Advertising
Advertising

8 Ways To Get Smarter Every Week

8 Ways To Get Smarter Every Week

We’ve all heard the same statistic: 1 out of every 4 Americans don’t read any books during the course of an average year. It seems that, for many Americans, learning stops after formal education. Once we’re done with high school or college, we forget everything we learned in school and just focus on advancing our careers.

But studies have shown time and time again that the more active your brain stays during your life, the less likely you will be to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia later in life. But keeping your brain healthy and growing your intellect takes more than attending a few classes at the Learning Annex. If you’re serious about getting smarter every week, there are a few simple tips to keep in mind.

1. Make Learning a Daily Task

Whether you want to learn a new word, a new English monarch, or a small bit of trivia, subscribing to a daily language arts or history trivia newsletter or RSS feed is a great way to learn small bits of information on a daily basis.

But it’s not just enough to read this information. If you want to retain it, you’ll need to put it to use. Try to set a personal goal for your daily tidbit, perhaps using your word of the day three times with three different people during the course of the day.

Advertising

2. Keep Your Mind Sharp

Solving puzzles can help your brain to stay flexible, and a sharp mind is better at retaining information. Tackle the Sunday crossword puzzle, take up Sudoku, or at least try your hand with the kid’s word jumble in the local paper. Even puzzle-based video games can help you stay sharp.

    3. Focus on Cumulative Learning

    Do you remember what testing was like in high school? Chances are, you crammed all week for a big exam, and the second you turned in your paper, all that knowledge went right out of your head. You knew you weren’t going to be tested on it later on in the year, so what was the point?

    To avoid something similar happening on your quest to get smarter every week, make sure what you’re learning this week builds on knowledge acquired in previous weeks. A good example of this is learning a language. Every bit of vocab and grammar is dependent on what you already know, so your mind is much less likely to dump that knowledge.

    Advertising

    4. Take Up a New Hobby

    Getting smarter is partly about learning new facts, and partly about using parts of your mind that aren’t usually used. A new hobby will challenge your brain in new ways. If you tend to be more analytical or technical in your pursuits, try branching out into painting. If you’re generally a creative person, take up a hobby like restoring old cars.

      5. Eat Right

      Consider supplements like ginko biloba to aid in memory, and make sure you’re eating enough fats. Your brain can’t work if you’re on a starvation diet, your brains need cholesterol and fats to work correctly. Other foods such as broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, berries, and fish can also aid with memory and proper brain function.

      6. Think Positive

      As Stepcase Lifehack’s own Leon Ho explained in a past post, thinking that you are capable of getting smarter allows you to actually get smarter.

      Advertising

      “Students who were members of vulnerable groups (e.g., those who previously thought that intelligence cannot change, those who had low prior mathematics achievement, and female students) had higher mathematics grades following the intelligence-is-malleable intervention, while the grades of similar students in the control group declined. In fact, girls who received the intervention matched and even slightly exceeded the boys in math grades, whereas girls in the control group performed well below the boys.”

      7. Stay Active

      “Exercise and staying active helps protect your brain against dementia in later life,” says Dr. Anne Corbett. “It also helps keep your weight down, which is important because obesity increases the risk developing of dementia later in life. Be careful of sports that can cause head injuries since footballers and boxers have a higher rate of Alzheimer’s disease.”

        8. Quit Smoking

        Advertising

        A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine followed 21,123 Californian smokers between 1978 and 2008. The study found that those who were heavy smokers doubled their risk of memory loss later in life. If you’re trying to raise your intelligence, smoking is a habit that will not serve you well.

        Conclusion

        Getting smarter involves a combination of learning new information, retaining that information, and maintaing the health of your brain. If you can manage to do all three, you’ll raise your intelligence by leaps and bounds.

        More by this author

        Tucker Cummings

        Writer and social media professional sharing productivity tips on Lifehack.

        Does the Pomodoro Technique Work for Your Productivity? The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It? How to Diagnose the “Phantom Cursor” Issue on Your Mac Extreme Minimalism: Andrew Hyde and the 15-Item Lifestyle 6 Easy Tips for Living with 100 Items or Less

        Trending in Lifestyle

        1 How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 2 10 Lower Body Workouts Anyone Can Try at Home 3 How to Stop Overeating the Healthy Way (Step-by-Step Guide) 4 How to Be Confident: 51 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence 5 10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising
        Advertising

        Last Updated on October 20, 2020

        How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

        How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

        You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

        We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

        The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

        Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

        1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

        Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

        For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

        Advertising

        • (1) Research
        • (2) Deciding the topic
        • (3) Creating the outline
        • (4) Drafting the content
        • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
        • (6) Revision
        • (7) etc.

        Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

        2. Change Your Environment

        Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

        One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

        3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

        Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

        Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

        My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

        Advertising

        Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

        4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

        If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

        Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

        I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

        5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

        I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

        Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

        Advertising

        As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

        6. Get a Buddy

        Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

        I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

        7. Tell Others About Your Goals

        This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

        For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

        8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

        What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

        Advertising

        9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

        If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

        Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

        10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

        Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

        Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

        11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

        At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

        Reality check:

        I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

        Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

        More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

        Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

        Read Next