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4 Things You Should Not Do For A Productive Morning

4 Things You Should Not Do For A Productive Morning

Some people use their mornings as if it was their last glimmer of freedom before their heinous day begins. Don’t be that person. The morning is your time to leverage the rest of your day, it is not an island in time. The morning is the foundation of your sane and productive day. By constructing a sane morning that is linked to the rest of your day you will be blessing yourself later in the afternoon. You will not only feel more calm, you will be more productive too. Productive mornings are indeed withint everyones reach. Phew.

Follow these 4 simple steps to leverage that morning power.

1. Your morning is not an island in time.

Stop treating your morning as if it were your time to indulge before your ‘real day’ begins. You can use your evenings for that should you need it. Your mornings are an integral part of your day. From the moment your eyes open, your day has officially begun. Use that precious morning time for your advantage later on in the day when your energy and mental agility is declining. Get in the kitchen and get yourself a nutritious start to the day (no, coffee is not a stable breakfast) and while you are there think ahead for your lunch and dinner. Did you bring salad from last night for lunch? How about dinner? Can you take the 2 minutes to put a lentil soup on and fling some brown rice into your rice cooker? Are you always hungry at work? Pack some healthy snacks.

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Granted, these meal and snacks need thought and action before hand, but you would be surprised how many people are in such a daze in the mornings that they have all the right equipment for whipping up a nutritious snack/dinner/lunch and don’t even think about it as they pour themselves a coffee and check their Twitter status updates.

Sorry to be brutal but just as there are no exceptions to finance budgets, for productive people there are no exceptions for time budgets. Your morning self and afternoon self are BFF’s. Don’t forget that.

2. No email

That being said we need to get you out of the ‘let me just check my email’ mindset. Your email is a mailbox, plain and simple. If you were tidying up your house 3 minutes before your inlaws arrived would you be running outside to check your mailbox every 2 minutes? That would be quite a waste of time wouldn’t it? All that time wasted between throwing the clutter in boxes and running down the garden path to open up the mailbox and check… well there isn’t a garden path leading you to check your email but the concept is precisely the same. By checking your email every 2 minutes you are turning your productive time into swiss cheese and thats not what mornings are for.

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Entire books have been written teaching the perils of checking email in the morning. These books are not wrong, so commit to stop that time wasting habit right now. Check your email later in the morning (or after lunch) once your creativity is starting to wane and you can start to be more reactive than proactive. Take email off your phone right now. Yup, I can wait a few minutes. If it is difficult to break the habit because it has become an addiction of sorts. Do it anyway, trust me your 3pm self will thank you.

3. No Social Media

Now that we have mentioned email addiction there is no secret that social media is an addiction, too. Go and look at any group of  teenagers and see how many are interacting with one another and how many are updating there instagram status. It’s a plague. Don’t be like those people. There is nothing social about social media. It’s another false allure of the shiny red flashing light promising us excitement, false connection and news updates. We need none of that in our mornings.

In a perfect world you would indulge in your social media addiction on Sunday evenings as a fun activity. Most certainly never on a weekday and never ever ever on a morning. Take all those social media addictions off of your phone. Stop lying to yourself that it is getting you connected, it’s a false reality you are living in. If you truly want to be productive you need to stop donating your time, focus and energy to worthless endeavours.

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4. No decision making

As Dr Barry Schwartz teaches us so eloquently: we are bombarded left, right and center with decision making. Making too many decisions leads to decision making fatigue whereby we get so exhausted from making decisions over the small stuff that we don’t have enough decision making juice when it comes to the decisions that actually matter. So streamline your mornings so you don’t have to think. Leave out one toothpaste, one shampoo and one soap so you can enjoy your mornings without thinking. Don’t buy too many cereals and create a lunch and dinner plan so you don’t waste your precious early morning brain cells on needless decisions. Create a wardrobe of simple yet awesome work clothes so you don’t have to create outfit combinations before you are fully awake.

So if we take away social media and all decision making … what are mornings for? Mornings are for three main categories of living. Firstly, after a good nights sleep we should be waking up with a couple of good ideas or at the very least a person we want to reach out to or a phonecall we need to return. Don’t act on that idea at 5am as it will either wake up a nice person who is still sleeping or lure you into doing more email … simply record your awesome idea for action later on in the day. These great ideas often get forgotten or not recorded, what a waste!

Mornings are also for connecting with our loved ones, having a conversation with out children or even ( gasp!) shooting a few hoops before they leave to school. How about a morning jog for you alone or with your spouse?

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And remember, your mornings are connected to your evenings, see what you can do now for your 6pm self. You see once we remove the false crutches we get to truly live, truly connect and truly be productive and that is indeed what mornings are for.

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Last Updated on October 17, 2018

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?

If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.

Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)

So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.

1. Meditate

We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds.

Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.[1]

Fortunately, meditation can help you out.

Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.

And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

2. Get plenty of sleep

If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then I’m guessing you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.

How much sleep should you be getting?

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Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.

Now, I’ll be honest with you, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!). But if you care about improving your short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?

Yes, there are.

Try these three things:

  • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
  • Don’t eat too late
  • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory…

3. Challenge your brain

When was the last time you challenged your brain?

I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or undersleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games.

To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself, has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.

There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

  • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it, try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

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4. Take more breaks

When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively remember working all the hours under the sun – and many under the moon too!

At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat and tears.

However, I was wrong.

Taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

Let me explain.

Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it – in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.

It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.

What’s the answer?

Make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.

5. Learn a new skill

I love this quote, as it’s 100% true – but frequently overlooked:

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

Let me give you an example of this:

Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you – rather than letting you work in your own way.

Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction in to learning a new skill (computer coding). It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.

Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.

6. Start working out

If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory.

Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

“But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.

Not a problem.

A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines.[2] So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.

Interested in getting started?

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Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

  • Join a gym
  • Join a sports team
  • Buy a bike
  • Take up hiking
  • Dance to your favorite music

7. Eat healthier foods

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

This applies to your brain too.

The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health too.

Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.

Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain – leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

Want to be mentally healthy? Then eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

  • Turmeric – helps new brain cells grown
  • Broccoli – protects the brain against damage
  • Nuts – improves memory
  • Green tea – enhances brain performance, memory and focus[3]
  • Fish oilfish oil supplements can increase your brain power

Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

Final thoughts

I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.

You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.

But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.

Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

Reference

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