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10 Things You Can Do Every Day To Benefit Your Brain

10 Things You Can Do Every Day To Benefit Your Brain

A mind is a valuable thing to waste. You’ve heard the saying many times, but it truly does ring true. Your mind is your most valuable asset. You need to take care of it. So here’s a list of 10 things you can do every day to benefit your brain:

1. Take a nap.

Refreshing your body can also help you improve brain function, increase memory, and improve your mood. Even just 15 minutes can make a huge difference in your day-to-day life. So take a nap, feel refreshed, and help your brain all in one. Naps improve your brain performance, so why are you still awake?

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2. Do something creative just before going to bed.

When you’re tired, your brain can be more creative. Take advantage! Whether you’re writing the next great American Novel or dusting off the old paint brush and canvas, finding your creative outlet just before going to bed can yield great results. So tap your inner Picasso and create something beautiful. Just don’t fall asleep with the brush in your hand.

3. Focus on one task at a time.

Did you know that it’s literally impossible for your brain to multitask? By focusing on one task at a time, you can keep your brain working at maximum capability and accomplish more than you imagined. Find a task you need to finish and focus solely on it. Leave the phone in the other room, turn the TV off, and focus. Your brain will thank you.

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4. Do cardio. And exercise.

You’ve heard that cardio leads to a healthier, better body. But it also helps the mind. Find 15-30 minutes a day and get moving! You don’t need a gym membership or any fancy equipment. Just a walk around the neighborhood can do wonders and benefit your brain.

5. Write. Like on a real piece of paper.

Computers, iPads, tablets, smartphones and the connection to the internet everywhere means it’s becoming less and less likely that you will pull out a piece of paper and write. But research suggests handwriting makes you smarter. So leave the computer on your desk during your next meeting and write your notes.

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6. Take a multi-vitamin daily.

Your car needs oil, your smartphone needs a battery, and your brain needs nutrients. A daily multi-vitamin will ensure that you get your body what it needs. And it will help your brain according to research from the British Journal of Nutrition. Pro-tip: Take your mutli-vitamin with a healthy smoothie to get your day off to a great start.

7. Learn a new language.

Learning a new language is one of the best ways to benefit your brain. It forces your brain to adapt. Learning a language can enrich your life and help you explore new culture, but also has great benefits for your brain. So grab your Rosetta Stone or use a free service like Duolingo and learn something everyday.

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8. Play Words With Friends.

The hit game Words with Friends is addictive, yes, but also has great benefits for your brain! Research has found that Scrabble or other word games help increase your IQ and improve your brain power. So play your favorite variation of “jabberwock” and have fun with your friends while benefiting your brain.

9. Meditate.

Meditation is one of the best, oldest forms of relaxation. But it also helps your body and mind! The benefits for your brain found in this study show that meditation benefits nearly every part of the brain. So spend time every day in meditation! You’ll feel more relaxed and truly will be in a better state of mind.

10. Be optimistic.

Being optimistic not only helps you enjoy life, it also does wonders for your brain. When you think positively, research suggests that your brain can be a huge beneficiary. So start taking life with the glass half full approach and help your attitude and your brain.

Featured photo credit: illuminaut via flickr.com

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Kyle Robbins

Founder, BrandingBeard.com

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The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

“You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

What is the productivity paradox?

There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

He wrote in his conclusion:

“Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

How do we measure productivity anyway?

And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

Possible causes of the productivity paradox

Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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  • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
  • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
  • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
  • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

The paradox and the recession

The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

“Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

Looking forward

A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

“Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

“Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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