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10 Brain Hacks To Make You Smarter

10 Brain Hacks To Make You Smarter

Training your brain to function on a higher level doesn’t involve a Doctoral program or becoming a Buddhist monk. The three key steps are to first, feed your brain, second rewire your brain and third, to challenge your brain. If you want to wow the world in 2015, here are some actionable brain hacks to make you smarter.

1. Feed your brain

This is the first and foremost hack, because if your engine doesn’t have the proper fuel, then it won’t be running at it’s best speed. Little did the proponents of the low fat diet know, our brains are powered and upgraded by fatty acids, particularly those Omega 3’s. Invest in high quality fats – coconut oil, almond butter, grass fed beef, grass fed butter, wild caught salmon. These healthy fats will give your brain the best supply of energy it can get.

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2. Reboot your Circadian Clock

No one gets enough sleep. But, you can reboot your circadian clock (your internal sleeping rhythm) by getting more sun and eating less sugar and caffeine. By aligning yourself with the Sun’s natural patterns, you will rid your brain of that infamous morning grog and evening insomnia. There are also numerous apps of your phone, like Sleep Cycle that monitor your sleep and help you determine when you enter the various stages of sleep. And then there is F.lux, which adjusts the setting of your monitor to imitate an evening sunset to help you get ready for bed.

3. Practice Awareness

An easy, and very actionable way to upgrade your memory is to practice awareness. This simply means to focus on only one person/task at a time. Is your boyfriend telling you about how his work day went, but you are instead ticking off a grocery list in your head? Take that five minutes and instead focus and be present, your significant other will appreciate it and eventually reciprocate, and you will also quiet your mind in the process. The quote that I have come to live by is that You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

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4. Do Yoga

When I was still working a desk job I always felt tired, groggy and unmotivated no matter how much cardio I did, or how many Paleo meals I ate. Then, I started hot yoga. This simple practice (I prefer YogAlign, a low impact type of yoga) helps to stretch out the body, rewire your brain with your body, and to also help you gain a better perspective on being present and aware. The exercises helped me to become rooted, to be more aware of how my body felt, and what areas I needed to focus on. I realized that the way I was sitting in my desk chair was causing my lethargy and immediately corrected it.

5. Learn to Speed Read

Knowledge truly is power, and there is so much information out there, how are you supposed to consume it all? Enter speed reading. The technique to consume information and retain that data at nearly unfathomable speeds is possible. For the average person, learning to speed read could be the ultimate game changer.

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6. Rewire your emotions

Some of the smartest people I know could be even smarter and productive if it weren’t for the emotional baggage that they drag around. Meditation is a way of rewiring your brain so you no longer have negative associations, and can unload the mental baggage that has been a burden so you can move forward with your life. In my life personally, yoga and meditation have allowed me to accept my failures, and in turn accept myself.

7. Use a Pen and Write it down

There is something that can be said about physically writing something down. Personally, I notice that I remember things much better if I write it down versus if I jot it in my phone. The brain-body connection is strong when you take the act of writing out your thoughts with your own hand.

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8. Listen to the Classics

There is a reason why the greats jam out to Beethoven or Bog Seger – they fire up those neurons. Classical music has the ability to reduce stress, reduce pain, stop seizures and can even help you to battle insomnia.

9. Do something new

Oh, monotony, it is the killer of creativity. A 9-5 life and a habit of sinking onto the couch and watching Netflix makes for a life and brain well wasted. Cancel the Netflix and invest that money in that cookbook you’ve always wanted. Learning a new skill, like mastering Mediterranean cooking, is not only good for your brain, it is good for your life as you invest in a new skill.

10. Repeat

This is the theory is, if you do something enough times and for long enough, it becomes habit. I recently have begun the ritual of reading my favorite blogs every morning before I do any work. I log into my Bloglovin account and read Paleo Newbie, Reason and Intelligent Travel. This habit provides me with new information everyday! I cannot count the ways in which I have benefited from this repeated action.

Featured photo credit: Marcus Q via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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