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10 Brain Hacks To Make You Smarter

10 Brain Hacks To Make You Smarter
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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.

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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 21, 2021

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

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

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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