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10 Ways To Optimize Your Brain Power

10 Ways To Optimize Your Brain Power

Just like your muscles will grow weak without exercise, your brain will lose power without stimulation. If you’d like to optimize your brain power for more productive days, here’s 10 ways to do it.

1. Dive into a book.

According to a study published in the journal Neurology, reading and writing could optimize your brain power. Carry a book with you everywhere you go for an escape from the daily grind. You could read a few chapters in a waiting room, grocery store line, traffic jam, or during your lunch break.

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2. Get a degree.

College is not necessary and doesn’t offer you much of an edge in the workforce since bachelor degrees have become the new normal, but there is no denying that many folks aren’t driven enough to study on their own. If you feel like you need accountability in the form of a wise professor, reading assignments, and a grade that determines your educational fate, college would be a good bet.

3. Explore new horizons.

The mind can grow stagnate without the occasional detour to a fresh topic of interest. Choose a historical era, musical instrument, language, craft, or hobby that fascinates you and get to work.

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4. Take time to breathe.

Go outside with a notebook, admire the rising sun, listen to the birds sing, and breathe deeply. Starting your day with a little big of meditation and nature will clear your thoughts so you can start your day strong.

5. Keep a blog or journal.

Putting your thoughts on paper will sharpen your ability to express yourself clearly. With practice, you will be able to make even the most dry of subjects interesting and the most difficult of concepts simple enough for anyone to understand.

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6. Be consistent.

Great minds are not built overnight: they are built slowly over many years through hard work and dedication. You will not become a master inventor or Jeopardy champion in a week, but you’ll get pretty close if you’re consistent.

7. Stretch yourself.

Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. If you stretch yourself, you could fall a bit short of your goal but you will reach greater heights than you would without a willingness to take risks. Contentment is your enemy. Never be satisfied.

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8. Seek inspiration.

Today you might feel inspired with a strong desire to optimize your brain power. But please be aware that inspiration is a fleeting thing. Just like you couldn’t drive your car across the country without stopping for gas, you can’t expect your brain to keep performing without an occasional shot of inspiration. What inspires you? There is no right or wrong answer. Do you learn best by hearing? Listen to a book on audio or podcast on your drive to and from work. Do you have to see it to “get” it? Watch a film or documentary about a topic that piques your curiosity. Is written word your preference? Throw a book or two in your purse, backpack, or the backseat of your car so you can dive into a book when life hands you the opportunity to get your learn on.

9. Know thyself.

Be mindful during the work day. Is there a certain time of day you are more focused, alert, or creative? Are there a few hours where you have a tough time finding interest in work? Find the answers to those questions and build your day in a way that maximizes productivity. For example, I do well if I can do creative things (like writing this article) early in the day. In the evening, I can’t seem to focus no matter what, so I save pleasure reading, leisure, and mindless tasks and chores for later in the day. Shuffle a few tasks around to get more done.

10. Question everything.

There are very few absolutes in life, so maintain a healthy dose of skepticism and never stop asking questions.

Do you have any additional tips you use to optimize your brain power? If so, please share them below. 

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Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

Have you ever thought of yourself as a problem solver? I’m guessing not. But in reality, we are constantly solving problems. And the better our problem solving skills are, the easier our lives are.

Problems arise in many shapes and forms. They can be mundane, everyday problems, or larger more complex problems:

What to have for dinner tonight?

Which route to take to work?

How to fix a project that’s running behind schedule?

How to change from an uninspiring job to a career you’re really passionate about?

Every day, you’ll be faced with at least one problem to solve. But it gets easier when you realize that problems are simply choices. There’s nothing ‘scary’ about them other than having to make a decision.

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No matter what job you’re in, where you live, who your partner is, how many friends you have, you will be judged on your ability to solve problems. Because problems equal hassles for everyone concerned. And people don’t like hassle. So the more problems you can solve, the less hassle all-round, the happier people are with you. Everyone wins.

Why Are Problem Solving Skills Important?

Problem is something hard to understand or accomplish or deal with. It can be a task, a situation, or even a person. Problem solving involves methods and skills to find the best solutions to problems.

Problem solving is important because we all have decisions to make, and questions to answer in our lives. Amazing people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., are all great problems solvers. Good parents, teachers, doctors and waiters all have to be good at solving different sort of problems as well.

Problem solving skills are for our everyday lives.

How to Enhance Problem Solving Skills

Most people believe that you have to be very intelligent in order to be a good problem solver, but that’s not true.

You don’t have to be super smart to be a problem solver, you just need practice.

When you understand the different steps to solve a problem, you’ll be able to come up with great solutions.

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1. Focus on the Solution, Not the Problem

Neuroscientists have proven that your brain cannot find solutions if you focus on the problem.[1] This is because when you focus on the problem, you’re effectively feeding ‘negativity,’ which in turn activates negative emotions in the brain. These emotions block potential solutions.

I’m not saying you should ‘ignore the problem,’ instead, try to remain calm. It helps to first, acknowledge the problem; and then, move your focus to a solution-oriented mindset where you keep fixed on what the ‘answer’ could be, rather than lingering on ‘what went wrong’ and ‘who’s fault it is’.

2. Adapt 5 Whys to Clearly Define the Problem

5 Whys is a problem solving framework to help you get to the root of a problem.

By repeatedly asking the question “why” on a problem, you can dig into the root cause of a problem, and that’s how you can find the best solution to tackle the root problem once and for all. And it can go deeper than just asking why for five times.

For example:

If the problem is “always late to work”…

  • Why am I late to work?
    I always click the snooze button and just want to go on sleeping.
  • Why do I want to go on sleeping?
    I feel so tired in the morning.
  • Why do I feel tired in the morning?
    I slept late the night before, that’s why.
  • Why did I sleep late?
    I wasn’t sleepy after drinking coffee, and I just kept scrolling my Facebook feed and somehow I couldn’t stop.
  • Why did I drink coffee?
    Because I was too sleepy at work in the afternoon, not having enough sleep the night before.

So there you see, if you didn’t try to dig out the root of the problem, you may just set a few more alarms and have it beep every five minutes in the morning. But in fact, the problem you need to solve is to quit Facebook surfing endlessly at night so you’ll feel more energetic in the day time, and you won’t even need coffee.

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3. Simplify Things

As human beings, we have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be! Try simplifying your problem by generalizing it.

Remove all the details and go back to the basics. Try looking for a really easy, obvious solution – you might be surprised at the results! And we all know that it’s often the simple things that are the most productive.

4. List out as Many Solutions as Possible

Try to come up with ‘ALL POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS’ – even if they seem ridiculous at first. It’s important you keep an open mind to boost creative thinking, which can trigger potential solutions.

Coming from 10 years in the corporate advertising industry, it is drummed into you that ‘No idea is a bad idea’ and this aids creative thinking in brainstorms and other problem-solving techniques.

Whatever you do, do not ridicule yourself for coming up with ‘stupid solutions’ as it’s often the crazy ideas that trigger other more viable solutions.

5. Think Laterally

Change the ‘direction’ of your thoughts by thinking laterally. Pay attention to the saying,

‘You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging it deeper.”

Try to change your approach and look at things in a new way. You can try flipping your objective around and looking for a solution that is the polar opposite!

Even if it feels silly, a fresh and unique approach usually stimulates a fresh solution.

6. Use Language That Creates Possibility

Lead your thinking with phrases like ‘what if…’ and ‘imagine if…’ These terms open up our brains to think creatively and encourage solutions.

Avoid closed, negative language such as ‘I don’t think…’ or ‘But this is not right…’.

The Bottom Line

There’s nothing scary about a problem when you start to adapt my advice.

Try not to view problems as ‘scary’ things! If you think about what a problem really is, it’s really just feedback on your current situation.

Every problem is telling you that something is not currently working and that you need to find a new way around it.

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So try to approach problems neutrally – without any judgment. Practice focusing on defining a problem, keep calm and not to make things too complicated.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Planet of Success: Problem vs Solution Focused Thinking

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