Natrol’s Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplement here.

            5. Nature’s Bounty Fish Oil

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              The final fish oil supplement on this list is the one from Nature’s Bounty. Nature’s Bounty has been committed to people’s health for almost 50 years at this point, and this company is known for making trusted products that are well-researched, backed by science, and made from pure ingredients. Their odorless fish oil supplement is no different.

              Nature’s Bounty product is marketed as a dietary supplement so you can expect a higher amount of EPA, DHA, and Omega-3 in them than usual. Even so, it’s recommended to take two softgels two times a day. These supplements are non-GMO and gluten-free, too.

              Purchase Nature’s Bounty’s Fish Oil here.

              Bottom Line

              While training your brain via certain brain activities and eating plenty of healthy fatty foods will help, we understand that not everyone can meet their Omega-3 requirements. Some people may also have medical conditions that force them to take extra steps in maintaining a healthy brain. This is where supplements shine as they offer plenty of high dosages for the nutrients that your body needs and provide several other benefits as well.

              If you decide to choose any of the listed fish oil supplements, I assure you that you will get a good quality product to help boost your brainpower.

              More Articles About the Benefits of Fish Oil

              Featured photo credit: Anshu A via unsplash.com

              Reference

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