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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

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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