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10 Ways To Optimize Your Brain Power

10 Ways To Optimize Your Brain Power
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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.

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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 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.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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