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How to Boost Your Brain Power

How to Boost Your Brain Power
Books

Have you ever noticed that some people effortlessly learn new concepts and materials while others struggle? Napoleon Bonaparte learned the names of thousands of his loyal soldiers. World champion chess players can replay games in their mind from years ago. I have often wondered how these intellectual marvels have accomplished such great feats.

Some were born with extraordinarily high IQ’s, but certainly not all.

Fortunately, there are a number of techniques that will help you to learn faster, study better, and begin absorbing information like a sponge.

Here are 7 tips to get you started.

1. Teach Someone Else.

If there’s something you want to learn, try teaching it to someone else.

Traditional studying helps you to memorize ideas but teaching it to someone else forces you to truly ‘get’ all of the concepts and apply them to a number of solutions. To teach others you must anticipate any potential questions and explore the topic from all angles. Teaching others will dramatically increase your own understanding.

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2. Write an Article.

It’s easy to learn about something in a book. However, it’s a completely different story to write an article or even a book about a particular topic. If you want to become an expert in the topic of your choice, write a book about it. This will allow you to explore every aspect of what you are learning. By writing about it you will soon begin connecting new ideas with things you already know, creating an interlinking web of knowledge.

3. Start a Blog.

Start a blog that talks about your experiences with a subject in order to increase your learning. I have found that starting my own blog has been the greatest learning experience of my entire life.

Writing a blog requires you to learn information backwards and forwards and then explain it in plain English to others. If you are looking to take your brain power to the next level, then I would highly suggest that you start your own blog.

It is sure to be one of the most intellectually stimulating activities you ever do.

4. Treat Your Body Well.

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When you’re trying to increase your learning speed, you need to make sure you are feeding your brain – quite literally. The brain is a part of your body that requires plenty of fuel and oxygen in order to work efficiently. In the task of learning, you need to be feeding and treating your body well to maximize this process. This means that you should:

  • Eat every few hours to keep your blood sugar levels up.
  • Exercise on a daily basis.
  • Try to relax a few minutes each day.
  • Sleep at least seven hours each night.
  • Stay hydrated with water.
  • Eat a light lunch. Heavy lunches tend to make people drowsy. Instead, recharge with a light lunch and a power walk.


5. Learn with All Five Senses.

While everyone learns in different ways, we all began the learning process by seeing pictures and then translating them into ideas. From the earliest picture books, we were learning how to learn through our visual senses.

When you’re trying to learn something quickly, it can help to create a visual picture of the topic in your mind.

Draw it out on paper as well. It can be a picture, a graph, a chart, or just a timeline.

Keep adding to your mental picture as you learn more and recreate the picture in your head whenever you think of it.

However, don’t limit yourself to just visual pictures. Learn with all five senses.

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For example, if you want to learn about Buenos Aires, the best thing for you to do is to book a trip, explore the city, take some tango lessons, enjoy the local cuisine, and talk with the locals. You haven’t learned anything until you have put it into practice in your own life. Engage in learning through touch, sight, sound, hearing, and smell.

6. Increase Your Motivation.

Motivation is the greatest memory enhancer. Think about all of the college students who pull an all-nighter to cram for a test. They have incredible motivation because they have done little studying before hand and now must absorb all of the information in one night. They can master the material because they want to. Actually, they have to. And this motivation kicks their learning into high gear. Unfortunately, cramming produces poor long-term retention.

If you’re not a procrastinating college student but still want to motivate yourself, then nothing beats a good reward. If you create a reward system that you actually look forward to, you will be able to learn faster in anticipation of that reward.

For example, if you study or work to learn a subject for so many hours or for so many pages, you might reward yourself with a trip to the store, some video game time, or perhaps your favorite TV show. Create whatever type of motivation works for you.

7. Learn While You Sleep.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to spend your sleep hours learning your studies simply by pressing play on the CD player? Yes, it does sound nice. Unfortunately, university studies have shown that you cannot during deep sleep or dream sleep, which makes
up most of your sleeping time.

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However, evidence has shown that you can learn in the very light sleep that precedes deep sleep.

Keep in mind that this material must be limited to facts, dates, vocabulary and other objective material. You can not learn complex material during the first stages of sleep.

More recently, German researchers have found that by using electrical stimulation during a particular phase of the sleep cycle, they can improve a person’s ability toremember facts.

So, who knows what kind of new learning technologies we will see in the future.

Kim Roach is a productivity junkie who blogs regularly at The Optimized Life. Read her articles on 50 Essential GTD Resources, How to Have a 46 Hour Day, What They Don’t Teach You in School, and Free Yourself From the Inbox.

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Last Updated on January 13, 2020

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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