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Brain Food – Eat For Productivity

Brain Food – Eat For Productivity
increase brain power with food

    The brain is a hungry organ, it’s cells requiring two times the amount of energy than that of other cells in the body. To work well and efficiently throughout the day, this energy level must be kept high enough so not to cause mental stress and exhaustion.

    So we’ll look at simple ways to keep your brain working effectively throughout your day so your work doesn’t suffer. When the brain doesn’t become stressed it can work continuously so not to sabotage your daily workflow. For this discussion we will assume you work most of the day, morning to evening.

    Breakfast

    It’s no secret this is the most important meal of the day. We all know it, but how many of us take it to heart. We’re too busy right? It’s OK, there are shortcuts.

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    Coffee in the morning sounds like a good idea. The boost is fairly instantaneous for a few reasons. Firstly, the caffeine. Caffeine does increase the capacity for mental and physical labor. However, this is short lived, with a demanding drop of energy caused not long after. Do you drink a few cups before the morning’s end?

    Sugar also plays a part in the morning coffee. However, this sugar is part of the simple carbohydrates family which does fuel the brain, but only for a short period of time. What we want to get early in the morning is some complex carbohydrates.

    Fruit is an excellent source. Instead of a short burst of energy these carbohydrates have long chains of sugar molecules that the body breaks down gradually, releasing glucose to fuel the brain over time.

    If you’re strapped for time in the morning, as we all tend to be, a bowl of fruit is a much better energy source that will start the brain working. Mental exercise drains glucose, so feeding your glucose level throughout the day, with fruit, is a great way to keep energy levels up all day. Watery and crunchy fruits are low in calories and can be eaten all day, any time. Berries and citruses are highest in complex carbohydrates and also antioxidents which reduce the risk of cognitive impairment.

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    Later on in the morning something with more protein, a cereal, will do the same to keep energy in the brain all day. A piece of toast or sandwich does the same, directly improving memory and attention.

    A cereal with fruit is a very quick and easy breakfast to kick start your day. With productivity in mind, we want to spend little time preparing food at the beginning of our day, so we can enter work-mode as soon as possible.

    Lunch

    As mentioned earlier, breads and fruits do well. Vegetables do much of the same good as fruit. Glucose levels alter during cooking so sticking to a salad may be better. Think about adding an egg to the mix. Egg yolk is a leading source for choline, a nutrient that, recently, has been proven to boost brainpower by speeding up the sending of signals to nerve cells in the brain.

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    If possible, a larger lunch is better than a big dinner; use your time after work to rest and eat lightly. Although you could prepare for the next 6-8 hours of fasting – otherwise known as sleep – by stocking up on food, this can disrupt your sleep. A lighter meal before bed will lead to an easier and deeper sleep. Stick to a good breakfast and lunch to get keep you fed.

    Fish is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which builds gray matter and cell membranes. Reportedly, these fats can also help emotional balance and a positive attitude throughout life. And you already know, stay away from junk food.
    Ending lunch with a yogurt helps produce neurotransmitters, improving signals amongst neurons. Complementing this with nuts [particularly walnuts] balance omega-3 acids with omega-6’s while neutralizing blood sugar levels.

    Drink

    While eating food for the brain, it is important to keep hydrated. At least 80 ounces of water every day reduce stress hormones. Drinking non-caffeinated tea, like green tea, relaxes the brain and induces mental alertness. A juice, such as grapefruit juice, has the same affects for the brain as fruits and vegetables along with the hydration benefits.

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    While softdrinks provide that quick boost of sugar, it won’t last and will lead to a noticeable decline in brain energy later in the day. After drinking [or eating] something high in sugar, your pancreas starts to secrete insulin which triggers cells throughout your body to pull the excess glucose out of your bloodstream and store it. This sucks glucose from the brain which leaves it without energy, known as hypoglycemia. As a result your ability to focus decreases, leaving you weak and confused, unable to think properly.

    Moderate alcohol consumption enhances blood and oxygen flow to the brain. This isn’t an immediate improvement, so don’t try and convince your boss drinking before work will improve your workflow. However, at the end of the day, a glass or two can relax the brain and ease yourself into the end of the day. Gradually, and most importantly, moderately, alcohol consumption has various mental benefits.

    Above All

    Moderation is the key. They say nothing is bad for you if done in moderation, so there isn’t a need for a huge change in your diet. What you may realize is your diet lacks many foods that stimulate mental growth and productivity. If you’re sluggish in the morning, there is definitely room for improvement.

    Enhance brain power with a an increase in these foods that keep your brain running on high, and slow down on the others. Fruit’s cheap, put a bowl next to the mouse.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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